Anatomy of Iran’s Right Wing Coup

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chavez_ahmadinejad.jpgFirst read the passionate, informed blogging insider accounts from Khatami adviser Mohammad Ali Abtahi. Here’s a taste:

There was a lot of difference between yesterday and last night. Yesterday Iran was joyful because of changing the fate. Every body participated in. But last night was a shocking and bitter night. Like 4 years ago, Fars news agency and Keyhan announced news. It was unbelievable. Little by little news became as heavy as a mountain in front of every body that had seen it was not real.
At the same time Mr. Mosavi announced his victory in election. But information was formal and it was announced around the world and nation was anxious. It was more important than cheating. Some ones call it a white coup. I was in contact with various committees. It was not possible to sleep. I went to visit Mr. Karobi two times, once at 2 a.m. I talked with many friends in Mr. Mosavi’s committee. Everybody was shocked.
Whenever I had opportunity I connected to the face book. Friends, who were checking the results second by second, were really upset. They desired I had hopeful comments but I didn’t. It was difficult situation.
Mr. Ahmadi Nejad’s supporters captured the city despite demonstration was prohibited. I slept 2 or 3 hours. I went to Mr. Khatami’s office in the morning. He had just come from a meeting and he was going to one another. I read the statement of Mr. Mosavi. It was really obvious. Then I went to the Mr. Karobi’s office. He was writing his statement too. I interviewed with Persian BBC.
I analyzed the obvious cheating. It was a huge swindling.

Then, Columbia University Iran expert and occasional blogger Gary Sick has one of the best round-up analyses of what this all really means that I have read — and he links to Juan Cole‘s excellent analysis as well:

If the reports coming out of Tehran about an electoral coup are sustained, then Iran has entered an entirely new phase of its post-revolution history. One characteristic that has always distinguished Iran from the crude dictators in much of the rest of the Middle East was its respect for the voice of the people, even when that voice was saying things that much of the leadership did not want to hear.
In 1997, Iran’s hard line leadership was stunned by the landslide election of Mohammed Khatami, a reformer who promised to bring rule of law and a more human face to the harsh visage of the Iranian revolution. It took the authorities almost a year to recover their composure and to reassert their control through naked force and cynical manipulation of the constitution and legal system. The authorities did not, however, falsify the election results and even permitted a resounding reelection four years later. Instead, they preferred to prevent the president from implementing his reform program.
In 2005, when it appeared that no hard line conservative might survive the first round of the presidential election, there were credible reports of ballot manipulation to insure that Mr Ahmadinejad could run (and win) against former president Rafsanjani in the second round. The lesson seemed to be that the authorities might shift the results in a close election but they would not reverse a landslide vote.
The current election appears to repudiate both of those rules. The authorities were faced with a credible challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, who had the potential to challenge the existing power structure on certain key issues. He ran a surprisingly effective campaign, and his “green wave” began to be seen as more than a wave. In fact, many began calling it a Green Revolution. For a regime that has been terrified about the possibility of a “velvet revolution,” this may have been too much.
On the basis of what we know so far, here is the sequence of events starting on the afternoon of election day, Friday, June 12.
* Near closing time of the polls, mobile text messaging was turned off nationwide
* Security forces poured out into the streets in large numbers
* The Ministry of Interior (election headquarters) was surrounded by concrete barriers and armed men
* National television began broadcasting pre-recorded messages calling for everyone to unite behind the winner
* The Mousavi campaign was informed officially that they had won the election, which perhaps served to temporarily lull them into complacency
* But then the Ministry of Interior announced a landslide victory for Ahmadinejad
* Unlike previous elections, there was no breakdown of the vote by province, which would have provided a way of judging its credibility
* The voting patterns announced by the government were identical in all parts of the country, an impossibility (also see the comments of Juan Cole at the title link)
* Less than 24 hours later, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamene`i publicly announced his congratulations to the winner, apparently confirming that the process was complete and irrevocable, contrary to constitutional requirements
* Shortly thereafter, all mobile phones, Facebook, and other social networks were blocked, as well as major foreign news sources.

Read Gary Sick’s entire passage.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

33 comments on “Anatomy of Iran’s Right Wing Coup

  1. Triptych says:

    This piece says it all. The coup efforts have not stopped for a second. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.
    “The goal of these strategies, Corsi announced at his event, was to incite mass protests against Iran’s June 17 presidential elections and thus try to destabilize the regime.”
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/GG06Ak03.html

    Reply

  2. David says:

    Good points, rich.

    Reply

  3. rich says:

    David,
    Strange bedfellows and power politics eventually display the Hussein-Rumsfeld handshake (were they ever really different?) and the Chavez-Achmadinejad hug (right-winger vs. avowed leftist). Partners of convenience make common cause with their ideological/sworn enemy. Doesn’t always work out (U.S. in El Salvador, Iraq)
    The accuracy of the analogy is in how Iran and Venezuela wield resources to exert regional influence. Venezuela supplies deeply discounted (if not free) oil to Cuba, boosting its economy, improving quality of life and easing popular pressure on the current leadership.
    Iran funnels resources to Hezbollah, some of which has been used for community development (schools, etc.). Learned that on this great blog called The Washington Note. Iran’s money has built a better life for Hezbollah’s constituency in Lebanon, improving relations and improving popularity.
    Now if the U.S. started helping folks in other countries build a better life instead of bombing wedding parties, maybe we’d have more friends and a much stronger national security stance. Instead, we continue to bomb the Pakistani villages in order to save them.
    @ Carroll @ 2:37PM:
    ” . . . . if you going to put up a Thugs gallery, better include everyone. Everybody is a thug to someone.”
    — Ev ery body thugs some body sometime . . . (/musical note)

    Reply

  4. David says:

    If Chavez has understandings with Ahmadenijad, then it might be a situation parallel to Rumsfeld’s infamous handshake with Saddam Hussein. And to the extent that Chavez is playing US-style Great Game politics, he is taking the same risks and creating the same kinds of problems as we have since we embraced the notion of “vital US interests,” at least as that concept has been traditionally understood.
    Now all Chavez has to do is find two nations at war and aid both sides, as we did in the Iran-Iraq War, for “vital US interests,” and he can claim a seat at the table of the big time players. Chavez is certainly short on wisdom at times, and driven by US meddling to take strongman measures domestically, but he is all too justified in his reaction to the historical nature of US dominance in the Americas (and beyond).
    To Obama’s credit, he acknowledged in his Cairo speech US complicity in the overthrow of Mossadegh. This, I imagine, has our domestic right wing praying for Obama’s utter failure in the Middle East. As GHWB said, “I will never apologize for the actions of the United States,” or something to that effect. Wish he would also acknowledge that the US meddled in Venezualan internal politics and was complicit in the short-lived overthrow of his democratically elected government, to which the Venezualans responded by putting him back in power.
    Mexico is now so debilitated by the drug cartel mayhem that they are for all practical purposes powerless, but Central and South America have pretty much had it with past US dominance, interference, and military action against their countries. That page has been turned, and we’d better start reading and comprehending the new chapter.
    Steve, I also reacted negatively to the picture in this context. Were this about the consequences of US policies toward Venezuela, I would have reacted differently.

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  5. WWB says:

    Count me in with those objecting to the “right-wing”
    label on this post. In the U.S. right now, there
    isn’t much disagreement between the mainstream right
    and left about the post-election situation in Iran.
    Obviously this blog’s audience is in the United
    States, and Ahmadinejad (and the ayatollahs) have
    little in common with the American right — indeed
    their most vocal opponents tend to be on the
    American right — so titling this post as such not
    only doesn’t make any sense, it also seems bad
    faith.
    Not what I’m used to from Clemons, so color me
    disappointed.

    Reply

  6. MNPundit says:

    A blurb from Ardeshir Arian is the source. It’s from the Bathrobes though so I’m considering it strictly a rumor for now. Found it via a link from Sully to Totten to Arian.
    http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/iranians-protest-government-cracks-down/2/

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  7. Dan Kervick says:

    MNPundit, where were those rumors reported? What is their source.

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  8. MNPundit says:

    Actually rumors are now popping up that in addition to Arab security forces (Hezbollah guys shipped to Iran) VENEZUELA is sending police to assist Amahdi.
    Combine this with the regular army declaring neutrality (they’ll defend the borders but not act against their own people) and things just got hotter.

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  9. Dan Kervick says:

    I have no problem with the linking of Iran and Venezuela, since they are clearly self-declared allies in a common global agenda. But I would like to understand more about Steve’s views of Venezuela’s “meddling” in the “internal politics” of neighboring countries. Venezuela under Chavez clearly practices a very activist and engaged foreign policy, seeking to enlist other states in a common program against US domination. But isn’t most of this agenda above board and straightforward, driven by a lot of diplomacy, even personal diplomacy, with the legitimate leaders of other countries. In what ways is Venezuela interfering in what are the properly domestic spheres of other countries?

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  10. Carroll says:

    Posted by Franklin, Jun 14 2009, 4:59AM – Link
    Anon 4:40 AM,
    The question is: What is your standard of appropriate conduct?
    Simply calling people a hypocrite isn’t an answer.
    In reference to the Palestinian election, the U.S. and Israelis didn’t manufacture a result that fit their liking — they didn’t interfere with the democratic process. Hamas won.>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Yep, whereupon the Palestine democratic process was ignored and the winner Hamas rejected by the two ‘democracies’ of the US and Israel.
    Gawd, keping a grip on sanity when all those about you are insane, is a full time occupation.

    Reply

  11. Carroll says:

    I have to agree with Don and Rich, if you going to put up a Thugs gallery, better include everyone. Everybody is a thug to someone.

    Reply

  12. Carroll says:

    Everyone is too carried away with the “coup” in Iran. How different is it than the Bush Kerry coup? Not much…Supreme Court, Supreme Leader ..little difference actually.
    Besides which, from what I have read from reporters on the ground prior to the vote everyone and their brother was trying to screw with this election,including Israel who jammed cell phones inside Iran even before the voting.
    Achmadenijad was/is colorful but what did he actually “do” except verbally spar with the US and poke Israel? If Iran killed 2000 of it’s own citizens in one whack as Georgia did I must have missed it. Must have also missed their slaughtering a few thousand of their neighbors as Israel did in Gaza and also missed their bombing Syria and Lebanon.
    Maybe Mousavi was suspected as being too close to the US and voters didn’t want another US puppet…who knows? Could be the Supreme Leader averted a US coup. Some in Iran might have remembered the Shah.
    I seriously doubt that the average Iranian would feel any different under Mousavi about their right to have nuclear energy or even nukes to protect them from Israel who threatens to bomb them 24/7 every day, day in, day out…ad nausum.
    So all in all how has this changed anything re their differences with the US or ours with them?
    I doubt the election or coup is going to change Obama’s approach to Iran unless Iran actually “DOES” something crazy.
    Much as some wish it would.

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  13. Carroll says:

    Everyone is too carried away with the “coup” in Iran. How different is it than the Bush Kerry coup? Not much…Supreme Court, Supreme Leader ..little difference actually.
    Besides which, from what I have read from reporters on the ground prior to the vote everyone and their brother was trying to screw with this election,including Israel who jammed cell phones inside Iran even before the voting.
    Achmadenijad was/is colorful but what did he actually “do” except verbally spar with the US and poke Israel? If Iran killed 2000 of it’s own citizens in one whack as Georgia did I must have missed it. Must have also missed their slaughtering a few thousand of their neighbors as Israel did in Gaza and also missed their bombing Syria and Lebanon.
    Maybe Mousavi was suspected as being too close to the US and voters didn’t want another US puppet…who knows? Could be the Supreme Leader averted a US coup. Some in Iran might have remembered the Shah.
    I seriously doubt that the average Iranian would feel any different under Mousavi about their right to have nuclear energy or even nukes to protect them from Israel who threatens to bomb them 24/7 every day, day in, day out…ad nausum.
    So all in all how has this changed anything re their differences with the US or ours with them?
    I doubt the election or coup is going to change Obama’s approach to Iran unless Iran actually “DOES” something crazy.
    Much as some wish might it would.

    Reply

  14. rich says:

    Steve —
    No problem; thanks for shedding some light.
    Agree that “confronting [both] with strategic smartness” is key. It’s what’s been missing.
    And sure, Iran and Venezuela are not above thuggery, but then, neither is America, as Bush’s willingness to, as you put it “meddl[e] in the internal politics of neighboring nations” amply demonstrates. (See: Seymour Hersh re (illegal) covert ops inside Iran, and our 1953 coup; various re the Venezuelan coup.)
    As you point out, assessing the “the geostrategic significance of [moves by] Iran and Venezuela” has been interesting.
    I agree on the Iran/Venezuela-as-regional-player analogy — at least as far interestingness.
    What constitutes “strategic smartness” in dealing with both nations is the question.
    Of course, we do exactly what Iran and Venezuela do to exert influence beyond our borders — and that’s obviously raised the hackles of the leadership in both countries. It’s entirely reasonable that perceiving that threat in teh substance of past U.S. actions has reinforced support for hard-liner views and preserved the grip on power held by Achmadenijad & Chavez.
    I know you support engagement, Steve; strategic smartness needs to remove the threat we pose, and remove the political causes both leaders deploy to rally support and extend influence. Obama’s decision on settlements is a smart, critical step. Getting that issue off the table eases the threat to Isreal and sets the stage for Iranian give.
    It’s not simply that coups, covert ops, assassinations and torture do not comport with American foundational values, it’s that they lend ammunition and political power to our adversaries. Hearts & minds matters on the battlefield in military terms as well on the political stage. Actually giving away a political Just Cause, for them to champion and justify their actions, in no way helps us. I know the record and our actions in this area is nothing new. And sometimes tough tactics are required. But King George III wouldn’t have faced a colonial insurrection had he been responsive to the basic and reasonable grievances of Englishmen. And that dynamic is the same the world over.
    *** *** ***
    YOUR exchange with NIR ROSEN in comments re prioritizing regional stability vs. addressing the grievances of communities represented by Hezbollah, Hamas, etc., had the POTENTIAL to get at this issue — > the two concerns are intensely related.
    It’s hard if not impossible to achieve regional, state-level stability unless responsible states are willing to fulfill their obligations to citizens/communities by providing a judicial and political avenue to resolve differences and compensate for mistakes.
    And by ‘compensate’ I do not mean offering cash money to civilian Gazans in ‘cases where the IDF/Israel is willing to admit mistakes’. Not waiting for widespread admissions; cash is not justice; even if were it doesn’t get at root causes in policy or dearth of justice.
    But the tension in the NIR ROSEN-STEVE CLEMONS agendas really points to a closer look at where your priorities might intersect. What does the interplay of tactics look like? Are your respective positions actually the flip side of the other’s major concern? If so, how could the two of you coordinate tactics for maximal effect?
    The justice-stability equation is frought with reluctance and intensely-held anger. But when it’s broken, we’re SOL.
    Great stuff as always; hard to keep up when I’m buried in work.
    Thx,
    R

    Reply

  15. steve clemons says:

    Rich — I support engagement with both of these regional thugs
    who are meddling in the internal politics of neighboring nations
    and who need to be confronted with strategic smartness. I posted
    both up there because they remind me of each other — and the
    geostrategic significance of what Iran and Venezuela are doing has
    a lot of similarities….to some degree, I view Venezuela as the Iran
    of Latin America — and Cuba has a similar position in that
    relationship as Syria. I liked my choice of picture….
    all best, and thanks for the interesting comments and critique.
    steve

    Reply

  16. rich says:

    Respectfully, use of the Chavez photo is poorly considered.
    The last two Venezuelan elections were certified by both the OAS and the Carter Center.
    Prior to that, Bush had worked with Venezuelan rightists to engineer a coup to oust Chavez. So the U.S. doesn’t have any high ground from which to moralize when it comes to the integrity of Venezuelan governance. U.S. leaders regularly display contempt for Venezuelan sovereignty; our nominal concern for its internal politics is hardly sincere.
    Hugo Chavez is no saint. I disagree with his politics and he’s neither as effective nor as benevolent as anyone would like.
    But when it came to reforming or changing the structure of governance, Hugo Chavez followed the law: “On August 15, 2007, Chavez proposed a broad package of measures as part of a constitutional reform.”
    And that’s far more than Dick Cheney or David Addington or John ‘torture me, bro!’ Yoo can say.
    I’ll grant this much: Chavez wanted to retain power just as the folks behind Achmadenijad do. But unlike the Iranian leadership, Chavez apparently went through the prescribed process.
    “Among other measures, he called for an end to presidential term limits and proposed limiting central bank autonomy, strengthening state expropriation powers and providing for public control over international reserves as part of an overhaul of Venezuela’s constitution.”
    The result: Chavez lost in a democratic referendum. And abided by it: “The final test was a December 2, 2007 referendum.[39] The referendum was defeated, with 51% of the voters rejecting the amendments proposed by Chávez.”
    Again, I don’t admire Chavez and I dislike his tactics.
    Like Karl Rove, it’s reasonable to say Chavez has worked to manipulate the levers of governance for political purposes, and poisoned the body politic to win elections and hold power. Some of just translates Texas-style power politics & New Jersey patronage into the Venezuelan cultural/political context.
    I don’t like it, but as the duly elected leader, Chavez has that power and right, just as Tom DeLay exercised his power to gerrymander a permanent Republican majority. DeLay was no doubt motivated by his love of pure democratic principle, yet for some reason few protestations were heard on from the right side of the political spectrum at the time. (any discomfort expressed here was fairly muted, as I recall)
    http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=3396
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=12051
    The two informative links document the media’s & establishment’s continual mischaracterization of Chavez’s actual proposal: Mayor Bloomberg removed term limits too, and that didn’t make him a ‘would-be autocrat’. Those regularly-used terms tell us much about why Chavez is viewed as a ‘problem’ for Washington.
    American detractors have never been concerned about dictators generally or lack of term limits specifically — but time and again have demonstrated intense will-to-action when sovereign nations “propose limiting central bank autonomy, strengthening state expropriation powers and providing for public control over international reserves.”
    Again, I don’t defend Chavez, as he’s hardly on the up-n-up and there’s not much to admire. But much of his move to tighten his grip on power came in reaction to Bush’s backing/ facilitation /sponsorship of the failed coup attempt against Chavez. So VERY democratic of us, and that hypocrisy really exposes the criticism of Chavez’s commitment to democracy as agenda-driven: dont’ forget that the OAS & Carter Center both certified two Przntl elections in Venezuela.
    Sure, Chavez is an irritant. After all, he’s honest, which is the worst kind of fly-in-the-party-ointment: his pungent identification of Bush’s character and U.S. substance at the UN provided the sunlight of honesty to a dank & dim American governance closed from debate if not entirely from view. Chavez smelled Bush’s sulphur; a characterization as personal as it is close to home. (Is recounting this reality upsetting?) Chavez’ UN speech led Washington Week’s highly esteemed Gwen Ifill to transition in 2 seconds flat from a discussion of American torture (100 died under American torture) to Chavez’ el diablo/sulphur UN comments: “What’s going on here?” quoth Ifill disingenuously, omitting to mention that PBS producers had censored the use of the word ‘torture’ on the NewsHour, her other show.
    But the feigned ignorance of Chavez’ reference to Bush’s torture program was just ineffectual. And dumb: everybody knew what DC refused to fix and that DC had departed from the rule of law. And so Hugo Chavez is perceived as) a thorn in the political establishment’s side only because he is honest. Whatever his faults — and aGAin, they are many — Chavez is on equal if not superior footing with Bush when it comes to torture. That extends to US policy generally, as (to my knowledge) Chavez did not train Latin American intel servicess how to torture their own citizens — but America did so for decades at the School of the Americas.
    Now, please note: I don’t have time to whip up a Master’s thesis this morning on Venezuelan electioneering & governance. So let’s all give The Washington Note credit where it’s due as well as the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps Steve hasn’t had time to perform that kind of in-depth research either. I think we can all grant him the same credit he extends to us. Right?
    Steve’s linkage of Achmadenijad to Chavez is out of character. (Whether Steve intended so or not)it does serve to reinforce what has been a rather transparent agenda/bias in the US media and is clearly a staple of the American political establishment.
    If that’s not the case, then perhaps Steve would like to make explicit his purpose in posting the photo.

    Reply

  17. ... says:

    cookies and milk, thanks for the usa view from kuwait…

    Reply

  18. Shahram says:

    I Live in Iran.SMS is turned off yet.
    newspaper are controled.
    Mosavi’s and Karubbi’s newspaper are closed.
    police on streets.
    people are sad and disappointment
    yes It is a REAL COUP

    Reply

  19. Cookies_and_milk says:

    As leftists go, the poster ‘…’ never disappoints. People had their voices robbed nakedly and humiliatingly right in front of them and he’s accusing them of being american and jewish spies. You’d fit right in with the theocratic fascists ruling Iran.

    Reply

  20. Steve Clemons says:

    YY — I disagree with you. best regards, Steve Clemons

    Reply

  21. YY says:

    Why use a photo with Chavez? While there is some common ground in terms of being victims of America’s demonizing, the none too subtle message of similarities in dishonest electioneering is cheap and bogus.

    Reply

  22. Franklin says:

    Anon 4:40 AM,
    The question is: What is your standard of appropriate conduct?
    Simply calling people a hypocrite isn’t an answer.
    In reference to the Palestinian election, the U.S. and Israelis didn’t manufacture a result that fit their liking — they didn’t interfere with the democratic process. Hamas won.
    In the case of Iran, we don’t even get to that point, so the analogy falls apart.
    The current Iranian leadership apparently has so little confidence in its popular support and legitimacy that they had to manufacture a result just to stay in power.

    Reply

  23. anonymous says:

    From a post by Helena Cobban, http://justworldnews.org/
    “All this commentating in the American media about whether
    the Iranian powers-that-be have negated the results of the
    election held there yesterday prompt me to ask about the
    Palestinian parliamentary elections of January 2006.
    How many Americans have ever protested the negating of those
    certifiedly free and fair elections, that was carried our by our
    government in coalition with the government of Israel?
    … Or, protested other acts like the assassination attempts made
    by Israel against the political leaders duly elected in Palestine in
    2006… or, Israel’s imprisonment without trial of around 40 of
    the legislators elected in those elections… or the damaging,
    collective-punishment siege that Israel imposed on 1.5 million
    Gazans, and continue to maintain in harsh form until today, in
    order to “punish” them for the way they voted in 2006… or, the
    US government project to arms and train a insurgent force
    tasked to overthrow the results of the elections by force… or,
    the full-scale military assault Israel launched in December to try
    to overthrow the results of the 2006 elections by brute force…
    or, the numerous other moves made to negate the results of
    those elections and to punish or kill their victors… ?
    Just asking.
    It strikes me that having a single standard of behavior to apply
    in response to the results of elections in other countries would
    be a mighty handy thing for a country that aspires to be a
    worldwide “beacon of democracy” to have.”
    And for Steve Clemons too.

    Reply

  24. ... says:

    what we know: the usa has always had a policy of intervention… it might be hard to fathom or know the hidden workings of it, but many of the posters comments here are further testimony to it and supportive of it as they were the war in iraq which is still very much going on… interventionist usa with a populace totally on side with it..
    what we also know is there was an ‘orange’ revolution that had all the making of foreign backed support a while ago in the ukraine… now we are told of a ‘green’ revolution… one would like to hope there’s no connection, but the usa’s track record is no help when wondering….

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  25. pedram says:

    to b: Steve’s calling of Ahmadi Nejad is actually correct, there is
    almost no political party in Iran; Ahmadi Nejad better to say is a
    right wing extremist, trust me there are left extremists as well.
    What you call Social-democrat is also not comparable with its
    western equal; what they call a reformist in Iran means a semi-
    open minded islamic liberalist, and explanation of islamic
    liberalism is a story itself.
    Honestly I don’t understand why you are trying to use the word
    “Democrat” or “Democracy” , that mechanism is something you
    raised with it, you grew up with it. An iranian can not translate it
    in reality, enough to say that people there call it a free elections
    no matter only 4 nominees passed an isolated type of committee
    to be a president
    I really like the the way Steve listed the events one after each
    other.
    -There is a reasonable list of reformists, left wing activists and
    Mousavi supporters who got arrested today..
    -There was a wave of misleads who forced a lot young voters to
    participate in Riots; pumped by know abusers who want a full
    revolution in Iran for almost 30 years; people hate them in Iran,
    and also outside of Iran, this gave enough meat to extremists to
    feed the news:
    -You can read in “Keyhan” the most important newspaper
    supporting the supreme leader: “the spider network of our anti-
    islamic country has been compromised, watch out people”,
    pointing fingers to Mousavi supporters or, “They call a 33 million
    vote a coup, isn’t it interesting”
    The whole story yesterday just reminded me of Soviet 1991 coup
    attempt.

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  26. Franklin says:

    Mousavi wasn’t exactly “out of politics”.
    He was in an advisory committee to the Supreme Leader — appointed by the Supreme Leader from 2002-2007.
    Of course, a mind that wants to see conspiracies will see conspiracies. The CIA controls the world!
    In fact, the simple fact that a candidate passed through the Iranian vetting process is a clear indication that the person is a CIA proxy.
    The only candidates untainted by the CIA are those who were rejected in the first place and unable to run for election.
    So, we can at least take comfort that Ahmadinejad himself is on the CIA payroll. Everybody wins!

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  27. Evan says:

    Right wing coup…
    Only in social matters. Economically it would be labeled a left-wing coup.
    Ahmadinejad is, as that picture points out, very close to Chavez, and well perhaps not socially, they both have similar economic beliefs which are LEFT WING.
    PLEASE… don’t turn this into a left-wing vs right-wing partison hack-job, regardless of their social or economic views, Ahmadinejad is a terrible person and the other candidates are all preferable?
    Stop being a bunch of ignorant children so we can all share information and discuss what is a bipartison issue.

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  28. Don Bacon says:

    This guy was out of politics for twenty years and then — surprise! — he declares three months before the election that he wants to be president, upon which substantial financial support results in a sea of green flags and noisy Tehran rallies. Well, there’s more to Iran than Tehran, and if it walks like the CIA and quacks like the CIA it must be the CIA. Again.

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  29. Franklin says:

    Ahmadinejad is theocratic, authoritarian with a paramilitary force.
    He’s not progressive when it comes to social policy. His economic policy may have some populist elements to it, but his morality policy brigades are more in line with socially conservative policy.
    He is clearly right-wing in his political orientation. All of the vetted candidates are right-wingers to one degree or another. Mousavi’s statements about women’s rights though would definitely be considered socially liberal in the context of Iranian politics. Having his wife appear at campaign stops was also a new kind of political development.
    As far as Mousavi being a “credible challenger” pre-election polls suggested as much.
    He had the backing of Rafsanjani and Khatami who are major political figures.
    Plus with high inflation and high unemployment any incumbent president in any somewhat open political system is more likely to lose than not.
    You’re misrepresenting Fisk’s article too Don — you take one anecdote from his article as if Fisk’s entire piece was about how the vote was in fact a legitimate exercise.
    Read some of his other pieces about the Iranian election. Even his reference to Ahmadinejad as the “Democrator” show him tilting his hand.
    People who claim that the vote was rigged by the Israeli hawks are just as far out in right-field as those who suggest that — yes, Ahmadinejad likely won on the vote outright.
    It would have bolstered Ahmadinejad’s legitimacy if the vote counting process was itself independently monitored, rather than conducted in the dark by his subordinates. He had every reason to open the process up if he believed that he was going to win.
    The fact that it was conducted by his deputies without independent oversight opens the door wide open for manipulation. Even the reported results suggest that his people simply wrote a number down on paper that achieved a desired outcome.

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  30. Don Bacon says:

    “The authorities were faced with a credible challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi.”
    Mousavi is a “credible challenger” after having been out of politics for twenty years? TWENTY YEARS! I don’t think so.

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  31. b says:

    Looking at economic policies (it’s the economy – stupid) Ahmadianjad is a social-democrat while Mousavi (and Rafsanjani behind him) are the neo-liberals.
    Why Steve then characterizes Ahmadinajad as “right-wing” is beyond me.

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  32. JohnH says:

    How can Steve label this as a “right wing coup?” Certainly, Ahmadinejad is a right wing populist. But it be hard to imagine Rafsanjani, the richest man in the country, as a flaming progressive. Or his candidate Mousavi.
    Rather than being a right wing coup, if it in fact is a coup at all, it’s a power grab by a certain right wing faction to assert primacy over other right wing factions.
    And, of course, Steve has to show a picture of Ahmadinejad hugged by Chavez. Is Chavez now a right winger, too? What is Steve trying to suggest? Birds of a feather? In fact, Chavez has won a free, internationally monitored election, including referendums, almost every year he has been in power. (He lost once, too.) Is that why Steve does not like Chavez, because he wins freely and democratically? (Note: in a democracy people elect you to pursue your own national interests, not those of the USA. This may be hard for some foreign policy experts to fathom…)

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  33. Yiannis says:

    Democracies are not built on mechanistic procedures like voting, but on the will of the people that they be represented. If so many people really voted for Massavi, they should take the streets of Tehran and get themselves represented.
    The most interesting form of disobedience I have seen has been that female protesters of Massavi wore heavy make up.
    The Obama rise to power has driven the people and the establishment of Tehran squarely opposite each other.

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