Please people, Mousavi is NOT Ahmadinejad-minor…

•June 19, 2009 • 4 Comments

I’m tired of this meme that Mousavi and Ahmadinejad would really be the same regarding US interest. It’s never backed up by actual strategy that Mousavi has expressed during his campaign or his career, only by the fact that he was one of the revolution’s founders.

I call BS on this. While some of his rhetoric is similar to the things that Ahmadinejad says regarding the nuclear issue, there are nuances one must look for in the individual himself, and how he presents these issues that the US is most interested in, particularly on the nuclear issue.

Mousavi, like all people in Iran, would be unlikely to just shrug off nuclear technology. When talking heads here in DC try to use a complete halt to nuclear technology as the starting point for talks with Iran they are only kidding themselves.

On this issue all the things that I have seen Mousavi say, in Farsi and English, are always very calm and collected. He expressed often that he had no plan to turn the country away from its “legitimate rights” on the NPT, but when talking about foreign policy he chastises “adventurist” and “irresponsible” behavior of instigating the international community.

To give a little background when he was prime minister and he scuffled with then-President Khamenei, the letter he wrote to him revealed that even back then Mousavi believed in a realist foreign policy. Check out this Patrick Tyler article from a Wash Post article from 11/1988 reporting on these letters where Mousavi complains to President Khamenei of activism behind his back:

In one of the most revealing sections, Mousavi complained that “outside-the-borders” operations are being conducted “in the name of the government” with serious negative effects on Iran’s image.

“You know better how disastrous these have been to the country,” he purportedly wrote to Khamenei. “I get to know about a hijacked plane after it happens,” in an apparent reference to last spring’s hijacking of a Kuwait Airways jumbo jet, which landed at Iran’s Mashad Airport.

At the time, Middle Eastern sources, including Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat, suggested that Iran had assisted and was directing the hijackers, and passengers aboard the plane alleged that weapons were loaded onto the aircraft during its stop at Mashad.

“When a machine gun goes off in the streets of Beirut and there is news of it everywhere, then I hear about it,” the letter said, not explaining the reference. Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces are deployed in Lebanon and are reportedly training militiamen of Hezbollah (Party of God), which is believed to be holding western hostages.

In a more identifiable reference, the letter mentions allegations by Saudi Arabia in July 1987 that Iranian pilgrims were smuggling arms into the Moslem holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd severed relations with Iran earlier this year in the wake of the discovery and rioting by Iranian pilgrims that led to more than 400 deaths when Saudi security forces clashed with the rioters.

“After explosives are found in the luggage of our pilgrims, I get to know about it,” the purported letter says. “Unfortunately, with all its harmful effects, such operations are being continued every hour and minute in the name of the government.”

Additionally, he was not in the wilderness as much as talking-heads like to claim. In fact, he was an official adviser to president Khatami, the president who tried to tread a path towards US-Iran détente back in the late 90’s before it was derailed by hardliners in Iran and hardliners in Israel and its lobby in the US (see Trita Parsi, Trecherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States, 2008).

What he had signified over and over again during this campaign was a willingness to lay the groundwork for détente, and even beyond. He knows that to do this he would have to give the West some concessions, but in tactful campaign-speak, where you not only have to appease a citizenry, but also a supreme leader, he expressed his willingness in muted tones.

Ahmadinejad on the other hand sticks his middle finger high at any concerned parties. His rhetoric inflames western resolve and creates greater fear. While he makes speeches to the west about ‘mutual respect’ and a willingness to engage, he also makes speeches to basijis berating the US and showing his disbelief in US seriousness to engage with mutual respect. He fires missiles to provoke Israeli reaction, and denies the Holocaust.

He puts the world on edge while trying to claim that Iran has no interest in a nuclear weapon. These things are antithetical, yet he pulls it off.

Of course the supreme leader has the final say on foreign policy. And in fact, when asked Mousavi typically diverted this issue to the leader’s Supreme National Security Council, of which the president is the chairmen of.

But the president is the face of foreign policy. He is the actor out there that we read in the press every day, projecting the Islamic Republic government, and its intentions, to the world.

Yes, most elites in Iran support the regime. Mousavi lauds velayat-e faqih consistently, and always has. He sat at the right hand of Khomeini many times, and was actually rescued from opposition forces by Khomeini when he was the prime minister. The difference though now is where he wants to take the Republic.

As a classic realist he sees strength and regime prosperity in international and economic stability.

So to say that Mousavi really would have been a continuation of the same policies is an intellectually dishonest meme that really only reveals that pundit’s (or president’s) lack of intimate knowledge of Iran and its detailed and complicated history. (So if you don’t know, please shut the hell up.)

Here is a video that is a little dramatic, but it provides Mousavi’s voice with a translation. Also I’ve posted one with Ahmadi. Then you can make your own decision if Mousavi and Ahmadinejad are really that similar:

And here is one of Ahmadinejad:

You tell me…

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Reporting Scant Today

•June 16, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Reporting has been weaker today than it was yesterday, particularly since foreign media was banned from the rally in Vali’asr Square today, even tough witnesses told BBC that it was a bigger rally than yesterday’s giant one. But a great report came out of London’s Channel 4 news:

Though yesterdays violence and deaths were not mentioned, and reporting needs to get out of Tehran too because some real action is also going on in Esfehan, Mashhad, Tabriz, Shiraz, etc (although I understand the restrictions, I’m just dying for more info from these outer regions, this cannot be a real revolution without continued momentum there too, and not just at the universities).

