June 13, 2009

Where There's Smoke

It's beginning to look like Iran's election could get ugly. The Election Commission Headquarters released its figures showing 38 million (98 percent) ballots have been counted, a record turnout, so far with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad winning 63.81%. Challenger Mir Hossein Moussavi, a former prime minister, claimed he received 54 percent of the votes, but the ELH reported 32.67%.

Tinged with populism,
Moussavi has denounced the election, claimed that he won and vowed to challenge the results. "It is our duty to defend people's votes. There is no turning back," Moussavi said, alleging widespread irregularities.

If he actually takes to the streets Moussavi will confront the Revolutionary Guard, who's chief, Mohammad Ali Jafari, stated he would quell any "revolution." It's not in Ayatollah Khamenei's interest to have bloodshed in the streets of Tehran. He has to know that Western governments and the international media are itching to tear Iran apart, but riots seem in the cards.

Voting irregularities are probable. He may have won anyway, but no one saw a landslide for Ahmadinejad. Moussavi alleged his rallies were suppressed and his communications disrupted. Then Ahmadinejad leaps ahead. The embers of conflict are heating up. If the results have truly been tampered with, Moussavi and his followers will gain the energy to sacrifice their blood.

Moussavi better watch his back though. Iran's method is to arrest ringleaders and organizers.

Before the election President Obama said,
"Ultimately the election is for the Iranians to decide. But you're seeing people looking at new possibilities. And whoever ends up winning the election in Iran, the fact that there's been a robust debate hopefully will help advance our ability to engage them in new ways."

What if that debate is snuffed out? What will Obama do then? His power is mostly limited to words and words will have no power in Iran. And what if Ahmadinejad legitimately won? Whatever happens is an oxygen mask to those hyperventilating over Lebanon.

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