Iran Updates (VIDEO): Live-Blogging The Uprising (Saturday, June 13)
Editor's Note: This is an archive of Saturday's live-blog about the fallout from Iran's election. Get the latest updates here.
11:55 PM ET -- Ahmadinejad defiant on "completely free" election. BBC News reports that Ahmadinejad is not backing down in the midst of widespread allegations that the election was rigged, and he is continuing to blast the outside world for their "psychological warfare" against Iran:
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has defended his "completely free" re-election as Iran's president, amid violent clashes on the streets over claims of election fraud.
Mr Ahmadinejad condemned the outside world for "psychological warfare" against Iranians during the election...
..."This is a great victory at a time and condition when the whole material, political and propaganda facilities outside of Iran and sometimes... inside Iran, were total mobilised against our people," he said.
10:05 PM ET -- Twitter goes dark? I noted earlier that Twitter was the only major social network still operating in Iran. Now something has changed. All of the Iran-based Twitter users I've been reading haven't posted for at least 30 minutes or so. The reasons are unclear. Some on Twitter are claiming there is a complete electricity shut-down in Tehran. One Iran-based Twitter user, @tehranelection, last posted an hour ago: "I have to shut down for a bit, the police are looking for satellites." Will update as soon as I hear more.
9:59 PM ET -- 'Iran perpetrated a farce.' Suzanne Maloney, a preeminent Iran analyst with the Brookings Institution, weighs in on the election results:
Washington now faces a newly fractured Iranian polity ruled by a leadership that is willing to jettison its own institutions and legitimacy in its determination to retain absolute control. That does not bode well for Iran's capacity to undertake serious talks and eventually engage in historic concessions on its nuclear program and support for terrorism.
Obama has to be prepared to move forward with diplomacy despite the wholesale setback for Iran's limited democracy. In the wake of this disastrous election, opportunities for progress on engagement may unexpectedly present themselves. But he should do so in full awareness of the farce that has been perpetrated with this Ahmadinejad "landslide" and of the seething frustration of so many Iranians.
9:55 PM ET -- Tense. This video, sent in by a reader, was filmed during the day on Saturday. I post it because it's unlike the others I've seen -- rather than a boisterous crowd chanting and marching, it is a large group of people sharing a tense moment near the Iranian Interior Ministry, with smoke plumes rising and gun shots being fired in the background. A different side of the day's events:
9:46 PM ET -- Velvet Revolution...or Tiananmen? Writing for the New Yorker, Laura Secor describes voting at the Iranian expat polling place in New York City, then assesses the subsequent events: "In the days before the vote, my Iranian contacts breathlessly compared the atmosphere in Iran to that of 1979, the year of the Islamic Revolution. In the last twenty-four hours, the unavoidable analogy has become 1989. The big question is where we are: Wenceslas Square or Tiananmen."
9:40 PM ET -- "This is just the beginning of the story." Andrew Sullivan prints a reader's translation of a statement out from one of the other reform candidates:
Karroubi...calls the election results "comical" and void of any legitimacy, declaring he will not concede. He says: "This is just the beginning of the story".
I have never heard such hard language from anyone inside the government.
9:11 PM ET -- Are U.S. networks covering Iran enough? Several emailers have noted a lack of Iran coverage on U.S. television networks. Now, I have seen some excellent reporting -- specifically the MSNBC coverage anchored by Alex Witt (with Ali Arouzi and Richard Engel in Iran) and CNN's coverage by Fredricka Whitfield (with Christian Amanpour in Iran).
But in terms of the quantity of reporting, U.S. networks do seem to be far behind other international networks. Using a transcript database search on TVEyes.com, here are the approximate number of references to "Iran" on various networks today:
Headline News: at least 32 mentions
MSNBC: at least 48 mentions
Fox News: at least 73 mentions
CNN: at least 91 mentions
CTV (Canada): at least 124 mentions
Sky News (UK): at least 149 mentions
BBC News (UK): at least 177 mentions
9:04 PM ET -- Caught in the middle. A reporter from ITV News (unfortunately I can't make out his name as he says it) files a report from Iran on Saturday. He and his camera crew were in the midst of the crowds as riot police charged -- he says his crew was beaten with batons and "briefly detained."
