From the most ardent enemies to the most cordial friends, everybody is now monitoring and commenting on Iran’s 2009 Presidential Elections, which resulted to the reelection of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the extension of his mission for another four-year term.
The enemies confirmed their credulousness and myopia by garnering the hopes for a possible overthrow of the Islamic government after groups of frustrated people poured into the streets for some 6 days to protest what they called the “widespread fraud and manipulation” in the electoral results, while Iran’s traditional and long-time friends , including Lebanon, China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil, Azerbaijan, and Qatar, demonstrated their loyalty by dispatching the immediate congratulatory messages.
Everything was started when the Interior Ministry announced on the night of Saturday, June 13, that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was reelected to office for another four years as he won a categorical majority of 63% of the votes, blowing a heavy defeat to the reformist hopeful Mir-Hossein Mousavi by a margin of 11 million votes.
According to this official stats, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be the most popular president of Iran since the beginning of Islamic Revolution, surpassing even the victory of ex-President Mohammad Khatami in 1997, when he won 21 million votes.
The Interior Ministry declared the landslide victory for Mr. Ahmadinejad with 24.5 million votes whereas the majority of pre-election polls and surveys had indicated a narrow and close rivalry between the two main contenders, even expecting the likelihood of a second run-off round to determine the ultimate result. The National Election Commission also announced an infinitesimal minority of 330,000 votes to the other reformist candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, whose votes didn’t exceed the total of 460,000 invalid blank votes also cast.
The members at national Electoral Campaign of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who were apprehensive about the possible ballot-rigging in favor of the incumbent president since the commencement of campaigns and advertisements, held several rounds of emergency meetings to finds solutions, and the only answer they could find was to spearhead street demonstrations and rallies to protest.
Declarations of Mousavi
Mir-Hossein Mousavi issued several official declarations following the announcement of final results and sent various letters to the Supreme Leader, the Guardian Council, and the Head of the Judiciary to lodge complaints about the “widespread fraud and manipulation” which he had witnessed.
The members of Committee for the Preservation of Electorate at the national campaign of Mir-Hossein Mousavi also issued cautions through its official website to warn against the ways “votes are being distorted” during the election hours. They objected that the electoral executives had asked the voters to write down the name of Mir-Hossein Mousavi with “certain pens”, demanded they put down the electoral number of Mousavi beneath his name while casting their ballot, and expelled the observer representatives of Mousavi from the ballots.
Once the results were announced officially, Mousavi called his fans and supporters to mount street demonstrations and hold gatherings by wearing green wristbands and headbands, the color which he had chosen as a religious symbol for his campaign.
The massive demonstrations which the British papers, including the Daily Telegraph and Independent had described as the largest non-governmental rallies since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, lasted for 6 days, and left 7-15 fatalities, according to Iran’s official media.
Rebels and non-political insurgents who were seeking an opportunity to spread violence and unrest amidst the political tensions, attacked the citizens, devastated the public properties, broke down the buses and other transportation facilities and reportedly killed 10 people. In order to prevent the expansion of protests and make the demonstrators stay off the streets and to disallow the abusive movements of riots which the Supreme Leader said “are separated from the electoral fans and supporters of Mir-Hossein Mousavi”, riot police and plainclothes were brought to action, and according to the national intelligence services, a group of U.S.-linked terrorists who had planned to explode bombs in 20 populous spots of Tehran (the mega-capital of Iran with 10m population) were discovered.
In a joint letter to the Head of Judiciary System Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, the former President Seyed Mohammad Khatami and the failed reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi protested the “aggressive confrontation with people” and called for the immediate release of detainees who were arrested during the demonstrations: “according to the consistent reports, aggressive confrontation with the gatherings and ordinary people and attacking the residential complexes … are underway which are not in compliance with the accepted standards of the Islamic Republic and will have no impacts other than the pessimism of society toward the [governmental] system.”
“Upon your legitimate and religious responsibility and your sense of accountability toward the rights of citizens, we ask your majesty to take the necessary steps and actions to draw to a close this upsetting and provocative situation and prevent the violent row against the people”, they added.
