Thursday, June 18, 2009


AOG, Madrid

Iran is on a knife-edge, with millions of voters taking to the streets in outrage as evidence mounts that the government may have massively rigged and stolen last Thursday's election.

The Islamic regime has cracked down brutally on the protesters and is imposing a blackout on Iranian society - shutting down domestic and international media, the internet and even text-messaging. For many, it the best thing that could have happened to Twitter.

The voice of Iranians may have been silenced at the polling booth, now the regime is attempting to silence them everywhere else.

Facing beatings and gunfire, the opposition, according to Western media, is organising mass demonstrations and a general strike.

This election is of international importance. Iran is a major regional power, and the international community is seeking diplomatic engagement that holds a key to peace in the Middle East.

The conservative Guardian Council, headed by a key Ahmadinejad ally, is reviewing the vote over the next 9 days.

According to some Western media, “There is a real possibility that democracy will prevail.”

However, just because a regime allows for elections, a voting booth, and an electoral list, this does not mean it is a democracy, nor that the elections are free.

Ultimate power in Iran lies with Ayatollah Khamenei, who may have backed the rigging - but he is hired and fired by the Assembly of Experts, chaired by ex-President Rafsanjani who has condemned vote-fixing.

If Rafsanjani and allies can get enough votes on the Assembly this week, they can press to re-open the results, even to remove Khamenei from power.

But will any of this happen?

The Islamic Revolution came into power back in the 1970s in a similar way, and the religious right took over the country.

Is the West not expecting too much in hoping that a recount, if it goes ahead, will show a true vote count?

Are we to think that the regime will welcome change peacefully?

Of course, it could also turn out that Ahmadineyad won the election fair and square.

But the current state of affairs in the country certainly points to a feeling of insatisfaction within the Iranian population.

Even if the election was not rigged, there is obviously a certain malaise in the country which the ruling oligarchy would do well to address. Sooner rather than later.

Here are some international sources:

1. The Guardian: "Iran's regime cracks down on opposition and media", 16 June 2009

2. Al-Jazeera: "Supreme Leader Under Pressure", 15 June 2009

3. "Evidence that the Iranian Presidential Election Was Stolen", Juan Cole, 13 June 2009

4. More detailed analysis by a polling expert of "fishy numbers" in the results announced by the interior ministry.

5. One of many active live-blogs.

6. #IranElections - live, unfiltered updates via Twitter from Iran and around the world

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