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:
The old Washington adage that personnel are policy is as true in the Islamic Republic if Iran as in the United States. On September 1, 2007, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Jafari--also known as Aziz Jafari and Ali Jafari--to be the seventh commander in chief of the IRGC (see table 1). Two days later, he promoted him to major general. Jafari immediately announced fundamental structural reform in the security apparatus of the Islamic Republic.