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Filed under: Iran, Middle East, WORLD POLITICS — Rick Moran @ 4:43 pm

I posed this scenario at the end of my Pajamas Media article on the Iranian elections:

It is possible the incumbent actually received a plurality of less than 50% which would have forced a run-off with Mr. Mousavi and the vote fraud was engineered simply to give Ahmadinejad a majority. But whether or not the president won an outright victory is beside the point; the news from Iran almost certainly points to massive fraud undertaken to give President Ahmadinejad a second term.

This from Tehranbureau appears to make fraud a pretty much an open and shut case:


The best evidence for the validity of the arguments of the three opponents of the President for rejecting the results declared by the Interior Ministry is the data the Ministry itself has issued. In the chart below, compiled based on the data released by the Ministry and announced by Iran’s national television, a perfect linear relation between the votes received by the President and Mir Hossein Mousavi has been maintained, and the President’s vote is always half of the President’s. The vertical axis (y) shows Mr. Mousavi’s votes, and the horizontal (x) the President’s. R^2 shows the correlation coefficient: the closer it is to 1.0, the more perfect is the fit, and it is 0.9995, as close to 1.0 as possible for any type of data.

Statistically and mathematically, it is impossible to maintain such perfect linear relations between the votes of any two candidates in any election — and at all stages of vote counting. This is particularly true about Iran, a large country with a variety of ethnic groups who usually vote for a candidate who is ethnically one of their own. For example, in the present elections, Mr. Mousavi is an Azeri and speaks Turkish. The Azeries make up 1/4 of all the eligible voters in Iran and in his trips to Azerbaijan province, where most of the Azeri population lives, Mr. Mousavi had been greeted by huge rallies in support of his campaign. Likewise, Mr. Karroubi, the other reformist candidate, is a Lor. But according to the data released by Iran’s Interior Ministry, in both cases, Mr. Ahmadinejad has far outdone both candidates in their own provinces of birth and among their own ethnic populations.

The question you have to ask is why? Why would the regime so obviously and deliberately fix the election? The mullahs may have insulated themselves and cut themselves off from the rest of the world but they aren’t stupid. Something is not adding up and Laura Rozen over at Foreign Policy’s blog The Cable offers some chilling quotes on what might be happening:

“Yesterday’s events could have a very negative impact on Khamenei’s desires to maintain stability and balance within his administration,” said Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born Middle East analyst. “The question is: what caused him to take such a drastic action, by ordering fraud on such a massive scale?”

“The disappointment and disorientation of people in Iran that I’ve spoken to is unmistakable,” said Parsi. “While a majority argue that this is a coup by Ahmadinejad and Khamenei against virtually the rest of the establishment, there are several question marks: Khamenei, most experts agree, is addicted to the perception of legitimacy for himself and the system. But this coup does away with any chances for such legitimacy. Indeed, it is difficult to see why he would view this situation as terribly favorable.

“Which then raises the question,” Parsi continued, “as to whether a reassessment is needed of the assumption that Khamenei enjoys the position of strength that so often is ascribed to him. If this is not a favorable situation, why is he going along with it? Is he too under pressure from circles in the Guard?”

Ahmadinejad’s biography has a couple of holes in it; specifically his time spent as a senior officer in the Revolutionary Guard’s Qods Force:

Ahmadinejad was reportedly a senior officer in the Special Brigade of the Revolutionary Guards stationed at Ramazan Garrison near Kermanshah in western Iran. This was the headquarters of the Revolutionary Guards’ “Extra-territorial Operations,” for mounting attacks beyond Iran’s borders. Reports suggested that his work in the Revolutionary Guards was related to suppression of dissidents in Iran and abroad. Sources associated him with atrocities in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran and alleged he personally participated in covert operations around the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

With the formation of the elite Qods (Jerusalem; literally ‘Holy’) Force of the IRGC, Ahmadinejad became one of its senior commanders. It was reported that he directed assassinations in the Middle East and Europe, including the assassination of Iranian Kurdish leader Abdorrahman Qassemlou, who was shot dead by senior officers of the Revolutionary Guards in a Vienna flat in July 1989. According to Revolutionary Guard sources, Ahmadinejad was a key planner of the attack. He was also reported to have been involved in planning an attempt on the life of Salman Rushdie.

There is something else too, also from Global Security:

Some outside observers had great difficult understanding Ahmadinejad’s popularity across the country. They were not able to comprehend his ability to out-poll better-known figures, such as former speaker of parliament Mehdi Karrubi or former national police chief Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. The other candidates had been nationally visible for years, and had campaigned throughout the country. Ahmadinejad only became nationally visible after he became Tehran’s mayor. He did not campaign as extensively as his rivals. Some speculated that electoral interference by the Basij and the Guardians Council was the only explaination of this otherwise inexplicable rise to power. Reports suggested there was evidence of vote rigging by Supreme Guide Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his supporters. These claims were publically voiced by Rafsanjani and his supporters after the results of the election were announced.

The Basij Forces, or Mobilization Resistance Force, a volunteer paramilitary militia under the Revolutionary Guards, was called upon to vote for Ahmadinejad and get others to do so. Since its creation Iranian authorities suggested that on mobilization its active numbers could total 1 million individuals or more. Reformists charged that the Basij violated prohibitions against military involvement in politics by mobilizing votes for Ahmadinejad. Although the military was supposed to steer clear of politics in Iran (as seen with the withdrawal of Mohsen Rezaie), it had always played some role. However, it had never been as prominent as it was during the 2005 election.

