Ali Ettefagh at PostGlobal

Ali Ettefagh

Tehran, Iran

Dr. Ali Ettefagh serves as a director of Highmore Global Corporation, an investment company in emerging markets of Eastern Europe, CIS, and the Middle East. He is the co-author of several books on trade conflict, resolution of international trade disputes, conflicts in letters of credit, trade-related banking transactions, sovereign debt, arbitration and dispute resolutions and publications specific to the oil and gas, communication, aviation and finance sectors. Dr. Ettefagh is a member of the executive committee and the board of directors of The Development Foundation, an advisor to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and an advisor to a number of European companies. Dr. Ettefagh speaks Persian (Farsi), English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and Turkish. Close.

Ali Ettefagh

Tehran, Iran

Dr. Ali Ettefagh serves as a director of Highmore Global Corporation, an investment company in emerging markets of Eastern Europe, CIS, and the Middle East. more »

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Foreign Media Is to Blame

The Current Discussion: Are we witnessing a pro-regime coup in Iran? What should the world do in response? How will the election aftermath affect Iran's projection of power into the Middle East?

The truth is that Iran is exemplary in the region when it comes to timely, scheduled elections, maintaining the rule of its constitution (such as term limits) and orderly transfer of power. It has political discipline without peer in the region, despite absurd foreign hallucinations for “regime change”, petty vilification campaigns by lobbyists and a cheap psychological Cold war officially funded by at least one foreign nation. This is not a replay of the 1953 coup or the 1979 Revolution, and the elusive recycling of a few morally compromised politicians plucked from heaps of yesteryears is silly and futile.

Nevertheless, the skewer of sensationalist (English-language) media and their shallow understanding of Iran attempts to trump facts, mostly blamed on a lack of contact over the last three decades, even though Iranians know a lot more about the world. Alternatively, they are having a tough time accepting the reality of Iran as a republic that it is today. After 30 years, its population has doubled and its socio-economic fabric has fundamentally changed. People say clearly that elections are about keeping a political system in good repair. A healthy turnout of 80% of eligible voters, weeks of peaceful and vibrant campaigns, groundbreaking debates, the breaking of taboos and revelations of corrupt practices are all modern politics and healthy prescriptions to correct the path forward.

Just two years ago in France, there were trouble spots and temporary breaks in public order after the hotly debated and polarized election between Mr. Sarkozy and Ms. Royal. As a witness in Tehran, this writer cannot help but notice that foreign media representatives exaggerate and twist their reporting of facts in all of Iran, for they tend to stay in the relative comfort of north Tehran hotels and keep in contact with a small circle of people in a “cultural ghetto” of mindsets. The product is not surprising. It produces a shallow understanding of the country (usually not more than a Google search of Iran in English.) Language and cultural gaps lead to slices of reality and a skewed interpretation to readers back home, who are better entertained with “shock and awe” reports. Concurrently, opportunists and a relative few troublemakers jump to hijack and muddy the water with their sketches of a seasonal caricature of Tiananmen Square, set up their search for 15 minutes of fame and burn a few rubbish bins in disorderly conduct where these hotels and reporting eyes are located. The police simply does its duty, like all other countries, to maintain order and put down riots when necessary. But there was no need for intervention during the campaign season.

The world should simply respect the ballot box and the results that the Iranian system has generated-- without any spin, twists, wildcard guesswork or encouragement of civil disobedience. The fact remains that all four candidates (plus others that signed up and did not qualify) accepted their indigenous system of elections laws, rules and procedures, howsoever imperfect the young system might be and without regard to one-size-fits-all tales of “McDonaldized politics”. Alas, sanctions mean no Big Macs or Whoppers in Tehran even though Coca-Cola and lots of other fizzy stuff are available.

The top two candidates had about 60,000 observers at every polling station to observe the voting process (in addition to about 430,000 election functionaries, officials and independent observers in about 22,000 polling stations). All were present for counting of the votes and could register complaints with the election commission, demand recounts and report irregularities. That is exemplary, and conforms with established and modern election procedures in other democracies. What is most important is for the world at large to refrain from supporting chaotic, aimless demands of mobs and gangs that once played by the rules but seemingly do not like the results after losing. That’s especially true when those mobs are funded and supported by sources that are now very worried about corruption queries ever since the not-so-hidden taboos of their source of wealth have busted open.

Iran’s evolutionary, baby steps will only lead to more transparency, rule of law and fundamental stability. It should be welcomed and encouraged—especially in a tough neighbourhood where neighbors to the east and the west are busy killing and car bombing their fellow citizens in an aimless cycle of violence, and where Iran’s northern and southern neighbours have yet to show an orderly transformation of institutional political power from one generation to the next.

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