A few thousand Iranian young people demonstrated in Iran on Saturday morning to protest the announcement by that country’s Interior Ministry that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won a second term by an overwhelming margin of 63 percent. The president’s rivals decried ballot fraud and many observers saw the results as a hard-liner coup. If the government really has descended to the level of fixing the presidential elections, it is a sign of deep insecurity and fear of change, as Tehran is challenged by the Obama administration’s outreach and by reformist stirrings among youth and women.
The final vote counts alleged for cities and provinces, even more so than the landslide claimed by the incumbent nationally, strongly suggest a last-minute and clumsy fraud.
All of this had the appearance of a well orchestrated strike intended to take its opponents by surprise – the classic definition of a coup. Curiously, this was not a coup of an outside group against the ruling elite; it was a coup of the ruling elite against its own people.
I talked to my brother who is in Tehran a couple of hours ago. YouTube is apparently down (filtered). The satellite TV and international radio stations (SW) are also jammed. But apparently a VOA satellite TV station has started to broadcast on a new frequency and so they have access to that. They had also lost the cell-phone service. (The phone system is operated by the Ministry of Technology and Communications; so it is state run.) It really is feeling like a coup.
Awful. Simply awful. I fear that things will become far more unstable and possibly violent as Ahmadinejad looses what little popularity he has and the scope of the fraud becomes public.