Photos: Iran elections

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  1. Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, top, looks at judiciary chief Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, right, as he embraces Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after he was sworn in for a second four-year term during a ceremony in parliament in Tehran on August 5, 2009. Ahmadinejad was sworn in as Iranian president as riot police broke up opposition protests over an election that triggered the worst turmoil in the Islamic republic's history. Framed pictures are portraits of Iranian "martyrs". (Behrouz Mehri / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. An Iranian protester holds-up a placard as a burned U.S. flag is seen on the ground during an anti-Britain protest in front of the British embassy in Tehran on Tuesday, June 23. Iran accused U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday of interfering in its state affairs in his comments about the Islamic Republic's disputed June 12 election, the ISNA news agency reported. (Fars News via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. This photograph posted on the internet shows two Iranian women taking cover from a cloud of either tear gas or smoke at an anti-government protest in Tehran, Iran Saturday, June 20. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Supporters of Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi fight running battles with riot police on Saturday, June 20, in Tehran. Several thousand defied an ultimatum from Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, calling for an end to protests over last week's disputed presidential election results. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A Mousavi supporter holds a toy gun in his hand to intimidate police and militia during Saturday's protests. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Mousavi supporters run from tear gas fired by riot police in Tehran on Saturday. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Iranian protesters cover their face from tear gas during clashes with riot police in Tehran on Saturday. (Ali Safari / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. A Mousavi supporter shows her hand covered in the blood of a person injured Saturday. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. A protester cheers as a bus burns in Tehran on Saturday. (Ali Safari / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. People tend to an injured woman as supporters of Mousavi protest in Tehran on Saturday. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, front right, leads the weekly Friday prayer at Tehran University. Khamenei called for an end to street protests, siding with declared winner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in his first public appearance since the protests began. (Behrouz Mehri / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Khamenei makes his address as part of Friday prayers at Tehran University. He spoke a day after hundreds of thousands of protesters in black and green flooded the streets of Tehran in a somber, candlelit show of mourning for those killed in clashes after Iran's disputed presidential election. (Morteza Nikoubazl / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,left, talks to Judiciary Chief Mahmood Hashemi Shahroodi during Friday prayers in Tehran. (Morteza Nikoubazl / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. An Iranian man listens to Khamenei's Friday prayer sermon outside Tehran University on Friday. (Olivier Laban-Mattei / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Iranian men shout slogans outside Tehran University on Friday during the Ayatollah's speech. (Olivier Laban-Mattei / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Mir Hossein Mousavi, center, acknowledges the crowd during a demonstration Thursday in Tehran where his supporters gathered to honor demonstrators killed in clashes over the disputed election. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Iranian supporters of Mousavi gather in the streets Thursday in Tehran. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Candles are lit for the demonstrators who were killed on June 16. In the background, a slogan that reads 'Death to dictator' is seen on a Tehran street on Thursday. (Ali Zare / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Iranian supporters of defeated opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi demonstrate Wednesday, June 17, in Tehran, Iran. Thousands of people are protesting in the streets of Tehran today with expectations of an even larger protest Thursday as a day of mourning is planned for the eight people killed in Monday's protests. Iran has banned foreign media from covering rallies in the country. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Iranian supporters of defeated reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi demonstrate on June 17, 2009 in Tehran, Iran. Iran's Guardian Council reportedly said that they would recount some of the votes in presidential election that critics say was unfairly won by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinehjad. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. A broken computer monitor in a room in a Tehran University dormitory after it was attacked by militia forces during riots in Tehran, Monday, June 15, Iran. Overnight, police and militia stormed the campus at the city's biggest university, ransacking dormitories and arresting dozens of students angry over what they claim was election fraud. Iran's media clampdown seeks to restrict what its citizens and the world can see of street protests. But it's the Internet age, and protesters can take video and photos with cellphones and transmit them over the Web - a huge change from the primitive communications during Iran's 1979 revolution. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. A demonstrator shows a picture of former presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi during a rally in support of Mousavi near the Azadi (Freedom) monument, western Tehran on Monday. (Caren Firouz / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Demonstrators stand on railings to get a view of the crowds, next to posters of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as hundreds of thousands of supporters of leading opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who claims there was voting fraud in Friday's election, turn out to protest the result of the election at a mass rally in Azadi square in Tehran, Iran, Monday, June 15. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. A man wounded by gunfire is removed from an area where pro-government militia were firing shots in the air near a rally supporting leading opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi in Tehran, Iran, Monday. Hundreds of thousands gathered in Azadi (Freedom) square in Tehran to support Mir Hossein Mousavi, who claims there was voting fraud in Friday's election. (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, center, addresses supporters as he attends a rally with his wife Zahra Rahnavard in Tehran on Monday. (Olivier Laban-Mattei / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. A man lies on the back of a taxi, after being seriously injured by gunfire in an area where pro-government militia were firing shots in the air at a rally supporting leading opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi in Tehran, Iran, Monday. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Protestors set fires in a main street in Tehran, Iran early on Monday morning. Iran's supreme leader ordered an investigation into allegations of election fraud on Monday. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Iranian plain clothes policemen beat a demonstrator with batons during a protest against the election results in Tehran on Sunday. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Supporters of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cry as he addresses them during a victory celebration on Sunday. (Damir Sagolj / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. President Ahmadinejad on Sunday holds his first news conference after Iran's controversial presidential election on Friday. (Damir Sagolj / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Mousavi supporters try to calm fellow demonstrators as they clash with a riot policeman in Tehran on Saturday. (Olivier Laban-Mattei / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Smoke billows from a burning bus as a supporter of Mousavi flashes the victory sign during a protest in Tehran on Saturday. (Olivier Laban-Mattei / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Iranian riot police clear burning debris as supporters of the defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi fought running battles using stones and petrol bombs against police on Saturday. (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. A Mousavi supporter hurls a stone at an Iranian police officer during riots on Saturday. (Olivier Laban-Mattei / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. An injured Mousavi supporter covers his face during riots in Tehran on Saturday. (Olivier Laban-Mattei / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. An Iranian riot-police officer sprays tear-gas at a Mousavi supporter, who is advancing with a stick on Saturday. (Olivier Laban-Mattei / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Ahmadinejad supporters flash the victory sign during celebrations in the Shiite holy city of Qom, about 70 miles south of Tehran, on Saturday. (Amir Hesami / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Supporters of the reformist candidate protest the declaration of victory for Ahmadinejad on Saturday. Their preferred candidate, Mousavi, denounced the results as "treason." (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Anna Seyedan casts her vote for president of Iran as her daughter Sameen watches on Friday at a polling place in Potomac, Md., for Iranian citizens living in the Washington area. Iran was voting on whether to keep hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power for four more years or replace him with a candidate more open to loosening the country's Islamic restrictions and improving ties with the United States. (Jonathan Ernst / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Iranian women stand in line to cast their votes at Masoumeh shrine in Qum, about 75 miles south of Tehran on Friday. (Kamran Jebreili / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Ahmadinejad holds his passport up as he arrives to cast his ballot during the Iranian presidential election on Friday. (Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Leading challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi holds his inked finger aloft after casting his vote with his wife Zahra Rahnavard. (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. An Iranian woman casts her ballot in the presidential elections in a polling station in Tehran. (Behrouz Mehri / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. Iranian clerics check candidates' list before voting at the shrine of Hazrat-e Massoumeh, granddaughter of Prophet Mohammad, in the city of Qom. (Damir Sagolj / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech after casting his vote to elect a new president at his office in Tehran. (Olivier Laban-Mattei / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  46. A supporter of Ahmadinejad rides a motorcycle featuring a windshield covered with campaign posters during a rally in Tehran on June 10. (Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  47. Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of Mousavi, holds her husband's photograph during a campaign rally in Tehran on June 9. (Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  48. A supporter of Ahmadinejad displays her hand painted with the Iranian flag at his final election campaign rally in Tehran on June 10. (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  49. Supporters of Mousavi hold a rally in downtown Tehran on Monday, June 8. (Arash Khamooshi / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Behrouz Mehri / AFP - Getty Images
    Above: Slideshow (49) Iran election sparks violence - Iran elections
  2. Image:
    Walter Bieri / AP
    Slideshow (42) Iran election sparks violence - World reaction
  3. Shah Of Persia
    General Photographic Agency / Getty Images
    Slideshow (15) Iran election sparks violence - Iran's perilous path
  4. AP
    Slideshow (5) Iran election sparks violence - Protests: Then and now
updated 6/15/2009 11:32:16 AM ET 2009-06-15T15:32:16
ANALYSIS

