Iran Uprising Live-Blogging (Monday June 29)
I'm liveblogging the latest Iran election fallout. Email me with any news or thoughts, or follow me on Twitter. Send me instant messages at firstname.lastname@example.org or njpitney on AIM. Scroll down for news related to the front-page headlines. Local Iran time is 8 1/2 hours ahead of Eastern time.
Tuesday's updates are here.
7:08 PM ET -- Clinton declines comment on Ahmadinejad reelection.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refrained from comment Monday on the reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but pointed to a "credibility" gap for Iran's leadership.
"I'm not going to speculate on, you know, what happens with their internal regime," the top US diplomat said.
"Obviously, they have a huge credibility gap with their own people as to the election process, and I don't think that's going to disappear by any finding of a limited review of a relatively small number of ballots," Clinton added. [...]
"We're going to take this a day at a time. We're going to watch, and carefully assess what we see happening," she said.
"This is a historic moment for Iran and for the Iranian people, and I don't want to, you know, speculate on how it's going to turn out," Clinton added.
6:37 PM ET -- Mousavi being blocked from appearing on TV. From the National Iranian American Council's great blog:
Amir Kabir newsletter (Amir Kabir Polytechnic University) reports that several supporters of Ahmadinejad in the parliament are trying to prevent Mousavi from attending a live TV program. According to this newsletter, one MP has reported that several Ahmadinejad supporters are writing letters to the IRIB, the Guardian Council and the Secretary of the National Security Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran to prevent Mousavi's appearance on TV. MPs such as Gholamali Haddad-Adel, Hussein Fadaei, and Ruhollah Hosseinian are trying to collect signatures for this letter.
6:21 PM ET -- "Allah-o Akbar!" Many reports tonight of people reacting to the evening news of Ahmadinejad's "official" victory by heading to their roofs and chanting. It's "like the stars were calling out Allah-o Akbar," one person told me earlier, relaying a comment from Iran.
6:13 PM ET -- From the UK's Guardian: Faces of the dead and detained in Iran.
3:58 PM ET -- Clinton condemns Iran's treatment of British envoys. AFP: "US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday decried Iran's 'deplorable' treatment of British embassy staff arrested on accusations they stoked post-election unrest. Clinton said she was carefully monitoring the situation and condemned Iran's 'harassment' of the diplomats. 'We are following the situation with great concern,' Washington's top envoy said. 'We have noted the statements from the (European Union). We find that the harassment of embassy staff is deplorable and we will continue to support the (United Kingdom) in calling for their release,' she said."
3:56 PM ET -- Solidarity. New photos from Iran rallies in the U.S.
3:54 PM ET -- Police out in force in Tehran. ABC's Lara Setrakian reports on Twitter, "Clashes reported in Tehran after people take to the streets protesting the Guardian Council's ruling on #Iranelection." More from the AP:
Iranian police were out in force across the capital Tehran on Monday as the authorities upheld the official results of this month's fiercely-disputed presidential election over opposition protests. [...]
Witnesses said hundreds of policemen and Basij militiamen carrying sticks were deployed in Tehran's main public squares to prevent any recurrence of the opposition protests over the conduct of the election that have broken out since the June 12 poll.
They said security forces were also randomly checking the boots of cars and vehicles, and checking the identification cards of drivers.
2:09 PM ET -- Egypt shuts down Iran solidarity march. "An attempt by Egyptians to march in solidarity with Iranian protesters and to honor Neda-Agha Soltan -- whose death earlier this month made her the icon of Iran's opposition movement -- was halted by security forces in Cairo over the weekend."
1:55 PM ET -- 'US forces attempt to hijack Iranian oil field.' An anonymously sourced story out today by Iran's state media, via reader Jenny.
1:35 PM ET -- Reaction to the Guardian Council's election ruling. Iranians on Twitter say people have begun protesting news that Iran's main election body had affirmed Ahmadinejad's victory. People have "come out on the streets... [they] are in the various city squares," one writes.
1:30 PM ET -- Reporters Without Borders: What is going on in the silence of Iran's notorious Evin prison?
1:26 PM ET -- Military officials push Khatami to intervene. An interesting report in state media, sent by a reader, about how the government is trying to get reformist former president Khatami to help alleviate tensions.
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, Head of Iran's Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission told ISNA that the committee's governing board held a meeting with former president Mohammad Khatami on Sunday and discussed the latest situation in the country.
