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  #1  
Old 06-14-2009, 02:21 PM
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News So, Iran, huh?

For those who weren't glued to Sullivan all of yesterday, here's a liveblog of the ongoing fallout over the fraudulent elections.

This is some crazy shit, amirite? All oppo candidates under house arrest. Protesters beaten/killed on the streets. Internet and media blackouts. There's even talk of overthrowing Khameni.

This is blowing my mind. I remember the '79 revolution. My dad was actually on a business to trip in Tehran at the time. His friends told him to get the hell out of Dodge 2 days before the hostages were taken.

Why didn't Ahmadinejad just rig a close victory instead of going for the over-the-top landslide? What's going to happen next?
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  #2  
Old 06-14-2009, 02:27 PM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

Let's not forget that he's an idiot.

My guess is he is going to get away with it, though. The opposition will grumblingly except their fate again after enough of them have been rounded up.
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Old 06-14-2009, 02:36 PM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

Yesterday morning I would have said the same. Things feel a lot bloodier to me 24 hours later. Perhaps I've been reading too many bloggers.

Quote:
But the scariest point he made to me that I had not heard anywhere else is that this "coup by the right wing" has created pressures that cannot be solved or patted down by the normal institutional arrangements Iran has constructed. The Guardian Council and other power nodes of government can't deal with the current crisis and can't deal with the fact that a civil war has now broken out among Iran's revolutionaries.

My contact predicted serious violence at the highest levels. He said that Ahmadinejad is now genuinely scared of Iranian society and of Mousavi and Rafsanjani. The level of tension between them has gone beyond civil limits -- and my contact said that Ahmadinejad will try to have them imprisoned and killed.

Likewise, he said, Rafsanjani, Khatami, and Mousavi know this -- and thus are using all of the instruments at their control within Iran's government apparatus to fight back -- but given Khamenei's embrace of Ahmadinejad's actions in the election and victory, there is no recourse but to try and remove Khamenei. Some suggest that Rafsanjani will count votes to see if there is a way to formally dislodge Khamenei -- but this source I met said that all of these political giants have resources at their disposal to "do away with" those that get in the way.

He predicted that the so-called reformist camp -- who are not exactly humanists in the Western liberal sense -- may try and animate efforts to decapitate the regime and "do away with" Ahmadinejad and even the Supreme Leader himself.
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Old 06-14-2009, 02:50 PM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

Goddam what a scary clusterfuck. Iran sucks.
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Old 06-14-2009, 04:22 PM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

Holy crap. A Kos diarist has what purport to be the real vote tallies leaked from the Ministry of the Interior.

Quote:
Unofficial news - reports leaked results from Interior Ministry:
Eligible voters: 49,322,412
Votes cast: 42,026,078
Spoilt votes: 38,716
Mir Hossein Mousavi: 19,075,623
Mehdi Karoubi: 13,387,104
Mahmoud Ahmadi-nejad (incumbent): 5,698,417
Mohsen Rezaei (conservative candidate): 3,754,218
If this is even close to true....
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Old 06-14-2009, 04:34 PM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

Aren't the elections kindof irrelevant anyway? The Supreme Council runs the place, not the President.

I'd be surprised if those numbers are true: For multiple people to leak it, it would have to have been fairly widely distributed information, and as the old phrase goes, once two people know something, it's no longer a secret. Unless they're incredibly incompetent, they'd have kept the numbers compartmentalised and not shown any central/combined tallies, let alone widely distributed them.

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Old 06-14-2009, 04:36 PM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

I have my doubts about these numbers too. I am pretty sure Ahmadinejad did not win, but I very much doubt he came in third with less than a third of the votes Moussavi got. And I also don't think that leak is very credible.

As for the elections being irrelevant: this takes away even the pretense that change is possible from within the system. The safety valve is now blocked.
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Old 06-14-2009, 04:48 PM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

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Originally Posted by California Tanker View Post
Aren't the elections kindof irrelevant anyway? The Supreme Council runs the place, not the President.
That's overly simplistic, I think. For one thing, if elections were irrelevant this one wouldn't have been so blatantly rigged. For another thing, the Guardian Council is not a single unified block nor is it the sole ruling body.

Here's a handy flowchart courtesy of the BBC:



Quote:
I'd be surprised if those numbers are true: For multiple people to leak it, it would have to have been fairly widely distributed information, and as the old phrase goes, once two people know something, it's no longer a secret. Unless they're incredibly incompetent, they'd have kept the numbers compartmentalised and not shown any central/combined tallies, let alone widely distributed them.
Well, I think the competence horse has long since left the barn in this particular rigging. The above tallies are nothing more than rumor at this point and may well be fiction, but I don't think their plausibility is lessened by the fact that Ahmadinejad et al would have to be incredibly incompetent for the tallies to be accurate. They are incredibly incompetent.
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Old 06-14-2009, 05:39 PM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

I thought something was up when the election results were posted so quickly.
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Old 06-14-2009, 05:56 PM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

Iran, and Iranian democracy, are models of success compared to certain places not too far from here.
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Old 06-14-2009, 06:03 PM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

