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June 17th, 2009
09:37 AM ET

Expert: Iran's supreme leader could oust Ahmadinejad

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Karim Sadjadpour tells CNN's John Roberts that Iran's supreme leader may be faced with a dilemma to sacrifice himself or President Ahmadinejad."]

Pressured by a fourth day of street protests, Iran is clamping down. Reporters have been confined to their rooms and they're jamming phones and radio transmissions in Iran.

Karim Sadjadpour is an Iranian expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He joined John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Wednesday.

John Roberts: Where do you see this ending?

Karim Sadjadpour: It’s difficult to say, John. A lot of it depends on what the opposition leaders decide they want to do. Certainly there's a tremendous sense of outrage in Tehran. Not only in Tehran, throughout the country there’s a tremendous sense of injustice that these young people have. At the same time, it’s a country which endured an eight-year war with Iraq. People are allergic to the prospect of further carnage and bloodshed and violence. But at the moment, I think there's truly a sense of outrage and I see these protests continuing.

Roberts: The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the government have told people to stay inside. The IRGC is saying if you put up certain materials on blog sites you could face legal charges. How big of a role is the Revolutionary Guard Corps and this paramilitary organization, the Basij, playing in trying to tamp down these protests?

Sadjadpour: They're playing a definitive role. But what’s been amazing is they haven't dissuaded people from going in to the streets. Historically, when the regime has announced that the Basij and the Revolutionary Guard are authorized to use force to shoot people, that will quell the protests. But so far, we haven’t seen the protests really quelled. The other day there were several hundred thousand people in Tehran. And it just gives you an idea of how outraged people feel that they're willing to go out in to the streets and risk their lives.

Roberts: And this ruling Guardian Council, which has said it will recount certain parts of the election. Of course, Moussavi and his supporters are calling for a new election. How far do you think they will go in that? Are they playing for time here, hoping all of the protests will die down and eventually people will get tired of going out in the streets and accept the results of the election? Or might this actually lead to a new election? Can they resist the will of the people?

Sadjadpour: The Guardian Council is not like our Supreme Court. It's not an objective entity. It's essentially under the hegemony of Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader. And I think Khamenei deferred to the Guardian Council simply as a tactical move to buy time. But Khamenei may be faced with a dilemma and it may be one day soon, whether to sacrifice President Ahmadinejad or sacrifice himself. Because it’s really gotten to the point where people are calling for the head of Khamenei. And this is unprecedented in the last 20 years.

Roberts: Khamenei has been supreme leader since 1989. This is, as you suggest, all about his survival as well. Right now he’s hitched his wagon to Ahmadinejad who's got the loyalty of the Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Basij. Can you foresee any circumstances under which he might, for his own survival, throw Ahmadinejad overboard?

Sadjadpour: I think it's certainly within the realm of possibilities. And I would argue, John, Ahmadinejad doesn't necessarily have the loyalty of the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij. I was based in Iran for a couple of years and I spoke to many of these young people within the IRGC and Basij who recognize that this “death to America” culture of 1979 is obsolete today and Iran will never achieve its full potential unless there’s reform made in the political, economic, social realm. So I think we shouldn’t take for granted the fact that all of the regime’s shock troops are necessarily going to side with President Ahmadinejad.

Roberts: What will it take to initiate that huge fracture? As we see now, the Guard Corps and the Basij are on the side of the government.

Sadjadpour: We have to get inside the head of Ayatollah Khamenei…his world view is very clear. When you’re under siege, never compromise. Because if you compromise it’s going to project weakness. If he orders a mayor clampdown, I think we may start to see fissures within the regime’s shock troops.