According to Boroujerdi, officials attending the meeting expressed grave concern about the political damages brought about on a domestic and international scale in the course of recent protests in Iran.
"The lawmakers asked Mr. Khatami to help resolve the current issues and he vowed support," the Majlis official said.
1:18 PM ET -- EU envoys may be pulled from Iran. "European Union states are considering recalling their ambassadors from Iran in an attempt to secure the release of the British embassy employees being held in Tehran. EU diplomats said the envoys could be recalled temporarily in solidarity with locally engaged staff from the British mission in Tehran who have been accused of involvement in post-election rioting. The British government insists the accusations are false."
1:10 PM ET -- Guardian Council certifies election results. It's official, according to Iran state media. Here's a very rough translation:
The Guardian Council...in a letter to Interior Ministry announced that the council. after studying the presidential election, has confirmed the accuracy of the results. A full statement by the Guardian Council will be released shortly.
For Persian speakers, here's a PressTV video news report.
Update: Here's a piece in English by state-backed PressTV.
1:02 PM ET -- "Freeze for freeze." Mohamed ElBaradei, the savvy outgoing head of the UN's nuclear watchdog, is pushing a trade-off to advance nuclear negotiations with Iran:
The secretary general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, is trying to break the deadlock by suggesting the "freeze-freeze" formula again. Under this formula, Iran would freeze enrichment in return for a freeze on any further sanctions.
Mr ElBaradei is arguing that Iran now has the expertise to enrich anyway so it would not lose anything by a suspension.
He said on 15 June: "With the new overture coming from Washington, why can't we go for a freeze-for-freeze? Why is there a rush now for Iran to build its enrichment capability in terms of industrial capacity? ...And there is also, if we are going into a negotiation, no reason to have additional sanctions applied."
12:42 PM ET -- Today in Tehran. The latest posts from a reliable Iranian online:
# On Parkway right now people are beeping their horns, and basij has responded by smashing their windscreens and slashing their tires
# People had announced that they will form a human chain from Tajrish sq to Railway Today
# The cellphones are down in Valieasr street and surronding area.
# Police and plain clothes forces are settled across the Valiasr street to disallow the protesters to make a human-chain.
# Daneshju Park is full of Basij and special gaurds and militia forces are being organized in the park for dealing with the possible protest or human chain.
# Students of Science and Technology university put a photo of martyr Kianoosh Asa on the university's academic staff board..
12:40 PM ET -- "So far from me as a normal Iranian girl..." The site NYC For Iran publishes an interview conducted over Skype with a 28-year-old Iranian.
"The situation itself is strange for me," she notes. "I was here every summer. I have never seen this situation. There are military people and police on the streets. You really don't know who they are. They are divided into four groups, with different clothes and ideas about how to behave with people. I really don't know who are with the people and who are against."
Gina has also seen things that no one should ever see.
"Yesterday they were carrying around a half of one of the victims," she said. "They start shooting people again. They don't let families have funerals for their children and people who are dying, because they think they are calling people to come again in the streets. I'm afraid of walking in the street after 4 or 5 p.m. Tehran wasn't like this two years ago - it was like a modern city."
But this is not normal for the Tehran of 2009 either.
"I just can't believe that this is happening in Tehran," she said. "This is normal for Iraq and stuff, so far from me as a normal Iranian girl. Now I'm seeing it in front of my eyes and I can't believe it. Everyone is in shock. It isn't finishing. I don't know how its going to end but its not finishing at all."
11:46 AM ET -- Debate reportedly turns physical in Iran's parliament. The news site Baztab reports that Iranian MP Pezeshkian was physically confronted while urging the regime to show tolerance towards critics.
11:24 AM ET -- Mousavi camp says he didn't give in. We noted reports earlier that Iran's Guardian Council, "a 12-member clerical panel charged with vetting and authenticating the June 12 vote, said on Monday that Mr. Moussavi had offered proposals to 'rebuilt public trust' after more than two weeks of rallies and protests by the opposition that have drawn a broad and violent crackdown from government security forces."
A message just posted on Mousavi's Facebook page seems aimed at squashing any rumors that he is caving to the government:
No results in meeting between Mousavi's representative and the guardian council, he didnt give up to them: 'Mir Hossein Mousavi is not under house arrest, he is not about to leave the country, he is under strong pressure to end this. but he always said he will stand for the people's will to the end ! He is from and with the people ...'
