Obama: Ahmadinejad and Mousavi not very different
Date: Friday, June 19, 2009 @ 22:46:39 EDT
Topic: Soetoro


SABINA AMIDI

TEHERAN

US President Barack Obama said Tuesday that there was not much difference between the policies of incumbent Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who supporters have led nation-wide protests against Friday's election results.

riots in Teheran

Election riots in Teheran

"It's important to understand that although there is amazing ferment taking place in Iran, the difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi in terms of their actual policies may not be as great as has been advertised," Obama told CNBC news.

"Either way we were going to be dealing with an Iranian regime that has historically been hostile to the United States, that has caused some problems in the neighborhood and has been pursuing nuclear weapons," he said.

On Tuesday two protesters told The Jerusalem Post that Palestinian Hamas members are helping the Iranian authorities crush street protests in support of Mousavi.

They made their allegations as rioting on a scale unseen in Iran for nearly a decade continued in the wake of the elections and the allegations that the results were falsified. The protests have now spread from Teheran to other major cities.



Mousavi insisted on Tuesday that he would "protect" his supporters' votes "at all cost, even if I am at risk."

Shouting from a car roof to a roaring crowd of supporters, he declared: "The pillars of the revolution have been shaken... We must not be silent."

Hamas formally welcomed incumbent Ahmadinejad's ostensible reelection victory on Saturday. The Palestinian Islamist movement receives arms and funding from Iran, and its members have often received training there, including in terror tactics and weapons manufacture.

Despite a massive crackdown on dissent, thousands of protesters rallied again in Teheran on Tuesday night in support of Mousavi, following reports that up to 20 people had been killed by security forces at rallies across Iran against the disputed results of last week's presidential elections.

Pro-government gunmen, reportedly opening fire on protesters, killed at least seven people on Monday night and others have been wounded.

State radio reports claimed that the victims were trying to loot weapons and to vandalize public property, and were shot by unidentified gunmen.

People claiming to have witnessed the shootings, however, insist that the victims were peaceful demonstrators, including students from Teheran university. "There are so many crimes, beatings and killings that have yet to be reported. When we fight back, it is for our own protection," said a young man passing out flyers with the names of those he said were murdered Teheran University students.

Among those named were Fatima Brahati, Kasra Sharafi, Kambiz Shahi, Mohsen Emani and Mina Ahtrami. Their bodies are said to have been secretly buried by government loyalists.

Amid the violence, confusion and government restrictions on communication, the accuracy of conflicting accounts is hard to ascertain.

"The most important thing that I believe people outside of Iran should be aware of," the young man went on, "is the participation of Palestinian forces in these riots."

Another protester, who spoke as he carried a kitchen knife in one hand and a stone in the other, also cited the presence of Hamas in Teheran.

On Monday, he said, "my brother had his ribs beaten in by those Palestinian animals. Taking our people's money is not enough, they are thirsty for our blood too."

It was ironic, this man said, that the victorious Ahmadinejad "tells us to pray for the young Palestinians, suffering at the hands of Israel." His hope, he added, was that Israel would "come to its senses" and ruthlessly deal with the Palestinians.

When asked if these militia fighters could have been mistaken for Lebanese Shi'ites, sent by Hizbullah, he rejected the idea. "Ask anyone, they will tell you the same thing. They [Palestinian extremists] are out beating Iranians in the streets… The more we gave this arrogant race, the more they want… [But] we will not let them push us around in our own country."

Israeli intelligence officials said on Tuesday that while the regime's decision to allow a partial recount of the presidential vote was "interesting," it was "highly unlikely" Mousavi would be declared the winner of last Friday's vote.

Defense officials told The Jerusalem Post there was little chance the Guardian Council would overturn its declaration that incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the winner since it would be an embarrassment to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who endorsed the results. The most that could be expected, officials said, was that the results would be changed by a few percentage points in Mousavi's favor.

A witness said the pro-Mousavi rally stretched more than 1.5 kilometers and security forces did not interfere with the demonstration.

Other witnesses said about 100 people were still protesting in front of state TV late on Tuesday night after the government barred foreign media from covering rallies in Teheran - even the state-organized demonstration earlier in the day, where government officials urged the crowd not to let the election divide the nation and said the unrest would not threaten Iran's Islamic system.

Thousands of people waving Iranian flags and pictures of the country's supreme leader massed at a rally organized by the clerical regime in an apparent attempt to reclaim the streets hours after saying it would recount some disputed presidential ballots.

Khamenei on Monday ordered the Guardian Council, an unelected body composed of 12 clerics and experts in Islamic law closely allied to the supreme leader, to investigate the election results after he met with Mousavi on Sunday. Mousavi also sent a letter to Khamenei outlining his allegations.

A spokesman for the Guardian Council, Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, was quoted on state TV as saying the recount would be limited to voting sites where candidates claim irregularities took place. He did not rule out the possibility of canceling the results, saying doing so was within the council's powers, although nullifying an election would be an unprecedented step.

Jerusalem Post



Little different, eh, Obama?

Another protester, who spoke as he carried a kitchen knife in one hand and a stone in the other, also cited the presence of Hamas in Teheran.

On Monday, he said, "my brother had his ribs beaten in by those Palestinian animals. Taking our people's money is not enough, they are thirsty for our blood too."

It was ironic, this man said, that the victorious Ahmadinejad "tells us to pray for the young Palestinians, suffering at the hands of Israel." His hope, he added, was that Israel would "come to its senses" and ruthlessly deal with the Palestinians.

When asked if these militia fighters could have been mistaken for Lebanese Shi'ites, sent by Hizbullah, he rejected the idea. "Ask anyone, they will tell you the same thing. They [Palestinian extremists] are out beating Iranians in the streets… The more we gave this arrogant race, the more they want… [But] we will not let them push us around in our own country."





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