Update: Iran Detaining Election Opponents
In a practice which sounds disturbingly familiar to Middle East election watchers, the Iranian government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has “detained” leading supporters of the man who “lost” the election, Mirhossein Moussavi.
It has become increasingly obvious that the election was “stolen” (see earlier update below). Of course it was.
The familiarity comes from a reminder from Helene Cobban that the January 2006 Palestinian legislative election did not result in the ending Israel and the U.S. wanted. So Israel and Iran took the same action to change the results, arrest the opposition.
There is a difference, however, in the sequence of their actions. In Palestine, the Palestinian Election Commissioners, with international observers–led by Jimmy Carter–looking over their shoulders, declared the election to be above reproach.
Unlike the election in Iran, where there were no outside observers, and where the religious leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, holds the power in the country, it was easier just to jiggle the ballot boxes to produce the outcome that resulted in a 67% victory for President Ahmadinejad.
In Chicago we used to refer to that jiggling as “waiting for the river wards to come in”.
The Israeli government, which had no control over the Palestinian 2006 election, had to resort to Plan B to nullify the legitimate results. Israel arrested the majority of the duly elected Hamas legislators and put them in Israeli jails, where they remain.
And just to make sure Hamas could not govern normally, Israel “persuaded” the U.S. and the European Union to cut off funds going into Palestine, a ban which also continues to this day.
There are more ways than one to nullify the result of an election. Both dictatorships and occupying forces agree that one of the most effective modes of nullification is to arrest the other side.
Iran is still learning. Using both the river wards and the arrest of opponents is over doing it. What you should do is jiggle the ballot boxes to achieve a closer race, say 53% to 47%. Then you close down the internet, especially Facebook, and let the opposition protest in the streets.
And, by the way, the power of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Iran should put to rest the belief that Ahmadinejad has his finger on the nuclear button, an instrument of mass destruction which is still a long, long way from reality. Ahmadinejad does the bidding of the religious authorities, who have shown no desire to wipe anyone off the face of the earth.
But what is reality when, like Israel, you have the power to persuade the U.S. Congress and its media minions that Iran is a nuclear arms threat.
And what is reality when, like Iran, you have a comedic figure like Ahmadinejad to stir emotions of fear by denying the Holocaust (also an exercise in reality denial)?
We live in a culture of fear in which a substantial percentage of the American public still believes in the reality of WMDs. Controlling an election outcome is just a walk in the park in comparison to that sales job.
Update 4 p.m. Saturday; A Stolen Election?
According to today’s New York Times, Ahmadinejad won Friday’s election by a large margin. Moussavi insists he is the winner, and speculation has begun that the election results were falsified.
Juan Cole suggests the election may be a “crime scene”.
I am aware of the difficulties of catching history on the run. Some explanation may emerge for Ahmadinejad’s upset that does not involve fraud. For instance, it is possible that he has gotten the credit for spreading around a lot of oil money in the form of favors to his constituencies, but somehow managed to escape the blame for the resultant high inflation.
But just as a first reaction, this post-election situation looks to me like a crime scene. And here is how I would reconstruct the crime.
As the real numbers started coming into the Interior Ministry late on Friday, it became clear that Mousavi was winning.Mousavi’s spokesman abroad, filmmaker Mohsen Makhbalbaf, alleges that the ministry even contacted Mousavi’s camp and said it would begin preparing the population for this victory.
The ministry must have informed Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has had a feud with Mousavi for over 30 years, who found this outcome unsupportable. And, apparently, he and other top leaders had been so confident of an Ahmadinejad win that they had made no contingency plans for what to do if he looked as though he would lose.
They therefore sent blanket instructions to the Electoral Commission to falsify the vote counts. (For more from Juan Cole, click here)
More updates to come as the story unfolds. . .
by James M. Wall
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election four years ago as president of Iran was the gift that kept on giving to the Zionist narrative, the worldview that before the arrival of Barack Obama, dominated U.S. politics and media.
Not, I hasten to add, a gift to the Israeli people, far from it, but a gift to the Zionist zealotry that is driving the Israelis deeper and deeper into a dark future.
What zealotry? The zealotry personified by Israel’s drive-the-Arabs-into-the-desert foreign minister, the far-right Avigdor Lieberman, who resides in one of Israel’s settlements in the West Bank.
Helene Cobban’s blog, Just World News, is my inspiration for believing Mirhossein Moussavi (whose campaign colors are green; see above) will win the Iranian presidency.
Her blog carries a posting from Scott Harrop that gives ten reasons for predicting a Mousavi election.
Harrop’s posting is must reading, here.
Women have been energized by Musavi’s wife, Zahrah Rahnavard, a politics professor, artist, and former University chancellor.
A close finish, or a Mousavi victory, will run counter to the Zionist narrative peddled to U.S. media which describes Iran’s elections as badly flawed, echoing Israeli foreign ministry talking points.
Harrop also takes note of what he terms Ahmadinejad’s “helpers in the US Congress” who gave up on an attempt to “fast-track a punitive sanctions bill through Congress” prior to the election.
AIPAC had pushed for the bill which would have added further to Almadinejad’s image as Israel’s demon. The bill was pulled back for “strategic reasons”.
