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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Change, Iranian Style: Open Thread

Some of the other threads are getting a bit cluttered. Consider this an open thread wherein to continue discussing the Iranian election and protests. Obama’s comments and a couple of news clips below the fold.

President Obama’s full statement:


Obviously all of us have been watching the news from Iran… and I want to start off by being very clear that it is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be; that we respect Iranian sovereignty, and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran, which – sometimes – the United States can be a handy political football (or discussions with the United States).

Having said all that.. I am deeply troubled by the violence that I’ve been seeing on television.  I think that the democratic process, free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent.. all those are universal values and need to be respected. And whenever I see violence perpetrated on people who are peacefully dissenting, and whenever the American people see that, I think they’re rightfully troubled.  My understanding is that the Iranian government says that they are going to look into irregularities that have taken place.  We weren’t on the ground, we did not have observers there, we did not have international observers on hand, so I can’t state definitively one way or another what happened with respect to the election, but what I can say is that there appears to be a sense on the part of people who are so hopeful and so engaged and so committed to democracy, who now feel betrayed.  And I think it’s important that, moving forward, whatever investigations take place are done in a way that is not resulting in bloodshed and not resulting in people being stifled in expressing their views.

Now: with respect to the United States and our interactions with Iran – I have always believed that, as odious as I consider some of President Ahmadinejad’s statements, as deep as the differences that exist between the United States and Iran on a range of core issues, that the use of tough, hard-headed diplomacy, diplomacy with no illusions about Iran and the nature of the differences between our two countries, is critical when it comes to pursuing a core set of our national security interests.  Specifically, making sure that we are not seeing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East triggered by Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon; making sure that Iran’s not exporting terrorist activity.  Those are core interests  not just to the United States but, I think, to a peaceful world in general. We will continue to pursue a tough direct dialogue between our two countries and we’ll see where it takes us.  But even as we do so, I think it would be wrong for me to be silent about what we’ve seen on the television over the last few days, and what I would say to those people who put so much hope and energy and optimism into the political process, I would say to them that the world is watching and inspired by their participation, regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election was.  And they should know that the world is watching, and particularly to the youth of Iran, I want them to know that we in the United States do not want to make any decisions for the Iranians but we do believe the Iranian people and their voices should be heard and respected.  

The death of a protester has sparked further outrage:

Standing on rooftops, pro-government gunmen opened fire on a group of protesters who had tried to storm the militia’s compound. One man was killed and several others were wounded in the worst violence since the disputed election Friday.

Angry men showed their bloody palms after cradling the dead and wounded who had been part of a crowd that stretched more than five miles supporting reform leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.

[. . .]

The dead man, wearing a white shirt and khaki pants, lay sprawled on the sidewalk with blood from a head wound spilling onto the pavement. Nearby, protesters carried another gunshot victim, a makeshift tourniquet around his thigh, onto the back of a yellow taxi.

It was first known death in Tehran since postelection clashes erupted and could be a further rallying point in a culture that venerates martyrs and often marks their death with memorials. One of Mousavi’s Web sites said a student protester was killed early Monday in clashes with plainclothes hard-liners in Shiraz in southern Iran. But there was no independent confirmation of the report.



  1. So, as we start to try to digest things, it’s a brand new day there. With the foreign press being circumspect and some being “politely asked to leave.”

    Iran News is posting video–some perhaps NSFW.

    Newest at the top, older scrolling down.  

  2. Shaun Appleby

    We are starting to get some MSM confirmation of the twittered news that students were killed in Sunday’s university protests, both in Tehran and Shiraz:

    At least 12 people may have died in violent clashes with Iran’s security forces following President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election, ¬≠according to reports from the country.

    The reported fatalities have come amid a brutal crackdown on students, apparently aimed at quelling a wave of campus rebellions that authorities fear could spill over to the wider population.

    Robert Tait and Saeed Kamali Dehghan – Iran: 12 students reported killed in crackdown after violent clashes Guardian 15 Jun 09

    As usual the students are bearing the brunt of the reaction.  There were tweets from students under seige in Tehran University throughout the day yesterday, even pleas for medical advice via Twitter.  Compelling stuff.

  3. Shaun Appleby

    We have no national press coverage in Iran, everyone should help spread Mousavi’s message. One Person = One Broadcaster. #IranElection

    Name withheld

    I might add we virtually have ‘no national press coverage’ in the rest of the world if CNN is any indication.  The twenty or so twitterers in Iran did more over the last twenty-four hours to keep this story current and breaking than the rest of the MSM put together.  They are brave and committed advocates deserving of our support.  Oh, and thanks Andrew, you have a knack for hitting the right notes at the right time.  You and Huffington Post’s Nico Pitney have been holding up the ‘standards’ of the US media when everyone else dropped the ball.

    I think that these recent events may subtly change US attitudes towards Iran in ways that have not even been considered by pundits in the broader media.

  4. Shaun Appleby

    we are moving location – seperating – situation in Tehran is tense – cant explain #Iranelection

    Name withheld

    Our thoughts are with you.  This was the last tweet from a correspondent at the rally yesterday afternoon and came after the reports of shootings at the Basij barracks.

  5. Shaun Appleby

    Tweets from Iran suggest existence of a ‘letter’ from the Ministry of the Interior to Khamenei regarding election results:

    Ok, the TR of the letter. It’s supposed to be a letter from the Mins. of Interiors to the Supreme Leader saying the order is accomplished…

    … and AN is ‘elected’, and the real numbers R: Mousavi: 19M, Karoubi: 13M, AN: 5.6M, Rezaee: 3.7M #iranelection #fake

    “the order” is that “bcz of the serious situation of the country, AN should stay as prez.” #iranelection #fake

    Name withheld

    If such a ‘smoking gun’ document existed it could be very interesting.  Even the rumour seems to be agitating protesters.

