Iran: The Fix is In and It's Worse Than You Think

Crossposted at The Motley Moose

It's now 9:30AM in the morning in Iran and the Iranian people are awakening to a nation in which the political landscape, though superficially unchanged, is indeliably altered.  Overnight a sensational result has emerged in the Iranian elections for the presidency.  Sensational in the magnitude of the result, close to 65% of the vote for the incumbent, firebrand Mahmud Ahmadinejad and a crushing defeat for his opponent Mousavi.

And it's unlikely to be merely that a populist 'green revolution' has been nipped in the bud by the forces of reaction in Iran's heirarchy, though that in itself is clearly true:


[MARGARET WARNER:] So, you think that the possibility is that you have -- you have seen some government interference here?

CLIFF KUPCHAN: I think, so far, not so good. Now, it's really early, and we don't know.

But the fear is that the establishment didn't like what they were seeing.

Margaret Warner - Iran's Future Unclear Following Presidential Election PBS 12 Jun 09

Yes, interference, with an unprecedented call of the election early for Ahmadinejad, but it isn't what you think:


MARGARET WARNER: But didn't this also expose some fissures in the conservative class...

AFSHIN MOLAVI: Absolutely.

MARGARET WARNER: ... and among the clerics?

AFSHIN MOLAVI: Absolutely.

You know, Ahmadinejad's challenge to the old-guard revolutionary elite was absolutely very important, because it exposed this rift. Ahmadinejad comes from a second-generation revolutionary elite. They cut their political teeth in the fight against Iraq, whereas the old-guard elite cut their teeth in the fight against the shah.

These two are at each other right now. That is going to have ramifications beyond the election.

Margaret Warner - Iran's Future Unclear Following Presidential Election PBS 12 Jun 09

As was suggested in a recent diary this election has become a contest for internal power within the oligarchy, which revealed it's topography in unprecedented ways in the course of the presidential debates.  What we appear to be seeing is the passing of power from the old generation to the new generation of conservative revolutionary elites.  Ahmadinejad's sensational accusations of corruption during the televised debates were a challenge to the established oligarchy and it is likely his electoral success, fraud or not, represents an upheaval in the internal balance of power in his favour.  From a policy point of view the election of Mousavi would not have substantially altered Iranian politics except to shift the rhetoric slightly on engagement and redirect investment of revenue to infrastructure rather that wages and gratuitous, inflationary payments to the rural and urban poor.  And the oligarchy doesn't give a fig about the aspirations of urban, middle-class voters who supported Mousavi and alarmed them with public demonstrations.

No, this was a competition to see who could demonstrate the most influence to determine the outcome, a metric of how many provincial Interior Ministry officials could be enlisted to cook the books for one candidate or the other.  It is close to being a coup d'état within the context of the power to manipulate the system reserved for the oligarchic heirarchy.  And Ahmadinejad has clearly emerged the victor.

Mousavi's defeat is not the compelling story, it's the nature of his defeat, involving accusations of corruption against Rafsanjani, an open letter of protest to Khamenei and clear divisions among the ruling elite:


MARGARET WARNER: And -- and I know you are making a point that are you're not speculating here, just that's the fear among Moussavi's supporters.

Either way, whoever wins this -- and we, of course, may have a runoff next Friday -- fair to say this has been an incredible campaign, an unexpectedly intense one.

AFSHIN MOLAVI: Absolutely, probably the most polarizing presidential election in Iran's 30 year post-revolution history.

The televised debates, Margaret, were -- were absolutely spectacular to watch. They were more like a smack-down than debates, with candidates hurling insults at each other. Essentially, Ahmadinejad also opened a whole file in which he called his opponent members of a corrupt business elite.

And when these elections are over, those accusations are going to hang in the air as an albatross over the entire system of the Islamic republic.

Margaret Warner - Iran's Future Unclear Following Presidential Election PBS 12 Jun 09

Surely the organs of state power have been used to manage the situation, from the blackout of SMS services on election day:


Radio Farda, RFE/RL's Persian Service, confirmed that, at first, text messages from the two reformist presidential candidates were blocked from reaching supporters on Thursday evening. Eventually, Iran's entire SMS infrastructure went down. As of Friday night, service has not been restored.

