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Taylor Marsh

Taylor Marsh

Posted: June 15, 2009 10:24 AM

Did Ahmadinejad Actually Win?


Kenneth Ballen and Patrick Dougherty have written an op-ed stating that the election results actually manifest what they revealed in their independent pre-election polling. I was at the event where their data was released.

Allegations of fraud and electoral manipulation will serve to further isolate Iran and are likely to increase its belligerence and intransigence against the outside world. Before other countries, including the United States, jump to the conclusion that the Iranian presidential elections were fraudulent, with the grave consequences such charges could bring, they should consider all independent information. The fact may simply be that the reelection of President Ahmadinejad is what the Iranian people wanted. - Ken Ballen and Patrick Dougherty

What to believe? According to many calculations, "two-thirds of Iran's population is less than 30 years old" (via Slate). There is no evidence that these young people supported Ahmadinejad. So where does that leave us all? We may never know the truth, just what will be our reality, as well as Pres. Obama's as he and the world continue to try to engage the regime.

As I wrote in my post at the time Ballen unveiled the results, which is here, TFT's results showed a plurality intending to vote for Ahmadinejad (live Twitter reporting feed here). Ballen's article mimics what Flynt Leverett said to Spiegel over the weekend (who was also at the event), that indeed, there should be no surprise that Ahmadinejad won; that the only surprise would have been that he didn't. Iranian incumbent presidents have never lost re-election, though Leverett did say the margin was a surprise. No kidding.

Something has shifted in Tehran, it seems to me, even if it doesn't mean the election "results" will not be solidified. In the aftermath of the results, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered an investigation into allegations of fraud. After the Supreme Leader said no protests would take place, one clearly took place today, with it even being shown on Iranian TV. Though Mousavi is to call for his supporters to remain calm, but to also not to appear anti regime. Was there a deal struck or has the reaction from the Iranians over the election caught the regime off guard and scared them enough of what could ensue that they are giving the revolutionaries against Ahmadinejad their days to vent?

After CNN took a real hit this weekend over their lack of coverage of the Iranian election blow back, they seem to have gotten the message, though they will never catch up with HuffPost's Nico Pitney's chronicle. Considering their ratings slump you would think they'd have jumped on this historic moment, but that, by all accounts was not the case:

Untold thousands used the label "CNNfail" on Twitter to vent their frustrations. Steve LaBate, an Atlanta resident, said on Twitter, "Why aren't you covering this with everything you've got?" About the same time, CNN was showing a repeat of Larry King's interview of the stars of the American Chopper show. For a time, new criticisms were being added on Twitter at least once a second. ...

Via Tehran bureau we get more evidence that the Supreme Leader and Mir Mousavi seem to have come to an agreement to calm things down, not incite.

# there's a march from Azadi to Enghelab going on in tehran now.
# 3 hrs ago, this came in: "Pls do this so SEPAH [IRGC] has no excuse to hurt us. about 3 hours ago from web
# Please let everyone know in Iran that Mr. Mosavi asked all the supporters whom participating inabout 3 hours ago from web
# in today's demonstration to carry Imam Khomeini's picture, these will bring security to people and also won't allow opposition group toabout 3 hours ago from web
# to label Mosavi's supporters as an anti regime.about 3 hours ago from web

I remain skeptical of the results for reasons I've outlined, so subtle pressure doesn't hurt, as long as the U.S. doesn't repeat history's mistakes by appearing to meddle. Remember Mosaddeq.

Everyone needs to take a deep breath, especially if you're not in Iran and are sitting safely behind the walls of our democratic republic.

Taylor Marsh reports from Washington, D.C., and you can also follow her on Twitter, as well as through her podcasts, "TM-DC".