  6. Shaun Appleby

    7 point statement distributed among the protesters in Tehran today:

    1. Dismissal of Khamenei for not being a fair leader

    2. Dismissal of Ahmadinejad for his illegal acts

    3. Temporary appointment of Ayatollah Montazeri as the Supreme Leader

    4. Recognition of Mousavi as the President

    5. Forming the Cabinet by Mousavi to prepare for revising the Constitution

    6. unconditional and immediate release of all political prisoners

    7. Dissolution of all organs of repression, public or secret.

    Tehran Bureau Twitter

    That’s pretty powerful stuff.  Uncomfirmed but Tehran Bureau has been pretty ‘insider concious’ throughout the last few days.

  7. Shaun Appleby

    In the wake of the election debacle, questions are being raised about who controls whom. But over the years, Ayatollah Khamenei gradually surmounted expectations that he would be eclipsed.

    “He is a weak leader, who is extremely smart in allying himself, or in maneuvering between centers of power,” said one expert at New York University, declining to use his name because he travels to Iran frequently. “Because of the factionalism of the state, he seems to be the most powerful person.”

    Neil MacFarquhar – In Iran, an Iron Cleric, Now Blinking NYT 15 Jun 09

    This ain’t over yet, not by a long shot.

  8. sricki

    and not sure how reliable the source is since I can’t read it, but one report says:

    According to the Cyrus News Agency, Tuesday morning 16 senior members of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps were arrested. “These commanders have been in contact with members of the Iranian army to join the people’s movement,” CNA reports. “Three of the commanders are veterans of Iran-Iraq war. They have been moved to an undisclosed location in East Tehran.”

    And Ahmadinejad is Russia-bound after all.


    I just watched a video of Americans dancing in the streets after our election last November.  I couldn’t help but think that should have happened in Iran after their election.  They should be celebrating a change too.  

  10. #iranelection has been blocked in Iran. Switch to #Iranians , #Tehran, and #Iran9 (via @arashamel)

    Also excellent analysis from the BBC about the power base behind Mousavi

    The man at the centre of the storm, presidential challenger and runner-up Mir Hossein Mousavi, is not some lightweight outsider.

    Ahmadinejad supporters have also rallied in Tehran

    He was Iran’s prime minister from 1981 until 1989, and was generally given high ratings for running the country through almost all of the eight years of war with neighbouring Iraq.

    One of his closest associates and backers, Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, is an even weightier figure who has been a major pillar of the Islamic Republic since its foundation.

    Twice president, from 1989 to 1997, Mr Rafsanjani is a pragmatic conservative who currently heads two of the regime’s most powerful bodies: the Expediency Council (which adjudicates disputes over legislation) and the Assembly of Experts (which appoints, and can theoretically replace, the Supreme Leader).

    He also wields huge influence and economic clout behind the scenes.

    But in this year’s presidential campaign, Mr Rafsanjani was bracketed together with Mr Mousavi and lambasted vitriolically by Mr Ahmadinejad in televised debates.

    Mr Mousavi was also supported by another two-term former president, the reformist Mohammad Khatami, who withdrew his own candidacy in Mr Mousavi’s favour and is now also calling for the vote to be cancelled and re-run.

    The same demand has been made by another of the election losers, Mohsen Rezaie, who for 16 years commanded the Revolutionary Guards, another of the regime’s main pillars.

    In addition to alienating reformist and centrist circles, Mr Ahmadinejad (the first Iranian president not to be a cleric) is also not uniformly backed by hardline conservatives, including the religious establishment in Qom.

    Where he is believed to enjoy huge support is among the Revolutionary Guards Corps and its auxiliary basij (volunteer) militia; he has built up a strong following and patronage there.

  11. Here’s how you can help

    Hashtags, the only two legitimate hashtags being used by bloggers in Iran are #iranelection and #gr88, other hashtag ideas run the risk of diluting the conversation.

    Keep you bull$hit filter up!  Security forces are now setting up twitter accounts to spread disinformation by posing as Iranian protesters.  Please don’t retweet impetuosly, try to confirm information with reliable sources before retweeting.  The legitimate sources are not hard to find and follow.

    Help cover the bloggers: change your twitter settings so that your location is TEHRAN and your time zone is GMT +3.30.  Security forces are hunting for bloggers using location and timezone searches.  If we all become ‘Iranians’ it becomes much harder to find them.

    Don’t blow their cover! If you discover a genuine source, please don’t publicise their name or location on a website.  These bloggers are in REAL danger. Spread the word discretely through your own networks but don’t signpost them to the security forces. People are dying there, for real, please keep that in mind.

    Denial of Service attacks. If you don’t know what you are doing, stay out of this game. Only target those sites the legitimate Iranian bloggers are designating.  Be aware that these attacks can have detrimental effects to the network the protesters are relying on.  Keep monitoring their traffic to note when you should turn the taps on or off.

    Do spread the (legitimate) word, it works!  When the bloggers asked for twitter maintenance to be postponed using the #nomaintenance tag, it had the desired effect. As long as we spread good information, provide moral support to the protesters, and take our lead from the legitimate bloggers, we can make a constructive contribution.

    Lots of good points here. Changing your TWITTER settings is easy

  12. mme truffle

    Thanks for all of the updates.  

    The biggest insult to Iranian voters is that they couldn’t even be bothered to steal the election unobtrusively.  They weren’t even concerned that the rigging would be so obvious.  

    If the protesters refuse to cede their ground (with the increase of violence against them) , there is a real possibility that Iranian gov. might be forced to – at least partially – assent to their demands. Regardless of whether or not Ahmedinajad pulls this one off, Iran is already changed by this.

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