And they say today the momentum has slowed, and that’s unconfirmed, going against most Twitter posts today.

Fraud

•June 14, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This from Mousavi’s website:

The true election results were revealed by a source at the election headquarters. The source said the results were created by a software program.

Supposedly,  Mousavi had 21.3 million, Ahmadi 10.5 million, Reza’i 2.7 million, and Karroubi 2.2 million votes. The source also claimed all 9 interior ministry election statements were prepared beforehand.

For Farsi readers, check it out in its entirety.

Gloating

•June 14, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I can’t even watch him gloat about winning as if it was legitimate. Can you?

Here is Mousavi’s translated letter to the Iranian people.

Independent journalists are really covering this well, although I feel the protests don’t have enough teeth to actually propel the regime to feel threatened. There needs to be millions to counter the millions of basij and police.

Riots

•June 13, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Check out Mousavi’s YouTube channel:

People are in the streets, though it is unclear to what extent the authorities are cracking down yet. I know IRGC is itching to pour into the streets. Right now it seems only the Tehran police dept. is doing the work.

Hubris

•June 13, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The audacity to rig the votes in such an egregious manner has put me in a little bit of shock here…

And Khamenei has come out to laud the vote and Ahmadi, so it’s official now. It won’t turn around, and Mousavi’s calls for fraud will be silenced by Khamenei.

The clear evidence for me is the Fars News article that came out less than 2 hours after polls closed claiming Ahmadi will get over 60% of the vote (below).

farshubri

The numbers just don’t make sense. 85% turnout, primarily for Ahmadi? Even if a larger principle-ist contingency, that doesn’t usually vote, came out to vote down reformist enthusiasm, it cannot amount to over 20 million.

The anomaly in this election was the fact that typically disillusioned voters were voting again because there was a candidate that represented them. Whether Mousavi was possibly the reluctant reformer or not, these people had hope. Hope brought voters out, as the images have shown us, not the status quo.

The implications here are that the leader has apparently decided that he wants to neuter Rafsanjani, ’cause Ahmadi will see this as a mandate to come after him. Though Rafsanjani has powerful positions as chief of the Expediency Council AND the Assembly of Experts.

I’m still trying to process this, but Mousavi camp is active. Check out his Twitter and Flikr feeds.

A writer for Harvard’s Tehran Bureau thinks the writing was on the wall… I feel stupid for not being so cynical.

“Passionate yet Peaceful” (UPDATE)

•June 12, 2009 • Leave a Comment

What a crazy day, it was hard to turn around without seeing or hearing a story on the elections. Khamenei lauded the “passionate yet peaceful” elections. It has inspired the international community.

But there is some crazy stuff going on over the last hour:

Firstly, semi-official Fars News an article pushed that the “justice seeking” candidate will win 60% of the vote (I have a screen shot below).

farshubri

Then, Mousavi gave a press conference claiming victory by a landslide.

Basically simultaneously IRNA, the official state media website, claims Ahmadinejad won by a landslide as well (فارسی).

Then I get home and see Fars News saying that (فارسی) Ahmadinejad is leading with 20% of votes counted with 68.08% and Mousavi only got 28.87%!! This seems to be a reaction by Iran’s Election Commission Chief, Kamran Daneshjoo, an Ahmadinejad guy to counter Mousavi’s claims.

This is really unbelievable, and unfortunately western media is mimicking all these claims. Yet projecting these results onto the whole election are IMPOSSIBLE at this moment because voting booths just closed at 2200 (10:00 pm) local time, and even then people who were already in line were allowed to vote after that time. That was only a few hours ago and as pictures and reporting showed, 32 million/46 million people eligible voted! That’s almost 70% of the electorate.

If this is a signal of the conservative regime members engineering this election for Ahmadinejad, putting these articles out and making these claims so early is clear hubris. I can’t even believe it. If the final results from the Ministry of Interior mimic these numbers then the insider elites already had already prepared the IRGC and basij to crack some skulls because such blatant fraud will bring the masses of supporters for Mousavi into the streets.

Thought: IF there is such blatant fraud bringing factions into the street, sparking a violent put-down by the thugs, how will this affect US-Iran rapprochement? With the international media watching, the US will have to acknowledge what could be egregious abuses of Iranian people and the democratic process. How can the US legitimize a government that has been elected through such fraud? Of course we legitimize other “illegitimate” governments, but the story paints a different picture considering Iran’s constitution.

UPDATE: Via Mousavi’s Twitter feed, that IRNA link provided above has been removed, but I have a screen shot of it, I’ll post it below the text here, hopefully it’s readable. Also, Mousavi is currently at the Ministry of Interior right now monitoring. ALSO, I’m providing a link to the .mp3 of the Mousavi post-election emergency press conference that he gave to counter the IRNA claim (فارسی). .mp3 of Mousavi Press Conference

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