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Iran has been hit by a political “earthquake”: against worldwide expectations, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has won a landslide victory and a second term in the Iranian presidential election. At least that’s what the Iranian regime says – to the disbelief of quite a few Iranians, not to mention the puzzlement of the world. Pepe Escobar argues this has been a mix of a very well organized state operation, and Ahmadinejad’s real appeal to Iran’s vast rural and working classes. The objective was to prevent a “threat” to the Iranian revolution principles from emerging, embodied by the “green revolution” of Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s young supporters. The official margin of victory though, is simply not credible. The Iranian revolutionary system – embodied by top clerics and the Republican Guards – won. But will they get away with it?

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Courtesy: BBC

CROWD: We want freedom! We want freedom!

PEPE ESCOBAR, THE REAL NEWS ANALYST: More than 24 million votes for Ahmadinejad, a little over 13 million for Mousavi, a turnout of 85 percent. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the second term in the Iranian presidential election by a formidable landslide. So why is the youth in Tehran behaving like it’s May ’68 in Paris? And why this? This was the scene in Tehran on Saturday, around four in the afternoon. Late at night, Mousavi had said, and I quote, “I’m warning I will not surrender to this dangerous charade. The result of such performance by some officials will jeopardize the pillars of the Islamic Republic and will establish tyranny.” Compared with supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, where the buck really stops in Iran, he said, and I quote, “I assume that enemies intend to eliminate the sweetness of the election with their hostile provocation.” Ahmadinejad’s victory, the supreme leader said, is a divine assessment. How could the Green Revolution have got it so wrong? What about the hopes for a more stable and better-managed Iran economy, more civil liberties, and less confrontation with the West? Mousavi says this is all a “charade.” Let’s examine a concise timeline. By the end of May, Mousavi was ahead of Ahmadinejad in Iran’s 10 biggest cities by 4 percent. So fast forward to this past Friday, when Khamenei met with Hashemi Rafsanjani, the number two in the regime, who had warned the supreme leader three days earlier about the possibility of election fraud. Even before the election was over on Friday, Web sites were shut down, and SMS and text messaging totally out all over Iran, in fact. Mousavi had also warned of fraud after Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi, Ahmadinejad’s apocalyptic spiritual mentor, endorsed outright vote rigging. By three in the morning on Saturday, long military convoys, escorted by their basijis on motorbikes, the basiji militias, they took over the streets of Tehran completely, crying, “Mousavi, bye-bye.” That’s against the Ahmadinejad bye-bye rally of the Green Revolution. This had a feel of Tienanmen in Beijing in 1989 or a coup d’état. A lot of stuff simply doesn’t add up. Ahmadinejad even won in the big city of Tabriz. Tabriz is in Azerbaijan. Mousavi is Azeri. Azeris are on a ultratight ethnic group. They vote for one of their own always. [Mehdi] Karroubi, the other candidate, he didn’t even win his home state, Lorestan. And Rezaee, the other candidate, from Khuzestan, where the oil is in Iran, he expected 2 million votes in his province. He had less than 1 million nationwide. Everywhere, all over the country, Ahmadinejad got between 66 and 69 percent. So there is something extremely fishy about this landslide. Why Ahmadinejad won? There are many reasons. He visited every Iranian province at least twice in this past four years. Deep Iran has nothing to do with Tehran. He plundered the reserve fund full of oil money. That was a fund created by Khatami. And Ahmadinejad, with this fund, he gave a lot of money to pensioners and distributed a lot of pork all over the Iranian provinces. Inflation skyrocketed because of that. But the average Iranian still believes that his fake numbers on inflation and unemployment add up. That’s what happened during the presidential debates. Ahmadinejad turned the election to a referendum on the whole idea of the Islamic Revolution. That’s a certified crowd-pleaser in a very religious country. So Mousavi, he had the urban youth vote, the urban educated female vote, the intelligentsia vote, the upper-middle-class globalized vote, even had the bazaar vote. But that was not enough. It was SMS and Facebook against the poor rural and working-class masses, those who see themselves in the pious son of a blacksmith’s, honest Ahmadinejad. So who is outside of Iran? The usual suspects. But the biggest winner is who else? The supreme leader himself. He voted Ahmadinejad. And this is how it worked. When Mousavi said in the presidential debates that Ahmadinejad was a disgrace to Iran’s global image, he did not get away with it. And the whole thing was conducted via the very powerful Kayhan newspaper, very close with the supreme leader. In fact, the editor is practically the spokesperson of the supreme leader. Ahmadinejad, on the other hand, he went after Rafsanjani with all guns blazing, accusing him of corruption for the past 20 years, for that matter. Rafsanjani’s arguably the number two most powerful man in the Iranian system for more than 20 years now. He controls the Expediency Council, and the Council of Experts as well. But the Revolutionary Guards fear Rafsanjani and are against—. These are the people that really matter in the Iranian system, the top clerics and the Revolutionary Guards. And the name says it all: they are the guardians of the whole idea of the Revolution. And they only respond to the supreme leader. Very conservative, both of them, the clerics and the guards. And with the Basij militia working as a kind of military cell in every mosque all over Iran, they simply can do no wrong. So what happened? Ahmadinejad equated Rafsanjani with Khatami and Mousavi—a shock to the system. The system struck back. Game, set, match. Oops—sorry. Divine intervention.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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Pepe Escobar, born in Brazil is the roving correspondent for Asia Times and an analyst for The Real News Network. He's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, based in London, Milan, Los Angeles, Paris, Singapore, and Bangkok. Since the late 1990s, he has specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central Asia, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has made frequent visits to Iran and is the author of Globalistan and also Red Zone Blues: A Snapshot of Baghdad During the Surge both published by Nimble Books in 2007.