Monday, June 15, 2009

Tide may be turning in favor of reformers in Iran; shots fired at Tehran rally

Leading opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi appeared at a huge rally of his supporters in Tehran (see video), defying a regime order outlawing protests. After Mousavi's appearance, shots were fired by elements of the security forces, reportedly killing one man and wounding at least several others.

Meanwhile, Supreme Leader Khamenei, the real power in Iran, ordered a review of Friday's election, in effect, conceding Mousavi's complaint that something was amiss. This had to be a tough call for Khamenei after he had declared Mamoud Ahmadinejad the winner and called on other candidates to support the supposed outcome. To be sure, Khamenei may be playing for time enough for the protests to die down, after which he'll affirm Ahmadinejad as the "winner." Then again, the protests may not fade; they may intensify, as millions of Iranians see this as their golden opportunity to effect real change in the regime.

Mousavi has called off another street protest for the moment following reports that the security forces had been issued ammunition to fire on protesters. It may be that Mousavi wants to avoid bloodshed -- or at least seeks to separate himself from it should it occur. He may also believe he's making progress in his campaign to forced the regime's hand.

One interesting bit of intrigue is the circulation of election results ostensibly leaked from the Interior Ministry (which oversees elections). They showed Ahmadinejad in third place!

The situation remains critical. While the U.S., Europe and other democratic nations cannot influence the outcome directly -- and certainly should not attempt to intervene -- in this age of the Internet and satellite news coverage, it's essential that Iran's reformers and democrats know that the world is rooting for them and prepared to support them enthusiastically as they make strides forward.

It's a truly historic moment with enormous possibilities for Iran, the Middle East and the world. Americans of left and right should be united in backing the reform forces in Iran.

Any thoughts? Post a comment.

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