The Iranian elections are over. For the most part they were quiet boring but then in the final weeks, things got very interesting.
We have never seen such a campaign in the 30 year history of the Iranian Islamic Republic. Usually elections are carefully choreographed from start to finish. The candidates are vetted and chosen by the powerful 12 member Guardian Council (which is not an elected body itself). There is a lot of the usual rhetoric in ads but no debates and at finally, at voting time, the majority of the public either stays at home or casts an empty protest vote.
This election however was different. In the final weeks, Tehran and other major cities took on a carnival feel with the youth using the pretense of campaigning for their chosen candidate to raise a little hell. They stayed up all night, played music, paraded through the streets showing off themselves and their banners on foot, on bikes and in cars.
This election had the first televised debate between the 4 carefully vetted candidates in the 30 year history of ‘Islamic democracy’. Everyone was expecting the usual soporific hour of national television but what they got instead was a total drag out, hard knuckle fight with many punches thrown below the belt.
Ahmadinejad crossed many socially unacceptable lines and named names. Iranian propaganda portrays the government as spotless. But Ahmjadinejad pointed out that his main opponent, Mousavi, was backed by Rafsanjani. He went on to accused his former rival of massive corruption. He dragged Rafsanjani’s sons into the fray saying that they have also amassed large fortunes by fraud. He dragged Mousavi’s wife into the debate by claiming that her academic degrees are meaningless. He accused his opponents of belonging to a cabal that wants to stop him because they want to be in power and steal from the national coffers.
Things got so heated that Rafsanjani, a very powerful power broker now operating mostly from the periphery, wrote a sternly worded letter of protest to Khamenei (the Supreme Leader) asking for his intervention.
If you were watching the final days with your friends through the Western media, you got the sense that some real change was afoot. There were raucous groups of youth wrapped in green ribbons (the color of Mousavi’s campaign – he is a Siyyid) chanting “Ahmadi-Bye-Bye”. You also discovered which of your friends is gullible.
What those expecting change missed is that northern Tehran is not the whole country. Ahmadinejad had toured through all of Iran handing out cold hard cash to poor families throughout his years as president. The rural vote in Iran always trumps the urban elite.
Oh and there’s another little thing that guaranteed Ahmadinejad would continue the two terms streak all previous presidents have enjoyed: the vote was rigged.
Using the official results released from the Iranian Interior Ministry, Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic shows just how a bald faced a lie the results are:
Since Iran is a diverse nation, the normal pattern of votes would have the results sway back and forth as regional results came in. Especially considering that the four candidates came from different part of the country. Mousavi, an Azari (who speaks Turkish fluently and has a clumsy grasp of Farsi), was a clear home town favourite in Azerbaijan (25% of the Iranian population are Azaris). There are no reliable statistics (the Interior Ministry said 85%) but there is much anecdotal evidence that this election had an extremely high voter turnout.
But the ‘official’ results would have us believe that Ahmadinejad beat Mousavi with the same 2-1 margin everywhere, including his opponent’s home province! and maintained this margin at each interval of vote counting!
All Iranian election results have been suspect but this latest farce is so transparent that it demonstrates just how comfortable the clerical ruling class has become. They do not even attempt to hide their control of the election. They have totally thrown off any previous dedication to the appearance of legitimacy. As you might expect, there are some who are protesting the results but expect the Revolutionary Guards (who were already put on high alert) to ruthless crush any uprisings as they have in the past.
You can see more pictures and videos of the unrest here.
If it wasn’t before, it is all too evident now that all Iranians are now prisoners in a totalitarian state. As I’ve said many times before, it is my ardent wish that fellow Baha’is in Iran realize the danger that they especially are in and leave so that they and their children can enjoy civilization.
There is a burst of activity in MSM, blogs (sites like youtube, facebook, etc. are blocked) but foreign journalists are stopped and their equipment confiscated.