Gary G. Sick, who worked on Iranian affairs for three U.S. administrations, says the reelection of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad amounted to an internal political coup that stole victory from Mir-Hossein Moussavi. Sick says that it would be wise, however, for the Obama administration to say as little as possible about the election right now, so as to not undercut the Iranian opposition.

"No matter what was said or done by the administration, it would be interpreted as intervention and would actually undercut severely the position of the reformists as they would be tagged as ‘tools of the West,'" he says. He says it remains important over the long run to engage Iran in negotiations on making sure its nuclear program remains peaceful.

CFR's Bernard Gwertzman: The events in Iran over the last several days surprised almost everybody.  Almost everybody in the country thought it would be a very close presidential election with the chief challenger, Mir-Hossein Moussavi, having a good chance of winning.  The announcements of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's "victory" seemed to come before the votes could have been counted. Do you think this was an internal political coup?

Gary G. Sick: I agree with you. I really do believe that the talk during the election campaign by Moussavi's people of a Green Wave was beginning to be interpreted as a Green Revolution.  And Iran and its leaders have been absolutely paranoid in the last several years, demonstrated by the arrest of several people who have been accused of having associations in the West and allegedly seeking something like a "Velvet Revolution" [term used in Czechoslovakia to mark the collapse of the communist government in 1989]. 

The fact that they've cracked down so hard in the last couple of days is a clear indication that they were worried about things moving outside their control. It was a huge gamble on their part and they didn't realize that this has been tremendously unpopular in the rest of the world and that it reduced their legitimacy. 

They were really very foolish but it seems that they were willing to gamble because they were more concerned about their own power structure than about the way they are perceived in Iran or in the rest of the world.

Only time will tell what the implications are within Iran. I suspect that many of the clerics who are not enamored of Ahmadinejad are very upset at this development, don't you?
We really haven't heard from the senior clergy thus far. There are reports that Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani [a former president] who is a powerful figure in his own right, and somebody who was supporting Moussavi, and who was on the attack against Ahmadinejad when the elections took place, has gone to Qum to talk to the senior clerics. If so, this would be an attempt to accumulate support from that quarter.

There are many senior clerics that have never been that happy, first of all, with the whole idea of an Islamic Republic but also about Ahmadinejad in particular.  He was snubbed by them after he became president. They don't like his sort of pop spiritualism. They don't like the idea that he sets an extra place for the Mahdi [under Shiite tradition, the Twelfth Imam, a messiah figure] at the table to return.

And if Rafsanjani is doing what the reports say, it would be understandable as a way of mobilizing support in an area that really matters to the Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei and also to Ahmadinejad. Video: Probe ordered

Why do you think Khamenei moved like this?  He had to have given his approval to this whole internal coup.  Do you think he himself was scared of losing power?
The role of the Supreme Leader is deliberately shrouded in mystery. It's one of those things that people in Iran speculate about. There are all kinds of conspiracy theories that perhaps Khamenei didn't know about this, or that he was accidentally behind it and so forth. We never know the truth. And he keeps his counsel to himself.

Several of Khamenei's supporters have come out publicly-people like Ali Larijani, who is the speaker of the Majlis [parliament], and who, though a bitter opponent of Ahmadinejad, has now gone public in support of the election. This is probably not so much about what happened in the election as it is a reiteration of Larijani's position that he supports the Supreme Leader.

And if that is the case-if he is in fact making this statement even though he personally is opposed to Ahmadinejad-that suggests that the Supreme Leader wanted this to happen and is requesting that his closest lieutenants back him up on this. So on the basis of the evidence we've got so far, my reading is that it couldn't have happened without Khamenei's knowledge; it was much too orchestrated and premeditated, and now that it's over, supporters of Khamenei are coming in to support him.

It looks like the votes were never really counted, they just decided to announce a victory, right?
The timing of the thing suggests if in fact there was a record turnout, 85 percent to 86 percent of the population voting, the fact that they could announce the results about the time the polls closed or not very long afterwards, obviously, even if they had the world's best voting machines, they would not have been able to do that. And they don't use voting machines-they have people dropping their ballots into boxes which have to be opened and counted.

The fact that this was a stolen election is not in doubt at all. The kind of information they put out — and then the fact that as the polls were closing they deployed police and military forces and paramilitary all over Tehran, they surrounded the Interior Ministry — they closed down Facebook sites, Twitter, mobile phones were all turned off, and regular news sites were blocked.  Those things don't happen instantly — they had to be planned, they had to be organized.

And the reality is that they were expecting a severe reaction, which is what they got, and they were fully prepared to meet force with force. And that is what they have done.

