One of the reasons I have been so concerned about Iran for such a long time is that I fear the mullahs’ cleverness, ruthlessness, and ability to mount brilliant deceptions. Moreover, while there have long been basic fault lines within the mullahcracy, I have long believed they would find ways to pull together at moments of crisis.
The electoral fiasco of June 17 has shaken both of these convictions. They couldn’t even stage a phony election without appearing inept and thuggish, which is certainly not the image they wanted to send to the world. And the spectacle of intense internal conflict among leading figures in the Islamic republic makes me wonder if the revolution is beginning to devour its own fathers and sons.
First, the numbers. The regime had made it clear that the size of the turnout would indicate its legitimacy with the public, so they had to come up with big numbers. After hours of hilarious confusion, during which the "official" numbers oscillated wildly and different vote totals were announced by the interior ministry and the Council of Guardians, the regime finally decided to claim that something like 65 percent of eligible Iranians had voted. But most clear-eyed observers with the freedom to move around the country and actually go to polling places, found very few voters. The Mujahedin Khalq, the longtime allies of Saddam Hussein who have long been a source of information on things Iranian, estimated that the real figure was about 10 percent. If you read The Scotsman, for example, you hear things like this:...at a polling station in...an affluent suburb of northern Tehran, only 150 voters had arrived by mid-afternoon. "We have been given 1,000 ballot papers, so it seems the turn-out has been a lot lower than expected," said Mohsen Jannati, the school’s headmaster, who supervised the voting.
Ledeen has made it his business to be knowledgable about Iranian matters and has written a great length about the thugracy in Iran (see here and here, for example). Read, as they say, the whole thing.
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