8:12 PM ET -- Mousavi camp says he's under house arrest. Foreign Policy's Blake Hounshell notes the latest post on Mousavi's official account on Twitter -- the only major social network that appears to still be functioning in Iran (if anyone knows why, email me). It reads: "Dear Iranian People, Mousavi has not left you alone, he has been put under house arrest by Ministry of Intelligence."
7:43 PM ET -- Mousavi warns against violence. "'The violations in the election are very serious and you are right to be deeply hurt. But I firmly call on you not to subject any individual or groups to hurt. Do not lose your calm and restraint. Everybody should draw a line between themselves and any violent behaviour,'" Mousavi said in a statement posted on his campaign website. He said he hoped the police understood why his supporters were protesting and would 'treat them as their own.'"
7:25 PM ET -- Andrew Sullivan joins the chant. "Allahu Akbar!"
7:11 PM ET -- Iran enters a new phase? The news has slowed significantly, as morning arrives in Iran. But Gary Sick, the former National Security Council member who I quoted below, does have a new, very compelling post on his Tumblr blog:
If the reports coming out of Tehran about an electoral coup are sustained, then Iran has entered an entirely new phase of its post-revolution history. One characteristic that has always distinguished Iran from the crude dictators in much of the rest of the Middle East was its respect for the voice of the people, even when that voice was saying things that much of the leadership did not want to hear. ...
It is still too early for anything like a comprehensive analysis of implications, but here are some initial thoughts:
-- The willingness of the regime simply to ignore reality and fabricate election results without the slightest effort to conceal the fraud represents a historic shift in Iran's Islamic revolution. All previous leaders at least paid lip service to the voice of the Iranian people. This suggests that Iran's leaders are aware of the fact that they have lost credibility in the eyes of many (most?) of their countrymen, so they are dispensing with even the pretense of popular legitimacy in favor of raw power.
-- The Iranian opposition, which includes some very powerful individuals and institutions, has an agonizing decision to make. If they are intimidated and silenced by the show of force (as they have been in the past), they will lose all credibility in the future with even their most devoted followers. But if they choose to confront their ruthless colleagues forcefully, not only is it likely to be messy but it could risk running out of control and potentially bring down the entire existing power structure, of which they are participants and beneficiaries.
There's much more here.
6:50 PM ET -- Huge late-night demonstrations.
6:24 PM ET -- More house arrest reports. The National Iranian American Council notes reports that Ahmadinejad's main challenger, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, has been placed under house arrest, as well as another of the four presidential candidates, Mehdi Karroubi, and Karroubi's campaign manager (and former Tehran mayor) Gholamhossein Karbaschi.
6:12 PM ET -- "Deafening." From a reader: "My next door neighbor is an Iranian immigrant who came here in 1977. He just received a SAT phone call from his brother in Tehran who reports that the rooftops of nighttime Tehran are filled with people shouting 'Allah O Akbar' in protest of the government and election results. The last time he remembers this happening is in 1979 during the Revolution. Says the sound of tens of thousands on the rooftops is deafening right now." It's almost four in the morning in Iran.
6:00 PM ET -- Not just Tehran. Video of protesters at the university in Shiraz, Iran.
5:53 PM ET -- Report: Khatami's brother arrested. The excellent National Iranian American Council, which I've cited several times today, offers some new translations of Twitter messages coming out of Iran.
One says the brother of former Iranian President Khatami has been arrested. Earlier today, as we noted, Khatami's clerical group called for the election to be redone.
