Mohammad of Vancouver (a Canadian-Iranian) has relatives in the
streets of Tehran, but he says that Ahmadinejad likely won the election, and
the west, with its "warm ears" for Moussavi, is choosing to hear what it wants from the demonstrations. And Ayatollah Rafsanjani, the former Iranian president, has manipulated the
electoral crisis in Iran for his own gain.
Based on opinion polls conducted a few weeks before the election by
Terror Free Tomorrow (TFT), Ahmadinejad was expected to win with even a
larger margin than announced in the official vote. The polls were
reported both in the Huffington Post and the Guardian and had several
interesting findings. First, even if the majority of the
undecided votes went to the reformist camp, it was still highly likely
that Ahmadinejad could secure the 50% + 1 vote needed to avoid a
more than half of the electorate had a neutral or favorable view of the
economic situation, and there was a relatively-even split between those
that felt who the president's economic policy positively contributed to
the reduction of inflation and the unemployment rate and those who did
not. Lastly, the vast majority of the Iranian electorate believe
that religious expertise is a very important attribute of a successful
president. While some may claim that bias or fear led to these results,
these same Iranians were not afraid to answer extremely-controversial
questions. For instance, a free press and free elections were seen as
important issues that the government must address– by pluralities of the
In the actual vote as announced, Ahmadinejad performed 7 points poorer than in the poll by TFT.
Based on my own conversations with people inside Iran who were acting
as election monitors, Ahmadinejad did well in the poor areas of Tehran,
as well as the rural areas in central Iran and the northeast region of
Khorasan and Mashhad. In the Facebook sphere, I am already seeing
skepticism among some Mousavi supporters who are not buying into the
whole “it is very obvious that the election was rigged” statement. The
idea that “the results just don't make sense” is absurd. Mousavi did
very well in Tehran, Yazd, Azarbaijan, and other ethnic-minority
regions that he capitalized on while campaigning.
Nate Silver at 538.com agrees
that the argument that the election was rigged is weak. (A subsequent post at 538 finds some of the Iranian regional numbers "fishy".)
But if the election results are not the problem, then what is?
find the roots of the current crisis, one has to go back and look at
the history of Rafsanjani’s presence in the political scene in Iran.
Don’t forget that he is the second most powerful man in Iran and his
family has amassed wealth beyond the borders of Iran. Rafsanjani also
has a network of supporters outside of Iran that stretches from
individuals, Iranian press and web sites outside of Iran all the way to
the National Iranian American Council, whose positions are strikingly
favorable to him.
Rafsanjani challenged Ahmadinejad in the 2005 elections and lost.
Ever since then, he has been sabotaging Ahmadinejad’s plans of
reforming the political and economic structures in Iran. He has been
moving slowly from his moderate position to become the patron saint of
the reformist camp. In this round of the election, Rafsanjani did not
personally participate, but instead invited Moussavi, Karrubi and
Rezaee (all three with historical ties to Rafsanjani) to throw
themselves in the maelstrom of the anti-Ahmadinejad ring. The strategy was
to create enough voter distractions so as to prevent Ahmadinejad from
getting elected in the first round of voting.
Millions of dollars were spent on these three campaigns, most of it
provided by Rafsanjani’s children and cronies who look at this kind of
spending as a way of investing in the future government. The way this
support was distributed among the candidates was very complicated and
followed an elaborate pattern. Rezaee was asked to run in order to
weaken Ahmadinejad’s support among the Revolutionary Guards, since he
was the head of this force during the Iran-Iraq war. The reformist
coalition were divided between Karrubi and Moussavi with the former
receiving the support of reformist personalities like Karbaschi, Abtahi
and Abdi and the latter receiving the support of reformist
organizations and political parties (Mosharekat and Mojahedine
This dividing of resources by Rafsanjani was done to diversify and
overlap the campaigns at the same time, while Rafsanjani and his
children would remain in the background by only providing funds and
logistical support to the anti Ahmadinejad camps. But things started to
go wrong when opinion polls from inside Moussavi’s own campaign began
to show a hardening of support for Ahmadinejad. That is when the nature
of his campaign changed. The color green was picked as a protest color,
and the rumors of voter fraud began circulating in the Moussavi
campaign so as to continue the fight beyond election day.
The culmination of this happened days before the vote. In a letter
written to the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Rafsanjani threatened
to start a social volcano if Moussavi was not declared the “obvious
winner”. (The letter in Farsi) This suspicious move, together with Rafsanjani’s wife’s
comments after casting her vote–encouraging people to pour
into the streets if Moussavi was not declared the winner– show that the plans
for social disturbances and support from the outside world was the
opposition’s plan B, even before the election results were announced.
The public confrontation between Rafsanjani and his family from the one
side and Khamenei from the other side exposed for the first time the
major role played by Rafsanjani and his family in the election.
The night of the election and only two hours after closing of the
polls, Moussavi, under pressure by his campaign manager, advanced his
prescheduled post-election press conference, planned for Saturday
morning, and declared himself the winner in front of CNN, BBC and other
foreign press reporters in Iran. There is no explanation for this move.
This preemptive assumption of victory was done to sow the seeds of
doubts and discontent before any results were even published.
The timing of this early press conference points to the fact that
Moussavi’s camps were aware of the existence of warm ears outside of
Iran waiting for any kind of news of doubts in Ahmadinejad’s victory.
Otherwise, why wouldn’t Mousavi wait for the morning after to declare himself a winner?
my opinion, the speedy announcement of results by the Interior
Ministry, something that most people quote as the evidence of tampering
with the votes, only took place to counterbalance Moussavi’s early declaration of victory.
Had Moussavi waited, the results would have appeared more normal and
acceptable. As I have already explained, the switch from plan A to plan
B required the Moussavi camp to quickly dismiss Ahmadinejad’s victory
and move on to challenge the results as soon as possible.
Here are questions that I and my friend Ali
Sanaee have been circulating among Iranians to widen the debate about
the election results:
1-What is the real material evidence of voter fraud? Moussavi had
representatives in more than 95 per cent of the polling stations. Among nearly 6000 representatives who signed off on the polling results, only 220 of them
were barred from attending polls, due to lack of
identification papers. What happened to the rest?
2- Why did Moussavi and his friends begin to doubt the results a few
weeks before the vote? If he had serious doubts about the honesty of
the electoral system, why even bother to declare your candidacy? What
is Moussavi’s pre-election evidence for fraud?
3- Why Did Moussavi change the time of his post-election press conference abruptly?
4- Why did Rafsanjani and Moussavi’s wives speak out about fraud right after casting their votes?
5-Why did the Western media, who are normally against Iran and pro
Israel (CNN, Fox, Voice of America, BBC, Huffington Post, Roozonline,
Radio Zamaneh and Radio Farda), describe Moussavi the frontrunner as
soon as Moussavi’s camp began to cast doubt on the elections, weeks
before the vote? What degree of coordination was there between Moussavi’s campaign and
the western media about this message?
6-Why was the Rockefeller Foundation-sponsored survey, done by a credible team of investigators (Terror Free Tomorrow), not highlighted
in the coverage of the election in the West?