An official from Iran's state telecommunications company confirmed the SMS disruption and said, vaguely, that it may have been caused by "other entities" in the government.

Textless in Tehran: Huge Turnout Despite SMS Disruptions Radio Free Europe 12 Jun 09

To the raid on Mousavi's election headquarters late in the evening:


Police raided and emptied presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi's central campaign headquarters, a STRATFOR source close to the Iranian political establishment said June 12. The source also said two key reformist leaders close to Mousavi have been arrested. A STRATFOR source in Iranian media said police took over Mousavi's headquarters to keep his campaign organizers from launching a potential coordinated demonstration.

Iran: Police Clear Out Mousavi's Headquarters Stratfor 12 Jun 09 2346 GMT

For those who missed the day's news, Mousavi claimed victory early and Iran's state run media immediately declared a huge margin for his opponent in an unprecedented early result:


Official preliminary results show that Iran's incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is leading the polls with 69.04 percent of the ballots that have so far been counted.

In a surprise press briefing, Iran's Election Commission Chief, Kamran Daneshjoo, announced that 19.42 percent of the votes were counted until 23:54 local time (20:24 GMT).

According to Daneshjoo, Ahmadinejad is leading in the polls, followed by Mir-Hossein Mousavi who has 28.42 percent of the votes.

Ahmadinejad leads Mousavi in preliminary results PressTV (Iran) 12 Jun 09 20:07:15 GMT

Never mind they were still printing ballots:


Election Day draws to a close in Iran with the Guardian Council printing more ballot papers in the heat of a seemingly unprecedented voter turnout.

The Guardian Council, an influential body tasked with overseeing the election process, announced that a new amount of ballot papers have been printed in the final hours of the presidential polls.

More ballot papers printed over high turnout PressTV (Iran) 12 Jun 09 18:26:30 GMT

Not that these ballots were found anywhere they were needed:


Voting stations in Shiraz and Tabriz, Iran, ran out of ballots very quickly during the country's presidential election June 12, Aftab News reported June 13. These areas are known to be home to many supporters of presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, Aftab said. Furthermore, a STRATFOR source in Iranian media said voters in Shiraz were turned away because of a ballot shortage. The source said electoral authorities told voters to go home and return for a "second round" of voting. Aftab reported that voting stations in southern Tehran, where Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has many supporters, had excess ballots.

Iran: Ballot Supply Irregularities Reported Stratfor 13 Jun 09 0133 GMT

And the outcome?  A landslide:


Partial results show that Iran's incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is close to winning the elections in a landslide victory, gaining 64.31 percent of the votes.

His campaign manager Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi has already claimed victory.

According to Press TV's correspondent at the Election Commission Headquarters, Saman Kojouri, the latest statistics announced by the Iranian electoral officials show 94 percent of the ballots have been counted so far.

Ahmadinejad close to a landslide victory PressTV (Iran) 13 Jun 09 00:44:19 GMT

Not without an alarming report mid-evening from Stratfor on the whole ordeal:


The Iranian election is currently in turmoil. Both Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi are claiming to be ahead in the vote. Preliminary results from the presidential vote show Ahmadinejad leading; Iranian Election Commission chief Kamran Daneshjoo held a press conference at 11:45 p.m. local time and announced that with some 20 percent of the votes counted, the president was leading with 3,462,548 votes (69.04 percent), while his main challenger, Mousavi, had 1, 425,678 (28.42 percent). Sources tell STRATFOR that these preliminary numbers pertain to the votes from the smaller towns and villages, where the president has considerable influence, as he has distributed a lot of cash to the poor.

However, Iran's state-run Press TV is saying that only 10 million of 24 million votes, or around 42 percent of the vote, have been counted. At the same time, they are also claiming that 69 percent of the vote has been counted. Obviously the numbers are not adding up, and the agencies themselves appear to be in chaos.

Prior to the announcement of the results, Mousavi held a press conference in which he said he was the winner of the election. The opposition camp is greatly concerned about fraud, and STRATFOR has been told that Mousavi has vowed to resist any fraud, even if it entails taking to the streets. This means there is considerable risk of unrest should Ahmadinejad emerge as the winner. But so far there is no evidence that the government is mobilizing security forces to deal with any such eventuality.

The situation is being monitored carefully, as it is potentially explosive.

Red Alert: Iran's Election Results 12 Jun 09 2116 GM

The upshot?  Mousavi lost, big time.  So big time as to challenge the probity of the election and the credulity of the electorate as a high turnout, and it was awesome, was supposed to favour Mousavi and Ahmadinejad's base has been variously estimated as between 12 and 14 million, tops.  But that's not the point.

Ahmadinejad won by a margin calculated to shake the confidence of members of the oligarchy who arguably pulled out all the stops to oppose him.  He has demonstrated a level of control of the state apparatus which exceeds our previous estimates, and clearly the narrow-eyed world-view of Ahmadinejad has just received a vote of confidence and may reach further into the oligarchy's labyrinthine corridors of power than we previously had thought or anticipated.

It is also clear that Mousavi's constiuencies have been marginalised and ignored, that the advocates of the 'green revolution,' now likely to be resentful and skeptical of Iran's legal mechanisms for democracy, have been sidelined in the competition for power among the elites.  They may live to regret this when these chickens come home to roost.

But even more clearly the prospects of an emerging willingness for engagement, a softening of the bombastic rhetoric of Holocaust denial and aggression and an opportunity for moderation of Iran's isolation and ambition for raw power has been, for the moment, irretrievably lost.

The next few days and weeks will be very interesting, as Iranians of all classes and persuasions awaken to this new reality.  Ahmadinejad, the outspoken demagogue who has been rightly dismissed in the past as a mere puppet of his oligarchic masters is tugging on the strings himself and seems to have a pretty firm grip so far.

Tags: ali khamenei, hashemi rafsanjani, hossein mousavi, Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, US Foreign Policy (all tags)

Comments

54 Comments

Re: Iran: The Fix is In

Ahmadinejad won by a margin calculated to shake the confidence of members of the oligarchy who arguably pulled out all the stops to oppose him.  He has demonstrated a level of control of the state apparatus which exceeds our previous estimates, and clearly the narrow-eyed world-view of Ahmadinejad has just received a vote of confidence and may reach further into the oligarchy's labyrinthine corridors of power than we previously had thought or anticipated.

Spot on. This changes more than we can anticipate at the moment. The neocons and Likudniks will be out saying "told you so."

It is a gross miscalculation by Ahmadinejad. I had believed that he might have won anyway in a close second round runoff but now it seems and I am guessing that the rallies scared him into a corner.

It is a disturbing development.

by Charles Lemos 2009-06-12 11:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is In

Very disturbing.  And I would be remiss if I failed to point out that the neoconservatives and Likud have themselves clearly helped facilitate this development.  Whether they actually welcome it I will leave them to search their own respective hearts to see, but if so shame on them.  They and Ahmadinejad are enemies, to be sure, but cut from the same cloth and we may all live to reap what they have collectively sown.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-13 12:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is In

i wouldn't go quite that far.

the israeli right see far little difference in either candidates as both seek to continue the nuclear program as that in essence is the key to their concerns.

by canadian gal 2009-06-13 06:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is In

That's true, but shy of the US or Israel unilaterally attacking Iran there is little the world can do to prevent them from adopting the 'Japanese model' discussed in the article you cited.  Further there is the issue of engagement with the West, Hezbollah and Hamas, imposition of harsh Islamic law domestically and improvement of Iran's economic infrastructure and consequent prosperity which separate Ahmadenijad and Mousavi, all of which would tend to moderate Iran's position over time.

In fact that article quite clearly makes my point:


While all of this is important for understanding the Iranian people, Israel's attention is not on the cost of bread and meat but on the future of Teheran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, the defense officials stress. For this reason, there are some in the defense establishment who are silently praying that despite Mousavi's recent climb in the polls, Ahmadinejad wins Friday's vote.

Yaakov Katz - 'Mousavi win wouldn't stop nuke drive' Jerusalen Post 12 Jun 09

I fail to see how that attitude is any different from nationalists and military thinkers in the West who might have welcomed Hitler's early rise toward power on the grounds that it would clearly expose Germany's militarism.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-13 07:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is In

I think the wingnuts kinda want to have it both ways.  I think they preferred Ahmadinejad, because it's easier to paint a target on his face, but if someone else had won you and I both know they wouldn't have conceded that the threat from Iran was any less dire.

It's kinda like how, you know, we have been at war with Iran in Wingnut World ever since 1979, yet Ahmadinejad somehow represents this unique Hitlerian threat that needs to be dealt with.  They had a hard-on for Iran before he was president and they'll have one after he's gone, this we can be sure of.

by Steve M 2009-06-13 09:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is In

If the Mullahs are determined to get nuclear weapons, will the threat level change that much depending on which of their hand-picked candidate wins? I'd argue marginally at best.

As to your second point, things have changed a lot since 1979, namely, the Mullahs are much closer to acquiring nuclear capability, right?

by tpeichel 2009-06-15 10:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is In

The guy is an idiot...  I mean talk about a strategic fuck up.  He could have fixed it so he won by 2-4%... which would have been plausible.     Instead, he is afraid of a revolution and stupidly thinks this will prevent it.   Ugh... I hope he chokes on his next meal.

by 30000Fine 2009-06-13 08:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is In

Maybe it demonstrates he has control over the Interior Ministry but not that much control.  And he isn't afraid of a rebellion, he'd love one, he's trying to start one now for his own purpose of aggregating power over the security organs of the state.  Watch for the Reichstag fire sometime soon.  To me Khamenei is increasingly looking like the doddering Hindenburg during the Machtergreifung.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-13 08:52AM | 0 recs
Did anyone expect him to lose?

I bet yes, of course if this election ever had a chance of being fair. But I knew there was no way the mullahs and the Revolutionary Dickheads were going to let that happen. Looks like we'll be having no constructive dialogue for some time.

by Lakrosse 2009-06-13 12:02AM | 0 recs
what does that have to do with anything rankie?

by canadian gal 2009-06-14 06:55AM | 0 recs
Re: what does that have to do with anything?

Freeper tourettes.

by Jess81 2009-06-14 09:19AM | 0 recs
Saturday Night in Tehran

Statement from Mousavi and commentary from the Washington Post:


"I would like to inform you that in spite of wide-ranging fraud and problem-making, according to the documents and reports we have received, the majority of your votes have been cast in favor of your servant," the statement said. It concluded with a veiled suggestion of a possible confrontation, calling his supporters into the streets to celebrate his victory Saturday night and warning that if the votes are not fairly counted, "I will use all legal facilities and methods to restore the rights of the Iranian people."

The Interior Ministry, which is overseeing the election and counting the votes, is headed by Sadegh Mahsouli, a staunch supporter of Ahmadinejad. But its results must be confirmed by the Guardian Council, a panel of senior Islamic clergymen led by Khamenei, the supreme leader. Khamenei and Mousavi, who was prime minister from 1981 to 1989, are members of an older generation of Iranian revolutionaries who overthrew the shah 30 years ago.

Thomas Erdbrink - Iran Election In Dispute as 2 Candidates Claim Victory 13 Jun 09

Interestingly, no official confirmation of Ahmadinejad's victory has been made indicating the results have not cleared the Guardian Council hurdle.  In the meantime thousands of Mousavi supporters are now appearing in the streets of Tehran, chanting 'Down with the dictatorship,' 'Mousavi, get our votes back' and 'Allahu Akbar.'  Legitimacy is an elusive but essential component of power.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-13 03:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is In

This could easily turn out to be the best possible outcome.  After all, a straightforward and honest victory for Mousavi likely wouldn't have changed much at all.

by Steve M 2009-06-13 03:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is In

Except insofar as it further empowers the presidency in the hands of a tyrannical anti-Semite.  I take your point that it doesn't conceal the coarse outlines of Iranian totalitarianism in the illusion of pragmatism.  My concern is that it vests greater power in Ahmadenijad than was otherwise the case.  He scares me and before now it was easier to dismiss him, as I have done in the past, as a tool of the clerics.

