Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Iran: Blogging the Revolution in the Aftermath of Sham Elections

Updates and additional resources for June 17, 2009

I’ve added some additional news and opinion resources from Germany (Deutsche Welle, Atlantic Community Initiative in Berlin) along with blog posts and reports from the Middle East Institute in Washington DC. Veteran foreign correspondent/editor Lindsey Hilsum from ITN CH4 News (UK) has been doing a good job of covering the Iranian elections so I have added her reports to the reading list. Last but not least I am including the Iranian-American powered website Tehran Bureau along with Iran’s new online global news channel in English, Press TV. Like many people worldwide I am anxiously waiting for the big showdown tomorrow in the streets of Tehran by opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi’s supporters. Let’s hope that the rally goes off peacefully and achieves its objective of forcing a repeat of the election in a fair and transparent manner___ if that is at all possible under the present regime.

Original post from June 16, 2009

The minute-by-minute news following the disputed Iranian elections of June 12th is breaking so fast it is very difficult to follow let alone compose a blog post. As of this writing a number of international news teams in Iran are reporting that the Iranian government has ordered a lockdown on foreign journalists from reporting about the (illegal) protest rallies of the opposition. However, the foreign press and media in the country are free to report about the ongoing pro-government rallies in support of the incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

It has been clear for several days now that the Iranian Internet Police and security forces have not been very successful in preventing supporters of the opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi from using the Internet and mobile communications to communicate with one another and the outside world. This is understandable when one realizes that young Iranians have been some of the most avid contributors over the past few years to social media technologies and the practice of free speech on blogs and social networking platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. The Iranian sector of the blogosphere is one of the largest and most sophisticated online communities in the world so the Iranian internal security forces are up against some of the most tech-savvy young people online. These dynamic young people have lots of friends and supporters right around the globe that are eager to help them outmaneuver the Iranian regime’s cyber-police. Therefore the use of Internet filters and blocking software by the security forces in Iran is of no use forcing them to resort to the old-fashioned way of shutting down opposition voices___ guns and batons and torture and intimidation.

What has also been interesting to watch is the cooperation between mainstream news media and blog authors during the run up to the elections and the days since the announcement of the disputed election results (see CNN iReport/Iran). Where in the past these two groups regularly exchanged insults and harsh criticisms of each other’s performance in covering and reporting relevant news stories, today bloggers and authors on social networks, professional journalists and news editors/producers are relying heavily upon one another to report fast-breaking news events from inside Iran in the face of increasing repression of free speech and free press coverage by the Tehran regime.

I do sincerely hope that in this unprecedented online collaboration of citizen and professional journalists and news commentators that the ‘pros’ continually remind the amateurs about the dangers of reporting from within a crisis zone. The threat of a ‘new revolution’ from inside Iran is a very dangerous business and the use of online communications and publication tools that may help fuel such a revolution is a journey into uncharted waters__ so be damn careful.

Of course I have been discussing these exciting events with Iranian friends here in Germany on an almost daily basis. Germany is one of Iran’s most coveted trading partners (largest) and despite decades of business dealings and diplomatic ties with Iran the present coalition government in Berlin claims to have little sway over Tehran (see Germany’s Spiegel Online and Israeli newspaper articles below). The ruling administration in Berlin and Brussels, like their counterparts in Washington D.C. and Paris, have been rather mute in the face of the unfolding crisis on the ground in Iran for fear of screwing up negotiations over the nuclear arms/energy issues and Iran’s role in a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians and Arab countries in the region. There are more than 1900 German firms doing business in Iran so the claim by the German government to have little influence over internal politics in the country is sheer bullshit.

