I follow news of Iran in a general way. Before the election, when Ahmadinejad started acting increasingly flaky and secretive, I wondered if he was about to steal the election. I guess he was. During the election the powers shut off all the media that they could, but they could not completely stop people from communicating and from gathering. The news is oozing out by internet and twitter, and my sense is that the vote counts given were completely fabricated, and so poorly allocated as to be obviously false. For example, the opposition candidate supposedly only got 20% of the vote in his home town--where he has clearly had much strong support than that for a long time now. My sense also is that there are hundreds ouf thousands of people out in the streets letting it be known that they are not satisfied with the election results, and do not trust the enforcers.
Obama is working hard to keep a respectful distance from Iran's supposedly democratic process. Considering that we have already overthrown their government once for our own purposes, I think he is wise to stand clear. Pundits on all sides are attacking him for maintaining neutrality. Obama supports the people and the democratic process, but will say no more about what should happen next. I remain impressed with him.
I am even more impressed with the people of Iran, especially Tehran. They are taking to the streets instead of letting the election be stolen without backlash. Here in America, we didn't do as much. Here we are more easily cowed, more comfortable and lazy. In Iran, the people are in the streets, and they are internet literate, electronics literate, world news savvy. They are making sure the world knows what is happening, even though the state media has been shut down and all cameras are banned in the streets.
Those in power are waiting for the protests to die out. They hope that if they can cling to power long enough, the world will be distracted by some other crisis, and they can settle back into power. If they are not stopped they will pick off their oponents one by one and lock down the country like China after Tiananmen. It will be interesting to see how it pans out. Will the people be able to force a new election, and have it be real, when the president and the royal council and supreme leader all seem inclined to tamp down on new freedom? Will the UN get involved? I am happy that the US is not out there with cowboy boots on, tellin' 'em how it's done. I hope for the next rebirth of Persia.
Edit, from news next day I hear this:
The man who leaked the real election results from the Interior Ministry - the ones showing Ahmadinejad coming third - was killed in a suspicious car accident, according to unconfirmed reports. ... It occurs to me that the reason so many people in the marches are obscuring their faces is that they are afraid to be recognized by the powers that be. Reasonably so. A cornered and illegitimate power is more likely to be dangerous than a legitimate one.