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He’s No ‘Moderate’

Iran picks a new leader to read from the same script.

7:01 AM, Jun 17, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
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The presidential election didn’t offer much insight into what the Iranian people want. With a reported turnout of 72 percent of the country’s 50 million registered voters, informed sources in Iran charge that the regime exaggerated the actual turnout by a factor of 4 or 5. This election is almost certainly as fraudulent, if not more so, than the contested 2009 elections that brought the Green revolution to the streets. Up until last week, Tehran mayor Mohamed Baqer Qalibaf was leading in pre-election polling with 32.7 percent, Jalili was in second with 28.7 with Rouhani and the rest trailing. By Thursday, after the other reform candidate, Mohamed Reza Aref, dropped out, Rouhani had taken a commanding lead. In a poll conducted by the independent Virginia-based consultancy service IPOS, Rouhani was at 31.7 percent, with Qalibaf at 24.1 percent and Jalili at 13.7 percent. Another poll conducted by a website affiliated with the government showed that Rohani was leading with 43 percent. Even then the final tally far exceeded the expectations of the regime polling, with Rouhani winning with slightly more than 50 percent. It would appear that the regime ran up the number in order to avoid any chances of a run-off that might return protestors to the streets again.

Nonetheless, there were some demonstrations Saturday in Tehran, with protestors demanding the government release all political prisoners and invoking the Green revolution’s martyr Neda Agha Soltan—“the lady of Iran,” they chanted, “your path is continuing… Don’t be afraid, we are all together.”

Elsewhere, the Islamic Republic is showing what’s in store for domestic opponents. In Iraq, the Iranian-affiliated militia Kataeb Hezbollah launched a rocket attack against Camp Liberty, where around 3000 members of the Mujahideen e-Khalq (MEK) have been living since they were moved from Camp Ashraf, with U.S. and UN assurances for their security. John Kerry issued a statement saying that “the United States strongly condemns today's brutal, senseless, and utterly unacceptable rocket attack on Camp Hurriya that killed and injured camp residents.” Two were killed in the attack and dozens wounded.

Attacking Camp Liberty sends a message to everyone who is committed to overthrowing the regime, says Ali Safavi, the U.S. spokesman for the National Council of Resistance in Iran , an umbrella organization with the MEK as its largest member. “The MEK is leading the opposition calling for the overthrow of the regime,” says Safavi, who believes that there’s a connection between the elections and the attack on Liberty. “A month after the June 2009 elections, they attacked Camp Ashraf. In February 2011 there were huge demonstrations and in April Ashraf was again attacked, with 36 killed.” With Saturday’s attack, says Safavi, the regime is sending a message— "‘Don’t even think about overthrowing the regime.’ Their language is rockets and bullets.”

And the man the regime has chosen to read from that script, its newly elected front man, is no moderate.

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