"Seyed Mohamad Khatami has not been arrested, but his brother Mohammad Reza Khatami and (his wife) Zahra Esraghi have been"
"[Tehran Univ. political scientist] Ahmad Ziadabadi and [prominent political blogger] Saeed Shariati have been arrested"
"There has been no news published about the house arrest of Mir Hossein Mousavi"
5:46 PM ET -- The chart. There is a lot of discussion online about a chart showing the sequence of election results announced by Iran's Interior Ministry throughout the day on Friday.
Several argue that the consistency of the results -- virtually identical results throughout the day, even as millions of votes were allegedly counted from around the country -- is evidence of fraud.
Here's the chart:
Stat guru Nate Silver says it's actually not evidence of fraud (though it certainly doesn't indicate a clean election either). But, as Andrew Sullivan (who has been following this debate closely) notes, there are some informed dissenters from Nate's position.
5:33 PM ET -- "Palpable disappointment" at White House. From the New York Times: "There was palpable disappointment within the administration, where there were hopes, as President Obama said on Friday, that the throngs of people at the polls augured a change in Iran." But one unnamed senior official said the unrest might make Ahmadinejad "more receptive to the United States, if only to defuse a potential backlash from the disputed election."
"Ahmadinejad could feel that because of public pressure, he wants to reduce Iran's isolation," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the delicacy of the matter. "That might also cause engagement to proceed more swiftly."
Also notable: "In Washington, administration officials said they had received back-channel messages from Iran's leadership, urging the United States to wait until the election was over for a response to Mr. Obama's overtures."
5:28 PM ET -- The latest photos. My colleague Nick Sabloff has put together a big slideshow of powerful images from Iran here.
5:20 PM ET -- Legitimacy of the Revolution questioned. McClatchy talks to Gary Sick, who formerly served on the National Security Council and writes about Iran:
"If they'd been a little more modest and said Ahmadinejad had won by 51 percent," Sick said, Iranians might have been dubious but more accepting. But the government's assertion that Ahmadinejad won with 62.6 percent of the vote, "is not credible."
"I think it does mark a real transition point in the Iranian Revolution, from a position of claiming to have its legitimacy based on the support of the population, to a position that has increasingly relied on repression. The voice of the people is ignored."
4:54 PM ET -- Accounts from the ground. The Wall Street Journal has a massive report. Here's a taste:
On Motahari Avenue, one of the major streets in central Tehran, three public buses were set afire by demonstrators. Syamak Izadi, 62 years old, said he was riding on the bus in central Tehran when a group of men, dressed in Mr. Mousavi's trademark green, stopped the bus and told passengers to get off. They then doused it with gasoline and set it afire, he said.
Protestors played cat and mouse with the police. They gathered on corners throwing their fists in the air, then ran away when riot police descended. ... "The results are not acceptable to us, Mousavi needs to lead the crowd and depose this government," said a 37-year-old biologist who gave his name only as Kasra. [...]
Supporters of Mr. Mousavi had begun gathering outside the interior ministry and outside his campaign headquarter in central Tehran early in the morning. ... At one point, groups of supporters near Mr. Mousavi's headquarters shouted "death to the dictator," a chant borrowed from the Iranian revolution. Security forces responded by bludgeoning several with batons.
Here's video of those buses, it appears:
4:48 PM ET -- To the rooftops! As the clock passes midnight in Iran, the National Iranian American Council translates some messages coming over Twitter. One: "Slogans 'God is great' and 'death to dictator' is echoing in Tehran. People are demonstrating on the rooftops."
4:46 PM ET -- Israel's reaction. "'The results of the election show, now more than ever, how much stronger the Iranian threat has become,' said arch-foe Israel's deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon."
4:40 PM ET -- "Senior U.S. officials" doubt Iran results. Fox News quotes unnamed U.S. analysts weighing in on Iran:
U.S. analysts find it "not credible" that challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi would have lost the balloting in his hometown or that a third candidate, Mehdi Karoubi, would have received less than 1 percent of the total vote, a senior U.S. officials told FOX News.
Despite a reportedly record turnout of 85 percent, the senior official said given the "not credible" counts for Mousavi and Karoubi, the turnout clearly was questionable.
Another senior official said the Obama administration would not describe the outcome as legitimate or illegitimate or deem a victory by Mousavi as necessarily better.
"We're not going to characterize what would have been a better or worse scenario," the official said. "We will deal with this as it is, not as we wish it to be.
Fox also has several Republican members of Congress bashing the election on the record..
4:35 PM ET -- Reform group wants U.S. quiet. Spencer Ackermann talks to the "strongly anti-Ahmedinejad" Hadi Ghaemi, New York-based spokesman for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran:
Robert Gibbs' White House statement may not fully capture the depth of the crime committed against the Iranian people. "But I think it's wise for the U.S. government to keep its distance," Ghaemi says. The White House can and should "show concern for human life and protesters' safety and promote tolerance and dialogue." But to get any further involved, even rhetorically, would "instigate the cry that the reformers are somehow driven and directed by the U.S., whether under Bush or under Obama, and there's no reason to give that unfounded allegation" any chance to spread.
4:21 PM ET -- Canada "deeply, deeply concerned." Speaking alongside Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon "said his country was troubled by reports of voting problems," Reuters reports.
"Canada is deeply, deeply concerned by reports about voting irregularities in the Iranian election. We're troubled by reports of intimidation of opposition candidates' offices by security forces," said Cannon.
He said Canadian embassy officials in Tehran were closely monitoring the situation and urged Iranian authorities to conduct a "fair and transparent" counting of ballots.
4:15 PM ET -- A reader gets a message from his cousin in Tehran: "Please share this message on Facebook or share it in a way for us to be heard: Tehran-9:50pm: We don't have text message, cellphone network, Facebook, youTube, Twitter and lots of other websites. BBC PERSIA is gone also on HOTBIRD. 3 reformist newspapers are banned (I can't check the names I've just heard and everything is blocked on internet) If anyone can, help me share the news. They have cut us off from the world."
4:12 PM ET -- New video. From Andrew, some extraordinary -- and at times quite graphic -- video coming in of the protests:
4:01 PM ET -- Rafsanjani resigns? The global intelligence firm Stratfor reports: "Unconfirmed rumors are circulating that Iranian Expediency Council chief Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafasnjani has resigned."
4:00 PM ET -- Iran's ex-Foreign Minister: It's a coup. Via an interview with The Nation's Robert Dreyfuss:
A coup d'etat? They've already made one! They've created a dictatorship, in fact. Do you know that last night the security forces occupied the offices of many newspapers, to make sure that their reporting on the election was favorable? They changed many headlines. They fixed the election.
The Guards are taking over everything, including many economic institutions. The ministry of the interior is increasing its control in all the provinces.
3:49 PM ET -- Why so clumsy? Kevin Drum ponders: "When autocracies decide to do something like this, why do they do it so clumsily? Why not give Ahmadinejad 52.7% of the vote, which would be at least within the realm of reason? Or force a runoff and let Ahmadinejad win a week from now? Why perpetrate such an obvious fraud?"
3:45 PM ET -- Support from Ahmadinejad "pours in." Via the NYT: "Under the headline 'Congratulation Messages Pour In,' Iran's state news agency reports, with an apparent lack of irony, that Mr. Ahmadinejad's victory has been hailed abroad" -- by Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement, and the government of Syria.
3:41 PM ET -- Potentially stunning development. The National Iranian American Council links to a Farsi language story saying the President of the Committee of Election Monitoring has requested that the election be canceled.
Hojjat-ol-Eslam Yali Akbar MohteshamiPour officially requested that the Guardian Council to cancel this election and schedule a new election balanced and moderated democratically with the widespread and national presence of the people.
