(I Ran: deal with it!)
In re: the electoral debacle in Iran, Juan Cole, as expected, has the definitive answers. Not only on the recent history and trends, but on how the election was likely stolen:
I am aware of the difficulties of catching history on the run. Some explanation may emerge for Ahmadinejad's upset that does not involve fraud. For instance, it is possible that he has gotten the credit for spreading around a lot of oil money in the form of favors to his constituencies, but somehow managed to escape the blame for the resultant high inflation.Some Neocon idiots, and perhaps even some misguided naifs on the left might suggest we interfere. Here's why that's a monumentally bad idea.
But just as a first reaction, this post-election situation looks to me like a crime scene. And here is how I would reconstruct the crime.
As the real numbers started coming into the Interior Ministry late on Friday, it became clear that Mousavi was winning. Mousavi's spokesman abroad, filmmaker Mohsen Makhbalbaf, alleges that the ministry even contacted Mousavi's camp and said it would begin preparing the population for this victory.
In 1951 the Persian Parliament elected Mohammed Mossadegh as Prime Minister. No one disputes this democratic election. Mossadegh was popular, and western friendly. But he also thought that the U.S. & British profits from the Iranian oil fields, negotiated as usual with heavy favoritism to the colonial powers, were unfair. He tried to negotiate a 50/50% split with the Anglo-Iranian Oil company (AIOC) nad was rebuffed. Aramco had recently set up the same profit deal with Saudi Arabia, so the proposal was not out of line. Except to BP (British Petroleum).
Frustrated by Britain's stubbornness, Mossadegh nationalized the oil industry. While the Iranian populace was happy, western interests were furious. 10 Downing St. tried to talk then-Pres. Truman into helping engineer a coup, but were rebuffed.
Shortly after Eisenhower's inauguration, Allen Dulles & Kermit Roosevelt were tasked with organizing a coup. With the CIA's assistance, it came to fruition in August of '53 when Mossadegh was arrested. Much of this information is freely available, and the Wikipedia entry on Mossadegh is quite thorough. Yes, I know it's Wikipedia, but if you trudge through the cites and footnotes, it's all there.
Bottom line is that the ouster of Mossadegh and the return, again U.S. arranged, of Shah Reza Pahlavi, really pissed off the Iranian people. And many of them were slow to forgive. This pretty directly led to the revolution of '79 and the capture of the U.S. Embassy & hostages.
Iran is a young country; 2/3 of the population is under 30. And they're fairly western-friendly, and reform minded. And while Mousavi is not, by any western standards, a liberal or a reformer, he is a radical leftist compared to Ahmedinejad.
So if we really want to throw Iran under the bus, inflame Arab moderates, and generally infuriate the entire region, let's send the CIA and the U.S. military to clean up the election results. Because it worked so well the last time.