Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Voting in Iran -- Like Voting in Chicago

Even though votes outnumbered voters in every district where results were audited, Iranian rulers declared the election an honest and fair event confirming the nation's overwhelming support for Ahmadinejad and its thorough rejection of Mousavi, his opponent. The voters, whoever they are, have spoken.

Iran Rules Out New Presidential Vote as Opponents Shift Tactics

June 23 (Bloomberg) -- Iran’s top electoral body ruled out annulling President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election as the mass demonstrations of last week dissipated in the face of a security crackdown.

The clerical Guardian Council said there was no record of major irregularity, state-run Press TV reported today, a day after the Revolutionary Guards vowed to “put an end to the chaos” of street protests.

The number of protesters fell from the hundreds of thousands as security forces fired water cannons, shot tear gas and used clubs to disperse crowds over the past three days.

“The regime, more likely than not, will quell the protests in the short-term,” said Cliff Kupchan, a senior analyst at the New York-based Eurasia Group. “But its legitimacy is in question and in the medium-term it faces a tough road ahead.”

‘Saboteurs Must Stop’

Khamenei has firmly backed Ahmadinejad, 52, in the face of the most serious unrest in Iran since the 1979 ouster of the shah.

“The saboteurs must stop their actions” or face “decisive and revolutionary action,” the 125,000-strong Revolutionary Guards, tasked by Iran’s clerical rulers with protecting the Islamic Revolution, said in a statement on state media.

Police used tear gas and fired shots into the air yesterday to break up a rally of hundreds of protesters in central Tehran’s Haft-e-Tir square shortly after the Guards’ warning, the Associated Press said.

Club-wielding members of the Basij volunteer militia, which is linked to the Guards, have played a role in suppressing the protests against Ahmadinejad’s June 12 victory. Opponents say the ballot was rigged. The Guardian Council has refused demands for a new election, and is offering only a partial recount.

No ‘Major Fraud’

No “major fraud or breach in the election” has been found and the result won’t be annulled, a spokesman for the Guardian Council, Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei said late last night, Press TV reported.

Police arrested as many as 457 people during clashes in Tehran on June 20, state-run Press TV said. At least 17 people have been killed in demonstrations since the election, according to the government. At least 19 people were killed in protests on June 20, CNN reported, citing hospital staff in Tehran.

U.K. Embassy

The Guards, who answer directly to Khamenei, 69, warned the international community, including the U.S., U.K. and Israel, to stop stirring unrest in the country. Iran has accused foreign nations of provoking the protests, a charge denied by Western diplomats.

Terrorist Designation

The U.S. designated the Guards’ Quds Force a terrorist organization in October 2007, accusing the paramilitary group of supporting attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq. The focus of the Quds Force has been assistance to Islamic militant groups in other countries.

Iran’s governor at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Mohammad Ali Khatibi, said the protests haven’t affected the country’s oil industry or crude exports. Iran is OPEC’s second-biggest producer.

Ahmadinejad won 63 percent of the vote to 34 percent for Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former prime minister, according to the official tally.

‘Not Organized’

The opposition’s problem at the moment is it lacks “a coherent political vision” and its protests are “chaotic, and not organized in any way,” said Ilan Berman, an Iran expert at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington.

Still, the splits within the regime are “quite significant,” he said.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

How's the shopping there?

1:37 PM  

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