Monday marked the third day of protest in Iran after election results declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner. Commentators remain skeptical that such a landslide could have occurred, given the high turnout and the magnitude of support for the opposition candidate.
The demonstrations by supporters of pro-reform leader Mir Hossein Mousavi were described as the largest since the results were announced, and they were largely peaceful. The election dispute gained another dimension after Iran’s supreme leader ordered an investigation of Mousavi’s claims that the election had been stolen.
Ervand Abrahamian, a distinguished professor of history at the City University of New York, joins Martin Savidge to discuss the election results, allegations of fraud and how this complicates U.S. President Barack Obama’s desire to start a dialogue with Iran.
Iranian police have cracked down on foreign media covering the protests,and some protesters even shooed away secret police from foreign reporters. But as governments try to curtail the flow of information, citizen journalists have used new Internet technology to bypass restrictions.
Blogger Sanaz Arjomand observes the situation from northern Iran:
The rest of my family lament the “democracy” in Iran and get angry about the obvious taqqalob, or cheating. What I’ve heard most often is that the Rahbar (Supreme Leader) hand-picked Ahmadinejad anyway, that it was obvious that they would cheat and that they themselves would have to suffer for four more years.
In the teeny little town of Maragheh, in northeastern Iran, Ahmadinejad supporters are out in the street. But in Tehran and other bigger towns, it’s chaos. BBC Persia was showing beatings in the street and huge protests (like a river, my cousin said, they kept flowing). What I found interesting is that unlike the campaigning I wanted to post about earlier, these protests are taking place on foot. People are not hiding behind their steering wheels or zooming around on motorcycles. Instead of the “Ahmadi bye-bye!” chants (and many, many more clever ones that I’ll remember to post soon), the young crowd was shouting: Moussavi, Moussavi, ray-e ma ra pass bedee! (Moussavi, Moussavi, return our votes!)
A friend of mine emailed me these lines from the University of Tehran campus where there have been wide protests: “We are in the campus my friend, tear gas is being thrown at us like a heavy snow fall, the entire building I am in right now is filled with gas. Two of my friends were wounded thirty minutes ago. There is fire everywhere. I thought I came here to study but there is nothing here but war. I can only tell you this so you’d share it on Facebook. I tried using a proxy to access Facebook but its still not possible. Thanks so much. And by the way, please don’t mention my name because there have been wide arrests everywhere.
[…] I have been numb, speechless and in tears for the past few days. These kids are Iran’s brightest students. I went to school with them. We ate lunch together and shared our sandwiches. What is happening to them?
Gary Sick, a former member of the National Security Council, writes on his Tumblr blog:
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…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.
Allahpundit wonders if Obama’s administration might just “accept” the Iranian election results:
What if Obama did walk away, though? There’s actually another possibility here: Western leaders protest the result by ending negotiations and refusing to recognize Ahmadinejad as president, which in turn encourages protesters to keep up their agitation for several more months. Paralyzed and afraid of being overthrown, the regime becomes so desperate that it agrees to give up the nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of all sanctions and renewed diplomatic ties with the U.S. in hopes that the economic turnaround produced by the influx of foreign capital will placate the people. The dilemma for The One here is that he campaigned on the moronic assumption that Iran might conceivably be willing to make a deal on nukes if we just talked nice to them or sweetened our offer a bit. Now comes the moment of truth: Does he really believe that? Does he honestly believe, after years of stonewalling, with the country maybe a year away from being able to build a bomb, that they’re going to throw in the towel now? If not, then walk away. There’s no downside and potentially a tremendous upside if the regime falls or a grateful Mousavi ends up being installed as president. And needless to say, from a moral standpoint, he’d be on the side of the angels. Conflict with the regime is inevitable; if the Iranian public’s willing to fight our battle for us, let’s support them with all we’ve got.