Thursday, June 18, 2009

Today's Iran Image

Updated at noon, PDT

Not much to report on Iran. There was supposed to have been a big opposition silent vigil today, but no news of that. Meanwhile, there will be a rally by the "winners" of the election today, as CNN reports:

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will give his sermon during Friday prayers. It will be closely watched for a sign of how the government plans to resolve the stalemate over the country's recent presidential elections.


The Basij militia -- which is affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps -- declared Friday a day for the Iranian nation to renew its allegiance to Khamenei.

Iran's supreme leader to speak at site of crackdown

[emphasis added]

You might remember awhile back that Sara Taylor, President George W. Bush's press secretary, once said that she took an oath to serve the President. The reaction from Americans was quick and dismissive. We don't take oaths to serve leaders, because, as the Founders observed, for there to be freedom one can't serve others. That those in power in Iran think that its people should take an oath to an individual, particularly one who isn't elected, ought to show you what's going on there. This is a theocracy, pure and simple.

Speaking of America, here's President Obama as quoted by the Washington Post:

President Obama, who has come under criticism from some quarters in Washington for not speaking out directly on behalf of the Iranian protesters, said Tuesday that he hoped the Iranian government would affirm "the universal principles of peaceful expression and democracy" but that the United States was "not meddling" in the "amazing ferment taking place in Iran."

Thousands Rally in Tehran in Protest of Election Results

On this point, the critics the Post alludes to are wrong - the last thing we need to do is give the current government of Iran an excuse to plead that we're interfering in Iranian affairs. We've done that before, and Iranians remember.

Meanwhile, here's today's image from Iran:

Image credit: .faramaz

It's from one of yesterday's rallies.

UPDATE: via Taylor Marsh, here are two images that are allegedly from a rally today:

For what it's worth, the weather appears different from yesterday's. Here's a crowd shot:

I can't vouch for it, because I can't even read the article that this image came from. Nevertheless, there it is.

Taylor also linked to an article in The (U.K.) Independent about a letter that was supposed to have shown that the Iranian election was much closer than the official result:

For the photocopy appeared to be a genuine but confidential letter from the Iranian minister of interior, Sadeq Mahsuli, to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, written on Saturday 13 June, the day after the elections, and giving both Mr Mousavi and his ally, Mehdi Karroubi, big majorities in the final results. In a highly sophisticated society like Iran, forgery is as efficient as anywhere in the West and there are reasons for both distrusting and believing this document. But it divides the final vote between Mr Mousavi and Mr Karroubi in such a way that it would have forced a second run-off vote – scarcely something Mousavi's camp would have wanted.

Robert Fisk: Secret Letter 'Proves Mousavi Won Poll'

There are certainly reasons for suspicion, but this also seems to suggest that what I wrote earlier was true: the current government wanted to avoid a runoff.

The Independent also featured an article by Renard Sexton today, which asserts that a recount won't fix the problems with Iran's election:

[T]he provincial vote counts that were released on Monday were in some cases simply bizarre. The cleric Mehdi Karroubi, a reform candidate, nearly beat Ahmadinejad in the 2005 election, losing by just 700,000 votes. He posted commanding numbers in the western portion of the country, winning 11 of the 30 provinces, including in his home province of Lorestan. Karroubi beat Ahmadinejad in these provinces by an average margin of over 20 points, with Ahmadinejad averaging just 13.0 per cent. In 2009, however, the vote totals told a completely opposite story.

Earning between 53 and 71 percent of the vote, Ahmadinejad pulverised Karroubi's totals in those same 11 provinces. Ahmadinejad posted an incredible win in Karroubi's home province of Lorestan, where the regime claims he won by a margin of more than 65 points, a more than 110 point swing in support between 2005 and 2009.

As such, calls for a re-run of the election, rather than a recount, have been widespread. Unfortunately, it is not clear that either approach will in fact produce an accurate outcome. Either way, the fundamental question of whether top level manipulation has occurred already or would occur in a re-vote or re-count has not yet been answered.

Renard Sexton: A Recount May Not Alter The Result Of The Election

Much of it is a rehash of what he wrote yesterday at Five Thirty-Eight, but Sexton's conclusion is new, at least to me. I suspect he's right about both a recount and a new election. In the latter case, there's no guarantee that a new election would have a more accurate result, assuming the same people are in charge of it.

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