Iran’s Supreme Leader was the first prominent figurehead to react to the “epic presence of the Iranian nation in the arena of elections”. He sent an elaborate congratulatory letter to the nation and the President-elect a few hours after the official announcement of the final results. Ayatollah Khamenei appreciated the 85% turnout and the participation of 40 million people in the 10th presidential elections: “the supremacy and dignity which you recorded in the history of the nation with your tranquility, serenity and maturity, and the unassailable inclination which you demonstrated amidst the spates of foes’ psychological propaganda, does have such an importance that can not be described with a conventional and usual language.”
He also alluded to the significance of “solidarity” and “astuteness” in the post-election season and added: “you proved that later than 30 years following the establishment of religious democracy in this country, you’ll take part in the juncture more vibrantly and confidently than ever, ensuring both the friends and enemies of your continued path.”
In another part of the letter, Supreme Leader praised the nation for their unprecedented participation: “the elections of Khordad 22 (June 12) with the creative performance of Iranian nation, set a new record in the long sequence of national elections. The 80 percent turnout on the ballots and the 24 million votes of people to the president-elect is a pure festivity which can guarantee the country’s improvement and progression, national security and sustainable contentment with the divine patronages and assistance.”
The Supreme Leader, however, toughened his tone a few days later and on the Friday prayers sermon, while the massive demonstrations and protests by the supporters of Mousavi were underway and the international pressure on Iran was surging. He warned the “behind-the-scenes planners of demonstrations” to end the rallies and stay off the streets, otherwise, he “would speak to the nation more frankly.”
He advised the failed candidates to pursue their complaints through “legal venues”, starting that: “the destiny of elections would be determined on the ballots, not on the palm of the streets.”
In an unprecedented action, however, the Supreme Leader blamed President Ahmadinejad for attacking the former high-ranking officials of the country during the pre-election live televised debate with Mousavi. Ahmadinejad had accused the former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and the former Parliament Speaker Nateq Nouri of corruption and financial fraud: “It’s not my procedure to name people on the Friday sermons, but I do it this time because they have been named [on the debates]…. I have known Mr. Hashemi for so long… [O]ur acquaintance dates back to some 50 years ago.… Mr. Hashemi has been one of the most significant and principal people of the movement in the pre-revolution era … and went to the verges of martyrdom several times after the revolution.… [He has] been a companion of Imam Khomeini and after the demise of Imam Khomeini, was perpetually a comrade of the leader.”
The hot presidential elections in Iran and its controversial aftermaths provoked different reactions from all around the world. In a low-profile and conservative approach which could have been pretty forceful and fanatical in the same situation under George W. Bush, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs expressed the happiness of the U.S. with the widespread enthusiasm and vibrancy which the elections have created in Iran and stated that U.S. is “impressed” by the vigorous debate and zealousness which the election caused among the young Iranians. It was the first time since the Iranian revolution of 1979 that a White House high-ranking official makes such friendly and positive remarks on the Iranian elections. However, he told the reporters that U.S. is “monitoring” the situations closely, and particularly, to what he called the reported “irregularities”.
The Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, however, in line with the frequent condemnations of the last months which he has been throwing at the Iranian state and people, expressed “deep concerns” over the “irregularities” and called for the immediate investigation into the “fraud and discrepancies”.
Lawrence Cannon has been casting doubts and concerns over different Iranian issues over the past months, and the official website of the Canadian Embassy in Tehran is now flooded with his abundant “deep concerns” on Iran’s human rights record, elections, missile test, nuclear issue etc. The only thing which he has never cast doubts or concerns about was the mistreatment of the Canadian Embassy in Tehran with the Iranian applicants and the rejection of 61% of the temporary resident visa applications in 2007.
Brazilian President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, whose country has developed strong ties with Iran under President Ahmadinejad, was among the first foreign leaders who sent congratulatory messages to Tehran. He denied the fraud possibility and told a press conference that “nobody has so far provided evidences for that, and the Iranian president was elected with a majority of 62%”. He also confirmed the reports of his forthcoming trip to Tehran in order to “pursue the bilateral cooperation and build stronger partnerships.”
The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish President Abdullah Gul also congratulated Mr. Ahmadinejad on his reelection during a phone call. The presidents of Russia, Belarus, Iraq, Lebanon, Armenia, Yemen and Venezuela also extended their felicitations to Ahmadinejad on his taking office for a second consecutive term.