Also from NIAC:
According to Mousavi's website, a group of employees in the Ministry of the Interior in an open letter warned that the votes have been changed and manipulated in the state election commission. In this letter, which was addressed to the chairman of the Assembly of Experts, the President, the of Majlis of Iran, the heads of the legislative and judicial branch and several other government agencies, a group of employees stated that "as dedicated employees of the Interior Ministry, with experience in management and supervision of several elections such as the elections of Khamenei, Rafsanjani and Khatami, we announce that we fear the 10th presidential elections were not healthy."
Full letter is available here in Farsi.
3:33 PM ET -- More anecdotal evidence of fraud. Radio Free Europe notes abnormal election returns and also some suspicious movements at the Interior Ministry:
Critics note the record speed with which Ahmadinejad's preliminary victory was announced, along with some highly unusual local results.
For example, according to the official tally, reformist Karrubi came in a distant second in his own hometown of Oligudarz, garnering less than half of Ahmadinejad's vote.
Sarejeddin Mirdamadi, a reformist journalist in Tehran, says suspicious movements he observed at the Interior Ministry add to his concerns. The Interior Ministry is in charge of counting the votes.
"I wanted to enter the Interior Ministry but they prevented me, even though I had an entry pass," Mirdamadi says. "There I saw that they also prevented a number of the staff who wanted to go to work from entering the building. Later one of them called me and said that a group of personnel from different divisions of the ministry were not allowed to enter the building."
3:23 PM ET -- Parsi: Ahmadinejad will have little legitimacy. Trita Parsi, respected analyst (and HuffPost blogger), assesses the situation on CNN:
"[The election aftermath] is creating significant obstacles [to U.S. diplomacy] in my view. There will be an Ahmadinejad that will have very little legitimacy internationally, mindful of how this is being played out. Or if it is not Ahmadinejad, it probably will be a prolonged internal battle in Iran in which there will be no clarity at all who will hold office of the presidency. That's very negative for the president [who] already has somewhat limited time to be able to pursue diplomacy. He cannot really afford to have more of the time being lost because of political paralysis inside of Iran.
3:21 PM ET-- More journalists beaten. Some more graphic details of the riots from the latest AP account:
Protesters set fire to tires outside the Interior Ministry and anti-riot police fought back with clubs and smashed cars. Helmeted police on foot and others on buzzing motorcycles chased bands of protesters roaming the streets pumping their fists in the air. Officers beat protesters with swift blows from their truncheons and kicks with their boots. Some of the demonstrators grouped together to charge back at police, hurling stones.
Plumes of dark smoke streaked over the city, as burning barricades of tires and garbage bins glowed orange in the streets. Protesters also torched an empty bus, engulfing it in flames on a Tehran street.
An Associated Press photographer saw a plainclothes security official beating a woman with his truncheon. Italian state TV RAI said one of its crews was caught in the clashes in front Mousavi's headquarters. Their Iranian interpreter was beaten with clubs by riot police and officers confiscated the cameraman's tapes, the station said.
3:15 PM ET -- Rafsanjani's wife: There should be protests. From Effat Marashi, the wife of Hashemi Rafsanjani Iran's former president and the head of Assembly of Experts, which officially monitors the Supreme Leader's performance: "If people see that [the government] has cheated, they should protest in the streets."
3:01 PM ET -- Iran clergy group calls for new election. "An influential Iranian clergy group on Saturday protested against alleged fraud in the presidential election counting process and called for the nullification of the election."
The Islamic Combatant Clergy Association (ICCA), which is close to former president Mohammad Khatami and supported Mir-Hossiein Moussavi in Friday's election, said on its website that the election should be nullified and held again in a calmer, more logical and more just atmosphere.
After an emergency session in Tehran, the ICCA regretted that the counting process was "widely engineered (manipulated)" and said there was enough evidence to prove the manipulation and to nullify the election.
"We will not leave Moussavi alone," the ICCA said in its statement.