Yeah, until now the chance that someone from outside of the political elite would be able to become president seemed greater than in the US...
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Old 06-14-2009, 06:55 PM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

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Originally Posted by California Tanker View Post
Aren't the elections kindof irrelevant anyway?
Obama does not run the USA, let alone Ahmadinejad Iran. Elections have relevance in legitimizing (for those who buy into the myth) power relations which are deeply systemic and structural and so largely orthogonal to which talking head is elected. People in the proverbial street feel that they have ultimate power, keeping revolution at bay. In accepting the simplistic and misleading narrative that they run the country they fail to understand that the real power networks are fundamentally both elite and, in 'their' system, economic.
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Old 06-14-2009, 07:12 PM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

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Originally Posted by Watser? View Post
Yeah, until now the chance that someone from outside of the political elite would be able to become president seemed greater than in the US...
Just because incumbents win elections 90% of the time in the US does not mean that people outside the elite can't win. Oh, wait...
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Old 06-14-2009, 08:15 PM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

After the 2004 elections in Ukraine there was a new wave of literature on post-election protests and violence that may wind up being relevant. I'm reluctant to make any predictions without applying a specialized knowledge of Iran and its hybrid government, which I certainly don't have, but there are still some interesting theoretical insights.

Analysis of mass political protests often stumbles over the collective action dilemma. Basically, why should anyone join a mass protest when they can get the social benefits of the protest without incurring the social costs simply by letting other people do it? This is especially true in a place where state-directed violence against protesters is a likely outcome. We get around the collective action dilemma by looking at the individual decision to join a protest. The fundamental dynamic of protest behavior rests upon two individual perceptions: the motivation of the protester, and his/her confidence that protest action will produce the desired result. William Gamson, a sociologist at BC, theorized that the idea of trust is central to this calculus; distrust of the incumbent motivates protesters to participate and trust in the challenger provides confidence that protest actions can produce the desired outcome. It's called a trust differential. In essence, it will come down to Moussavi's ability to get his supporters to trust him and distrust Ahmadinejad. It seems ridiculous, but once the fraud is committed, the scale of the fraud - and indeed the actual vote totals - cease to matter in terms of the protest.

Moussavi seems to be doing the right thing in requesting permission for rallies. He's staying within the legal framework of the state, so he can't be arrested for incitement or anything. If permission is denied, that could depress trust in Ahmadinejad, and if it is granted it will reduce individual fears of state retribution. There is also the question of who grants this permission: municipal authorities in Tehran? In Kiev in 2004, for example, the mayor of Kiev intervened decisively on the side of Yushchenko by allowing protesters free access to city parks and squares. The Interior Ministry? Ahmadinejad controls it. The theocracy? My money says that the elected side of the government will grant permission for protests but the unelected side of the government will try to find a way to stop them, thus muddling the situation in favor of the incumbent. Moussavi also needs to stress the need for absolutely peaceful protests. This isn't a revolution and if the protesters take the streets with guns or Molotov cocktails they will be arrested or worse, and the state will be able to smother the opposition with total legitimacy in the name of public order and safety.

That's part of the protest side of the story. Academically I'm more interested in the incumbent side. How do regimes successfully execute election fraud? They’ve already done one important thing and shut down the SMS network, a critical organizing tool for the opposition. Ahmadinejad controls the Interior Ministry and therefore presumably security forces, but he will have to be restrained in their use. So far, he has been, and has only arrested some key and visible members of the opposition. The regime needs to show protests to be scattered and isolated groups of students rather than organized and centralized groups representative of the entire population. Finally, I think Ahmadinejad has done a good job of trying to claim Azadi Square, the site of 1979 revolutionary protests, as part of his territory, so to speak. He held several campaign rallies and his victory rally there. Large city squares can be absolutely critical to the success of political protests. Crowds look larger on television in big open spaces, and they are more difficult to disperse. Think Independence Square in Kiev or Tiananmen in 1989. The protesters will get a big boost if they can get a foothold in Azadi Square and try to claim the terminology of the 1979 revolution as their own; it will make it much more difficult for Khameini and the theocrats to oppose the protests without undermining their own legitimacy as guardians of the Islamic revolution. The image of Interior Ministry forces beating the crap out of Muslims protesting peacefully at the epicenter of the 1979 revolution would be terrible for Ahmadinejad and the unelected government, and could lead to larger protests. Putting security forces there at all could be dangerous, for fear that a) some may defect to the protest (this seems unlikely at this early stage) or b) protesters may successfully provoke them to violence (this could be disastrous for protesters as well). I don’t know enough about Iran to say whether or not it has the “Chinese option” of importing police to violently put down protests, but the very fact that elections were held suggests that they do not. But we’re not at that stage yet and may not get there. It's up to Moussavi to get people on the streets to keep the demonstrations from fizzling.
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  #15  
Old 06-14-2009, 08:54 PM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

Juan Cole says that universities are closed for a few days, another smart move by the regime. He also mentions that some of the clashes have been with paramilitary forces as well as police, but the link in the article doesn't bear that out, and other reports are spotty. If that's true, then it suggests that Khamenei is in control of the security forces on the ground through the Revolutionary Guards. So Ahmadinejad won't have to order Interior Ministry police to clash with protesters.
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Old 06-14-2009, 09:41 PM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

