According to an article printed in the April 30th issue of “Iran”, a Tehran Persian daily forty-two days before the actual Iranian presidential election, the Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a speech to a large gathering of Iranian nurses, teachers and workers of the country warned about the smear campaign waged against the election. He said that “there are some unfair individuals among us…who are eager to be at the center of peoples’ attention, but ungratefully go against the nation, and by echoing the lies of our foe, they cast doubts on the soundness and legitimacy of the system of our elections.”
The warnings of Iran’s Supreme leader showed that the plans of the current social crisis, executed now by Mir Hossein Mousavi and other players such as U.S.-inspired loosely-knit networks of “Iran experts” in lock-step with the lieutenants of U.S. and British corporate media, and battalions of foot soldiers – monarchists, Mojahedin-Khalq terrorists and disenchanted pro-western Iranians – were conceived long before the recent presidential election.
The election of June 12, 2009 provided these well-financed and well-equipped strata with unprecedented opportunities to carry out the first stages of their “velvet revolution”. The crisis has de-stabilized the Islamic Republic of Iran by splitting the nation along class lines – the pro-Western landlord, capitalist and well-to-do middle classes on one hand and pro-Ahmadinejad poorer city dwellers, the working class at the lower economic end and a vast class of small farmers. A great number of supporters of defeated candidate Hossein Mousavi live predominately in the luxury houses (called villas) and apartments in northern Tehran, expensive high rises in Shiraz and Esfahan. A two-bedroom living space in Northern Tehran costs over $450,000, much higher than properties in the New York metropolitan area in the U.S.
The U.S. Congress, the European Parliament and corporate media of the countries across the Atlantic Ocean have magnified the voices of the key opposition figures, giving all sorts of backings and encouragement to remain on the street, violate the laws, challenge the security forces, burn and destroy public and private properties and ultimately undermine the power of the state. On Wednesday, June 17, Mohsen Makhmalbaaf, the spokesman of Mr. Mousavi overseas, was given carte-blanche access to the Tribune of the European Parliament to spread lies and half-truths, claiming fraud by the Interior Ministry in the Iranian election. It should come as no surprise these same representatives who have demonized Iran’s president and been the backer of the U.S. false accusations about Iran’s nuclear energy program gave a standing ovation to this faker. Moreover, Makhmallbaaf does not hide his close connections with the Monarchists (past Shah supporters), and followers of Reza Pahlavi, the son of the Shah who was overthrown by the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The person closer to Mousavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavard, has had several opportunities to use BBC’s television and radio facilities to cry on the shoulders of her husband’s British backers. In the last week, the major U.S.-U.K. mass media, including CNN, NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times and Guardian and many radio broadcasts out of California that were funded during the Bush regime by the neo-con/Zionist organizations to saturate the Iranian elite with pro-capitalist propaganda could not be more delighted in their daily staple of demonizing Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and picture Iran on the verge of another revolution that could send the country along with its human and natural resources – oil, gas, uranium, cooper, silver, chromium, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc and sulfur – back into the arms of the American empire. This is wishful thinking on their parts.
James Petras, puts the subject of interference clearly when he writes in this article: Iranian Elections: The ‘Stolen Elections’ Hoax, which appeared in Information Clearing House.
Almost the entire spectrum of Western opinion makers, including all the major electronic and print media, the major liberal, radical, libertarian and conservative web-sites, echoed the opposition’s claim of rampant election fraud. Neo-conservatives, libertarian conservatives and Trotskyites joined the Zionists in hailing the opposition protestors as the advance guard of a democratic revolution.
Organization of Iranian Elections
Let’s go back to examine the charges leveled by Hossein Mousavi against Iran’s Interior Ministry with regard to the presidential election results. In order to do so we need to demonstrate the structural framework within which the Iranian elections takes place. The framework consists of three independent groups: the first group assigned from the Interior Ministry manages the practical aspects of the election, including preparing the ballots, ballot boxes and providing information as to their whereabouts (voting stations). The second body of managers consists of the 12 members of the Guardian Council whose responsibility is to assure the soundness and fairness of the election, so that no manipulation or irregularities would take place. The Council also manages the announcement of the outcome of the votes. The third body is composed of observers made up of staff members from all the parties and individual candidates who watch to detect any mistakes or acts of manipulations. The groups have separate tasks, but work together to have a successful and fair election. In the process of gathering, recording, counting and reporting the votes if any violations occur, the observers have the responsibility of writing up the incident and gathering signatures of witnesses. This documentation is necessary for investigation and future correction if irregularities are found.
Let us for a moment assume that certain irregularities, violations of election law and manipulation, such as shortage of ballots, and denying some Mousavi observers access to the polling places had taken place, which led Mousavi to protest that there was wide-spread fraud in the election. The first question is why Mr. Mousavi, instead of calling demonstrations of his supporters “crying foul” for three consecutive days, did not present the Guardian Council with the violation reports and testimonies? In place of doing so as required by the well-known election procedures, he wrote a letter to the Association of Combatant Clerics (Jamaat-e-Ruhuniyat) Mobarez (Olama) in the City of Qom, complaining about the work of the Interior Ministry and even the Guardian Council and charging them with partiality. On the fourth day when he decided to present the Guardian Council with his letter of complaint, he still did not substantiate his charges.
