Every time I think that the Islamic regime in Iran can no longer surprise me, I get rudely re-introduced to reality:
The government of Iran on Saturday announced that incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad had won a landslide victory in the presidential election, amid claims from opposition leaders that the results in the historic contest had been “staged”.
Opposition supporters were shocked at the results and Mir-Hosssein Moussavi, the moderate former prime minister who was challenging Mr Ahmadi-Nejad, vowed to fight what he saw as a unacceptable result.
[. . .]
With about 82 per cent of the votes counted, the interior ministry said that Mr Ahmadi-Nejad had won 64.7 per cent of the vote, easily passing the 50 per cent threshold needed to win outright in the first round.
Mr Moussavi had taken only 32.2 per cent of the vote, the ministry said, while the two marginal candidates, reformist Mehdi Karroubi and fundamentalist Mohsen Rezaei, won 0.8 per cent and 2.07 per cent respectively.
The interior ministry released the results with record speed, without giving details of which constituencies had been counted.
[. . .]
The results appear to be at odds with the huge groundswell of support that formed around Mr Moussavi in the final week of the campaign, and with the history of high turnout favouring reformists over conservatives.
“I warn that I will not succumb to this staged arrangement,” Mr Moussavi said in a statement on Saturday. “We witnessed the performance of dishonest officials, resulting in nothing except shaking the foundations of the holy Islamic republic of Iran and giving sovereignty to lies and dictatorship.”
Iranians knew vote rigging had taken place on a massive scale, Mr Moussavi said. “People who formed long queues and know who they have voted for, are watching in absolute astonishment the magical claims of officials and the statements on TV and radio,” he said.
It is, of course, noteworthy that Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, swiftly got behind the fraudulent results. But it should surprise no one that he did. He is in on the shenanigans and profits from them by having a malleable president like Ahmadinejad around for four more years to help do the regime’s dirty work.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei annointed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner of Friday’s presidential race, amid a violent crackdown on protests across the capital and allegations by his nearest challenger of wide-spread vote rigging.
The violence ratchets up the stakes significantly in the already-tense elections, the most rambunctious since the founding of the Islamic Republic 30 years ago. Prolonged strife or a political standoff would heighten the uncertainty hanging over a country that is one of the world’s biggest oil producers and Washington’s main irritant in the volatile Middle East
[. . .]
Supporters of Mr. Mousavi began gathering outside the interior ministry and outside his campaign headquarter in central Tehran early in the morning. Uniformed police and plain-clothes security officials broke up groups of protesters, chasing some away from the buildings.
At one point, groups of supporters near Mr. Mousavi’s headquarters shouted “death to the dictator,” a chant borrowed from the Iranian revolution. Security forces responded by bludgeoning several with batons.
Several journalists were beaten badly, and one young, female protester was beaten unconscious by uniformed police. As the police battled the protesters, demonstrators and onlookers from windows and from the sides of the streets shouted, “security forces, shame on you.”
“Is this democracy,” said Ali Reza, a 30-year-old Mousavi campaign worker, whose eyes were red from tear gas and his white pants torn and bloodied. “We don’t have any power to fight these people, but what they are doing is unfair,” he said.
Reuters is on the case as well, as is the AP, which points out that ever-so-mysteriously, the text messaging system in Iran–a key tool for communication among reformists–stopped working on both Friday and Saturday, and that pro-Mousavi websites were being blocked. This story notes that former President Jimmy Carter hopes that with four more years in office, Ahmadinejad “will moderate his position,” proving that after thirty years, Jimmy Carter still doesn’t understand the Islamic regime. Meanwhile, one trusts that President Obama is less “excited” about the possibility of change in Iran. Disgust would seem to be the appropriate emotion here.