Iran update -- Day 5 of protesting
Tens of thousands of supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the defeated main challenger in the disputed Iranian presidential election, rallied in central Tehran, Sky News said, after the biggest protest in 30 years led to as many as 15 deaths.
Two prominent Mousavi backers were detained earlier today, AFP reported after Iran’s supreme leader yesterday appealed for unity following a meeting with representatives of candidates in June 12 presidential voting.
Video of today’s gathering in Haft Tir Square was posted on Facebook and follows a June 15 rally that was the largest anti- government demonstration since the Islamic revolution ousted Iran’s shah in 1979, triggered by opposition accusations of vote-rigging to re-elect President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Several people were reported killed. Mousavi has called a mass demonstration tomorrow to mourn the deaths. Tehran’s bazaar merchants, a group that backed the 1979 revolution, may strike to protest the election, the BBC said.
Election turmoil is pitting young Iranians and more educated voters who want social freedom and better ties with the West against the Islamic republic’s ruling clergy. Ahmadinejad’s opponents accuse him of wrecking the economy, which suffers from high unemployment and inflation, and driving Iran into international isolation through his confrontation over the country’s nuclear program. The head of the UN nuclear agency said he believed Iran wanted the option of an atomic bomb.
The Iranian regime “is going through its biggest crisis in 30 years,” said Mohammad-Reza Djalili, an Iranian analyst at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. “The structure of the system has been shaken, and now it has cracks.”
State television’s news channel showed interviews with people on the streets calling the protesters enemies of the state and quoting officials as saying protests at the vote should be made through proper legal channels.
Mousavi said the same people who committed fraud in the June 12 ballot were responsible for damaging public buildings during the protests. “It’s the companions of lies and fraud that attack banks and public buildings to complete their scheme,” he said in comments on his Web site.
“Use of plain-clothed forces that are used by the security bodies, only shows that the police are aware of the contradiction of what they are doing with what is their duty,” Mousavi said in an open letter to the Iranian National Security Council. ...
Iranian authorities ordered restrictions yesterday on the activities of foreign media organizations in the country. Reporters should avoid being present at or covering protests without the permission of the Interior Ministry, the Culture Ministry said in a faxed statement.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry said some foreign media outlets have become the “mouthpiece of rioters” who besmirched the country’s reputation after the election, AFP reported.
The U.S. and several major allies, including Israel, say Iran’s nuclear program is cover for the development of a weapon, a charge denied by the government in Tehran, which says the work is peaceful and intended to generate electricity.
The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog, Mohammed ElBaradei, told the BBC for the first time he believed Iran wants the option of developing a nuclear weapon. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the world “does not have a lot of time” to deal with Iran’s program.
It's reported by Reuters that seven people have died at the hands of "security forces" going after protesters, and they also report that a provincial prosecutor has warned that protesters, if arrested (several have been) are subject to the death penalty for their participation in the unrest across the country.
Could this lead to a new revolution and topple the mullahs control over Iran? Not likely. The people aren't armed, and if the mullahs feel they're in jeopardy, they'll call out the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard) in force, allied with Basij militia. And it doesn't really matter who becomes the president of Iran. Mousavi's hands are just as blood-soaked as Ahmadinejad's and the mullahs. The mullahs run Iran. They choose the candidates, and all this election has shown is that they had already "picked" the winner of the election. There is no real democracy in Iran. The elections are shams.
We can hope that change will occur in Iran, but we're not holding our breath. We're realists and we know that without support from other nations the protesters won't be able to bring the regime down.
ADDENDUM: Captain Ed noticed that there is a senior cleric, Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, has openly criticized the Iranian regime. On his website he states that “A government not respecting people’s vote has no religious or political legitimacy." Until he fell out of favor with the Guardian Council, he was believed to have been the proposed successor of Ayatollah Khomeini, but his outspoken views put him on the outs with the mullahs and clerics. He was under house arrest, but that doesn't seem to have kept him quiet.