I think we should continue our efforts to normalise the framework of their nuclear programme within the NPT as quickly as possible.  We need to expose their clear intention to develop nuclear weapons capability to the Europeans who have been resisting imposing sanctions because they covet Iran's natural gas resources.  It seems we need to reassert crippling sanctions on Iran as soon as possible.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-13 07:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is In

Well, we'll see how the rest of the story gets written.  My point is that fundamental change is less likely to result from a peaceful election where someone slightly less radical happens to win.  Now, it's easy of course to sit here fantasizing about someone else's revolution, but I'm just saying it takes something like a stolen election to radicalize large amounts of citizens against their government.

by Steve M 2009-06-13 09:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is In

I wasn't expecting much change from a Mousavi victory but it would have been nice to get rid of Ahmadinejad for a few reasons.  What concerns me is the little weasel seems to have a firmer grip on power than a simple reading of the Iranian constitution would have suggested.  We'll see, as you say, and it is a wake-up call not only for the 'large amounts of citizens' but some of those who thought they ran the place before yesterday.

As you've no doubt noticed I've warmed-up to the Hitlerian narrative for Ahmadinejad on a couple of counts, not merely his jingoism and anti-Semitic bombast.  He seems to have plenty of political cunning and a finely tuned sense of how to manipulate power through intrigue and populist demagoguery.  Not to mention a staggering audacity.  He's clearly won this round and the Iranian oligarchy looks a lot more vulnerable to him this morning than I would have credited in the past.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-13 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is In

If the coup works, Ahmadinejad neutralizes Khamenei: by validating a fraud, the violation of the constitution, Khamenei fragilizes his position and becomes dependent on Ahmadinejad. Seen from the outside, this seems to alter the balance of power considerably in A's favour.

The question is, whether other components of the Iranian leading class will accept this.

by french imp 2009-06-13 11:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is In

Agreed, it's like Hitler and Hindenburg in 1933.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-14 12:11AM | 0 recs
Terrible analogy

Analogies should enlighten and inform.  This one inflames and confuses.

1. The Islamic Republic is not the Weimar Republic.

  1. Iran and its geopolitical situation could hardly be less like 1930's Germany
  2. Ahmedinejhad is not "Hitler" in his style, programme, or goals.  Nor does he control or inspire a movement.
  3. Khamanei is effectively supreme and Hindenberg was not.

I could go on....  

by Frisbeedog 2009-06-14 07:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Terrible analogy

Two or three days ago I would have agreed with you, now I think all three of those assumptions are shaken.  Did you actually read the diary?

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-14 12:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Terrible analogy

This is more than merely an election:


I've heard people say that President Ahmadinejad is gathering so much power that he might be able to use the Revolutionary Guard and his other allies to make a coup d'etat against the state.

A coup d'etat? They've already made one! They've created a dictatorship, in fact. Do you know that last night the security forces occupied the offices of many newspapers, to make sure that their reporting on the election was favorable? They changed many headlines. They fixed the election.

The Guards are taking over everything, including many economic institutions. The ministry of the interior is increasing its control in all the provinces.

We have information that Ahmadinejad is thinking about changing the Constitution to allow the president to serve more than two terms, to make his presidency more or less permanent.

Of course, there are strong voices in the establishment that will challenge him. It is not clear that he and the Sepah (the Revolutionary Guard) will be strong enough to overcome them. But there will be clashes over this.

Robert Dreyfuss - Iran's Ex-Foreign Minister Yazdi: It's A Coup The Nation 13 Jun 09

The parallels seem strong, actually, a figurehead leader dismissed and 'manipulated' by an aging leadership, with a large public following based on working-class socialist principles, bombast and racism, ingratiates himself into control of the state security apparatus.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-14 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is In

Yes, we can see from our own examples how much stolen elections change things for the better. I admit I know nothing about Iran or this situation, but I do think there is a flaw in your argument in that it assumes the natural response to a revolution is evolution.  Who is to say that such a revolution would not lead to an even more represssive forces?

by bruh3 2009-06-13 04:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is In

Well, I'm not of the belief that our country was in need of a fundamental change in its system of governance circa 2000.

