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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Will A Rigged Recount In Iran Satisfy The People?

(Supporters of defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi are followed by Iranian riot-police with batons in front of Tehran University during riots in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, June 14, 2009. (AP Photo- Boston Globe)

I would guess the answer to the title question is, depends on who is doing the counting and is the whole thing for show to calm the people and the massive outrage over the was the election was handled to begin with.

The Telegraph:

Iran's Council of Guardians has said it is ready to recount votes from last week's disputed election in the wake of clashes at mass protests that have led to the deaths of at least eight people.

In a statement released through state media, the powerful committee of 12 clerics said the move may lead to changes in the candidates' tally.

A spokesman said it was "ready to recount the disputed ballot boxes claimed by some candidates, in the presence of their representatives".

"It is possible that there may be some changes in the tally after the recount," Abbasali Kadkhodai, a spokesman, was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

But a senior reformist ally of the defeated candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the former prime minister, and Mehdi Karoubi said they wanted a rerun rather than a recount of "a few ballot boxes".

The council was asked to formally cancel the result by Mr Mousavi.

He has promised not to give up the struggle despite President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad being declared the winner with 63 per cent of the vote at the weekend.

The result has triggered three days on unrest in Tehran and elsewhere in the country.

(Defeated reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi (center) raises his arms as he appears at an opposition demonstration in Tehran on June 15, 2009, appearing in public for the first time since an election that has divided the nation.-Photo, Boston Globe)

Despite text services being blocked by Iranian officials and an attempt to stop the protesters from getting news out, Twitter has seen an increase of activity from Iranians that have figured out a way to bypass "big brother" and speak to the world.

As the embattled government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appears to be trying to limit Internet access and communications in Iran, new kinds of social media are challenging those traditional levers of state media control and allowing Iranians to find novel ways around the restrictions.

Iranians are blogging, posting to Facebook and, most visibly, coordinating their protests on Twitter, the messaging service. Their activity has increased, not decreased, since the presidential election on Friday and ensuing attempts by the government to restrict or censor their online communications.

You can keep up with the news coming straight out of Iran at Twitter, search term #IranElection, found here.

Pictures, videos, first hand accounts as well as information on how to create proxies to help the Iranian people bypass the government's censorship.

NYT also mentions Facebook, another forum for Mir Hussein Moussavi's supporters:

A couple of Twitter feeds have become virtual media offices for the supporters of the leading opposition candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi. One feed, mousavi1388 (1388 is the year in the Persian calendar), is filled with news of protests and exhortations to keep up the fight, in Persian and in English. It has more than 7,000 followers.

Mr. Moussavi’s fan group on Facebook has swelled to over 50,000 members, a significant increase since election day.

In the News

The Telegraph has a scathing piece calling Barack Obama "cowardly" in his response to this issue.

The Obama administration's response to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's fraudulent election victory is cowardly, lily-livered and wrong. The White House's refusal to officially question the result or even condemn the brutal suppression of opposition protestors, is undermining America's standing as a global power, and is little more than a face-saving, cynical exercise in appeasement that will all end in tears.

Vice President Joe Biden, while expressing "some real doubt" about the election, summed up the administration's position on Sunday's Meet the Press - "we're going to withhold comment... I mean we're just waiting to see." Waiting to see what Mr. Biden? More savage beatings of opposition supporters including women? The further arrest of hundreds of opposition leaders? Even greater suppression of the press and free speech?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton basically said the same thing in a pathetic statement on Saturday, declaring "the United States has refrained from commenting on the election in Iran," while White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, who thinks nothing of savaging domestic opponents, meekly noted the administration was "impressed by the vigorous debate and enthusiasm this election generated."

As blood flows on the streets of Tehran, the United States government remains as silent as a Trappist Monk. It is highly embarrassing when even the German government is showing more backbone than the White House.....

Other U.S. Politicians are also facing off with Obama, via The Hill:

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) lambasted the White House in a statement Monday afternoon, as reports came out of Iran of at least one protester killed in the tumult after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed a landslide victory over challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi on Friday.

"The Administration’s silence in the face of Iran’s brutal suppression of democratic rights represents a step backwards for homegrown democracy in the Middle East," Cantor said. "President Obama must take a strong public position in the face of violence and human rights abuses. We have a moral responsibility to lead the world in opposition to Iran’s extreme response to peaceful protests.

“In addition, Iran’s clerical regime has made clear that its nuclear program will move forward," he said. "The United States cannot trust the aspirations of a nation that is a state-sponsor of terrorism, and the Administration must work with Congress to do everything in its power to deny Iran nuclear weapons.”

Then finally, Obama decided to speak on the issue, via The Politico:

“I am deeply troubled by the violence that I’ve been seeing on television,” Obama said Monday, more than two days after protests began to break out Saturday in Tehran. “I think that the democratic process, free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent — all of those are universal values and need to be respected, and whenever I see violence perpetrated on people who are peacefully dissenting, and whenever the American people see that, I think they are rightfully troubled.”

Obama reasserted a promise for “hard-headed diplomacy” with any Iranian regime and stressed that he wasn’t trying to dictate Iran’s internal politics, but he also expressed sympathy with the supporters of the opposition, describing “a sense on the part of people who were so hopeful and so engaged and so committed to democracy, who now feel betrayed.”

“I think it’s important that, moving forward, whatever investigations take place are done in a way that is not resulting in bloodshed and is not resulting in people being stifled in expressing their views,” he said.

Obama’s extensive comments Monday marked a break with days of extreme caution on the riveting conflict since Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the victor — and rival Mir Hossein Mousavi protested the results.

More news about the death of protesters from CBS.

Even more from BBC.

Hot Air has a ton of links as well, go read and follow them for more information.