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June 14, 2009

Iran: Election Protests Spread

Ahmadinejad says he won, Mousavi files protest and all hell breaks loose.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says his re-election was "real and free" and cannot be questioned — but that isn't stopping his campaign rival from appealing the results.

Reformist Mir Hossein Mousavi accused the government of voter fraud and many of his supporters have clashed with police in Tehran's streets.

"Today, I have submitted my official formal request to the council to cancel the election result," Mousavi said in a statement. "I urge you Iranian nation to continue your nationwide protests in a peaceful and legal way."

Protesters set fires and smashed store windows Sunday in a second day of violence as groups challenging Ahmadinejad's re-election tried to keep pressure on authorities. Anti-riot police lashed back and the regime blocked Internet sites used to rally the pro-reform campaign.

PJ Media has a rundown of the reports getting out of Iran. Some highlights...

* From Tehran and Tabriz to Mash’had, Esfahan, Kerman, Shiraz, Sanandadj, Babol, and many other cities and towns across Iran people are out in the streets, rioting against the Khomeinist regime’s election results, chanting “Death to the Dictators.”

* Following Khamenei’s order of disconnection of the text messaging and SMS system across Iran on Thursday, since late Saturday evening, June 13, all the cellular phones in Tehran have also been entirely disconnected.

* Entekhab News Agency reported on late Saturday night (June 13) that the other three candidates, Ahmadinejad’s opponents, Mir-Hossein Moussavi, Mehdi Karoubi, and Gholam-Hossein Karbashchi, are now all under house arrest. This report adds that thirty of the journalists who write for the newspaper Etemad’eh Melli (National Trust), owned by Karoubi, are all now also under arrest.

There are unconfirmed (via StopAhmadi Twitter feed) that there are tanks on the streets of Tehran. Please add the appropriate amount of salt to that. One of the benefits of local reports is immediacy, while confirmation can be an issue.

The White House is taking a wait and see approach, which in fairness is about all they can do.

We've been hearing for years about the need for the people of Iran to change their government and how much the US should support dissidents. Well, here's their chance. Are the people of Iran able to change the course of their country or will the regime beat them back? Also, the last time the Iranian people overthrew a government, things didn't turn out so well, so let's not delude ourselves that there's some silver bullet here.

While everyone seems to be pinning their hopes on Mousavi as a moderate and reformer, it's helpful to remember that he was Prime Minister under Ayatollah Khomeini.

Update: Haaretz: Mousavi arrested. Plus this YouTube channel of Iranian street protests.

Speaking before the election, John Bolton wasn't optimistic that much would change (especially on foreign and nuclear policy).

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posted by DrewM. at 03:30 PM

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