Anyway, I was not arguing that this guarantees a better outcome, simply that it may be the only route to a better outcome.  Obviously there are ways the current situation could play out that would be very, very bad.

by Steve M 2009-06-13 04:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is In

I understand. my only point was that its easier to look at the houses of others rather than to look at your own house. But, again, I am saying this without any expertise on the area at all.

by bruh3 2009-06-13 04:48PM | 0 recs
Machtergreifung

From Foreign Policy:


"The disapointment and disorientation of people in Iran that I've spoken to is unmistakable," said [Iran analyst Trita Parsi, of the National Iranian American Council]. "While a majority argue that this is a coup by Ahmadinejad and Khamenei against virtually the rest of the establishment, there are several question marks: Khamenei, most experts agree, is addicted to the perception of legitimacy for himself and the system. But this coup does away with any chances for such legitimacy. Indeed, it is difficult to see why he would view this situation as terribly favorable.

"Which then raises the question," Parsi continued, "as to whether a reassessment is needed of the assumption that Khamenei enjoys the position of strength that so often is ascribed to him. If this is not a favorable situation, why is he going along with it? Is he too under pressure from circles in the Guard?"

Laura Rozen - Iran elections (Updated Saturday) Foreign Policy 13 Jun 09

As you say, we'll see.  I'm thinking things are way up in the air within the ruling oligarchy.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-13 04:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Machtergreifung

Hey, easy on the German there, cowboy.  You can find all the parallels you want, but keep in mind, the issue with Hitler was not the way he took power but what he did with that power.  I see little indication of an agenda anywhere in the Hitlerian ballpark, and really, there's plenty of non-German precedents for people seizing or consolidating power in a dodgy way.  I think the usual cautions about Hitler comparisons being more distraction than illumination apply here.

by Steve M 2009-06-15 07:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Machtergreifung

Point taken.  I spent years reading Third Reich history and the origins, the years from 1923-1933, are the overlooked ones but those seemingly most relevant for avoiding repeating the lesson.  In this case there seems to have been a discernable parallel developing.

Events today in Tehran have dramatically changed things but excepting the street protests, which are more reminiscent of the Spanish Civil War or the 1979 revolution, I definitely saw our little friend Ahmadinejad charting a similar trajectory for himself as the 'one who mustn't be named.'

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-15 07:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Machtergreifung

And what other living language has such a handy vocabulary for 'seizure of power?'

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-15 07:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Machtergreifung

There's nothing "handy" about utilizing German vocabulary, unless your spacebar is broken!

by Steve M 2009-06-15 07:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Machtergreifung

Now that was funny.  

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-15 07:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is In and It's Worse Than You Th

It is the least bit surprising that Ahmadinejad won the election.

The nuclear program would have continued with whomever won , the elections were obviously predetermined since he controls the levers of the state .

Its hard to see how this doesn't make things tougher for the Obama administration since it is highly likely to make the regime more hardline.

by lori 2009-06-13 05:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is In and It's Worse Than You Th

Do you think he actually won the election by that wide a margin?  I must admit I didn't seriously consider that possibility for more than a few moments.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-13 07:23AM | 0 recs
Worse Than You Think

Fix OHIO, THEN tell me about IRAN!

by QTG 2009-06-13 08:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Worse Than You Think

Maybe we should work both sides of the street.  I'm kinda' focused on foreign affairs but share your concerns.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-13 08:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Worse Than You Think

Okay, that was pretty funny.

by Steve M 2009-06-13 09:24AM | 0 recs
We did fix Ohio

Thank you Jennifer Brunner.

by DTOzone 2009-06-13 03:50PM | 0 recs
Mau-Mauing the Jacobins

Well said:


Ironically, the biggest losers may be some powerful members of Iran's clerical establishment. One of the reasons Ahmadinejad was first elected in 2005 is because that beast, the public, was sick of what it saw as the corruption of earlier presidents. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was running against Ahmadinejad and remains at the upper echelons of the theocratic elite, was a particular target. In the closing days of this campaign, Ahmadinejad launched into Rafsanjani and his allies again, suggesting his opponents were just Rafsanjani's tools. And Rafasanjani responded with an unprecedented public letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In thinly veiled language, it warned that all of the old guard, including Khamenei, might be threatened if Ahmadinejad continued with his anticorruption accusations. In the event, Khamenei did nothing to stop Ahmadinejad, and on Saturday Khamenei endorsed the outcome of the elections. But this drama of character assassination at the highest levels of the regime may be far from over.

