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Monday, June 15, 2009

Iran: Country In Chaos

News is still coming out of Iran as protesters protest, under threat of death if some reports are to be believed.

Video via The Telegraph as well as their sub-header:

Iran's reformist presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi has called off a major rally to protest last Friday's election results, amid claims police had been cleared to open fire on protesters.

Supporters had been due to turn out en masse in Tehran on Monday afternoon, despite government warnings to stay off the streets.

But this morning, a statement on Mr Mousavi's campaign website announced that the demonstration had been postponed – although it said Mr Mousavi would go to the site to ensure any supporters who showed up remained calm.

Mr Mousavi's wife and co-campaigner, Zahra Ranavard, was reported as warning that riot squads would be equipped with live ammunition, raising the prospect of serious bloodshed.

Iran's Interior Ministry said Mr Mousavi would be responsible for any consequences if he went ahead with the protest.

Perhaps because of the chaos that ensued after the election results were announced immediately after the election Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, after meeting with Mir Hussein Moussavi, has agreed to start an "investigation" into the alleged fraud.

Mr. Moussavi met with the supreme leader on Sunday night, several news agencies quoted state television as reporting. Ayatollah Khamenei then asked that the powerful Guardian Council “precisely examine” Mr. Moussavi’s charges of irregularities, state media said.

The council will make its findings known in 10 days, according to the state media reports.

The ayatollah’s call appeared to be a shift in his position. Earlier, Mr. Khamenei had said the vote, which gave President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad an overwhelming victory, had been fair.

Is that a switch in position as the NYT suggests or simply a way for the ayatollah to buy some time to see if the protests and unrest settles down?

June 15 -- Iran's supreme leader on Monday ordered a probe of Friday's presidential election, as protests over alleged voter fraud continued for a third straight day. But because Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has already congratulated President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his apparent reelection, some observers dismissed the investigation as an attempt to diffuse the anti-government demonstrations.

That should be a rhetorical question because there truly should be no doubt that the so-called investigation will show exactly what the supreme leaders want it to show.

WSJ points to something said by Laura Secor in the New Yorker, "What is most shocking is not the fraud itself, but that it was brazen and entirely without pretext."

(Supporters of the opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi marched in Tehran on Monday.)

The reasoning explained by WSJ:

...As the Associated Press reported, election authorities were miraculously able to count millions of paper ballots almost immediately after the polls closed to hand Mr. Ahmadinejad his supposed victory. In previous elections, the vote count had come more slowly and with regional delays.

The Journal also poses a question as their sub-header:

Will Obama stand with Tehran's democratic reformers?

I think we all already know the answer to that.

In Iran today, a sham election has been met with an open revolt. This takes great courage. The world's free nations need the courage to do better than respond with the sham policy of making nice with an illegitimate regime.

While the presidents of Iraq, Afghanistan and Venezuela have congratulated Ahmadinejad on his "win", others are more skeptical, via BBC:

Foreign powers have expressed concern about the election.

On Sunday, Vice-President Joe Biden said: "It sure looks like the way they're suppressing speech, the way they're suppressing crowds, the way in which people are being treated, that there's some real doubt."

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he had summoned the Iranian ambassador to explain the election.

"There are a lot of reports about electoral fraud," he said.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said: "I am sorry that instead of openness there has been a somewhat brutal reaction."

(Protesters on a street in Tehran early Monday.)

Random reports from Iran claim that websites have become blocked in Iran, text messaging was interrupted the night of the election and that Mousavi's website had been suspended as well.

As usual Michael Totten is all over this, with first hand accounts, videos and more, so go read.

In a nutshell the problem is, the protesters, many young, are out there knowing that by protesting they could lose their lives and many believe these protests will simply die out as they are largely ignored by the International community, as Obama is doing.

As reports of political violence in Iran intensified after Friday’s fiercely disputed election, the Obama administration insisted that it would not interfere with the struggle for power between regime-backed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the thousands of demonstrators who contend the election was stolen. Administration officials, on and off the record, said that President Obama would offer support for human rights in Iran generally and would not back away from his diplomatic outreach to the longtime U.S. adversary, regardless of the ultimate outcome of the election.

Other countries are not as quick to turn a blind eye, as Reuters reports:

Germany views events in Iran following its presidential election with great concern and has summoned the Iranian ambassador to explain, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Sunday.

He also condemned what he called "brutal actions" against demonstrators in Tehran which he said were unacceptable.

Thousands of people protested on Saturday after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won victory in an election that his reformist challenger dismissed as a charade.

"All in all, these are circumstances which have today given me cause to issue the order for the Iranian ambassador to be summoned to the Foreign Ministry," Steinmeier told Germany's ARD television.


"We resolutely condemn the actions against demonstrators. It is unacceptable," he said. In the ARD interview, he condemned the "brutal actions" being taken by the authorities."

In another WSJ article, we see who controlled the election.... Ahmadinejad.

No one knows exactly how much electoral fraud took place. The entire process was tightly controlled by the Ministry of Interior under Sadeq Mahsouli, a general of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards and a senior aide to Mr. Ahmadinejad. There was no independent election commission, no secret balloting, no observers to supervise the counting of the votes, and no mechanism for verification. It is impossible to know how many people voted and for whom.

Obama may not be willing to take a hard stance or any real stance, which has encouraged Ahmadinejad:

Moments after his victory he described the U.S. as a "crippled creature" and invited President Obama to a debate at the United Nations General Assembly, ostensibly to examine "the injustice done by world arrogance to Muslim nations."

This is the man that the Obama administration wishes to sit down and talk to, unconditionally:

He has reactivated pro-Iranian groups in a number of Arab countries, notably Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain. He is determined to expand Tehran's influence in Afghanistan and Iraq, especially as the U.S. retreats. He has also made it clear that he intends to help the Lebanese Hezbollah strengthen its position as a state within the state and a vanguard in the struggle against Israel.

Even Latin America is likely to receive Mr. Ahmadinejad's attention. The first foreign leader to phone to congratulate the re-elected Iranian leader was Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez, whose "brotherly message" received headline treatment from the state-controlled media in Tehran. Later this year, Mr. Ahmadinejad plans to attend the summit of the nonaligned movements in Cairo to claim its leadership, according to Iran's official news agency, with a message of "unity against the American Great Satan" and its allies in the region.

Fact is, many of us have often said there is no negotiating with Iran, because unlike others that will make promises they never intend to keep, Ahmadinejad isn't even willing to pretend.

Is Obama truly naive enough to think Ahmadinejad is going to go to sleep one night and wake up the next morning prepared to negotiate?

Obama's weakness is becoming Ahmadinejad's strength.

Keep up with the latest developements on Twitter... they are random and confusing sometimes, but they are trying to get word out on what is happening in Iran at the moment.