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The Limits of Mousavi's Ambitions, June 16, 5:25 p.m. IRT
The attempts on Tuesday by opposition presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi to call off a huge protest rally called for by his supporters in Tehran is a prudent move to avoid further bloodshed after yesterday's attacks on demonstrators by supporters of the regime. After all, Ahmadinejad's supporters had scheduled a counterdemonstration of their own for the same part of the city, clearly looking for a fight. But it also reveals a deeper truth about the showdown currently under way: Mousavi represents a faction of the regime (whose key figure is former President Hashemi Rafsanjani) that is vying for power with a rival faction led by Ahmadinejad. The opposition candidate is not even identified as a reformist, as such, but rather a pragmatic conservative who was backed by the reformists because he had a better chance of winning. As fierce as the power struggle within the regime may be, neither side can afford to bring the house down. And that suggests that Mousavi may be reluctant to lead any kind of "people power" challenge to the regime itself. Tony Karon
Varying Views, June 16, 5 p.m. IRT
As Iran's parliamentary speaker Al Larijani purportedly told the West to mind its own business, E.U. spokesman Amadeu Altafaj Tardio said the European Commission is "extremely worried" about the deaths of protesters. Meanwhile, Meir Dagan head of Israel's intelligence agency, Mossad told the Israeli parliament he doesn't think the civil unrest in Iran will last long.
Foreign Media Banned, June 16, 3:45 p.m. IRT
As Mousavi's supporters gather at Valisar Square, the BBC is reporting that foreign media have been banned from covering it in addition to other "unauthorised events." A tweet warns against attending the rally due to claims that armed police will be there in force.
'Ahmadinejad Won': A Contrarian View, June 16, 3:30 p.m. IRT
Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, National Security Council officials on the Iran file under the Bush Administration (who later publicly broke with and denounced its policies) argue on Politico.com that "the shock of the 'Iran experts' [in the U.S.] over Friday's [election] results is entirely self-generated, based on their preferred assumptions and wishful thinking." They remind readers that Ahmadinejad was generally agreed to have a commanding lead in the polls two weeks before voting and that his combative performance in the televised debates had boosted his standing and demoralized the opposition. They sketch the sociology of the incumbent's support base and why it would support him against a candidate backed by the widely disliked establishment heavyweight Hashemi Rafsanjani, against whom Ahmadinejad campaigned. They don't, however, deal with substantive questions about whether and how the votes were counted. The Guardian Council has, after all, ordered a partial recount (meaning that they're going to recount ballots only from voting stations contested by the losing candidates). And obviously, there are hundreds of thousands of people willing to take to the streets to rebut their argument. Still, a timely reminder that nothing is simple in the current political showdown in Iran. Tony Karon
Mousavi Rejects the Recount, June 16, 3 p.m. IRT
Despite Iran's authorities' agreement to recount disputed votes in the presidential election, the main opposition candidate, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, rejected the offer, reiterating his demand for a fresh election, according to CNN. Looks likely that the rival demonstrations planned Tuesday night by supporters of Ahmadinejad and Mousavi will go ahead. Nevertheless, rumors circulate that Mousavi has told supporters the rally shouldn't proceed. But misinformation has been previously employed to try to confuse protesters.
Russia's Show of Support for Ahmadinejad, June 16, 2:30 p.m. IRT
Iran's President attends the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (comprising Russia, China and four Central Asian nations) and also speaks briefly with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov endorses Ahmadinejad and says, "We welcome the fact that the elections have taken place, and we welcome the newly re-elected Iranian President on the Russian soil." During the summit itself, Ahmadinejad says "America is enveloped in economic and political crises, and there is no hope for their resolution." Neither the Iranian election nor unrest were mentioned.