June 15, 2009

Breaking (good) news from Iran

Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader and the man who has the final say on all strategic matters, has reversed his earlier decree that the disputed election result was fair—urging the country to unite behind Ahmadinejad—by ordering the powerful Guardians Council an investigation into the vote count, thus carrying out Mousavi’s (the defeated candidate) allegations of vote-rigging.

In the meantime tens of thousands of Iranian opposition activists have taken to the streets of Iran for a third day protesting against the presidential election (see the video below), defying a ban by the Interior Ministry, and European Union foreign ministers heve expressed “serious concern” about Iran’s use of force against post-election demonstrators, raising the prospect of a harder E.U. line against the country.

Michael Totten has an extensive set of key links, as does Andrew Sullivan who has comprehensive coverage, videos and photos of the demonstrations. Via Hugh Hewitt.

Iran. And yet something has changed

Notwithstanding the doubts and concerns the United States and other Western governments expressed, and in spite of the fact that several leading reformists have been arrested on Saturday night, after violent clashes following the disputed election result, les jeux sont faits in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This was not, of course, the result the West was hoping for: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won election with 62.6 percent of the vote, against 33.7 percent for challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi. But that’s what happened, better still that’s what the government says happened, which in that country is just the same as to say that we will probably never know what really happened..

Just as it was not enough, according to unconfirmed reports, Moussavi may have been detained by intelligence agents as he travelled to the Supreme Leader’s residence to meet with him. “It appears that a coup has taken place in Iran overnight to force the results on other parties. These elections cannot be considered fair by any measure under such circumstances,” said Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

In the meantime, Zahra Rahnavard, Mousavi’s wife, accused Ahmadinejad of “dictatorship.” She said: “The Iranian people voted to change Ahmadinejad, but this vote became a vote to solidify Ahmadinejad.”

What a pity! I know, it’s not a great comment, but my disappointment is overwhelming, and honestly I have no words. However, to see the cup half full instead of half empty, the aftermath of the election seems to have shown one important difference from the past: it is harder than ever for the authorities to clamp down on dissent, and this for the simple reason that something has changed in Iran. That’s why, at this point, I wouldn’t say rien ne va plus.