Real-time coverage: Iran accuses the U.S. of "intolerable" meddling

More protests, video from Iran.

By Vincent Rossmeier

Published June 16, 2009 12:17PM (EDT)

UPDATE June 17, 2009, 3:10 p.m.:

  • Tehran Bureau's Twitter feed reports that the calls of "Allah-o-Akbar" are stronger tonight than any other night.
  • CNN has a story on how Iranians are ignoring their government's warnings and disseminating information about the violence out to the world.
  • The New York Times has a good run-down on how traditional media outlets are relying on amateurs for news about the Iran protests.
  • Reuters has a Q&A with its foreign affairs correspondents on key developments to look for in the next 72 hours. They put the possibility of clerics turning against Ahmadinejad at "almost zero."

UPDATE June 17, 2009, 2:00 p.m.:

  • Iran accused the U.S. of "intolerable" interference in its election debate.
  • Two Iranian filmmakers, including Marjane Satrapi, the creator of the well-known film and graphic novel "Persepolis," appeared in Brussels, Belgium, today claiming they have a document proving Mousavi won the election and that Ahmadinejad received only 12 percent of the vote. They said the document came from the Iranian electoral commission, but the authenticity of the document has not been validated.
  • 32 people are now reported dead due to the protests.
  • Mousavi supporters may again shout "Allah-o-Akbar" from Iran's rooftops tonight.
  • Below is video of what appears to be Wednesday's protest in Tehran.

UPDATE June 17, 2009, 12:55 p.m.:

  • Mousavi's wife, Zahra Rahnavard, joined students today at Tehran University and denounced the violent actions of police and government-supported militias.
  • Iranian state TV has reported on today's huge pro-Mousavi march.
  • Rumors continue to spread on Twitter of voting irregularities, such as: dorizinn "70 polling stations returned more completed ballots papers than the number of locally eligible voters."
  • Karim Sadjadpour, an Iranian expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, explained to CNN this morning that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has the power and authority to oust President Ahmadinejad if he so chooses.
  • Though he has not appeared since the election, Khamenei has started to become more engaged with the election controversy.
  • The New York Times blog and Nico Pitney's Huffington Post blog, both have posted this video of some apparently friendly interactions between protesters and police.


UPDATE June 17, 2009, 11:45 a.m.:

  • According to the BBC, tens of thousands have taken to the streets in the latest pro-Mousavi protests in Tehran mentioned in Salon's 10:30 a.m. update. However, the protests on Thursday are expected to be even larger. The Guardian puts the number of people silently marching in the streets at 500,000.
  • In an interview with Der Spiegel, Mehran Barati, a notable member of the Iranian opposition living in exile, said that he is worried there could be a "blood bath" in Iran because of the protests.
  • NBC's Richard Engel gives a good breakdown of the power structure in Iran's government (video is below). The president's power is extremely limited in comparison to that of the supreme leader.
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UPDATE June 17, 2009, 10:30 a.m.:

  • According to a reliable Twitter feed, there are huge pro-Mousavi rallies going on in Tehran right now at 7 Tir Square.
  • Some members of the Iranian soccer team, who played a World Cup qualifying match today in South Korea, wore green arm bands to show their support of the protesters.

UPDATE June 17, 2009, 9:50 a.m.:

A YouTube member named iranlover100 has posted an extensive amount of video seemingly of the protests in Iran. Below is a graphic video in which a girl appears to have been shot.

The BBC also has footage of what appears to be plain-clothed pro-government militia members attacking an Iranian student university dormitory.