Anyway, my two closest Iranian buddies have both witnessed life in Iran during the time of the Shah as well as the period following the Iranian Revolution of 1979 (see Al Jazeera’s special coverage of the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution). Although we have often discussed what it may be like when the day of true independence finally arrives in Iran, I seem to be the one who is most nervous about the unfolding events in the aftermath of these sham elections. I dread the coming brutal crackdown by a regime that will hold onto power at any cost which is kind of ironic when I also remember for the past 30 years much of what many people in the West saw on the news was 10’s-of- thousands of Iranians marching in the streets chanting “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” My older friend Reza explains the prospects of increased violence against the protestors on the street with the expression, “In order to make this omelette you must break a few eggs…” while my younger friend Asgar has repeatedly warned for many months that America must stay out of this fight so as not to undermine the opposition to extremist leaders like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the group of conservative Islamic clerics who pull his strings.

Therefore my views and emotions are mixed about the possibility of real change in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign policies toward the U.S. and other western countries under any leadership that must answer to the regime of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni. I shall reserve my opinions about the hope for change in Iran until this developing story unravels a bit more over the next days and weeks. However, the 2009 Iranian presidential election is covered thoroughly in the news articles, think-tank analysis, and blog posts listed below. So please have a look at my suggested reading list for a better understanding of what the hell is going on over in Iran.

The ‘Jewels in the Jungle’ 2009 Iran Election Recommended Reading List
Week of June 14-21, 2009

Foreign Policy Magazine - The Blogs
FP Passport
Iran Election Special (full coverage by FP’s editors and contributors)
The latest from Iran by Blake Hounshell 06/16/09
Morning Brief: Khamenei steps in 06/15/09
Iran: What now? a must-read roundup 06/13/09

The Cable (editor: Laura Rozen)
Obama on Iran: diplomacy without illusions 06/15/09

Shadow Government (editors: experienced policy makers from the loyal opposition)
What Obama needs to say and do about Iran by Christian Brose 06/15/09

Stephen M. Walt (professor of international relations @ Harvard)
What does Iran's "election" mean? 06/15/09

Mark Lynch (Abu Aardvark’s Middle East blog)
Could there be a Mousavi Effect? 06/10/09

Foreign Policy Magazine – May/June 2009 issues
Iran's New Revolution by Cameron Abadi
Iran's Potato Revolution (a profile of candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi) by Mehrzad Boroujerdi

Informed Comment (Middle East scholar Juan Cole)
Ahmadinejad reelected under a cloud of fraud (Salon.com) 06/13/09
Stealing the Iranian Election 06/13/09

The New York Times - global edition
The Lede Blog (editor: Robert Mackey)
Latest Updates on Iran’s Disputed Election 06/16/09
Updates on Iran’s Disputed Election 06/15/09
Landslide or Fraud? The Debate Online Over Iran’s Election Results 06/13/09

Spiegel Online – international edition
After the Election: Iran's Growing Societal Chasm 06/15/09
The Election in Iran: 'Extraordinary Amount of Wishful Thinking' by US 06/15/09
The World from Berlin: 'Iran Was Never a True Democracy' 06/15/09
The Afghanistan Debate: Germany Mulls Future as Attacks Surge 06/12/09

Articles about German trade with Iran
Haaretz News Online (Israel)
In spite of German talk, trade with Iran growing Feb 2008
The Jerusalem Post
Germany's special relationship - with Iran Aug 2008

Iran's Lesson: Even in a Tainted Election, Voting Still Matters 06/16/09
Ayatullah vs. Ayatullah: Could Khamenei Be Vulnerable? 06/15/09
Why the White House Views Iran's Election as a Diplomatic Coup 06/15/09
Was Ahmadinejad's Win Rigged? - Five Reasons to Suspect Iran's Election Results

Al Jazeera News – English edition
Government supporters rally in Iran 06/16/09
Iran bans pro-Mousavi rally 06/15/09
Iranian writer (Azar Nafisi on poll result) 06/14/09
Al Jazeera English - IRAN: AFTER THE REVOLUTION February 2009

