In Iran, It's Jobs, Not Bombs

The US may view Iran's presidential election through the lens of the nuclear threat. But that's not how Iranians see it.

For them, it's jobs, not bombs. With an official unemployment rate of 16 percent, and unofficial estimates of 30 percent, poor Iranians on Friday surged behind a religious hard-liner and blacksmith's son who promised to develop the country's economy and more evenly distribute oil wealth.

That Iranians might risk popular social reforms under President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not appear to be as important as the outlook for another million young people entering the job market this fall.

Iran's Islamic theocracy - and by extension, its potential development of a nuclear weapon - could very well rise or fall on the jobs issue. For that's where the internal threat to the regime lies, in millions of unemployed youth.

It's hard to see how Mr. Ahmadinejad's model, which touts domestic over foreign investment, will be very effective in today's interconnected world economy. Especially since he's just alienated Iran's business class with his populist campaign.

Now that a hard-liner has ousted a so-called reformer from Iran's presidency, the conservative Guardian Council of clerics - which still holds the real power after this democratically flawed election - will no longer have reformers to blame for the economy. Responsibility will be squarely on its shoulders.

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