Patterico's Pontifications

6/15/2009

Pro-Mousavi Rallies in Iran; Don’t Underestimate the Significance of This Coup

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:19 am



Yesterday Iranians on Twitter posted messages of intent to march at 4 p.m. today in support of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the principal pro-reform opponent of Ahmadinejad. (Current local time is about 6:47 p.m.) The Iranian government declared any such protests illegal, but AP reports that the marches took place anyway:

Tens of thousands of supporters of pro-reform leader Mir Hossein Mousavi are streaming through the center of Tehran in a boisterous protest against election results that declared President Mamoud Ahmadinejad the winner.

The crowd — many wearing the trademark green color of Mousavi’s campaign — was headed toward the capital’s huge Freedom Square in the largest display of opposition unity since Friday’s elections ended with Mousavi claiming widespread fraud.

Surprisingly, the evidence of dissent-crushing we saw over the weekend does not yet appear to have materialized. Here is a photo.

Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the importance of Dinnerjacket’s coup. It is conventional wisdom that the election was irrelevant because the true levers of power are operated by Khamenei. Maybe and maybe not. This interview with a dissident and former government leader suggests that Dinnerjacket uses Khamenei as his puppet and not the other way around. The source of his power: his relationship with the Revolutionary Guard, which controls the flow of information to the Supreme Leader:

A: After the last election [2005], after Ahmadinejad was first elected, there were many questions raised about Ahmadinejad’s effort to isolate the Leader. We talked openly about this. . . .

Q: And what do you mean by “isolating” the Leader?

A: By monitoring and controlling the flow of information to him. Unfortunately, God will not reveal information to him directly. Where does he get his information, his data? The system works in such a way that information is very powerful. And Ahmadinejad controls the ministry of the interior, the ministry of information, the ministry of intelligence.

(H/t Allahpundit.) Further evidence of this thesis emerges today, in pieces suggesting that Khamenei’s speech blessing Ahmadinejad’s “victory” was written for him. None of this is conclusive, of course, but it should give pause to those who assume without further analysis that Ahmadinejad is a powerless figurehead.

It should also cause some to question the significance of Khamenei’s decision to ask for a probe of allegations of vote fraud. The Supreme Leader already blessed the result as a “divine assessment” — Mousavi’s supporters say before the votes were counted. Having screwed up the charade so badly, it may well be that Ahmadinejad is ordering the probe to give some perceived after-the-fact legitimacy to the election that he rigged so obviously.

The upshot of all this, as described by the author of the analysis of Khamenei’s speech:

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s victory has the merit of clarifying the situation within the Islamic Republic. The choice is now between a repressive regime based on a bizarre and obscurantist ideology and the prospect of real change and democratization. There is no halfway house.

Ah well. Obama will know what to do.

37 Responses to “Pro-Mousavi Rallies in Iran; Don’t Underestimate the Significance of This Coup”

  1. I posted an E-Mail from one of the crowd in Iran here scroll down a post or two.

    GM Roper (85dcd7)

  2. I wonder if hope that we see a repeat of 1980 when Khomeini “ate” the idiot semi-Marxist/semi-Islamists that put him into power. I happen to believe that a dictatorship is superior to a theocracy. I would like to see Ahmadinejad purge the Ayatollahs or make them into figureheads. For now, that is the best-case scenario.

    nk (19d332)

  3. I doubt anyone really knows what’s going on. Likely we’ll have to wait and see.

    JEA (0ccd61)

  4. Ahmadinejad took a lot of ____ from the clerics, last year, for kissing his 70-year old’s former grade school teacher’s gloved hand. If he puts an end to even that little bit kind of nonsense, it will be a step forward for Iran.

    nk (19d332)

  5. The Revolution will be is being blogged.

    Official Internet Data Office (7eea2b)

  6. It may also be that Ahmadinejad has used all of the rope his enemies have given him and now they are getting ready for the hanging.

    Certainly his enemies know that this is his final moment of weakness. If Ahmadinejad survives this, and the “election” stands, there will be no next election and his opponents will soon disappear.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  7. Iran may be more pathetically complicated and diabolical than we realize — and the word “coup” may not be accurate, or, if anything, would be technically more applicable to the actions of Mousavi, not Ahmadinejad — certainly if a poll taken by a Western organization indicating widespread support for Iran’s current president is reliable and a window into the thinking of the Iranian electorate.

    If so, and if the future ends up truly grim, then much of the Iranian electorate, and not just its leadership, may end up guilty and with blood on their hands.

    Reuters: “The breadth of Ahmadinejad’s support was apparent in our pre-election survey,” the pollsters said, rejecting arguments the poll might have reflected a fearful reluctance to give honest answers.

