Iran’s election to be out and out fraud?
Forgive the crude screen grab, but that’s from a video shot at Tehran’s Valiasr Street. With Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared the 30% margin victor in a hotly contested presidential race, tensions are rising in Iran.
While I might have argued yesterday that Iran’s people are very democratic, their religious leaders certainly are not. The country’s ’supreme leader’ right now is setting himself up to be a huge spoiler of the reformers. He has cast anyone who questions Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s unlikely margin of victory as ‘enemies.’
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, thanked the people for their record 85 percent participation and warned opposition candidates to “avoid provocative behavior.”
“I assume that enemies intend to eliminate the sweetness of the election with their hostile provocation,” he said in his televised address.
He called the results a “divine assessment” and called on all the candidates to support the president.
If he digs in, that’s dangerous territory, given this report from the Times:
A statement posted on Mr. Moussavi’s Web site on Saturday morning urged his supporters to resist a “governance of lie and dictatorship,” according to The Associated Press.
“I’m warning that I won’t surrender to this manipulation,” the statement said, adding that the election outcome “is nothing but shaking the pillars of the Islamic Republic of Iran sacred system and governance of lie and dictatorship.”
He warned “people won’t respect those who take power through fraud” and said the decision to declare Mr. Ahmadinejad the winner was a “treason to the votes of the people.”
That’s some serious rhetoric from a man who was a more pragmatic politician during earlier phases of his career. His supporters are angry. The question will be whether he has the infrastructure to support a major insurrection in multiple Iranian cities.
I still believe Ahmadinejad’s margin will shrink significantly – Iranian state media says only 77% of the vote has been counted so far. And with statements from insiders yesterday that the vote count will shrink, it leaves you wondering if perhaps they’ve been deliberately tallying up votes from locations that are very loyal to Ahmadinejad first in order to make his victory look unquestionable.
The regime is damned if it says there is a landslide, and perhaps would have been damned if it didn’t say there was a landslide. But if it had counted the vote in such a way that the margin didn’t look so questionable, perhaps Moussavi’s rhetoric wouldn’t be so strong.
Here’s some video of Moussavi’s supporters in Tehran: