On June 12, 2009, Iranians will cast their ballots in the Islamic Republic's tenth presidential election. Elections provide a patina of democratic legitimacy to the Islamic Republic, one upon which supporters of engagement often seize. RAND scholar James Dobbins, for example, has said that "after Israel and Turkey, Iran is the most democratic nation in the Middle East." And Richard Armitage, while still deputy secretary of state in the George W.
In the U.S., individuals can run for president as long as they are over the age of 35 and are natural-born U.S. citizens. In Iran, however, an unelected body known as the Guardian Council [see here for more information on how the Council works] handpicks a small group of candidates out of a large number of applicants. Only those with the Council's imprimatur can then campaign and compete for the presidency.
On April 20, 2009, delegates from twenty-three countries walked out of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech at the UN Durban Review Conference held in Geneva in response to his remarks. In the speech, Ahmadinejad said: