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Friday, June 12, 2009

Pepe Escobar: Poetic justice of a green revolution

The fight will be very hard. Employees of the Iranian Interior Ministry - which supervises the election - have warned that ultra-reactionary Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, aka "the Crocodile", Ahmadinejad's apocalyptic spiritual mentor, has issued a fatwa to ... turn the vote upside down. And the regime can always use the young - and very well-armed - Basij militias, the new generation of the revolution, to intimidate voters before the second round of voting. The plot thickens. Ahmadinejad may have lost the support of the Iranian Republican Guards Corps - according to insistent rumors in Tehran. Should that be the case, even if he won he would be absolutely toothless. And a secret state poll suggesting Mousavi will win the first round by a landslide may - or may not - be true. Many in Tehran do not forget the regime's back-door deals that led to Ahmadinejad's victory in 2005. Ahmadinejad has been soundly blasted by his utter incompetence in economic matters, his appalling foreign policy and the lack of civil liberties in Iran. But he was never more dangerous then when he was lying about inflation and unemployment in the Iranian TV debates, always with a straight face - a face the poor and disenfranchised in Iran identify as "one of us". But millions of young, urban, educated - and unemployed - Iranians would rather dream of "poetic justice". The promise would be fulfilled if Ahmadinejad in the end were defeated by an electronic intifada. Fight the power - with green power.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robert Fisk is in Tehran this from his latest missive:

"An interval here for lunch with a true and faithful friend of the Islamic Republic, a man I have known for many years who has risked his life and been imprisoned for Iran and who has never lied to me. We dined in an all-Iranian-food restaurant, along with his wife. He has often criticised the regime. A man unafraid. But I must repeat what he said. "The election figures are correct, Robert. Whatever you saw in Tehran, in the cities and in thousands of towns outside, they voted overwhelmingly for Ahmadinejad. Tabriz voted 80 per cent for Ahmadinejad. It was he who opened university courses there for the Azeri people to learn and win degrees in Azeri. In Mashad, the second city of Iran, there was a huge majority for Ahmadinejad after the imam of the great mosque attacked Rafsanjani of the Expediency Council who had started to ally himself with Mousavi. They knew what that meant: they had to vote for Ahmadinejad."

My guest and I drank dookh, the cool Iranian drinking yoghurt so popular here. The streets of Tehran were a thousand miles away. "You know why so many poorer women voted for Ahmadinejad? There are three million of them who make carpets in their homes. They had no insurance. When Ahmadinejad realised this, he immediately brought in a law to give them full insurance. Ahmadinejad's supporters were very shrewd. They got the people out in huge numbers to vote – and then presented this into their vote for Ahmadinejad."

June 16, 2009 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reformists were defeated ultimately not by what the conservative clerical elite did. They were defeated by their own timidity and their neo-liberalism.
Khatami's privatization of the economy made the lives of the majority of the population worse. And his unwillingness to truly challenge the conservative section of the elite - or even to support movements on the ground when they went beyond being a fan club for him and his policies - undermined his own base. The two policies together - privatization and timidity - left him vulnerable to a counter-attack by the conservatives and they happily pressed their advantage home.
And if one thinks that the voting sentiments of a population can't swing dramatically in the space of a decade, take a look at Britain. Tony Blair swept to power on a massive landslide in 1997, winning twice more before he retired. The Labour Party is now a ruins, being beaten into third place by the wackos in UKIP in the recent EU elections.
We should hold off on any pronouncements living, as we do, in countries where significant sections of our own political elite are happy to find one more reason to demonize Iran and try to justify and invasion. See Tomgram's piece on Obama's Ir-Af-Pak War:

June 16, 2009 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Stratfor, By George Friedman, June 15, 2009

"Last Friday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected with about two-thirds of the vote. Supporters of his opponent, both inside and outside Iran, were stunned. A poll revealed that former Iranian Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi was beating Ahmadinejad. It is, of course, interesting to meditate on how you could conduct a poll in a country where phones are not universal, and making a call once you have found a phone can be a trial. A poll therefore would probably reach people who had phones and lived in Tehran and other urban areas. Among those, Mousavi probably did win. But outside Tehran, and beyond persons easy to poll, the numbers turned out quite different.

Some still charge that Ahmadinejad cheated. That is certainly a possibility, but it is difficult to see how he could have stolen the election by such a large margin. Doing so would have required the involvement of an incredible number of people, and would have risked creating numbers that quite plainly did not jibe with sentiment in each precinct. Widespread fraud would mean that Ahmadinejad manufactured numbers in Tehran without any regard for the vote. But he has many powerful enemies who would quickly have spotted this and would have called him on it. Mousavi still insists he was robbed, and we must remain open to the possibility that he was, although it is hard to see the mechanics of this."

June 16, 2009 11:38 AM  

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