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Time To Punt

The CBC is reporting that Iran orders election probe

Iran’s supreme leader ordered Monday an investigation into allegations of fraud in the presidential election, and urged calm as tens of thousands defied a government-banned rally in Tehran and gathered downtown.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted as saying on state television Monday that Iran’s Guardian Council will examine the allegations.

Mousavi wrote an appeal Sunday to the Guardian Council, a powerful 12-member body that’s a pillar of Iran’s theocracy. Mousavi also met Sunday with Khamenei.

“Issues must be pursued through a legal channel,” said Khamenei, insisting “that the Guardian Council carefully probe this letter.”

Election results must be authorized by the council, composed of clerics closely allied with the unelected supreme leader. All three of Ahmadinejad’s challengers in the election — Mousavi and two others — have made public allegations of fraud after results showed the president winning by a 2-to-1 margin.

Khamenei violated protocol by congratulating Ahmadinejad before the Guardian Council gave its approval to the election, and has had to back off. He may have received some pointed warnings from the Assembly of Experts about his actions.

The BBC has a background piece on the Iranian government, and it isn’t easy to follow. You really should look at it to see where the power points are, because the people most often mentioned in the media don’t necessarily have the power associated with their titles in the West.

Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani is very much a major player in the Iranian government as the chair of the Assembly of Experts and of the Expediency Council. The Assembly of Experts is quite similar to the original concept of the Electoral College in the US government in that they determine who is the supreme leader. Khamenei does not hold the position for life; he can be replaced at any time by the Assembly of Experts.

Cynically the best solution would be to hold a new election and steal it in a more reasonable and realistic fashion after declaring that “mistakes were made” by “a few bad apples” and publicly executing a few low-level Ministry of Interior people.


1 jams O'Donnell { 06.15.09 at 3:07 pm }

On the other hand the Supreme Leader has the armed forces. I’m sure they could create a few vacancies in the Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council

Seriously I can only imagine what’s going on behind the scenes in Qom and Tehran
.-= ´s last blog ..Iranian government fires on protestors =-.

2 Bryan { 06.15.09 at 3:47 pm }

At this point I have only possibilities, not enough information for probabilities yet. I don’t think we know who rigged the election with any degree of certainty. I initially assumed it was the clerics, but now I’m not as certain.

The “theft” might be bigger than an election.

3 jams O'Donnell { 06.15.09 at 4:26 pm }

It could be a lot bigger Bryan. We may or may not see.
.-= ´s last blog ..Iranian government fires on protestors =-.

4 Bryan { 06.15.09 at 4:36 pm }

It has been suggested that the Revolutionary Guard might have decided that they are the best people to ensure the preservation of the revolution, and the clerics have strayed.

Ahmadinejad was in the Basij during the Iran-Iraq War, and I think he holds sway with the units in Tehran, but it is hard to judge how much sway he has with the Pasdaran command, nominally loyal to the Supreme Leader.

5 Badtux { 06.16.09 at 12:46 am }

Things are definitely getting strange. Tweets have plainclothes militia firing on crowds, rather than police and military, who apparently stand aside and do nothing as the militia do their thing. But who are the militia? IRG? Or has Ahmadinejad built his own paramilitary outside of the IRG structure? Or both? I keep heading over to Juan Cole’s place, since he knows Farsi and thus presumably can read first-hand accounts rather than rough translations to English by native Farsi speakers, but things are confusing over there too.

6 Badtux { 06.16.09 at 12:52 am }

Oh. Tweets also have several major clerics objecting that the election results are clearly, well, polite word would be, nonsense. Thus the reason for the meeting of the Guardian Council to “examine” the results. My suspicion is that their objection is not so much the final result, but rather than it was done so clumsily and obviously as to undermine the credibility of the regime. Still, the word “coup” or Farsi equivalent is going around the streets, but question is, coup by whom against whom? Has Ahmadinejad used his position as overglorified Mayor of Tehran to build a power structure outside the control of the ayatollahs and now is overthrowing the ayatollahs too? If so, uht-oh — all h*** is about to break loose.

Of course, if civil war *does* break out in Iran, the proper course of the US is to stand outside, watch, and congratulate whoever wins it. We already experimented with interfering in other people’s civil wars, in Vietnam and in Iraq. It just prolongs the bloodletting. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and all that…

7 Bryan { 06.16.09 at 10:43 am }

The Basij are nominally part of the Revolutionary Guard, but I’m not sure if the Pasdaran are actually in operational control any more and there is no way of being sure. They have been the groups who have been doing the majority of the beating, and most seem to agree that they are responsible for the shooting.

It is possible that there are several coups occurring at the same time in different groups because of the turmoil, i.e. the incompetent election coup has created an opening for opponents of Khamenei to push for different leadership. The conservatives are not a single group, but a collection behind different ayatollahs, all of whom believing they should be the Supreme Leader.

Lots of raw data, but no way of being sure of reliability. Even eye witnesses can be unreliable, especially when there’s gunfire.

As much as I would like to help, the best help any American can give is to push to keep the US government out of the situation.