    The poll also found nearly four in five Iranians wanted to change the system to give them the right to elect Iran’s supreme leader, not currently subject to popular vote, they said. Iranians chose free elections and a free press as their most important priorities.

    “These were hardly ‘politically correct’ responses to voice publicly in a largely authoritarian society,” the pollsters said.

    “The fact may simply be that the re-election of President Ahmadinejad is what the Iranian people wanted.”

    Mark (411533)

  8. Sick of the Ayatollahs, eh, Mark? The bitch-police in burkhas beating up their wives, sisters and daughters? I hope so.

    nk (093b41)

  9. One poll suggests a large percentage of the Iranian public may be quite complacent about or, worse, quite happy with their ultra-fanatic president.

    Another poll suggests a large number of the Israeli public may be rather complacent about, or, worse, very naive about what Iran poses to their nation.

    In all of this, the saying that comes to mind is “whistling in the dark.”

    Reuters, June 14

    Only one in five Israeli Jews believes a nuclear-armed Iran would try to destroy Israel and most see life continuing as normal should their arch-foe get the bomb, an opinion poll published on Sunday found.

    The survey, commissioned by a Tel Aviv University think tank, appeared to challenge the argument of successive Israeli governments that Iran must be denied the means to make atomic weapons lest it threaten the existence of the Jewish state.

    Asked how a nuclear-armed Iran would affect their lives, 80 percent of respondents said they expected no change. Eleven percent said they would consider emigrating and 9 percent said they would consider relocating inside Israel.

    Twenty-one percent of Israelis believe Iran “would attack Israel with nuclear weapons with the objective of destroying it,” the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), which commissioned the poll, said in a statement.

    “The Israeli leadership may be more informed,” INSS research director Yehuda Ben Meir told Reuters, explaining that the discrepancy between public and government views about Iran.

    But he added: “I think the Israeli public does not see this as an existential threat, and here there may be an exaggeration by some members of the leadership.

    “Most Israelis appear willing to place their bet on Israel’s deterrent capability and, I would add, on Iran’s rational behavior.”

    …Netanyahu has hinted Israel could attack Iran pre-emptively should Western diplomacy fail to curb its uranium enrichment.

    The INSS survey found 59 percent of Israeli Jews would support such strikes, while 41 percent would not back the military option.

    The poll had 616 respondents and a margin of error of 3.5 percent, Ben Meir said.

    Israeli Arabs who make up some 20 percent of the population — and are generally less likely to see themselves as targets of the Jewish state’s enemies — were not included for budgetary reasons, he said.

    Mark (411533)

  10. It has been confirmed that pro-dinnerjacket militants opened fire on the crowd. At least one dead.

    an AP photog witnessed it, apparently.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  11. Looks like the mullahs have decided their problem is they’re not conservative enough.

    They don’t want to be reformist-lite.

    poon (093c46)

  12. That Iranian poll was 34%-14% for Ahmadinejad. Twenty-seven per cent said “No opinion” and 25% didn’t respond.

    A poll where the majority is “no opinion” or “buzz off”, followed by an 85% turnout, is not believable.

    What is believable is that “no opinion” means “If you think I’m going to tell you I’m voting against the dictator, you’re crazy!

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  13. The protest today was, by all accounts, enormous.

    If the crowd turns out tomorrow, too, we’re getting into velvet revolution territory.

    Maybe – just maybe – the regime went too far and provoked a backlash.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  14. From StopAhmadi on Twitter (last few minutes):

    Woman CONFIRMED shots were fired in Tehran, 5 ppl got shot, 4 ppl died #IranElection
    6 minutes ago from Seesmic Desktop

    The Basiji that shot those 4 ppl at Azadi Sq. was then killed by the ppl #iranelection
    2 minutes ago from Seesmic Desktop

    The Basiji police that killed 4 ppl in Tehran got killed by the ppl! eye for an eye! #iranelection
    half a minute ago from Seesmic Desktop

    Official Internet Data Office (7eea2b)

  15. Don’t get too far ahead of the curve: The Washington Post says that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad might have won legitimately:

    The Iranian People Speak
    By Ken Ballen and Patrick Doherty

    The election results in Iran may reflect the will of the Iranian people. Many experts are claiming that the margin of victory of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the result of fraud or manipulation, but our nationwide public opinion survey of Iranians three weeks before the vote showed Ahmadinejad leading by a more than 2 to 1 margin — greater than his actual apparent margin of victory in Friday’s election.

    While Western news reports from Tehran in the days leading up to the voting portrayed an Iranian public enthusiastic about Ahmadinejad’s principal opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, our scientific sampling from across all 30 of Iran’s provinces showed Ahmadinejad well ahead.

    Independent and uncensored nationwide surveys of Iran are rare. Typically, preelection polls there are either conducted or monitored by the government and are notoriously untrustworthy. By contrast, the poll undertaken by our nonprofit organizations from May 11 to May 20 was the third in a series over the past two years. Conducted by telephone from a neighboring country, field work was carried out in Farsi by a polling company whose work in the region for ABC News and the BBC has received an Emmy award. Our polling was funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

    The breadth of Ahmadinejad’s support was apparent in our preelection survey. During the campaign, for instance, Mousavi emphasized his identity as an Azeri, the second-largest ethnic group in Iran after Persians, to woo Azeri voters. Our survey indicated, though, that Azeris favored Ahmadinejad by 2 to 1 over Mousavi.

    A lot more at the link.

    The serious Dana (3e4784)

  16. Well, if the WaPo says it was legit ? It must be. Right ?

    This is not over and the people who quote polls in a dictatorship are either naive or corrupt. What may be happening is the same dynamic as exists in Turkey. There is a sophisticated urban population in the big cities and an illiterate, mullah-dominated rural population. Turkey has been drifting to the Islamists lately although the Army is the guardian of the secular state in Turkey. In Iran, the Revolutionary Guard and the basiji, made up of survivors of the kids who cleared minefields in the Iraq-Iran War by walking through them, are the dominant force.

    The fact that they were using Arabic speaking riot police and Venezuelan troops is a hopeful sign.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  17. Even if Dinnerjacket won, the people still have a right to consensual, decent government.

    Patricia (2183bb)

  18. Mr K: Well, it might be legit. We just don’t know yet.

    The serious Dana (3e4784)

  19. Don’t get too far ahead of the curve:

    Actually, Kevin at #11 draws the correct conclusion. I took the article you posted too much at face value earlier on. So the situation in Iran, certainly with its voters, apparently is far murkier than indicated.

    Not sure what to make of the pollsters from Terror Free Tomorrow, and whether their analysis of Iranians’ response to various questions led to an oversimplified statement of “2 to 1 for Ahmadinejad” due to some type of agenda on the part of TFT.

    Terror Free Tomorrow appears to be an organization that is philosophically ambiguous or, if you will, “centrist,” or perhaps even a bit to the right. I can see a variety of both liberals and conservatives — of those both in the pro- and anti-Obama camp — in the US believing their own opinions on what Iran’s election is all being affirmed by such a poll.

    It’s possible the thrust of the TFT survey’s main conclusion is a case of “d’oh!”, of simple ineptitude.

    Washington Post blog:

    Methodologically, this survey passes muster as it’s relatively straightforward to pull a good sample of the Iranian population, using the country’s publicly available population counts and listed telephone exchanges. But the poll was conducted from May 11 to 20, well before the spike in support for Mousavi his supporters claim.

    More to the point, however, the poll that appears in today’s op-ed shows a 2 to 1 lead in the thinnest sense: 34 percent of those polled said they’d vote for Ahmadinejad, 14 percent for Mousavi. That leaves 52 percent unaccounted for. In all, 27 percent expressed no opinion in the election, and another 15 percent refused to answer the question at all. Six Eight percent said they’d vote for none of the listed candidates; the rest for minor candidates.

    One should be enormously wary of the current value of a poll taken so far before such a heated contest, particularly one where more than half of voters did not express an opinion.

    Mark (411533)

  20. Dana: aye, it might be legit. But the government’s behavior doesn’t seem consistent with that.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  21. The only known fact is that we don’t know what the facts are. But it seems to me that we’ve had too much Hope for Change in Iran, and we might be letting some of that drive our conclusions. What the Post article means is that we need to hedge our bets here, because it is very possible that President Ahmadinejad won legitimately.

    The Dana who wants the facts (3e4784)

  22. when young Iranian women sit arms linked in a middle of a street with all of them showing a look of detrmination to protest the idea ,of one vote one person was stolen, the Ayatollas must be edgy.

    mike191 (411342)

  23. when young Iranian women sit arms linked in a middle of a street with all of them showing a look of detrmination to protest the idea ,of one vote one person was stolen, the Ayatollas must be edgy.

    mike191 (411342)

  24. when young Iranian women sit arms linked in a middle of a street with all of them showing a look of detrmination to protest the idea ,of one vote one person was stolen, the Ayatollas must be edgy.

    mike191 (411342)

  25. Patience. The inability of the ruling regime to fully quash anticipated protests and unrest during these post election days may be revealing just how weak, if not fragile, the existing power structure is. Recall how the Soviet Union collapsed. Patience. Change will come to Iran. From within.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  26. Well, Dana, Ahmadinijad may have won the election. It utterly defies all common sense, however, to believe that he won every single district, and defeated every candidate in their own home town.

