This is an older video about Iran which I always liked
I’m deeply skeptical of any force but power, but it is amazing to see what’s happening in Iran. There are now confirmed cases of fraud, with the Iranian government itself admitting over 100% turnout in 50 cities. Also, a Chatham House study (PDF) shows over 100% turnout in two provinces, a disappearance of regional variation in turnout, etc. In one third of provinces, for the official results to be correct Ahmadinejad would have had to “win over all new voters, all former Rafsanjani voters, and also up to 44% of former reformist voters”. I think there really is credible evidence of voter fraud, credible injustice as Obama says, and some real power behind these protests now.
The western media has lately been missing the boat or floating their own, so I’ve been wary. Been following Andrew Sullivan’s meta-blogging more than anything. The Economist has a good round up of the media scene. It is quite possible that Ahmadinejad did win, and protesters in the street are often neither just nor effective. In cases like Thailand overthrowing Thaksin and later shutting down the airport, the protesters were actually undemocratic. In Burma they were heartening but ineffective and crushed easily enough. In Iran, however, they may both just and effective.
I say just because there does seem to be credible evidence (and admittance) of voter fraud. There are less obvious examples, but turnout over 100% is obvious fraud. I say effective because the protests are ongoing and, though the media is banned, there is a lot of stuff getting out via citizens (twitter, photo, video). They have also got the Ayatollah to somewhat backpedal, and they have support from Islamic Revolution veterans and high placed conservative supporters like Rafsanjani (Chairman of Assemly of Experts, which appoints the Supreme Leader), Larijani (Parliament Speaker) and former President Khatami. More to the point, the figure they’re rallying around, Moussavi, is not a radical. He is a former appointed Prime Minister, loyal to the Islamic system, sorta anti-American, and leftist.
That is, this is not some liberal American backed overthrow. It’s a movement with broad popular support (including rural) with reasonable demands. And it seems that the allegations of voter fraud are real, and serious. In my experience, these hopeful, just demonstrations have been crushed as in Burma, but it seems that the force is too strong and too well mediated for the authorities to hold back now. And the demands are reasonable even within the political reality of the Islamic Revolution. Time will tell, but I wish them well.
For curated coverage of the cacophony I recommend Andrew Sullivan. The thumbnail image attached to this post is from fhashemi. Iranians are also, incidentally, total hotties and it would be great to have them reinitegrated internationally.