UPDATE June 17, 2009, 8:50 a.m.:

  • Mousavi called for his supporters to stage more protests Thursday. He asked them to congregate in a day of mourning to honor those who have died already in the protests.
  • Iran's Revolutionary Guard corps declared it will now target Web sites deemed to be fomenting protests. The corps said that sites must remove all material that could cause "tension" or face legal consequences.
  • Just what type of reformist is Mousavi? In a profile on the challenger today, the Wall Street Journal depicts Mousavi as a staunch social conservative who has long supported Iran's nuclear ambitions. While Mousavi said during the campaign that he would seek to improve Iran's relations with the U.S., President Barack Obama has acknowledged that Mousavi might not be a huge change from Ahmadinejad. Tuesday, Obama said:

"Although there is amazing ferment taking place in Iran, the difference in actual policies between [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad and Mousavi in terms of their actual policies may not be as great as advertised...I think it's important to understand that either way, we are going to be dealing with a regime in Iran that is hostile to the U.S."

  • Robert Fisk, a reporter for the Australian Broadcasting Co., has defied the ban on foreign journalists covering the election protests firsthand and reported that he witnessed the Iranian military protecting Mousavi protesters from paramilitary fighters.
  • An Iranian prosecutor warned that those behind the protest violence could receive the death penalty.
  • Salon's Mike Madden and Glenn Greenwald have both recently written about how Republicans such as John McCain who once advocated bombing Iran are now criticizing President Obama for not doing enough to support the protests.

UPDATE June 16, 2009, 5:30 p.m.:

  • Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, the country's Supreme Leader, blamed unnamed enemies for the violence that has erupted in Iran and said the bloodshed has nothing to do with the election results.
  • Al-Jazeera covers the split within Iran's ruling class.
  • A senior U.S. official tells MSNBC that Iran is not on the brink of revolution.

UPDATE June 16, 2009, 4:10 p.m.:

  • The opposition continues to hold a rally a day -- there are protests planned for Wednesday and Thursday, as well as protests outside the capital..
  • At Rasoul Akram Hospital in Tehran on Tuesday, doctors and nurses protested violence that left 28 wounded and 8 dead. According to the caption on this Youtube video, the nurse at 1:41 is saying that eight people died in the hospital last night.
  • Nobel Peace Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi told National Public Radio that human rights activists are being arrested.
  • CNN has announced on air that the network will no longer use the names of Twitter users in broadcasts.
  • The New York Times asks three experts "Where will the power lie in Iran?"

UPDATE June 16, 2009, 2:30 p.m.:

The New York Times reports that the Mousavi campaign posted a message on their Twitter feed asking protesters to shout “Allahu Akbar” from rooftops tonight. The Twitter feed also said that Mousavi is ready to appear on state TV and explain his position on the election.

UPDATE June 16, 2009, 2:15 p.m.:

The U.S.'s indirect involvement: Elise Labott, CNN State Department producer, writes on Anderson Cooper's 360 blog that, "Senior officials say the State Department is working with Twitter and other social networking sites to ensure Iranians are able to continue to communicate to each other and the outside world." The State Department is helping to ensure the sites don't go down, even for scheduled maintenance, so that Iranian protesters can continue to send out information.

UPDATE June 16, 2009, 1:40 p.m.:

  • Iran's media clampdown continues. Eleven Iranian journalists have been arrested.
  • Twitterers are advising others to change their settings to the GMT time zone to confuse Iranian censors.
  • According to Spiegel, Ahmadinejad may be preparing to face down protesters with members of Hezbollah.
  • Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, a reformist cleric, and once the designated successor to Khomeini, has issued a statement in which he said that the government has ruined its credibility by:

Declaring results that no one in their right mind can believe, and despite all the evidence of crafted results, and to counter people protestations, in front of the eyes of the same nation who carried the weight of a revolution and eight years of war, in front of the eyes of local and foreign reporters, attacked the children of the people with astonishing violence. And now they are attempting a purge, arresting intellectuals, political opponents and Scientifics.

  • Twitterers also believe the BBC Web site has gone green in support of the protesters.

