Monday, June 15, 2009

big things going down in Iran

Medieval Persian miniature.

Big things going down in Iran. As I write this, thousands have gathered in Tehran to an officially banned protest at which Mousavi and Khatami have called for new elections. There are reports of violence and apparently plainclothes police and Ahmadinejad supporters (there are a lot of them and they are thugs) have brutally beaten Mousavi supporters in the streets. Meanwhile, at 9:00 pm last night, Mousavi supporters registered their protest by shouting Allahu Akbar from the rooftops -- apparently something that was done in the 1979 revolution.

The supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, apparently the person ultimately behind the election fraud (though some suggest it was orchestrated by more secular elements in the army and the police) initially declared Ahmadinejad the winner, but today he has agreed to look into allegations of voter fraud. This could either be a trick to lessen the intensity of the protests, or it could be evidence of disagreement within the clerical hierarchy.

People across the world have been asked to wear green today in support of the protesters.

The government successfully shut down Facebook and text-messaging, which have been powerful tools in organizing popular protests, so this time the revolution is on Twitter. There is an English language twitter feed you can check out (#iranelection). Andrew Sullivan is also following things closely, as are the Huffington Post and The Lede Blog at the NY Times.

Pray for the Iranian people.


crystal said...

I've been reading Andrew Sullivan's blog on this. Is the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei a permanent leader above the president? The president is sort of like a prime minister?

Liam said...

It's very complex. Yes, the supreme leader has more power than the president, especially in foreign policy. The president/prime minister comparison is not a bad one. Iran actually has a complex institutional structure that gives most of the power to the clerics and controls who can engage in politics, but that should also provide checks and balances. See
this chart from the BBC that explains it. Since the state is based on strong (though authoritarian) institutions, a stolen election is really a departure from the way things work over there.

crystal said...

Thanks for the link. Wow, that really is complex. So they are a republic - the supreme leade is elected. I was confused, thinking that the same Khamenei had been the leader ever since the revolution, but it's two different guys.

Jeff said...

Sullivan's coverage has been great. Apart from NPR and the outlets you've mentioned, it's hard to find any decent American coverage in the MSM for this story. I've spent a lot of time looking at the BBC for info on it.

I don't tweat, but I guess those who do are being asked to give a Tehran destination in order to give the Iranian jammers fits and to blog green in solidarity.