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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Swept Under the Persian Rug

Prior to Iran's election, I pondered whether this would be like our 2004 or 2008. Looks like now the major debate is whether it is 1972 or 2000: (a) energized, grass-roots liberals challenge corrupt right-wing warmonger and vastly underestimate his appeal to the "silent majority," then lose in landslide; or (b) stolen by the Supreme Clerics. I'm betting on (b): the irregularities are great and the counting procedures are opaque. But the case for (a) is not a trivial one. None of us have very good information, and all sources from within Iran are self-interested and spinning. Even if the answer is (a), however, the episode cannot help but erode the legitimacy of the regime. Most Iranians were born after 1979's revolution. The rule of the old can only last so long. Even if the hard liners manage to put down the protests, their days seem numbered.


At 11:53 AM, Blogger Gina said...


It's not that I want this to be the case, and it's not that I fail to see how this landslide election result was rigged. But, I ask naively, is it possible the West has underestimated Ahmadinejad's strength somewhat since all of the pictures we're getting are from the cities and not the countryside?

At 8:08 PM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

Yes, I think it is possible, which is why I hedge it in the post (and part of why I think BHO has finessed it in his statements too).

But here's why I lean toward the theft theory. If there's no crime you don't need a cover-up. If this was a fair election, any smart Ayatollah would simply open it up: here are the votes, double check if you like, the outcome will be the same. This is especially true since the supposed margin was so large. Any small discrepencies or irregularities would just be a drop in the bucket that is MA's margin of victory. What the old regime most needs now is legitimacy, and transparency would buy them that at very little cost. If MA really won.

Instead we get the great stonewall. Combine that with (1) reports that in some pro-MA districts you had over 100% turnout, (2) the oddity that MHM did poorly in his home regions, as did Karoubi, and (3) the fact that all tallying was done by MA's own Interior Ministry w/ no independent verifiers allowed. It looks pretty compelling. Not definitive though.


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