Pundita is not pulling your leg. For years now he's been predicting the exact voter turnout in Iran's elections, right down to the last fraction. He did it again for last week's presidential election. He predicted the voter turnout to be 62.7% and by gum it was 62.7% -- what are those chair scraping sounds? Hey, wait! I get first dibs on an audience with the Aytollah! I already have my winnings spent!
All right, if you want to be that way -- Jafarzadeh told Batchelor that the highest estimates of actual voter turnout, from uncensored reports from polling stations all across Iran, are about 10%.
Can we infer from the low turnout that President Bush's hard words about the 'unelection' inspired more Iranians to stay away from the polls than the regime in Tehran let on? I'd say no.
The inspiration came from an imprisoned Iranian reformer named Hashem Aghajari. In 2004 his wife managed to smuggle a letter from him out of the prison.
In the letter, he called on the nation to send a message to the ruling establishment by boycotting the polls.Pundita doubts you would have read that news in the major European (or American) press; the above quote is from a report in the Taipei Times -- Taiwan a place that really knows what it is to struggle for freedom from despotism.
"The sham election is the end of reforms within the establishment. The Iranian nation has learned now that there is no hope of a democratic change under the ruling system," Aghajari wrote in a letter from Evin prison, where he is serving a four-year term for questioning clerical rule.
There had been considerable agonizing in Iran during the runup to this election about whether to heed Aghajari's call for boycott. The argument was that even if they boycotted, the Supreme Council would stuff the ballots anyhow to make it look to the outside world as if there was good voter turnout.
On the other hand -- to participate in a stage show, in which the election candidates and winner were pre-selected by the Supreme Council, would send a message of weak resolve to the regime. From the low election turnout, it seems the boycott faction won the debate.
President Bush spoke out in response to repeated fervent requests from many Iranian pro-democracy reformers who believe European governments, and the Chinese and Russian governments, are collaborating with the Iranian regime because of business ties with the regime. The reformers represent more than 80% of the Iranian people.
Bush went as far as diplomatic speech would allow to give a friendly warning to our dear allies and trading partners that it's really not nice to keep supporting a tyrannical regime made up of murderers. That was all the Iranian pro-democracy citizens were hoping for: that some government outside Iran -- any government -- would stand up and tell the world that the election was a sham.
That Bush spoke out surely gave a psychological boost to Iranians who had decided to boycott, but that can't be construed as meddling -- no matter how much the Tehran regime and the European press might try to spin it as such.
For more on the call for a boycott, read the full report in the Taipei Times.
As to who is going to win the runoff, let me race to the crystal ball and take a peek. I see...I see....I see that for some years Rafsanjani has had a warrant out for his arrest in Germany for the murder of Kurdish nationalists. That means he can't step in any EU country without landing in the slammer -- unless he steps on EU soil with the immunity accorded a presidential figure.
Well, the warranty expired in 1906 but crystal ball seems to be saying that once again Rafsanjani can stay at the Ritz. As to how he would get along with America's next Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton -- now that Pundita can predict with 100% accuracy!
* From the biography on the John Batchelor Show website:
Alireza Jafarzadeh is the president of Strategic Policy Consulting, Inc. He is also a FOX News Channel foreign affairs analyst. Alireza Jafarzadeh is a well-known authority in issues relating to terrorism, and Islamic fundamentalism in Iraq, Iran, and the Middle East; Iran's nuclear weapons program; and its internal political developments, including the anti-government demonstrations, the student movement, and human rights..
The international concerns about Iran's nuclear weapons program [had] largely arisen from Jafarzadeh's stunning revelations about [seven] major previously secret nuclear sites, including the sites in Natanz, Arak, Karaj, Ab-Ali, and Tehran.
Jafarzadeh revealed the existence of Natanz uranium enrichment facility, and Arak's heavy water facility in August 2002, Ab-Ali centrifuge testing facility near Tehran in February 2003, two additional nuclear sites near Karaj in May 2003, and two other new nuclear sites in Kolahdouz military complex in Tehran, and Ardekan in July 2003.
He unveiled the details of Iran's development of bio-weapons in May 2003, and had previously provided valuable information about the Shahab-3 medium range missile. On April 27, 2004, Jafarzadeh revealed information that Iran, using some 400 nuclear experts, is now running a secret nuclear weapons program supervised by the military and the Supreme Leader parallel to their overt nuclear energy program. Jafarzadeh had previously unveiled in March, a secret meeting held earlier by Iran's senior officials where they decided to speed up their nuclear weapons program, while faking cooperation with the IAEA.
He first disclosed the details of Iran's involvement in the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, in 1997, and the Jewish Community Center bombing in Argentina in 1993.
Jafarzadeh has lectured in Georgetown University, University of Michigan, and National War College, and has been a frequent speaker at briefings, hearings and luncheons at the US Congress, the United Nations, Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, and the Morning Newsmaker Program at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
Prior to becoming a contributor for FOX News Channel, and until August 2003, Jafarzadeh acted for a dozen years as the chief congressional liaison and media spokesperson for the US representative office of Iran's parliament in exile, the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
Jafarzadeh earned his Bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, and his Master's degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas, in Austin.