10:50 AM -- Adventures in propaganda: Basiji "impostors." From Iran's state media: "Iranian police officials have reportedly arrested the armed imposters [sic] who posed as security forces during post-election violence in the country. Iran's Basij commander, Hossein Taeb, said Monday that the imposters [sic] had worn police and Basij uniforms to infiltrate the rallies and create havoc."
10:40 AM ET -- Mousavi's choices. I don't think this analysis in the Washington Post offers the full range of options open to Mousavi, but it does highlight the extremely difficult choices Mousavi now has in front of him.
"Everything now depends on Mousavi," said Amir Mohebbian, a political analyst. "If he decreases the tension, politicians can manage this. If he increases pressure, the influence of the military and security forces will grow."
Should he continue to fight, other analysts say, Mousavi and many of his advisers could be jailed, which would mean the end of their political influence within Iran's ruling system. The exclusion of such a large group would end Iran's traditional power-sharing system. Authority would rest in the hands of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, and his supporters, leaving the parliament as the lone outpost of opposition voices.
On the other hand, accepting defeat might allow Mousavi to create a political party that, although unable to challenge the rule of Khamenei, could give him an opposition role during Ahmadinejad's second term. Mousavi's supporters, who are still enraged over post-election violence that they blame on the government, would be extremely disappointed by such a move.
10:17 AM ET -- Iran protests at CNN headquarters. Some excellent photos here.
10:04 AM ET -- Raising funds to help Iranians get online. The global online activism group Avaaz.org, which was co-founded by MoveOn.org, is holding a fundraiser:
One small donation of $15 can fund enough bandwidth for Iranians to send hundreds of secure emails. If 5,000 or more of us can donate, we can scale up these services massively -- with more servers, bandwidth and advanced technical support. The next two weeks will be crucial -- donate now to break the blackout.
More information here.
9:53 AM ET -- Iran extends deadline to investigate voter fraud again. Also, the Guardian Council says Mousavi has offered some "positive" proposals:
As officials began a limited recount of Iran's disputed presidential ballot on Monday, authorities in Tehran said they had extended by five days their deadline to investigate opposition claims of electoral fraud. The move could postpone the final certification of the ballot, which Iranian leaders insist was fair.
The Guardian Council, a 12-member clerical panel charged with vetting and authenticating the June 12 vote, said on Monday that Mr. Moussavi had offered proposals to "rebuilt public trust" after more than two weeks of rallies and protests by the opposition that have drawn a broad and violent crackdown from government security forces.
Press TV, the English-language state satellite broadcaster, said the council had found Mr. Moussavi's proposals to be "positive." It did not say what they were. Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, the council spokesman, was quoted as saying the panel has "given another opportunity to Moussavi" to substantiate his grievances about the election.
Reuters notes, "In a sign that the process would not put into question Ahmadinejad's victory, IRNA news agency said recounting so far in one Tehran district gave him more votes" than in the original count.
9:30 AM ET -- Iran releases 5 British embassy officials. "Iran has said it has freed five local British embassy staff arrested on accusations of stoking post-election unrest, a move that further threatened tense ties with London and the West. ... Intelligence Minister Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie accused the British embassy of sending its staff to 'escalate the riots'... British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said London had protested strongly over the arrests, which he described as 'harassment and intimidation' and dismissed as baseless the claims the embassy was behind the unrest."
9:20 AM ET -- Ahmadinejad looking for Neda's real killer. Oh brother. "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad...asked a top judge Monday to investigate the killing of Neda Agha Soltan, who became an icon of Iran's ragtag opposition after gruesome video of her bleeding to death on a Tehran street was circulated worldwide. Ahmadinejad's Web site said Soltan was slain by 'unknown agents and in a suspicious' way, convincing him that 'enemies of the nation' were responsible."
9:14 AM ET -- Iran: Soccer players weren't punished. From Iran's state media:
Iran's manager Afshin Qotbi says no player has been punished for sporting green wristbands during a recent World Cup qualifier with South Korea.
A number of foreign media outlets, spearheaded by CNN, claimed that the four footballers -- Ali Karimi, Mehdi Mahdavikia, Hosein Ka'abi, and Vahid Hashemian -- were banned for life over showing 'a display of political support' for Mousavi.
In an e-mail message sent to The New York Times, the team's manager Afshin Qotbi rejected the media reports as "false and rumors."
"The IFF (Iranian Football Federation) has not taken any official stand on this issue. We only saw the story in the international media," he said on Friday.
8:39 AM ET -- More focus on the Revolutionary Guard. We noted some analysis yesterday pointing to the key role of Iran's Revolutionary Guard in the post-election unrest. Crooks & Liars has video of Fareed Zakaria speaking on the topic (posted below). And Bloomberg News looks at the Guard's consolidation of power under Ahmadinejad:
Eight of the 21 posts in the president's cabinet are held by former members, according to Ali Alfoneh, an analyst at Washington's American Enterprise Institute. Among them are Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli, whose agency ran the election, and Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar.
Another five places are occupied by past Basij commanders. The state broadcasting arm is headed by Ezzatollah Zarghami, a former guard. At least one-third of Iran's parliament members are former guards, according to Nader.
Under Ahmadinejad's predecessor, Mohammad Khatami, 65, only three ministers had belonged to the guards or Basij.
A smart Iranian expat I speak to repeatedly presses the important role that the Guard now plays in the economy, a point that Bloomberg's piece makes as well: "Under Ahmadinejad, the government has favored the guards by offering its companies no-bid contracts, especially in oil and natural-gas extraction, pipeline construction and large-scale infrastructure development."
2:17 AM ET -- Video from inside the mosque rally yesterday. We posted several videos yesterday of the vibrant demonstration outside Tehran's Ghoba mosque -- this was the scene inside:
1:53 AM ET -- Touring Tehran. This fascinating, sometimes eerie compilation of scenes from Tehran, apparently shot yesterday, has an almost cinematic quality.
1:45 AM ET -- Something in between? David Sanger explores the Obama administration's thinking:
In background conversations last week, several [U.S. officials] cautioned that it was not clear what the Iranians had in mind. "The students in Tiananmen wanted real democracy, the Poles wanted regime change, but the Iranians might be looking for something in between," one of Mr. Obama's top advisers said. "But the more the supreme leader cracks down, the more radicalized the opposition may become."
Robert Litwak, the author of "Regime Change," a study of how modern regimes have fallen, said last week: "The truth here is that a soft landing for Iranian society is not a soft landing for the leadership." So far, he observed last week, "the Iranians are not as sufficiently united against the regime as the Poles were in the late '80s." Moreover, the Polish regime was more fragile: Because it was considered a Soviet tool, the opposition could play to nationalist emotions.
Not so in Iran. The clerics may be repressive hardliners, but they are authentically Iranian. And so far, the Revolutionary Guard seems completely on the side of the supreme leader and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
1:34 AM ET -- BBC Persia. A powerful new media voice in Iran is profiled by the New York Times.
1:20 AM ET -- California to seek Iran investment data from insurers. "California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner is initiating a review of insurance companies doing business in California to determine their level of Iran-related investments." I'm unfamiliar with this
1:16 AM ET -- Rights group suggests at least 2,000 arrests. From the AP: "The Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights said its information suggests at least 2,000 arrests have been made -- 'not just (people) arrested and later released, but who are locked up in prison,' the group's vice president, Abdol Karim Lahidji, told the AP. He said his information came from members of human rights groups in Iran and other contacts inside the country."
1:10 AM ET -- Poetry from Iran. "One Tweet at a time."
1:07 AM ET -- Solidarity. HuffPost reader James Stevenson sends along these images from a demonstration in Westwood, California on Sunday:
1:05 AM ET -- Decision day? "Iran's powerful Guardian Council is due to give its verdict on the result of the disputed presidential election, two weeks after the poll was held."
1:03 AM ET -- Wall Street Journal op-ed calls for U.S. to topple Iran's government. In the Journal, conservative writer Gabriel Schoenfeld advocates a CIA-led regime change effort, opining that "In a better world, toppling this vicious regime and altering the tide of history would be a primary objective of U.S. foreign policy." Because that worked so well for Iran when the United States did it the first time.
As for legality, Schoenfeld scoffs. "As a matter of law, the critics are right. Such covert action is indeed illegal. But legality is beside the point."
12:45 AM ET -- "Allah-o Akbar!" Their voices are still being heard from the rooftops... this video was apparently taken on Saturday evening: