Tag Archives: Iran

Broder’s disturbing advice to Obama

I realize Washington Post columnist David Broder’s expiration date came and went some time ago. But suggesting that President Obama prepare for war with Iran in order to boost his re-election prospects is surely a new low.

“I am not suggesting, of course, that the president incite a war to get reelected,” Broder writes. Good lord, what is it he thinks he’s doing?

The death and life of Neda Agha-Soltan

Los Angeles Times reporter Borzou Daragahi has an in-depth story on Neda Agha-Soltan, the Iranian woman whose death, captured on video (warning in case you haven’t seen it yet: extremely graphic and disturbing), has become a symbol of the post-election uprising.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that Iranian goons attacked and arrested people who tried to attend a memorial service for Soltan.

More on the Tiananmen analogy

It’s hard not to worry that the crisis in Iran will end in a Tiananmen Square-style massacre. Here is the Boston Phoenix editorial page:

Hope, even under a brutal medieval-minded regime, can be a political aphrodisiac. But hope alone, as the Chinese students who sought reform in Tiananmen Square 20 years ago found out, is no match for armed forces. Whether the death toll in Iran will come to equal that of the Tiananmen massacre and its aftermath remains to be seen.

Juan Cole has similar thoughts.

Greenway on Iran

Sharp analysis of the crisis in Iran by former Boston Globe columnist H.D.S. Greenway, now writing for GlobalPost. He begins:

Protests in the streets, angry crowds in numbers not seen since the revolution in 1979, have some people wondering if Iran is on the verge of revolution. But it’s more likely, if the street protests get out of hand, there will be a China-style Tiananmen, with voices crying for reform silenced by gun fire.

Greenway also gives President Obama high marks for not saying anything that would help Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “play the Great Satan card.”

We’re debating whether Obama has said enough here. It was also the subject of a Jeff Jacoby column in today’s Globe.

Obama’s rope-a-dope

I’ve been as frustrated as anyone that President Obama hasn’t spoken out more forcefully about what’s taking place in Iran. But I’ve also heard a contrary view — that if he is seen as giving support to the reformist candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, he risks whipping up anti-American sentiment in favor of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Here’s a fascinating excerpt from an Arab-American blog being highlighted by Global Voices Online. I have no idea who the writer is, but what he or she says makes a lot of sense:

Whether or not Mousavi had the election stolen from him, it seems clear the ruling class has made a calculating move. Anti-American sentiment is one of the strongest cards those wretched clerics hold. By merely softening the tone Tehran hears from Washington, Obama has weakened their hand considerably. But re-instating Ahmadinejad ensures that US-Iranian relations will continue down a rocky road. What happens next is crucial. If Obama takes a firm position as a result of what’s happening, the mullahs may emerge victorious.

Writing for the Independent, Robert Fisk says there are hopeful signs that the Iranian security forces’ support for Ahmadinejad may be fading. That would be an enormously important development.

“Look at this brave Iranian lioness”

Globe Voices Online has posted an update on what bloggers are saying and doing in Iran. There’s some pretty stunning material, including a video of a young woman kicking a member of the security forces.

Meanwhile, Simon Tisdall writes in the Guardian of unconfirmed reports that Hashemi Rafsanjani, the controversial mentor to the reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, may be in the holy city of Qom, measuring how much support he might have from the Assembly of Experts in a bid to topple the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.

Analyzing fraud claims in Iran

Did Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad steal his re-election victory? Hard to know without verifiable evidence. After all, it’s not difficult to believe that supporters of the opposition reform candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, who are said to be educated, middle-class and urban, were outnumbered.

Two pieces I came across yesterday, though, offer some pretty compelling evidence that Ahmadinejad really did steal the election. The first, a Q&A from the Guardian, pulls together a number of different strands. Though not well-sourced, if they prove to be true, they add up to a powerful indictment:

  • Normally, it takes three days to finish counting the ballots in Iran. This time, Ahmadinejad’s victory was announced in two hours.
  • Mousavi supporters say the Iranian interior ministry told Mousavi not long after the polls had closed that it appeared he’d won by a substantial margin.
  • According to the official results, Mousavi even lost to Ahmadinejad among members of his own ethnic group, with Ahmadinejad capturing 57 percent of the vote in Mousavi’s home base.

The second piece, a blog post by Middle East expert Juan Cole, argues that an Ahmadinejad victory makes no logical sense given voting trends over the past decade. Though Ahmadinejad won election in 2005, Cole observes that reformist forces boycotted that election. This time, they turned out in droves.

Meanwhile, the Guardian is now reporting that the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has ordered an investigation into claims of voter fraud. If you assume that Ahmadinejad’s re-election was exactly what Khamenei wanted — and Khamenei’s statements yesterday certainly indicated that — then this looks like a crack in the facade.

Maybe Khamenei and the people around him fear that Ahmadinejad overreached, and that if they don’t do something, they’ll all be in danger. We can only hope.

Elsewhere, the Boston-based international news service GlobalPost is putting up regular dispatches in a special section called “The Ground Truth in Tehran.”

Global Voices Online, which rounds up blogger commentary, has a section on the Iranian elections, though nothing new since Saturday.