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Iran – coup d’état or voter fraud

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AhamdiMousavi

We should care more about seeking the truth than give in to passion in the heat of the  moment. While ‘Tweeting’ has its merits and is certainly a lot of fun it is not in any way a true representation of the actual situation in Iran. Many Iranians mainly in rural areas do not have access to this form of communication and we must not make the mistake to ignore them. Iran is still a very remote nation for most of us and is therefore important to be informed as comprehensively as possible to make a fair judgment of the situation in Iran.

We have heard many accusations of voter fraud from Mousavi himself and his followers, but also from many outside of Iran. What these accusations have in common is that they are not based on rational arguments but rather a preconceived sentiment towards Iranian politics. We want to free Iran from its theocratic rule and mold it according to our western democratic society. This arrogance is the reason why we rush to judgment and overwhelmingly condemn the election as fraud. We do not need proof because an anti-liberal like Ahmadinejad must not be legitimately elected. We can also not ignore that our own political elite has a vested interest in regime change in Iran because of a nuclear stand-off that threatens their own ideas of security.

Georg Friedman is founder of STRATFOR Global Intelligence  and in ‘Western Misconceptions Meet Iranian Reality’ he presents us with a different analysis. A mass movement of people in Iran towards liberalization is a myth. Iranians are for the most part still supporting their revolution that started about 30 years ago. Friedman calls the pseudo-revolt based on Twitter ‘I-pod liberalism’, something that does not represent the Iranian populace. Many of those who actually want regime change speak English but this I-pod owning Anglophones are not exactly the majority in Iran.

Mousavi supporters base their claim of wide-spread fraud on polls that have been conducted shortly before the election. These polls show a head to head race between the contestants, some even saw Mousavi ahead. To those Ahmadinejad’s overwhelming victory was stunning.

Iran is a vast country and polling is notoriously difficult when phones are not universal and once you have a phone it is not sure that you can make a call. Most people in Tehran have a phone and a majority most likely voted for Mousavi but people outside of Tehran that could not be reached with a phone were not included. These polls were therefore misleading and do not in anyway support Mousavi’s claim.

Friedman challenges the common perception that Ahmadinejad has total control over the vote counting. he seems to say like it or not but the process is democratic. Their is sufficient oversight and Ahmadinejad has powerful enemies who would not hesitate to use any irregularities against him. He certainly knew that he would be called on any irregularities, like in any other democracy, and risk a revolt.

Moreover these accusations totally miss the point of Ahmadinejad’s popularity. The president of Iran is popular because he speaks to most important issues of piety, corruption and national security. For most Iranians and for those outside the professional elite in Tehran, which are the overwhelming majority, he is the candidate of choice when it comes to these issues.

During one of the election debates Ahmadinejad challenged Mousavi’s connection to Rafsanchani’s sons, who are widely believed corrupt figures, and this resonated well among Iranians who strongly support a candidate fighting corruption. Similarly the claim that reformist supporters of his challenger, like former president Kathami, had been willing to suspend the uranium-enrichment program tapped into popular support for the program.

A major point in the fraud accusation is an alleged underrepresentation of the Mousavi vote in Iran’s Azeri-majority provinces. Mousavi is Azeri and therefore should have won the popular vote. This completely ignores the fact that Ahmadinejad served as an official for eight years in two Azeri provinces. He also speaks perfectly Azeri and artfully quoted from Azeri poetry during the campaign. The assumption that Mousavi was somehow assured of the Azeri vote is simply not grounded in reality according to the Politico.

Not all polls are designed to be equal. One that was conducted by the Washington based organization Terror-Free-Tomorrow before the debates assigned a twenty point lead to the incumbent over his challenger. Moreover Ahmadinejad was perceived to have done well during the debates while his challenger did poorly. In Friedman’s own words: ‘That he won is not the mystery; the mystery is why others thought he wouldn’t win’.

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Written by Alfred

17. June 2009 at 11:10 am

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