Thursday, June 23, 2005

Both NYT and LAT Have Talented Old Middle East Hands Working The Iranian Election Story

Written from Seattle, enroute to Alaska --

It's hard to fool either John Daniszewski of the L.A. Times or Michael Slackman, now of the New York Times, when it comes to the Middle East. After all, both correspondents at one time were the L.A. Times bureau chiefs in Cairo, no easy beat, and both are highly experienced throughout the Middle East.

So it's fortunate that they are representing their respective current papers in Tehran on the story of the Iranian elections, now threatened by the rampant fraud of the evil Mullahs who rule that unfortunate potentially very dangerous country.

The "runoff election," if we can call it that, will be held tomorrow, with the former President, Hashemi Rafsanjani trying to fend off the candidacy of the former mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who in all likelihood doesn't belong in the runoff at all.

Both Daniszewski and Slackman made it plain in their stories on the results of the first round of the voting that a massive fraud had in all likelihood been committed. After all, Ahmadinejad announced that he was in the runoff before the votes had been counted, when he was trailing, and before a sudden million votes were added to his count by the "election commission," otherwise known as a passle of crooks dominated by the theocracy.

The Mullahs have been conspiring to fix the election. They removed most of the moderate candidates from the ballot, they then apparently altered the vote totals, for those remaining, and now they are likely to put in the fix again so that their fanatic supporter, Ahmadinejad will win today.

He has already adopted a totally uncompromising position on Iran's nuclear program, while Rafsanjami at least says he is willing to negotiate with the West..

This is no joke. The Iranian people have moderated quite a bit in recent years. They had been electing reformers until the Mullahs outmaneuvered them. Even the L.A. Times' editorial page this week called the election a suspicious one in the first round and hoped for a vote for Rafsanjami, no friend of the U.S. but at least not certifiably crazy like his opponent.

I suspect strongly that the election fixed in the first round to exclude all moderates from the runoff, will be fixed again to put the fanatic candidate in power, and compound the problems of the Middle East. At least with two honest American journalists plus others in Tehran, American readers will know all about it.

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