Christopher Dickey - Feeding the Beast Newsweek 13 Jun 09

Curiously Dickey seems to accept Ahmadinejad's margin of victory at face value.  In some ways that's even scarier.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-13 09:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Mau-Mauing the Jacobins

Shaun, 60% thresholds in competitive (free, fair and transparent) are extremely rare. The last in the US was LBJ though Reagan came close. In systems that have two rounds, I can think of just a few cases where the results were so pronounced in one direction: Uribe in 2006 who got 62% and the elections in South Africa where Mandela, Mbeki and Zuma all scored above 65%. Even the highly popular Lula da Silva only won 49% of the vote in his re-election bid back in 2006. And Fernando Henrique Cardoso won re-election in a first round sweep back in 1998 with 53% of the vote.

60% is hard to do and where it has happened in Colombia and South Africa it is due to very exceptional circumstances.

by Charles Lemos 2009-06-13 06:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Mau-Mauing the Jacobins

Yeah, I agree, I just thought it was curious that such an insightful commentator had apparently made that assumption.  You're following events in Iran I'm sure, looks like this thing might continue, I'm surprised but encouraged.  The Huffington Post seems to be getting it, the mainstream media not so much.  If any organ of state security wavers at this point, anything is possible.  I think our assessment of a coup was spot on.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-13 06:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Mau-Mauing the Jacobins

In Latin America, we have a term for this type of event. We call them "auto-golpe" a self-coup.

What it really points to is a very fractured elite.

The Twitter feed is mesmerizing.

by Charles Lemos 2009-06-13 07:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Mau-Mauing the Jacobins

And that's what's keeping me on the edge of my seat at them moment, the possibility of a fracture affecting some organ of that security apparatus.  Latest reports from Tehran report the streets are quiet but who knows what is going on in the corridors of power.  There have been tantalising signs of whistle-blowing from within the Interior Ministry, and so forth, compelling stuff.

One tweet suggested the Ahmadinejad vicory rally set for 5PM would be a target of protest, this is going to be a long night.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-13 07:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Mau-Mauing the Jacobins

Yikes:


[A well-connected Iranian who knows many of the power figures in the Tehran political order] conveyed to me things that were mostly obvious -- Iran is now a tinderbox. The right is tenaciously consolidating its control over the state and refuses to yield. There is a split among the mullahs and significant dismay with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. A gaping hole has been ripped open in Iranian society, exposing the contradictions of the regime and everyone now sees that the democracy that they believed that they had in Iranian form is a "charade."

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.

Steve Clemons - Iran: There Will Be Blood Washington Note 13 Jun 09

The 'night of the long knives' if this account is in any way credible.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-13 08:09PM | 0 recs
Much like in our elections

the 60% threshold is easier in smaller countries with smaller populations.

But Iran has a large population, something like 70 million people...twice the size of California with 85% turnout...that's huge...we would've seen that coming.

by DTOzone 2009-06-13 09:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Much like in our elections

True and even in the US you get skewed votes within states but not overall. For example Obama won states like VT and RI overwhelmingly just as McCain won OK and UT but nationwide the results were much closer. Ditto in Iran or in any election anywhere, you get regional skewing. We didn't get that here. We got an Ahmadinejad landslide across Iran.

An 85% turnout for a polarizing President is also suspect. Logic holds that if you think Ahmadinejad is going to win then you abstain so as to not validate the system. But if you think the vote is going to be credible and the opposition has chance of winning then you turn out.  The higher turnout elections are change elections, not status quo ones. Why turnout to preserve a system? This was a change election until one faction of the regime acted in its self-preservation.

by Charles Lemos 2009-06-13 10:22PM | 0 recs
Protest!

