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Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Circled Wagons and the Iron Fist

Robert Dreyfuss writes:

The first inkling that the election outcome could be reversed was the statement from the spokesman for the Guardian Council, Abbas Ali Kadkhodai, that the current review of the vote by the Council, ordered by Khamenei and expected to take a week to ten days, might "result in the nullification of the results and the holding of a new election," as the Washington Post reported. "That is not implausible," Kadkhodai said, to Mehr News, an Iranian press agency with government ties. One analyst has speculated that such a scenario could involve the Council disqualifying enough of Ahmadinejad's votes to bring his total under 50 percent of the vote, thus forcing a runoff election between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi. To be sure, such an event would be nearly revolutionary, and it would further embarrass the Leader, who called the election results last Friday "sacred" and "blessed."

More likely is that Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, and their allies will circle the wagons. They'll greet protests with an iron fist. Though things are ugly now, they could rapidly get a lot uglier, more violent, and more civil war-like. Thirty years ago, it was the decision of the Shah of Iran not to confront the revolutionaries with violence that allowed the anti-Shah movement to grow strong enough to oust the Shah. Then, as now, a relatively small number of deaths -- "martyrs" -- triggered a traditional, Shiite forty-day cycle of memorial marches and ceremonial protests and led to a crescendo of protest by the end of 1978. A month later, the Shah had fled.

link: Battle Lines in Iran, The Nation


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