The reality of Mir-Hossein Mousavi
Although Mir-Hossein Mousavi was implicitly warned by the Supreme Leader, the most powerful political and religious authority of the country, to cease his “street campaign-expedition” and “muscle-flexing” and pursue his demands and protests through “legitimate venues”, and that’s what the western media outlets are trying to distort and portray as a political confrontation between the reform movement and the leader’s political alignment, the reality is thoroughly different.
Mir-Hossein Mousavi was the Prime Minister of Iran from 1981 to 1989 and served both of his two terms when Ayatollah Khamenei was president. He was the popular prime minister of the Late Imam Khomeini, the founder of Islamic Revolution, and had been praised by him frequently and on various occasions.
On the expiration of his first term, Ayatollah Khamenei was reluctant to endorse him as prime minister for a second time, as he believed that there were other competent individuals who could be put in the position. Some of the high-ranking clerics of that time, including the Major General Mohsen Rezaei (the former Commander in Chief of the IRGC) went to Imam Khomeini for meddling. They told Imam Khomeini that Mir-Hossein Mousavi (the prime minister during the war years) was immensely popular among the combatants and those young warriors who were fighting with the forces of Saddam the dictator, and would get hope and energy from him. In order to persuade Ayatollah Khamenei to extend the mission of Mr. Mousavi as the Prime Minister, Imam Khomeini declared this historical sentence which perpetuated Mirhossein Mousavi as a prominent revolutionary figure in the contemporary history of Iran: “As a citizen, I announce that selecting anyone except this gentleman [Mir-Hossein Mousavi] is a treachery to Islam.”
Mousavi has been introduced as a major reformist figure to the world; however, he seeks reform and change within the frameworks of Islamic Republic of Iran and has always endorsed the role of Jurisprudent as the ultimate decision-maker which has “salvaged the country from coups” so far. Those western thinkers and pundits who portray Mousavi as an opposition leader and are trying to associate him with the anti-revolutionary movements inside the U.S. and Israel are apparently making a big mistake.
Over the past days, the Persian section of Radio Israel aired exclusive and “emergency” programs to cover the “Iran crises” by inviting “experts” and “scholars” who would unanimously invite the supporters of Mir-Hossein Mousavi to storm into the streets, call for the transformation of the Islamic government, and destabilize the routine transportation, business, and daily life by burning public facilities, mosques, universities and shops. The peaceful and nonviolent demonstrations of the protesting youths and pro-reform supporters of Mir-Hossein Mousavi who were demanding their votes be officially “respected” by the authorities were soon mixed by the illicit and criminal actions of the U.S. and Israel-backed revolts and mutineers whose ultimate desire was to see a “velvet revolution” going on everywhere in Iran.
One of the most appreciable remarks by the Supreme Leader was that one which differentiated between the rebels with the supporters of Mir-Hossein Mousavi. In a personal meeting with Mir-Hossein, Ayatollah Khamenei clarified that the “account of rebels and violence-seekers is separated from” that of Mousavi’s fans and those who devastate the public assets and private belongings of the people are carrying out the aggressive actions without any political purposes.
Ali Larijani, the moderate conservative Speaker of Parliament who is seen to be one of the most rational and reasonable figureheads in the conservatives’ campaign also told the nation in a live TV speech that “those who under the mask of political fans of a certain movement or candidate impose damages to the public properties or paralyze the daily life of ordinary people are not among the protestors who want their votes to be preserved and virtuously.”
He also added that Islamic Republic of Iran respects the freedom of speech, the freedom of rallies and demonstrations, and vigorously pursues the claims of those candidates who believe that there have been irregularities with their votes: “the liberty of demonstrations should be respected, and those who are in charge of issuing certifications to legitimize the protesting rallies should cooperate and issue them constructively.”
Larijani who was one of the contenders of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2005 Presidential Elections also stressed that he had conducted “phone calls” with the authorities of Guardian Council, the highest-ranking electoral body of Iran which vets and oversees the candidates for qualification into the final round of election and examines the ultimate credibility of votes, and made suggestions to them in order to facilitate the investigation of claims made by the failed candidates.