Hardliners Scuppered Deal With Mousavi

Ahmadinejad Victory Was Announced to Halt Compromise

The claimed victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the presidential election is built on sand and hides a deep split in the Iranian establishment.

That's the hidden tale behind a most curious mystery surrounding the official announcement by Irans electoral Guardian Council of a presidential election victory by Ahmadinejad.

Just hours earlier the very same electoral body had extended by five days the period for investigation of voting anomalies, and had welcomed proposals by Mir-Hossein Mousavi as "positive." That decision not only indicated a compromise deal on the election outcome, but it should have postponed any official confirmation of a victor.

So why the sudden turnaround? Does it hint at a spit in the government?

Now You See It, Now You Don't!

Early on Monday, 29th of January the New York Times reported the extension by Iranian authorities of the deadline for examining voting irregularities. The web URL of that NYT story was this one:


But if you go there now, you will not find that article. You will find only an article about the Guardian Council's confirmation of Ahmadinejad's 'victory'.

So how do you know the previous article even existed? Maybe I'm simply making this up and it never happened. Well, because we have a record of it's existence.

The exciting development was noticed by bloggers. In the Huffington Post, the National Editor, Nico Pitney was following Iran developments closely. Early on Monday 29th June he reported:
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.....

Another blogger had spotted that NY Times article too, and reprinted the key portion. It bears reading because it makes clear that just hours before Ahmadinejad was confirmed it looked like a deal with Mousavi had been achieved and was in full train:
NY Times: Iranian officials extend election probe deadline five days as opposition again clashes with authorities

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.

I had also been following events closely, and had blogged about it:
The deadline to investigate opposition claims of electoral fraud has been extended by five days -postponing the final certification of the ballot. Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, the Guardian Council spokesman said it had “given another opportunity to Moussavi” to back up his claims of election rigging.

After reading the NY Times article, I found the source of the story on the Iranian state website, PressTV.ir. I have a browser history record of the webpage which carried the story. This one:


But if you go there now, you will not find the article that prompted the NY Times and bloggers to cover the development. You will find only an article about the Guardian Council's confirmation of a Ahmadinejad win.

So, was there a deal in the making with Mousavi? The previous week, it seemed so. PressTV had reported:
'Rafsanjani, Mousavi vow support to end unrest'

Thu, 25 Jun 2009 02:06:13 GMT

Head of Iran's Expediency Council, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani will support efforts to end the post-election tension in the country, an Iranian lawmaker says.

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, Head of Iran's Parliamentary Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy told Fars news agency that the committee's governing board has held a meeting with Rafsanjani and Mir-Hossein Mousavi, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's main rival in the elections on Wednesday.

Boroujerdi termed the parliamentary delegation's talks with Rafsanjani as "constructive".

"The lawmakers asked Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani to help solve the problems and he vowed support and we hope that we would witness practical measures to be taken to end the current situation soon," he added.

Boroujerdi also noted that the lawmakers have discussed the post-election developments with Mousavi.

"During the meeting, the governing board of the committee explained their expectations from Mr. Mousavi and he voiced his interest to help in solving the issues."

Boroujerdi stated that the talks between Mousavi and Iranian lawmakers will continue.

In their article on the certification of Ahmadinejad as victor, the NY Times noted:
The decision to certify the election seemed to reflect a growing split among the Iranian leadership about how to respond to a nation that has been left badly scarred after widespread protests, and a violent government crackdown that left at least 17 dead and hundreds more injured, hospitalized and jailed.

One group of officials under the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Mr. Ahmadinejad appeared to be trying to resolve the internal dispute by shifting some blame to foreign powers, particularly Britain, and by continuing reliance on the hammer-fisted policy of dispatching the police and militia members to beat protesters.

But there appear to be a growing number of officials and clerics who are deeply concerned about the unrest. On Monday, the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of Parliament was scheduled to visit the holy city of Qum to meet with two grand ayatollahs. A day earlier it met with two former presidents, Mohammad Khatami and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, in an effort to ease the strains that have developed since the June 12 election. The speaker of Parliament, Ali Larijani, a former nuclear negotiator, has emerged as a powerful opponent of Mr. Ahmadinejad.

It is not clear how far those seeking some kind of reconciliation will be able to push their drive, as the current hard-line leadership of Mr. Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei has continued to lash out at the opposition and insist that Iran’s troubles are a result of meddling by foreign powers.

My interpetation of these events is that there was indeed a momentum for a deal with Mousavi. And that deal had reached the point where the electoral Guardian Council was making the announcement of an extension of the period for examination of irregularities. So the deal had reached the point where its progress was reported by official state media.

It was that development which spurred the cornered hardliners to quash the momentum in a hurry by announcing an Ahmadinejad victory.

The presidency of Ahmadinejad is clearly built on sand. And sands shift.

As I reported on Monday 29th June, after conversing with Iranian political analyst, Professor Muhammad Sahimi:
In a telephone interview this weekend, Prof. Sahimi said Rafsanjani and Iran's opposition leaders are biding their time to allow social pressures on Iran's government to intensify. Their aims are to split the government and to detach some commanders of the Revolutionary Guard from supporting the hardline government stance on the official election outcome.

The progressive forces in Iran, within and without the government, though sidelined by this latest preemptive move by the hardliners, are still working assiduously behind the scenes to achieve a proper resolution of the crisis.


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