Thursday, June 18, 2009

Partial "recount" underway in Iran (Michael Totten)

That's is a charade, of course. But that news peg is the background for a useful item by the independent journalist Michael Totten, "a reader-funded foreign correspondent and foreign policy analyst who has reported from the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Caucasus" since 2003--and who is always worth reading.

Here Totten fills in one more piece of the election picture, this one from Iranian Kurdistan.

=> See also Totten's excellent roundup from Sunday, Insurrection: Day 2. That was four days ago, and four days is a long time when this kind of politics is involved ... but it's still very much on-target.

--Jeff Weintraub

Stealing the Election All Over Again
Michael J. Totten - 06.17.2009 - 5:30 PM

According to the New York Times, Fars News Agency reports a partial “recounting” of votes has begun in Iran. But they are not being counted. They were not even counted the first time. Fars says the “recount” in the Kurdish province of Kermanshah shows “no irregularity.”

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has almost no support among Kurds whatsoever. Claiming he “won” 70 percent in Kermanshah is as outlandish as Dick Cheney winning San Francisco and Berkeley in a landslide.

A few years ago I profiled Abdulla Mohtadi, the commander of a heavily armed Kurdish revolutionary army just on the Iraq side of the Iran-Iraq border near Kermanshah. He spent his young adulthood fighting the Shah’s regime in 1979 and was accordingly arrested and tortured by the SAVAK. Now he’s spending his middle age fighting the Khomeinists who liquidated his liberal and leftist comrades in the post-revolution struggle for power.

He sent me the following message by email:
What happened in Iran is in fact a coup d’etat, by the Pasdaran (the Revolutionary Guards) and the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Khamenei) himself. We in Kurdistan did not participate in the elections, not because we did not want to participate in the political process for change, but exactly because we knew that it could only play in the hands of dictators in Tehran. We frequently emphasized that we deeply sympathized with the people who desperately wanted change and thought going to vote would bring about that change, but repeatedly warned that dictators would take it as their source of legitimacy while they would never allow any change in the government by whatever means and at whatever costs. Now this has come true.

UPDATE: The The British Ahwazi Friendship Society provides a detailed look at the politics of Kermanshah and other ethnic minority regions.