A week has passed since the disputed Iranian elections, and reliable information from Iran has been more and more difficult to come by. One relatively well-publicized event though took place Tuesday, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flew to Russia to participate in his first foreign policy trip as Iran's newly re-elected president. The reason: a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a political alliance between Russia, China, and several former Soviet states, with a few nearby nations like Iran maintaining "observer" status.
While nations like the U.S., Germany, and France expressed concern that only massive vote fraud led to Ahmadinejad's re-election, a far warmer reception lay in wait at the SCO. "The Iranian elections are the internal affair of the Iranian people," declared Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov. Ahmadinejad spoke briefly, criticizing the U.S. and the "international capitalist order" while ignoring the rising protests back home.
Ahmadinejad's SCO speech was brief, but its symbolism important. Russia and China's warm reception for a "stable" yet undemocratic Iran speaks to a larger push to organize developing nations in alliances that exclude nations like the U.S. Shortly after Ahmadinejad's return to Iran, the SCO played host to a summit of the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), which represent the most influential of developing economies. According to a Goldman Sachs report, by 2050 the BRIC nations could surpass the current leading economies, with smaller developing nations like Iran rivaling Canada and Italy in total output.
In the streets of Tehran today, there is still hope that a promised vote recount will yield a fair result. But friends of electoral justice in Iran would do well to take note of the indifference of many global players to the outcome in light of other economic and political ends.