Breaking news and analysis will be added to the bottom of this list to keep you updated:
- The Vote in Iran (Mother Jones)
- Iranian Election LiveBlogging (National Iranian American Council)
- Landslide or Fraud? (The Lede – NY Times Blog)
- Stealing the Iranian Elections (Juan Cole)
- Iran’s Election Monitoring Commission declares election results invalid (Peyke Iran website in Persian)
- Rumours that Rafsanjani Resigns (Stratfor)
- Ahmadinejad Re-Election; Protests Flare (New York Times)
- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faces defeat if election not rigged (Guardian)
- Flickr Photostream
- Ahmadinejad Backers Lay Groundwork for Massive Vote Rigging (Eurasianet)
- Mousavi Under House Arrest (Haaretz)
- Iran’s Ex-Foreign Minister Yazdi: It’s A Coup (the Nation)
- Some more pictures from the protests (Flickr)
- Real time twitter feed (Twitter)
- Crowd chases away secret policeman (BBC)
- Iran: There Will Be Blood (Washington Note)
- Iran’s Stolen Election (the New Yorker)
- Rejecting Charges of a North Tehran Fallacy (Juan Cole)
- Letter From Iran: The Day After (Salon.com)
- Interview with Iranian (CNN)
- Insurrection Day 2 (Michael Totten)
- Mousavi’s Letter to Iranians (MWC)
- HOW TO: Track Iran Election with Twitter and Social Media (Mashable)
- Liveblogging Iran’s Election Aftermath (Huffington Post)
- Don’t Call What Happened in Iran an Election (Slate)
- Canadian Journalist Gets Glimpse of Police State (Globe & Mail)
- Khamenei orders inquiry into vote-rigging claims (Guardian)
- Continuously Updated Info on Iran’s Disputed Elections (Guardian)
- Pro-Reform Marchers Fill Tehran Streets (NPR)
- Mousavi Joins Protesters on the Street (BBC)
- Life Twitter Feed from Tehran (mostly Persian) (Twitter)
- Iranian State TV Reporting on Protests for First Time (PressTV)
- Odds of Fraud (ABC News)
- Protests Intensify Breaking Taboos (ABC News)
- Criticism of “Terror Free Tomorrow” Election Poll (Juan Cole)
- Analysis of Provincial Election Results: Fishy Numbers (538)
- Firing into Protestors, One Killed (ABC News)
- Overview of the Cyber Warfare Waged in Iran (Wired)
- Blood in Tehran (Newsweek)
- Guardian Council Agrees to Recount (BBC)
- Election Results by Province (Guardian)
- State Dept Keeps Twitter Open(CNN)
- Abbas Amanat Weighs In (New York Times)
- Khamenei on the Ropes (The New Republic)
- Violence Against Students in Tehran (Independent)
- A Tehran Story – Eyewitness Account (American Footprints)
- Gallery of Destruction at Tehran University Dorm (Picasa)
- President Obama Comments on Iran (CNBC)
- Grand Ayatollah Montazeri Sides with Mousavi (McClatchy)
- Ahmadinejad Rally Photoshopped to Appear Larger (Daily Kos)
- The Leaders of Iranâ€™s â€?Election Coupâ€™ (Tehran Bureau)
- Was Iran’s election rigged? (CS Monitor)
- Iranian protesters’ slogans target Khamenei as the real enemy (Guardian)
- Guardian Council Proposes Meeting with Candidates (New York Times)
- Iranâ€™s former foreign minister arrested (Times Online)
- Interview with Farhad Sabetan (NPR)
- Khamenei Woos Rafsanjani, Threatens Protesters & Defends Election (New York Times)
- Video Report of Khamenei’s Sermon (BBC)
- An Eyewitness Account (Guardian)
- Rafsanjani’s Daughter Arrested (New York Times)
- Rafsanjani’s Daughter Released (BBC Persian)
- Rafsanjani Pressures Council for New Structure (al-Arabiya)
- Guardian Council Admits Voter Irregularities (Iranian Press)
- Chatham House Statistical Analysis of Iranian Election (PFF)
- Further Proof That Election Results Are False (Washington Post)
- New Tactic Using the Bazaar (The Field)
- Watching The Lord of the Rings in Tehran (Time)
- Iran: Night Raids Terrorize Civilians (Human Rights Watch)
- Iran’s mass arrests: Broadest since 1979 Islamic revolution (CS Monitor)
- EU states set to recall Iran ambassadors (FT)