Iran's ruling Guardian Council just announced -- as expected -- that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won this month's election. Authorities spent the day conducting a partial recount of the vote totals, going through 10 percent of the ballots in some cities. But reports in government-affiliated press indicated that very little had changed.
The announcement could effectively mean Iran's ruling hardline clerics have managed to crush the protest movement that flared up after the election to dispute the results. Reform candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who many of the protesters supported, will now have to decide whether -- and how -- to keep challenging Ahmadinejad. If the results are officially certified, the decision could also pose a problem for the United States. The White House, so far, has said it's up to Iran to decide its leaders, while simultaneously condemning the brutal tactics used against the protesters. But the Guardian Council's announcement means Iran has chosen its leaders, as far as its government is concerned, and President Obama may need to find new language to address the situation.
Protests continued over the weekend, even though today's ruling was widely anticipated. An Iranian studying in the U.S. provided Salon with two videos, sent from Iran, that were taken at demonstrations in Tehran yesterday. Both were shot outside the city's Ghoba Mosque, where a memorial service was held yesterday to commemorate the 1979 death of Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti in a bombing by the People's Mujahedin of Iran (which both the Iranian government and the U.S. State Department agree is a terrorist group).
Because of the memorial, the government appears to have allowed a march, letting between 3,000 and 5,000 people gather near the mosque without the violence that Revolutionary Guard troops and Basij paramilitaries have used to prevent large crowds from forming in the last week or so. The video clips show some protesters standing near police and the black-clad riot police who Iranians have taken to calling Robocops.
In the first clip, protesters are chanting, "Beheshti, where are you, Mousavi is alone?" The chant wraps the official purpose of the demonstration -- a memorial to a martyred leader of the Iranian revolution -- with the unofficial one -- to keep pressure on the government.
In the other clip, protesters chant, "Allahu akbar," or, "God is great," in Farsi.
That's also been the chant people call out each night from the roofs or balconies of their apartments, and it's a direct link to the 1979 revolution. The tactic makes it harder for Iranian officials to claim the protests are somehow un-Islamic or pro-American.
Whether today's ruling saps the momentum out of the demonstrations is hard to predict. Cell phone networks near Tehran have apparently been down today, making communication with the world outside Iran even more difficult than usual.