UPDATE June 16, 2009, 12:50 p.m.:

  • Mousavi supporters moved the site of their protest north along Vali Asr street, gathering in Tajrish Square. Anti-riot police watched but did not interfere with the march. The green-clad crowd held up banners calling Ahmadinejad a "liar."
  • Thousands of Mousavi supporters have headed toward the state television building, which is flanked by police. The protesters are walking mainly in silence.
  • The Boston Globe has an extensive photo gallery of the protests.
  • Twitter rumors speculate that police are pulling down satellite dishes, but this has not been confirmed. 
  • Twitterers are also trying to use proxy IPs to confuse Iranian police.
  • Nico Pitney at Huffington Post reports that a source told him, "I'm getting a message that the Ministry of Health has issued an order that all ambulances must transport the injureds to the Hospital managed by the Guardian Force."

UPDATE June 16, 2009, 11:55 a.m.:

Mass opposition rally in Northern Tehran, a stronghold of the opposition. Mir Hossein Mousavi had told supporters not to assemble, but they merely changed the venue.

UPDATE June 16, 2009, 11:20 a.m.: 

  • Mir Hossein Mousavi urged his supporters to call off a rally in Tehran due to yesterday's deaths. Salon's anonymous correspondent in Tehran wrote of Mousavi's rally:

The 2 pm news shows nearly 10-15 minutes of damage from the "march without permit." Once again, the law and order theme is used against protesters. What's interesting is that while the outrage of Mousavi voters is acknowledged, as is the nightly violence, the message is that the behavior of the Mousavi voters is outside of the confines of what is appropriate and patriotic. The theme is clearly that Mousavi is rational and reasonable but that this movement is attracting "lot i loot" (hooligans). Parents are advised to keep their young kids from being "fooled" by trouble-makers -- "Don't let them go out." Dr. A [Adhmadinejad] is shown getting blessings from the Russian press. No doubt the decision of the Guardian Council to recount votes gives an excuse to allow peaceful marches to continue, there is a need to show that the system is working and it's legitimate.

A pro-Mousavi march that was scheduled for 5 pm in Vali Asr (spread by word of mouth yesterday) was cancelled as pro-government forces immediately (proving what I've said about the organizational capacity of the Ahmadinejad side), announced their own gathering at 2 p.m. for 4 p.m. in Vali Asr. It was, conveniently, set for an hour before the planned Mousavi gathering in the same place. Mousavi had to tell his followers NOT to go to the pro-Mousavi march.

  • Rumors on Twitter allege that the Iranian army is moving into Tehran to confront protesters. There is no independent confirmation, and there are twitterers warning against the spreading of rumors.
  • Twitter posts have also said basijis paramilitary forces are outside student dorms.
  • Tuesday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on his supporters to gather in Vali Asr Square in central Tehran, the same place Mousavi's supporters had planned to meet.

UPDATE June 16, 2009, 10 a.m.:

Iranian authorities have also now forbidden all foreign journalists from firsthand reporting on the streets.

Iran's Guardian Council, a powerful government organization, agreed Tuesday to a limited recount of votes in the nation's recent disputed presidential election. However, Mir Hossein Mousavi, the main opposition candidate to current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, rejected the recount and instead demanded a new election entirely. Last Friday, Ahmadinejad was named the victor of the election by a huge margin. Ahmadinejad is at a summit in Russia today.

The Guardian Council is composed of influential clerics and judges and their announcement about the recount came as a surprise. It is unclear how many ballots Iranian authorities will actually recount.

Meanwhile, violence continued in Tehran today. Protests clogged city streets and eyewitnesses claimed plainclothes militia members beat protesters. Yesterday, there was confirmation of one death in the protests, but state radio has now reported the death of seven people during a mass rally Monday night in Tehran.

The U.S. government has yet to directly condemn the election results. On the "Today" show this morning, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said that the U.S. "must speak out forcefully on Iran" (video is below). McCain added that President Barack Obama should "speak out that this election is flawed," a position that many foreign affairs experts have contradicted

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Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Barack Obama Iran John Mccain R-ariz. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Middle East