Starting back in the Ford administration, you were on the National Security Council staff dealing with Iran and other issues. If you were on the National Security Council staff today, what advice would you offer the current administration about proceeding with its announcements that it wanted to have a direct dialogue with Iran.  Should this lead it to have second thoughts?
First of all, if I were on the NSC, my first piece of advice would be to do as little as possible. There is a battle going on inside Iran. This is an issue that is going to be fought out by Iranians — there's nothing to be gained by external forces coming into this or trying to influence the outcome.

That would be a terrible mistake, and no matter what was said or done by the administration, it would be interpreted as intervention and would actually undercut severely the position of the reformists as they would be tagged as "tools of the West." So basically "do nothing for now" is not a bad piece of advice.

As regards to where we come out on this in the end, it's clear that the task of starting some kind of discussion or negotiations with Iran is going to be infinitely more complicated than it was before. It wasn't easy from the beginning — and anybody who thought it would be an easy task didn't understand the problem.

But now after this internal coup and all the coverage it has received, those people in the United States and particularly in Israel who really opposed the idea of having negotiations with Iran — who favored a pressure strategy to build up more sanctions and so on — are now going to use their clout in Congress and elsewhere to slow down or stop the process.

So it's not that we can't talk to the Iranian government — obviously it's going to be harder to talk to an Ahmadinejad government after it's stolen the election — but the real problem is a domestic one. The administration is going to have to overcome a whole series of domestic hurdles which previously had been in abeyance.

And of course the administration is still committed, as are the Europeans, to getting Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment program.
That problem has not changed. The problem has been and remains preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. The fact is we've tried a pressure strategy for more than ten years going all the way back to the Clinton administration. Now after more than ten years of putting pressure on Iran they have far greater capacity than they had when we started.

This has to tell us something about the policy. So the real question is what will work? What can you do that will actually have an effect? And the fact is that the only thing that's remaining for us to do is to actually talk to Iran about what we want, what they want, and look for common ground. It's not going to be easy. But it hasn't been tried, and the other things we've been doing haven't worked.

People who say we haven't been tough enough with our sanctions are completely missing the point. Every time we've imposed sanctions, at whatever level, however stringent, Iran has upped its program not reduced it. We need to be aware of that and think of what we can do. We probably will have to accept Iranian enrichment in one form or another.

The trick is how do you monitor that and control it and get Iran's cooperation in insuring that the low-enriched uranium they are producing is not transformed into high-enriched uranium, and into nuclear weapons. That's the objective and that's still something we can talk about with Iran. They have an interest in finding some kind of agreement with the international community and we have a strong interest in getting them to back off and basically agree to a form of surveillance or monitoring that we've not had thus far.

Do you think the events of June 12 and 13 will be remembered by Iranians as they still remember the events of August 1953 when Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh was overthrown in a coup that was backed by the United States and Britain?
I really do see this as a kind of historic turning point. A commentator from Iran just today sent me a note saying that the Islamic republic is dead, that basically it was based on a concept of listening to the people and having the support of the people for Islamic programs. That was the nature of the Islamic constitution and it's what [Ayatollah Ruhollah Musavi] Khomeini [Iran's first Supreme Leader] said he wanted to do.

In effect now they are saying "forget about the Iranian people — we don't care what they say or what they think. We're not going to listen to them." Basically it means that Iran is moving from what had been a decent experiment of being an Islamic Republic to being a totalitarian dictatorship.

Now it isn't at that point yet but it is a step in that direction which is going to be unmistakable to a lot of people in Iran and they will remember this. How will it resonate fifty years from now, I don't know.  But it clearly demonstrated to many, many people in Iran that they were simply ignored.

They had been asked to go out and vote; they had been allowed a certain amount of freedom to say what they thought. There were demonstrations, there was great excitement. Then the regime simply thumbs its nose at them and says, "OK, that was a mistake, now we're going to tell you what you need to do."

To me it would seem to be very important what happens to Moussavi. Right now he hasn't been heard since he issued his statement saying that the election is a farce and that it had been stolen from him. Do you think he will be put in a kind of exile in the country?
In answer to your question about how will this be remembered, a lot of whether this will be remembered or not depends on what happens next.

For instance, Mr. Mossadegh in 1967 died in internal exile. Will Moussavi be treated the same way?  People look at the events of 1953 and say "well that took away what was a potentially democratic process and imposed a dictatorship of the Shah." And that's what they remember.

Will that be what they remember about this, that it took away what little voice the people had in Iran and instead put in place a dictatorship? If that is the way it's perceived, then yes there's a real chance that many years from now this will be recalled as a turning point.

Copyright 2013 by Council on Foreign Relations

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