Also Yid with Lid reports that Iran has "outsourced" it's thugs. Early reports were that Hezbollah had joined with Basij in attacking and beating protesters. Not so, says Yid with Lid. They're actually Hamas fighters brought in by the regime in Tehran. The Jerusalem Post is also reporting on the Hamas fighters in Iran:
“The most important thing that I believe people outside of Iran should be aware of,” the young man went on, “is the participation of Palestinian forces in these riots.”
Another protester, who spoke as he carried a kitchen knife in one hand and a stone in the other, also cited the presence of Hamas in Teheran.
On Monday, he said, “my brother had his ribs beaten in by those Palestinian animals. Taking our people’s money is not enough, they are thirsty for our blood too.”
It was ironic, this man said, that the victorious Ahmadinejad “tells us to pray for the young Palestinians, suffering at the hands of Israel.” His hope, he added, was that Israel would “come to its senses” and ruthlessly deal with the Palestinians.
When asked if these militia fighters could have been mistaken for Lebanese Shi’ites, sent by Hizbullah, he rejected the idea. “Ask anyone, they will tell you the same thing. They [Palestinian extremists] are out beating Iranians in the streets… The more we gave this arrogant race, the more they want… [But] we will not let them push us around in our own country.”
This explains why journalists have been told they have to have Iranian oversight on their news stories, and are told what they can and can't film or take pictures of. When they clamped down on the foreign media (they have a state-run media) we knew this would be the precursor to more violence at the hands of the regime, and more protesters being killed or rounded up. This is far from over.
And I'd like to include this little note to readers. We're not in favor of Mousavi winning. As I stated above, he's just as nasty as Ahmadinejad. The only difference between the two is tone. No, we are backing the people of Iran -- the protesters that know they got screwed in this election. Montazeri has called on security, police, and military forces to stand down and let the people voice their dissent; to not "sell out their religion" for an illegitimate government. We doubt that many will listen to his words, but it's a boost to the protesters.
ADDENDUM II: Consider this update a look at how the world is reacting to the Iranian elections, and the fallout that has followed. German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced her concerns back on Monday. French President Nicolas Sarkozy called the election "a fraud." Today, the Canadians spoke out. (HT to Gateway Pundit and Winston. Winston, BTW, was on Hugh Hewitt's show, and has been keeping a very close eye on the updates coming out of Iran through all aspects of the alternative media and alternative communications like Twitter.) From International:
The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement regarding the situation in Iran following the presidential election:
“Canada is deeply troubled by the current situation in Iran. The allegations of fraud in last week’s presidential election are serious and need to be answered. The Iranian people deserves to have its voice heard, and we call for a fully transparent investigation into electoral discrepancies.
“The banning of opposition protests and security forces’ heavy-handed treatment of demonstrators throughout the country are also matters of grave concern.
“We are further disturbed by reports of the unacceptable treatment of George McLeod, a Canadian journalist who was allegedly detained and beaten by Iranian authorities. We have called in Iran’s Chargé d’Affaires in Ottawa to answer questions about the mistreatment of Mr. McLeod and to raise our concerns about the situation in Iran.
“The Government of Canada calls for freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Iran, and urges the country to fully respect all of its human rights obligations, both in law and in practice. We also continue to call on Iran to comply immediately with its legal obligations concerning its nuclear program."
Contrast that with our weak response from Barry. He believes if we sound off like Canada, France, and Germany did it's be seen as "meddling" in Iranian affairs. Um, Barry, they're already doing that even after your weak response.
The president is missing a prime opportunity to send a message to the protesters living under totalitarian, theocratic, and thuggish rule that we stand with them in solidarity. That we support their desire for true freedom and democracy. But all he can offer them is lip service and weakness.
Barry, the Iranians are watching your response. You're the leader of the free world. Now the mullahs, with Ahmadinejad as their figurehead, know we're not serious about standing up to the oppressors of freedom. We don't need to invade Iran, but this is a prime opportunity for sanctions to be enacted. And I don't mean the empty sanctions. I'm talking about the nations condemning this to place their own trade sanctions on them. These, I believe, would be far more constructive in not only trying to force their hand in ending their nuclear program, but to convey to Iran that the world disapproves of how they've handled the election and it's aftermath.