Back on 19 March in the article 2009–Four Key Elections, Part 2: Iran I said the following:
“President Ahmadinejad … has not fulfilled his domestic policy promises. In the end, that will be the cause of his fall from power on Election Day 12 June 2009, unless the supreme council of Ayatollahs, once again, gerrymanders the election results in his favor — if they dare. That could cause another Iranian Revolution, which I do sense, coming, but not so soon…”
Today, before an amassed audience of thousands at Friday prayers held in Qom, Iran, a few hours drive south from the capital, Teheran, the Supreme Ayatollah Khamenei staked his position as Iran’s power above the presidency. He declared the reelection of Ahmadinejad a landslide victory and ordered all mass demonstrations of Mousavi’s hundreds of thousands of followers on the streets of Teheran to stop.
The incidences of voter grievances, which there are upwards of 600 claimed by the three official moderate losers — Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohsen Rezaei — will be each addressed by the supreme council. Were their some voting shenanigans? Yes, said the Grand Ayatollah, but nothing beyond what usually happens, and certainly nothing coming close to significant enough to call for a second election. Nor was he going to address the fact that in their “democracy” the supreme council of Ayatollahs choose the candidates. But the “fixing” of elections only goes so far in the murky twilight zone of Iranian politics, which establishes a not so clearly defined limbus between democratic freedom and theocratic totalitarian rule.
What I am about to say is a hard fact that Iranian twittering, iPod, iPhone punching moderates and Geek-sympathetic Western media corporate news companies would rather delete from reality. They cannot but they will try until reality bytes.
Ayatollah Khamenei must be following the rules set by the theocracy because if he really fixed the election he would have fixed it in Mousavi’s favor.
Ahmadinejad’s landslide victory propelled by 11-million more voters than Mousavi, consisting mostly of poor, agrarian, urban working class, generally pious and fundamentalist leaning citizens. His certified victory gives him more people power than any previous Iranian President has known. The Western media almost completely overlooks this important point as they fawn over the cyber-literate minority of protesters mostly coming from one place in the country: the educated and more secular leaning classes and students centered in Northern Teheran. Ahmadinejad’s landslide has given him equal political clout to the Grand Ayatollah. That is the last thing Khamenei would personally want. Khamenei, a wealthy Ayatollah of the upper classes not only does not like Ahmadinejad personally, but the political ascendancy of this working class populist is a far bigger threat to the Ayatollah’s rule than Mousavi would have been had he won.
If the moderate Mousavi had actually won, Ayatollah Khamenei could pit his several million moderates against the vast population ocean of working class, religiously right wing leaning Iranian majority who live mostly outside the island of cyber-wired modernity that is Teheran. Ahmadinejad, however, can take that base away from the Ayatollah.
Khamenei openly spoke against reelecting Ahmadinejad to a second term. Khamenei is not caught in voter fraud; he is caught in the prison of his own theocratic rules. In his mind, “God has spoken and willed it,” as it were, and he must submit to four more years of this annoying Ahmadinejad. He has no choice but to certify Ahmadinejad because beyond whatever tinkering goes on in the Iranian voting world after dictatorial priests have permitted who will run against who, his landslide of authentic ballots is too large to overturn any questionable ones.
The supreme leader of Iran in his speech to the nation on Friday urged all presidential candidates to pursue their complaints through legal channels. He called for an end to illegal street protests aimed at reversing the result of the election.
So now comes tomorrow, Saturday. Most of you will be reading this article tomorrow. Will there be a Mousavi sea of green rebellion tomorrow, in the streets, of the young and hopeful, dressed all in green.
Will they be stained with blood? These brave people are no less dear to my heart than a progressive and once young Chinese generation in 1989, who gathered peacefully in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, asking for representation and real democracy. Khamenei has made it as clear as the supreme leader Deng Xiaoping of the Chinese Communists eventually did. Assemble and face the bloody consequences on the streets.
Tiananmen may become Teherananmen for a new generation. If it does, it will have the same result, the youth of Teheran, like the youth of Beijing, are not speaking or supported by the vast majority of the country, no matter how righteous their calls for freedom and no matter how ridiculously biased the Western news agencies wish to make it so. A new revolution will come to China and Iran in the future, but the bloody end of Tiananmen Square rallies and the bloody end of Teherananmen street demonstrations coming tomorrow are but early travails in the slow and steady democratic metamorphoses of these nations.
Today I coin a new word that I predict will be commonly known in the future as a darker side to the Internet revolution: Cybermyopia.
There is a new form of human prejudice and misperception emerging from the heady days of this first text messaged, twittered, cell-phoned-in revolution on the streets of Teheran and I caution you, my readers, to examine how it may inflate your perceptions of reality all out of proportion to the truth. Have you noticed that BBC, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, CBC and NBC television networks have presented as journalistic fact information coming virtually from only one side of the Iranian political dispute — those who have cell phone, twitter accounts, and internet access inside of Iran?
