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Power Struggle in Iran

The struggle within the power elite in Iran has spilled over into the streets and now threatens the theocracy.

The statement by Islamic Republic of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, soon after the presidential elections, that the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a “divine assessment” summed up the whole campaign and the outcome well. President Ahmadinejad, according to official results, won the elections by capturing 66% of the votes in the first round of the polls, defeating three of his challengers, including his chief o pponent and “reformist” Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who, it is said, garnered 33%, enough to rule out further rounds of polling.

Three events on polling day stand out. Less than three hours after voting had ended, more than 80% of the close to 40 million ballots that had been cast were “counted”. The official results showed that Mousavi had trailed not only in Tehran and other cities, but was also way behind Ahmadinejad in his stronghold Azeri areas such as Tabriz. Soon after polling, there was a massive shutdown of communication systems and the military was on the streets, and then Ahmadinejad was declared the winner. Unwilling to accept the results, Ahmadinejad’s opponents cried foul and, following unprecedented protests on the streets of Iran’s biggest cities, a partial recount was ordered by the powerful Guardian Council.

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