Scores of casualties from ongoing Tehran clashes. Ballot recount but no new election
While Iran’s state media claim 7 killed in clashes in Tehran, debkafile‘s Iranian sources reportedthat by midday Tuesday, June 16, scores of casualties filled Tehran’s Khatm el-Anbia hospital emergency rooms, wounded or killed by gunshots. Bloody clashes which erupted Monday night appear to be ongoing between Revolutionary Guards and Bassij militiamen and opposition supporters. Iranian TV reported that “ringleaders of the arrest had been arrested with explosives and guns.
At the same time the Guardian Council announced a recount of votes in disputed presidential polling areas which could affect the candidates’ final tally – but ruled out a new election.
debkafile reported earlier:
Tuesday, June 16, may be the defining day for Iran’s theocratic regime as it confronts its first major fissure since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, say debkafile‘s Iranian sources. The factional dispute playing out on the streets of Tehran may well tip over into civil war if pro-opposition dissenters keep up their protest against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election on June 12 by alleged fraud.
The first descent into violence occurred Monday night after the protesters turned out in their tens of thousands in north Tehran to acclaim Mousavi the true winner. According to Radio Tehran, a clash erupted in central Tehran after “thugs’ attacked a military position, leaving seven dead, although the number is estimated reliably at between a dozen and a score, with many wounded.
The size of Monday’s street rally appalled and surprised Iran’s powers-that-be. Nevertheless, they hauled out the ploy first used in the 1998 student uprising in Tehran, by which armed agents provocateur planted in the crowds set fire to buildings and buses. The students were blamed so giving security forces an excuse to crush them.
At the same time, Iran’s supreme ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his regime may be weakening. Iran state TV said the Guardian Council is ready for a recount of the ballots in disputed presidential election areas which may affect the candidates’ tallies. But ruled out the demand to annul the poll. This was after the election losers, Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohsen Rezai, were allowed to present their allegations of election fraud to the council for investigation.
Mousavi’s supporters are meanwhile going ahead with a second rally in Tehran Tuesday afternoon although he has appealed for calm.
Ahmadinejad and his champion, Khamenei, are in a precarious position at a turning-point in the conflict. According to debkafile‘s sources, the rising protest is evolving into dissent against a tyrannical regime swelled by its takeover and orchestration by Mousavi and two leading “reformist” allies now in league: Mousavi, Karroubi and former president Mohammed Khatami whom Ahmadinejad ousted in 2005. Anti-theocracy groups are also jumping aboard the movement.
Nonetheless, on this critical Tuesday, Ahmadinejad took off for Moscow for talks with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and on to Yakaterinburg to attend the Shanghai Co-Operation Organization (SCO), where Iran has observer status.
In Washington, president Barack Obama said he was “troubled” by the violence in Iran. He terminated Dennis Ross’s mission as presidential envoy to Iran, apparently for failing to forewarn him about the critical aftermath of the presidential election.
Our Iranian experts judge that the supreme ruler has three hard options:
1. He could use Monday’s outbreak as a pretext to declare a state of national emergency and start cracking down on dissent before it becomes a general uprising.
2. A rally of pro-Ahmadinejad supporters scheduled to coincide with protesters in Tehran Tuesday afternoon may well lead to more violence and this would further support a national emergency. The danger here is that it could escalate quickly into wholesale civil war.
2. He could let the tough Revolutionary Guards loose on the protesters. That would risk hundreds of dead and thousands of wounded and an admission that the Islamic regime can only rule by repression and the gun.
3. He could use the investigation of vote-rigging allegations which he ordered as an excuse for a recount of ballots or even a new election. This would take Khamenei to the extreme lengths of ditching his protegee the president and turning to the “reformists,” spelling the collapse of all his policies, domestic and external which depended on Ahmadinejad staying in office for another four years.