Are you aware that the poll taken showing Mousavi would win by a landslide — the same poll used again and again by an array of pro-Mousavi expatriate Iranian talking heads on TV as proof of voter fraud — are only taken from a cell-phone poll? That is what STRATFOR has verified.
The millions casting their cell-phone votes for Mousavi do not hail from across Iran but mostly can be sourced to cell-phone numbers in the affluent and middle class districts and university districts of Teheran. Yet, the cable and network news anchors take such polls as gospel as proof of government voter fraud. No skeptical inquiry or verification proffered. Not even a scant mention until after the Ayatollah’s speech today that a vast majority of voters in Iran do not have a cell phone, let alone a land line, a computer, a twitter account by which to render their polling opinion.
Only yesterday on BBC America did I hear an anchor at last question a representative of BBC Iran about the vast disparity of wired versus an unwired Iranian voting public the poll perhaps had missed. She blinked. Frowned. Dismissed the question with a sweeping generality not on the point, saying the Ahmadinejad people have cell phones and Internet too. She was lying or playing propagandist for her cause if she is implying that millions of rural Iranians are as wired as Mousavi followers. BBC Iran is the chief conduit carrying pro-Mousavi reports to other news networks, by the way. Ayatollah Khamenei in his speech today blamed American and especially British news networks as the main source of what he characterized as a foreign disinformation campaign to undermine the government and influence Iranian elections.
I can understand why the totalitarian Ayatollahs try to shut off the Internet and cell connections. Undemocratic? Sure! About as undemocratic as the American government regularly blocking yours or my access to Pakistani Internet links and newspapers online during the 1990s because Pakistan was on the State Department’s terrorist nation list. Then 9/11 happened. America suddenly needed the services of Pakistan’s dictator, Musharraf –- you know, the same fellow who overthrew Pakistan’s elected government in the late 1990s — to help us fight al-Qaeda. A few jets flaming into New York skyscrapers later, Pakistan was magically declared a “good” ally. I could read Pakistani papers online once again without disruption.
No matter how much I would prefer a Mousavi recount and a Mousavi victory, the truth is, this very vocal, intelligent, cyber-savvy MINORITY propagates — indeed believes what it is selling too — that Mousavi speaks for the political aspirations of a majority of the Iranian people.
I hate to say it. That is flat false.
When you hear the press in the West say that millions of people in Iran hate Ahmadinejad because he flubbed fixing the economy; or, that Iranians are not that interested in Iran’s place as a regional super power; or, that Iranians generally are not taken up with fear of Israel, you are indeed hearing a view shared by millions of Iranians in TEHERAN.
Go out of Teheran, go beyond the vast and sprawling capital that admittedly comprises a large proportion of the national population, nearly reaching 19 percent. Outside you encounter a gi-normously larger and different collective mindset of 70 percent comprising the rural lands and cities like Esfahan, Bam, Tabriz, Bandar Abbas, Khorramshahr, Shiraz and 50 thousand other lesser cities, towns and villages. There you will find a huge majority of Iranians who believe Ahmadinejad is a crusader against the corruption of the rich Ayatollah families. Yes, he failed to fix the economy but that is less important to a majority populace that factors a leader’s piety higher than his ability to fix worldly economic problems. They forgive him for that.
Israeli threats to bomb Iran were played up by Ahmadinejad because his voting base IS concerned about a nuclear-armed Israel and nationalist feelings run deep, as deep as religious conservatism. People texting or key paddling around in Tehran’s packed Internet cafes might welcome outside manipulation of Iran’s elections. The vast hinterland teams with Iranians who look upon the current Western news reporting as another attempt of Britain and America to meddle in their affairs, just like they did in 1953 when British and US C.I.A. agents helped overthrow a democratically elected government that had successfully deposed the dictatorial Shah of Iran.
The CIA put him back on his throne. The dictatorship got a lot darker for the common people. If Iranians had helped overthrow a British or American democracy over 50 years ago, I do not think an attempt to manipulate the outcome of elections from cyberspace coming from Iranian texters and news anchors would be welcome today.
Such facts are ignored by many of those in Iran and elsewhere caught up to their thumbnails under the spell of their Internet text button toys. I see a pattern growing here in the geek-able post baby boomer generation X, Y and Z, otherwise known as the “New Millennials.” They live life as an extension of their cell phones and twitter long enough to forget a whole lot of the world does not live in their world just yet.
Cybermyopia makes CNN and Fox news anchors view Teheran as Iran. It is an illusion. Western journalists, like Mousavi supporters, have unconsciously deleted from existence a vast multitude of people not yet a part of their social network. Mousavi’s Iranians are living in a virtual political reality bubble, some of which will die tomorrow (Saturday) in the streets of Teheran clashing with government security supported by those tens of millions more Iranians who voted for Ahmadinejad.
Ah, reckless cyber youth, be mindful of this cybermyopia when you face the Revolutionary Guards tomorrow on 20 June 2009. Unplug and look around.
The new Iranian Revolution is coming when you become aware and stop denying the existence of “all” the political forces at play in your country, plugged “and” unplugged.