Global Voices Online
(providing one of the best daily roundups of bloggers inside Iran and around the globe)
Iran: Protest and Repression 06/15/09
Iran: Storm of protest after election 06/13/09
Mapping Iran’s Blogosphere on Election Eve 06/11/09
Global Voices Online » Iranian Election 2009 special coverage

The Internet and Democracy Project @ Harvard University
Cracking Down on Digital Communication and Political Organizing in Iran 06/15/09
Mapping Iran’s Blogosphere on Election Eve 06/11/09

The Council on Foreign Relations
U.S. Should React Cautiously to Iran’s ‘Stolen Election’ 06/14/09
Guardians of the Revolution: Iran and the World in the Age of the Ayatollahs
A CFR book by Iran scholar Ray Takeh – Oxford University Press, May 2009
Obama's Message to Muslims Resonates, But Challenges Await 06/04/09
An interview with CFR senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies Steven A. Cook
Beyond Cairo: Translating 'Important' Obama Message into Policies 06/04/09
An interview with former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Edward Djerejian

VOA News Online
US Bloggers Take On Iran's Elections 06/15/09

BBC News
'Mass opposition rally' in Tehran 06/16/09
Shots fired at huge Iran protest 06/15/09
Iran clamps down on foreign media: Bypassing Iran's firewalls 06/15/09

CNN - international edition
Rival demonstrations fill Tehran streets 06/16/09
Hatred, chaos and savage beatings in Tehran 06/15/09
Moussavi vows to 'pay any cost' to fight Iran election results 06/15/09
CNN iReport/IRAN

Updates and additional reading for June 17, 2009

DW World (Germany’s Deutsche Welle online news in English)
German foreign ministry notes irregularities in Iran election 06/17/09
EU deplores recent events in Iran 06/16/09

Atlantic-Community.org (a Berlin-based think tank specializing in transatlantic affairs)
Iran's Fabricated Elections: The US and EU Must React 06/16/09
How to Respond to the Iranian Elections? (an online poll) 06/15/09
Iran's Tactical Foreign Policy Rhetoric 03/03/09

Middle East Institute (Washington DC)
The MEI Editor’s Blog by Michael Collins Dunn, editor of The Middle East Journal
The "Ahmadinejad Won" Interpretation: Why I Think it's Suspect 06/15/09
Gary Sick and Karim Sadjadpour on PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer 06/15/09
The Mess in Iran: Praetorian Coup or Clumsy Overreach? 06/13/09

MEI Publications and Reports
Policy Brief: Prospects for Iran’s 2009 Presidential Elections by Dr. Walter Posch

MEI Viewpoints magazine special report: “The Iranian Revolution at 30” (PDF download)
Provocative essays from 53 leading academics and policy experts discuss the revolution’s effects on many different facets of life in Iran, including gender issues, education, the media, the environment, and foreign policy.

ITN CH4 News (UK)
New protests held in Iran 06/17/09
CH4 News Snowblog – Iran elections 2009 (World News Blog)
A day in Iran I will never forget by Lindsey Hilsum 06/16/09
Telephone update report from Iran 06/16/09
(HT: to ‘The Lede Blog’ at the New York Times)
Tehran's clash of ideals by Lindsey Hilsum 06/10/09

Tehran Bureau (a U.S.-based news website from the Iranian-American community)
Iran’s Power Struggle by Gareth Smyth (Beirut) 06/16/09
Stolen Election by Muhammad Sahimi (Los Angeles) 06/13/09
Headlines June 12, 2009 (Iran elections)
Nieman Reports Iran 06/01/09
A Q&A with Melissa Ludtke, editor of ‘Nieman Reports’ at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism (Harvard University) Also see the Nieman Reports Summer 2009 issue ‘Iran: Can its stories be told?”

Press TV (a new global online news service based in Tehran, Iran)
Mousavi calls for truth commission 06/17/09
Iran warns foreign media over coverage 06/17/09
(Presidential candidate Mohsen) Rezaei's ultimatum to Interior Ministry 06/17/09

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