New purported leaks from the MOI, only this time they're posted on an unofficial Mousavi campaign website (via the National Iranian American Council's blog):

Quote:
We've been very hesitant to publicize any of the so-called "true" election results that have surfaced, since it's the easiest thing in the world to make up numbers and plug them into a graph and present it as fact. But this comes from mowj.ir, where "an informed source" inside the Ministry of Interior’s Election HQ says

Quote:
All 9 communiques of the MOI were written and planned in advance; numbers were faked via a software program which distributed vote counts among polling stations in such a way to make everything look plausible.
Supposedly, the initial results that the MOI announced were based only on the first 500,000 ballots received, and that set the rest of Friday’s events in motion. According to this site, the real results were:
  • Mousavi – 21.3 million (57.2%)
  • Ahmadinejad – 10.5 million (28%)
  • Rezai – 2.7 million (7.2%)
  • Karroubi – 2.2 million (6%)

Obviously, this should be taken with a huge grain of salt. But Mowj is the unofficial website for the Mousavi campaign, so we wanted to present it here for you to interpret yourself.
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Old 06-14-2009, 09:58 PM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

Very interesting. One of the things that exposed the Ukrainian fraud in 2004 was that the technological component of the fraud, which involved planting hired saboteurs in the Central Election Commission to edit electronic vote returns before they made it into the central database, didn't align with the fake exit polls sponsored by the Ukrainian and Russian governments. Not to mention the legitimate exit polls that showed something totally different. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any reliable exit polling from Iran. Also, I wonder if Diebold has a Tehran office?

Last edited by ChuckF; 06-14-2009 at 10:12 PM.
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Old 06-14-2009, 10:19 PM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

Awkwaaard
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Among Iran’s neighbours reaction was more favourable, with congratulations coming from Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Afghanistan’s leader Hamid Karzai, who called Ahmadinejad’s re-election “a suitable selection.”
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Old 06-14-2009, 11:20 PM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

There was no fraud; this was a coup

Radio Free Europe's interview with an Irani journalist.
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Old 06-15-2009, 02:14 AM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

Well obviously it's time for the U.S. to overthrow these Islamofascists. The French certainly won't.



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Old 06-15-2009, 02:24 AM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vremya View Post
Mousavi's spokesman Mohsen Makhbalbaf agrees.

Quote:
According to Mr. Makhbalbaf, in the early hours after voting had ended, the Interior Ministry had called Mr. Mousavi’s campaign headquarters to inform them that Mr. Mousavi would be the winner and, therefore, Mr. Mousavi must prepare a victory statement. Mr. Mousavi was, however, asked by the Ministry not to boast too much, in order not to upset Mr. Ahmadinejad’s supporters. Many of the president’s supporters are among the ranks of the Basij militia, and thus armed.

According to Mr. Makhbalbaf, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was also informed of the developments. He also recommended a “good management” of the victory statement, meaning not boasting greatly about the victory, because that would be in Iran’s national interests and stability.

At the same time, the reformist newspapers were also informed that they can prepare their Saturday edition to declare Mr. Mousavi the winner, but were not allowed to use the word pirouzi (victory) in their articles, in order not to upset Mr. Ahmadinejad’s supporters. One reformist newspaper prepared its front page with the title, “People took back the flag of their country [from Mr. Ahmadinejad].”

But, just a few hours later, a center that had been set up by Mr. Mousavi in Gheytarieh (in northern Tehran) for monitoring the election and vote counting, was attacked by armed security agents. They ransacked the center, destroyed computers, and attacked the staff. Supporters of Mr. Mousavi intervened and arrested 8 security agents. The police was called to take them to prison, but the police released the attackers.

According to Mr. Makhbalbaf, the central headquaters of Mr. Mousavi’s campaign was also surrounded by security forces, as was the Interior Ministry building. Then, new data began to be released by the Ministry, indicating that Mr. Ahmadinejad had won the elections decisively.
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Old 06-15-2009, 02:36 AM
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Old 06-15-2009, 03:19 AM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

Well, there's always the possibility of an insurrection. If it's the youth of the country, and there are enough of them, could always be enough to merit a fight.

I wonder what Iranian gun laws are like?

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Old 06-15-2009, 03:49 AM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

This is the sham of all one-party democracies. You have the freedom to choose as long as you choose the powers in control.
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Old 06-15-2009, 03:50 AM
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Default Re: So, Iran, huh?

Quote:
Originally Posted by California Tanker View Post
Well, there's always the possibility of an insurrection. If it's the youth of the country, and there are enough of them, could always be enough to merit a fight.

I wonder what Iranian gun laws are like?

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Personal gun ownership doesn't matter. Armed insurrection in Iran would only succeed with significant defection from security forces, including large swathes of the Revolutionary Guard. Even then the theocracy could probably call upon volunteer paramilitaries. It would be a bloodbath. And we are a very, very long way from that.

Of course, if some of the "youth of the country" decided to take up arms against the Iranian state, that would be a pretty good cover for a state security clampdown and a lot of summary executions.
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