Now is the time Iran.  Give us a color revolution!

by iowa dem 2009-06-13 10:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Protest!

It does seem that Iran stands at the crossroads.

by Charles Lemos 2009-06-13 12:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is

Ahmadinejad won by a margin calculated to shake the confidence of members of the oligarchy who arguably pulled out all the stops to oppose him.

Your theory that Ahmadinejad intentionally chose to win by an implausible margin as a show of force is an interesting one, and I'm struck by the possibility that there might have been another target for this show of force as well: The electorate. Before the election Mousavi was quite openly saying he did not know whether he would win, but that his campaign would be the starting point of a movement anyway-- Mousavi almost seemed more interested in being Howard Dean than Barack Obama, starting a ball rolling which could pay off with the parliamentary or local or even Presidential elections to come in future. Had Mousavi simply lost, this ball would have kept rolling, providing the foundation for a democratic uprising to come.

However given Mousavi lost in a fashion that leaves the unmistakable impression that Ahmadinejad can simply write whatever number he wants down as an electoral result... this could serve to depress that movement completely. How do you build a peaceful movement for electoral change in a context where everyone knows the election results get outright thrown away?

by mcc 2009-06-13 02:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is

I should probably have qualified that remark because it is clearly speculative but I'm happy to stand by it for now.  I usually try to avoid conspiritorial supposition stated as fact.  It may be that it was merely a matter of expediency or clumsiness but your point about nipping the 'green' movement in the bud is good and your comparison to Howard Dean quite insightful.  Here's another bit of speculative analysis from Farideh Farhi which agrees with your thesis:


Why did they do it so brazenly? Why not try to fiddle with the results in ways they have done with the past , by voiding ballots, stuffing them here and there and so on and lo and behold draw Ahmadinejad's name with let us say 52 percent of the vote. Because they couldn't. The incredible turnout made it impossible for such subtle manipulation of results. This brazenness was deemed necessary as a show of force; to make sure that the chunk of the electorate that is usually silent in Iran but was turned vocal/political in this election again becomes silent, apolitical, and cynical.

Farideh Farhi - From Iran expert Farideh Farhi in Hawaii www.tehranbureau.com 13 Jun 09

The resignation of Rafsanjani from his post as chairman of the Expediency Council seems to reinforce the thesis of the diary in some respects.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-13 04:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Iran: The Fix is

The aim is to shock. And you're right the targets are multiple and include the Iranian electorate and the West.

by Charles Lemos 2009-06-13 06:15PM | 0 recs
What does this all mean for the U.S.?

My question: What is the likely impact of all of this on Iraq? Namely, does this serve to destabilize the region further?

by bruh3 2009-06-13 04:19PM | 0 recs
yes

imho the best we can hope is that it gets really unstable in the next few days/weeks and he gets kicked out.  Otherwise, things could get really weird in coming years.

by chrisblask 2009-06-13 08:17PM | 0 recs
Re: yes

Thanks. It's hard to ask my Iranian friends about it because of the emotions involved so I figured it would be easier to ask here.

by bruh3 2009-06-13 09:25PM | 0 recs
an update:

andrew sullivan is stating that iran's own election monitoring commission has declared the result invalid and called for a do-over.

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/th e_daily_dish/2009/06/followup-on-earlier -posts.html

by canadian gal 2009-06-13 04:43PM | 0 recs
Re: an update:

And the notion of a coup which originated took factions of the leadership by surprise, as the diary suggested, is gaining currency:


A coup that originated with the military rather than the clerical or lay political leaders resolves what I saw the the main flaw with Juan Cole's reconstruction. It also dovetails well with Interior Ministry employees' warnings that Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi, who is influential in the military, issued a fatwa authorizing manipulation of the elections.

A coup led by the military is also easier to explain than one ordered by Ayatollah Khamene'i.

Brian Ulrich - Rise of the Military www.americanfootprints.com 13 Jun 09

If this is true the sooner it is known the more likely a counter-coup will be mounted and succeed.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-13 05:01PM | 0 recs

Diaries

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