    Phil Smith (1cf25d)

  27. In a way, the heavy handed response to Ahmadinejad apparent loss (I think comment #11 is on to something) is the best possible result from the standpoint of the US. The Presidency is largely a ceremonial position. The President is technically in charge of domestic policy, but the clerics are responsible for defining the parameters of domestic policy. Had they simply rolled over and allowed Mousavi to take the reigns like they did Khatami 12 years ago, he would have governed as ineffectually and as timidly as Khatami did and nothing would have changed. By throwing the election to Ahmadinejad they will either end Iran’s sham democracy or eliminate the current regime.

    Hopefully the end result is the elimination of the current regims and the institution of true freedom in Iran, something that would be an enormous benefit for the people of Iran, as well as the US, Isreal, the West Bank/Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq and pretty much everywhere else. But if this revolt does not succeed, I hope that — at the very least — this wakes up the West as to the true nature of this regime.

    Sean P (e57269)

  28. Jews need not apply. Might offend the Iranians. Don’t hear a lot coming from Obama on election fraud. I remember McCain being pretty vocal on the Georgian crisis. White House surprisingly quiet on this matter.

    Andrew Sullivan silent on his demigod voting present on this one…probably because Ross is not gay.

    Robert Heinlein's Ghost (dcebbd)

  29. Dana: certainly the US should not get involved at this time.

    DCSCA: this is reminding me a lot of 1989, albeit much bloodier. It could still go either way, but this might be the change, coming to Iran, from within.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  30. I’m still wondering who tried to take out Imanutjob back in ’05, when an assassination attempt narrowly missed him, but killed a number of his bodyguards and entourage. Perhaps a faction of the army that was disenchanted with him, or another outfit sent from the Mullahs? The attempt was too sophisticated to have been pulled off by the citizenry, methinks.

    Dmac (f7884d)

  31. Has anyone been looking at the recent vids on YouTube today? Here’s just one of many compelling stories:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSECAvBTanQ&feature=featured

    Dmac (f7884d)

  32. #29- Yes. I keep recalling images from Prague in 1968 and Moscow in 1991 as well. It’s a matter or patience. This will either ignite– or flame out. But the fact that flames of dissent, clearly anticipated before the election, have not been stanmped out yet, is an encoraging sign. The less said by the U.S. or any other Western power, the better. Eric Kantor has already shot his mouth off/ Smarter to remain quiet, and let Iran spark it’s own liberty to life.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  33. Why is everyone so quick to declare Mousavi a reformer? Did any of you look at his background. If he is a reformer, why was he allowed to run in the first place. Just because the AP says something doesn’t make it fact.

    A note of caution. Most street demonstrations fail when the people start getting killed. Second note of caution, be careful what you ask for. This isn’t the time for fairytale thinking. Neither of these two clowns are pro-US.

    Rich (4e3207)

  34. Most street demonstrations fail when the people start getting killed. Remember Russia, 1991. That time, it didn’t, and the results were a wonder.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  35. Rich: at the moment I don’t care if either of them are pro-US. I care if they are pro-the-people-of-Iran.

    I also think that if the people stand as one and push back and win, it doesn’t care who their putative leader is. Mousavi is no longer in control of the mob … he is following it, not leading it.

    You are right that the demonstrations can fail – although people are already being killed. Tomorrow will be an important test: if the crowds are smaller, then Ahmadenijad has likely won. If the crowds are *bigger*, then all bets are off.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  36. It’s a joke for those on the left to claim it’s tactically good for Obama to not say anything, one way or the other, about the protestors in Iran, since many liberals also apply the same concept to the type of White House rhetoric (certainly if it’s strongly negative) that may be aimed at Ahmadinejad.

    Such a mindset is ultimately nothing more than a pro-enabler, soft-spine approach to bad people, bad governments and bad societies, which was clearly exemplified by Neville Chamberlain in the 1930s, Jimmy Carter more recently and pretty much Barack Obama today.

    Mark (411533)

  37. “Did any of you look at his background.”

    Sure. Mousavi was a hard-core Khomeinist (prime minister back in the 80’s, when Iran still had a prime minister), he was rabidly anti-American and a socialist skank in the bargain.

    He ain’t no friend of ours.

    The only reason we’d want to support this piece of garbage is to keep Iran weak by playing one faction off against the other.

    Dave Surls (619d6c)


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