Iran's supreme leader on Friday ruled out fraud in last week's elections, saying that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won a "definitive" re-election victory. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned hundreds of thousands taking part in peaceful protests against the result to go home. He also accused foreign leaders and media of exploiting Iran's political differences and trying to destabilize the Islamic Republic. (Los Angeles Times)
What the commentators said
Ali Khamenei's speech was clearly meant as a threat, said Al-Jazeera. "He basically said: 'Enough is enough—from now on, no more street protests.'" He didn't offer anything, not even dialogue, to the quarter of a million people the world has watched demonstrating in the streets. That's a clear sign that if the uprising continues "it is going to be put down very ruthlessly indeed."
This warning from Ali Khamenei puts "huge pressure" on opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi to end the massive protests, said Parisa Hafezi in Reuters. Mousavi, prime minister during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, "is unlikely to go against the interests of the Islamic republic following the leader's speech." So the most likely next step is for Mousavi to bow to Ali Khameini's demand and push his claim that he was the real election winner "through judicial channels."
"The reform the Iranian demonstrators seek" is something the U.S. should be supporting, said Paul Wolfowitz, a deputy defense secretary in the Bush administration, in The Washington Post. President Obama mustn't appear neutral just to avoid being criticized for meddling. "It would be a cruel irony if, in an effort to avoid imposing democracy, the United States were to tip the scale toward dictators who impose their will on people struggling for freedom."
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