Harrop writes that his prediction of a Mousavi victory could prove incorrect. But the race, for all the reasons he cites, will be close, which should undercut the current president’s bantam rooster cockiness.
It is really quite simple. Without a cocky Ahmadinejad to kick around, Israel loses its rationale to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, which are still a long way away from anything but civilian use.
Assume for the moment that Ahmadinegad is defeated for reelection, or wins in a narrow finish. We can credit Zionism and its AIPAC-driven US Congress for a major assist in the outcome.
Israel’s hard-right government needs a “dangerous” Iran to divert attention from Israel’s decades-long plan to prevent the creation of a viable Palestinian state.
Fear of a nuclear-armed Iran has been central to Zionism’s terror narrative. This election now reveals the obvious.
Ahmadinejad is no dictator; he is not even a strong president. Regardless of who occupies the president’s office, Iran remains under the tight control of its Islamic religious authorities who want a strong Iran, not a world filled with enemies.
Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust-denying rhetoric was so irresponsible and false that he became a faux symbol of defiance.
The London Independent‘s Robert Fisk does not anticipate any change in Iran’s nuclear plans. They will just be clearer. It is not military arms the country seeks, but a nuclear capacity that burnishes its national pride, a pride in its ability to develop and possess what other major powers, especially Israel, have developed and now possess in abundance.
Whatever it is, this election is not about nuclear power. It may be about presidential arrogance and stupidity and fear, or about responsible government or unemployment or the economy. But the West should abandon hope of any real change in Iran’s nuclear strategy.
Mirhossein Mousavi may talk more sense to the Americans – if he wins – but the nuclear facilities will keep functioning. It is all a matter of pride in Iran – where pride is a special quality.
Regardless of which leader occupies the presidency, Iran wants to be a player on the world stage. And, Iran has the potential to be just that. The question will remain, what kind of player will Iran be?
Fortunately, the United States finally has a president who understands this. Barack Obama possesses the political skills to brush aside the Zionist zealotry that for decades has undercut U.S. efforts to bring peace and justice to the Middle East.
As a new president, Barack Obama must drag behind him the media-political AIPAC mentality that has made it so difficult for presidents to negotiate honestly on behalf of both Israel and a future Palestine.
The New York Times’ initial report after the Cairo speech indicates that Obama is up to the task. The Times report on the speech sent shock waves through keepers of the Zionists narrative with these opening lines:
In opening a bold overture to the Islamic world on Thursday, President Obama confronted frictions between Muslims and the West, but he reserved some of his bluntest words for Israel, as he expressed sympathy for the Palestinians and what he called the “daily humiliations, large and small, that come with occupation.”
While Mr. Obama emphasized that America’s bond with Israel was “unbreakable,” he spoke in equally powerful terms of the Palestinian people, describing their plight as “intolerable” after 60 years of statelessness, and twice referring to “Palestine” in a way that put Palestinians on parallel footing with Israelis.
Parallel footing? With this phrase the president acknowledged Palestine’s equality to Israel, drawing an outraged response in the Jewish World Review where Anne Bayefsky writes:
President Obama’s Cairo speech was nothing short of an earthquake — a distortion of history, an insult to the Jewish people, and an abandonment of very real human-rights victims in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
It is not surprising that Arabs and Muslims in a position to speak were enthusiastic. It is more surprising that American commentators are praising the speech for its political craftiness, rather than decrying its treachery of historic proportions.
This is the Zionist narrative roaring out into the hinterlands with its cry, “the sky is falling!”
It is the same cry that followed the appearances of Meirsheimer, Walt, Carter, Finkelstein, Charles Freeman, and other advocates of peace and justice. But this time, it is a popular and current president speaking.
The Cairo speech was “treachery of historic proportions? The President of the United States was guilty of giving a speech that was “an earthquake — a distortion of history, an insult to the Jewish people”?
To her credit, Bayefsky does acknowledge that there is such thing as a different narrative out there. But to her, of course, it is a “fictitious” narrative. She writes further:
This parallelism amounts to the fictitious Arab narrative that the deliberate mass murder of six million Jews for the crime of being Jewish is analogous to a Jewish-driven violation of Palestinian rights.
Tony Karon sees this outrage for what it is. In his blog, Rootless Cosmopolitian, Karon puts it this way:
Those who would be threatened by Palestinians being viewed as equal human beings to Israelis may have reason to be concerned.
That’s because whatever its policy implications — and the jury is very much still out on those — Obama’s Cairo speech marked a profound conceptual shift in official Washington’s discourse on the nature and causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and of America’s obligations to each side.
Regardless of the final winner in Iran, these recent weeks mark a turning point in the Middle East as a U.S. president shakes off the shackles of the Zionist narrative and becomes a champion of both Israelis and Palestinians.
And this same U.S. president understands that the Iranian election, regardless of the outcome, signals what the New York Times’ Roger Cohen describes as a profound change in U.S. foreign policy in the region:
Radicalism in the Bush White House bred radicalism in Iran, making life easy for Ahmadinejad. President Obama’s outreach, by contrast, has unsettled the regime.
With Lebanon denying an electoral victory to Hezbollah, the oil-driven Iranian economy in a slump, and America seeking reconciliation with Muslims, the world now looks a little different.
Photo above is from Reuters