Charges of “Wide-Spread Corruption”
Mousavi’s letter of complaint consists of seven paragraphs with seven claims:
1) the opening paragraph, which should have dealt with his essential claim of “wide-spread electoral fraud”, discusses the irrelevant issue of Ahmadinejad’s verbal attacks during their campaign debates against Haashemi Rafsanjani, the head of the Assembly of Experts and Nategh Noori, a member of the Expediency Council, a group whose function consists of breaking stalemates between the Majlis (Parliament) and the Guardian Council. What relations are there between the charge of election fraud and the content of the first paragraph remains to be explained.
2) In the second paragraph, like the first, Mousavi complained that during the campaign debates Ahmadinejad questioned the authority of Ayatollah Khomeini and also harmed Iran’s national security by alleging that the Islamic Republic in the 1980’s had the policy of cutting off youth’s hair and tearing the necktie of those who dared to wear them. Once again, all these have nothing to do with election fraud.
3) The third paragraph, while complaining about the non-cooperative work method of not only the interior ministry, but also the office of the governors, he claims in some instances accreditation cards necessary to certify their observers at the polling places were not issued. But again, the rational way of going about resolving the issue would have been to attach witness-signed descriptions of the alleged violations to the letter handed to the Guardian Council.
4) In the fourth paragraph Mousavi states that the collection and counting of the entry votes was supposed to be done by hand and hence using computers to report the final results would be considered a violation. Perhaps Mousavi’s campaign directors were expecting to deliver the results using horses or carriages.
5) In the fifth paragraph Mousavi’s complaint is about shortages of ballot papers in some stations. He may not know that in the U.S., the most technologically developed country, there have been instances that the whole computer system has gone down for hours, until they are further repaired or substituted.
6) The claim in paragraph six is too general to be considered a description of a concrete violation.
7) In the seventh and last paragraph, his complaint is that during the electoral campaign Ahmadinejad had been given more time by the state television and radio stations. He further stated that Ahmadinejad in his pre-election campaign used the government facilities, such as cars and planes, to pay visits to cities and towns around the country. Perhaps he doesn’t know that the incumbent presidents and congressmen and women use the means of transportation made available to them while in office. Therefore, the use of such means by an incumbent president is not a violation and after all these issues raised in the letter doesn’t prove “wide-spread fraud” in the election.
Privatization of National Assets
The bitter truth is that the major cause of the differences among the upper echelon of Iran’s political leadership goes much beyond the dichotomies concerning the election results. One of the most crucial issues discussed much before and during the election campaign has been the problems with the economy of Iran and its critical components, such as high rates of unemployment and inflation, low levels of labor productivity, and handling the monetary and fiscal policies.
But among all these vital parts, privatization of the state’s industrial, financial, mining and infra-structural assets attract the most attention of the domestic and foreign owners of capital – this is the focal point where the political agents of social forces fight to the death. Privatization of the state assets is the greatest motive force for capturing the state power for use as a tool to shape Iran’s wealth distribution and concentration of capital in the hands of a few for decades to come.
While the working class, small shop keepers and family farmers are mainly concerned with the hazards and pain of unemployment, high prices of necessities of life such as food, shelter, means of transportation, health care services and educational expenses, the big landlords, owners of private banks, insurance companies and shareholders in the stock markets are busy purchasing the state-owned factories, railways and bank assets at fire-sale prices, an arrangement which had methodically been the fast track of becoming wealthy over-night at the expense of the entire nation.
While Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan college students aspire to gain employment opportunities, cultural and social freedoms, the big capitalist class is networking the strategy of how to use the vigor and vital energy of the intellectuals, artists, university professors, along with the entire middle class to capture the state power, not for its own sake, but as a bridge to the national wealth, whose thousands of factories are awaiting to be auctioned soon after the election. Mir Hossein Mousavi cannot wait to be in charge of giving these establishments away to the rich Iranians.
Therefore, while the upper middle and educated class dreams of widening its social space, the moneyed class is busy dreaming about the easy access to the wealth of the nation that it took the state a century or more to accumulate.
The experience of Russians after the collapse of the Soviet Socialist state and the immediate rise of a class of oligarchy that attained the status of billionaires is still fresh in our minds, the charges and counter-charges between the reformists, which in fact is a misnomer, and the Ahmadinejad administration has been centered around the depth and breadth, but more so, on the pace and the kind of economic sectors which would be up for grabs on the auction block. This current election and the ensuing upheaval is in essence more about who – the capitalist class or the workers – will get the lion’s share of the people’s assets.
Ardeshir Ommani is an Iranian-born writer and an activist in the U.S. anti-war and anti-imperialist struggle for over 40 years. During the past seven years, he has participated in the U.S. peace movement, working to promote dialogue and peace among nations and to prevent a U.S.-spurred war on Iran. He holds two Masters Degrees: one in Political Economy and another in Mathematics Education. Co-founder of the American Iranian Friendship Committee, (AIFC), he writes articles of analysis on Iran -U.S. relations, the U.S. economy and has translated articles and books from English into Farsi, the Persian language. After many years of absence, he has been traveling back to Iran and is witnessing first-hand the myriad of changes in all spheres of life inside his homeland. Please visit AIFC’s website to learn more about Iran and Global issues at www.iranaifc.com. The author may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.