If the Guard wanted to assert itself, it certainly had the means to do so. Khamenei is supposed to have control of the Guards, thus giving him a power base independent of the army. Could the Revolutionary Guards have threatened Khamenei’s position if he didn’t return the Guard’s favorite, Ahmadinejhad, to power?

I am not an expert on Iranian politics nor on its political culture which I know from my reading is riven with factions and even features factions within factions. It is a labyrinth that few really understand. As recently as two years ago with the Iranian capture of some British troops on an Iraqi waterway, we saw what appeared to be factional disputes among the leadership on what to do with the prisoners. Some wanted to try them for espionage. Others wanted to negotiate. A couple of times it appeared an agreement had been reached to release the Brits only to have the deal fall through. This is how the Islamic Republic has done business for 30 years.

Given what we know of Ahmadinejad’s past association with a powerful element within the Revolutionary Guards as well as the stated reluctance of the Guards to see a “reformer” assume office, there may be more than meets the eye as far as voter fraud in the Iranian election. It may have been some kind of “coup” by the Guards that was clumsy in its execution and obvious in its intent. Yesterday, the Guardian reported that “A Revolutionary Guard warning about not tolerating a “velvet revolution” by the Iranian “greens” has been noted with some alarm.”

All signs point to a stolen election. But the “why” will have to wait a while.


That statistical analysis performed by Tehranbureau above is flawed. Respected political polling blogger Nate Silver shows how, if a similar technique were applied to the results of our own election last November, the same kind of linear result on the graph would show up.

Congrats to Nate on discovering the truth.


  1. I think Kahamenei’s probably too smart an old bird to pull something this ham-fisted. This has the look and taste and feel of crude manipulation by crude people. I’ll bet a box of cigars it’s the Revolutionary Guard.

    I wonder if the Iranian military will tolerate this. This just moved Iran a big step closer to Israeli or American jets flying over Teheran, and that’s not something professional military would want to see.

    By the way, Nate Silver has become indispensable, hasn’t he?

    Yes, Nate is THE goto guy on technical stuff like this. And his polling analysis is scary good.

    If it was the Rev Guards, that means that Khamenei is not in control - not good. He changed the leadership of the Guards two years ago for no apparent reason although in that Byzantine cuckoo land, no apparent reason is probably good enough.

    It could be another faction also, don’t forget. Khamenei has been reported as sickly so it could be this election was a bid for the future by one of the other factions. And don’t believe anything Rafsanjani says. He may be with the “reformers” on this fraud charge but he is perfectly capable of carrying off a fraud like this using his own power sources.


    Comment by michael reynolds — 6/13/2009 @ 5:22 pm

  2. Nobody really knows the extent of fraud in Iran except the rulers. I guess Ahmadinejad has some following in the poorer and rural areas. However, be that as it may, there is a significant portion of the Persian population that have had it with their regime. Those are the folks we should show solidarity with and help them any way we can. It also is very difficult to unseat a pretty ruthless government that controls thugs, police and the army. I admire their courage and I’m sad I can’t do more.

    Here are some pics from the Spiegel:

    Comment by funny man — 6/13/2009 @ 5:25 pm

  3. I sneaked peaked at the comments at Pajamas Media and it never ceases to amaze me how Americans, left and right, are so fixated on their national politics that they really believe everything good or bad originates from here. Now it is true that the United States is a powerful country but just think about this scenario. A week before the election Angela Merkel comes to Washington and gives a speech at a university. Suddenly all the national politics are forgotten, jobs, the military, abortion don’t matter anymore and in a dramatic turnaround McCain wins the election. Sounds realistic? So please don’t see everything through the Obama speech in Cairo or do you think even the most brilliant speech in Merkel’s career would have even made a dent in the American election?
    The Iranians have their battles to fight and we should support the people who want something else than their Islamic Republic and that is something I think we can all, liberals and conservatives alike, agree on.

    Comment by funny man — 6/13/2009 @ 6:32 pm

  4. Juan Cole (http://www.juancole.com/2009/06/stealing-iranian-election.html) isn’t liking the look of this election, likening it to a “crime scene”. There does seem to be a suspicious deficit of variation in the results. This election may play out in the streets.

    Comment by Bill Arnold — 6/13/2009 @ 6:47 pm

  5. Noted Iran expert and fmr NSC official Gary Sick joins you and others in calling it a probable military coup of sorts:


    Its amazing that they are essentially laying down the gauntlet daring an Israeli attack at some point. Had they let Mousavi win, policies would not have changed much but Obama would feel was dealing with a more amenable figure than Ahmadinejhad and this would have slowed any timetable down for an Israeli attack.

    Where the pieces will fall in a few days is anyone’s guess, but it seems they have really chosen to become a hard authoritarian country with no pretenses at rights or freedoms.

    Comment by Eddie — 6/13/2009 @ 6:51 pm

  6. Nate Silver’s analysis is itself flawed. Look at the comments where numerous problems with Silver’s analysis are pointed out (e.g., not taking into accout 85% vote count, using final state numbers, using the vote by states in alphabetical order, etc.) — all showing that his US election comparison doesn’t replicate the Iranian reporting being criticized.

    Comment by RJL — 6/13/2009 @ 6:58 pm

  7. [...] 14, 2009 · No Comments There’s a great article here at Right Wing Nut House. Turns out that all the mullahs in Iran needed was a spreadsheet to [...]

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