Filed under: Iran
soundoff (227 Responses)
  1. John

    Some one said something about rigged elections, BrianG, Sugar Land, careful wat you say, your President Bush' election was very much can a man that has failed in everything he has done in his life make president? Well, saying that....what RAM said is very much true in many ways...he remembers the 2000 US elections, but still the world would be alot safer with the maniac that is in Iran out of there. He is antagonistic, I dont care how much you dislike gosh man you are a president, you dont talk openly about how a nation is going to be wiped from the face of the earth! To refer to a nation as a dog, oh wow I can see why the uproar to get this ASS out of there before he starts another war, like North Korea. I dont wish to talk bad of Russia, I just with they would get with the rest of the world finally and quit doing the exact opposit, hey the cold war is over. Are many fans of the US? No, but still the finally did pick a President that seems decent.....but in this one I do side with the US, and the rest of the world, the Iran election was tampered with, lets do the decent thing and get him out...but I doubt that is going to happen, it could prove even more damaging to the government systen.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:30 pm |
  2. Gordon

    Very good Steve Simmons...."prosperous life free of persecution or
    of being shot"....what planet are you on you idiot. You do have a point
    however, why go anywhere other than the U.S. for persecution or getting shot when it can be done quite successfully right here and
    frequently without retribution. Put your head on your shoulders you

    June 17, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  3. susan

    Le'ts hope for the sake of peace, that Iran throws over the President. They have done it before, they can do it again. That little beady eyed dictator should be tried and imprisoned if found guity. The problem is people are afraid of him. Little twerp that he is.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  4. Kevindaryan

    It's apparent that the situation in Iran at this time is one of dissatisfaction and turmoil. If there is one thing that can be gathered from the past few days is that the Iranian people have something that for a long time we have been spoon fed to blieve could not exist... THE WILL to embrace a democrtatic state that cherishs the standards of human rights. It is unconcievable to believe for a second that these elections were not rigged as some of have stated. Whether you like the Western Media or not, the facts are there. 60% of the population is under 27.. most of the them support Mossavi.. for better or worse he was their choice. I think in regards to Foreign Policy towards the U.S.. or in regards to Israel we probably won't see a drastic difference. But the current President has been unable to better the economic crisis present in Iran.. a country so instable that the price of milk changes more than 5 times a day. The U.S and U.N sanctions due to his governments nuclear enrichment programs have only worsened the stability of the nation. THE People have so courageously spoken out... They are the voice of the world... the voice of reason... these hundreds of thousands of people... should be honored, and celebrated. When the elections turned out to look like a scam with BUSH... we did nothing.. instead we relected him later.. maybe we felt the first 4 years weren't bad enough.. BUT THESE ppl.. they kno.. they feel it.. and they voted...god bless them

    June 17, 2009 at 12:28 pm |
  5. Matt

    in reponse to Ram.. WHOA BOY, HEEL! What are you talking about war in Iran? the USA going to invade Iran? ARE YOU INSANE? we are already worried about N.K., and finising up Iraq and really just beginning to get some things taken care of in Afghanistan, now you think we're thirsting for a fight in Iran? yeah, Democracy is at work, but I think you should have stepped off your soap box after that thought, instead of preaching American foreign policy back in 2000. Things have changed buddy

    June 17, 2009 at 12:28 pm |
  6. crhodes

    Perhaps this is partially a result of Obama's speech to muslims. It was well timed – just before the elections – and Iranian people may be getting tired enough of the oppression that they are willing to risk more. Wih the new perspective of a hopeful US president, instead of a purely insulting one, folks are willing to stand up for what they want. In the short term it's a bit scary, but in the long run I'm hopeful that the citizens of Iran will demand more of their leaders.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:27 pm |
  7. typical

    This shows just how predictably poor the gov't of Iran is run. We all knew this was going to happen.

    Reminds me when British sailors were detained by Iran a few years back. The Iranian Navy clamed a violation of territorial waters when the GPS location Iran provided was actually a mile in Iraqi waters.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:27 pm |
  8. Practical

    Obama's willingness to talk to Iran is in part responsible for the reactions of the young people and the reformers. they want dialog and openness with America and the rest of the world, but never thought it was possible. Obama coming out and saying that he was willing to talk, put all the problems in Iran directly on the shoulders of the leadership who is unwilling to cooperate with America and the world.

    America reaching out could very well be the downfall of the current regime by a majority of the population seeing an opportunity for a better life if only their government was willing to reach back.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:27 pm |
  9. Larry

    Is this the same supreme leader who declared Ahmadinejad's victory a "divine miracle"?

    Why do they even have elections over there? It looks like the supreme council runs things anyway.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:26 pm |
  10. scott

    re: ram does it sound like this guy works for the iranian government or is he really this stupid?

    June 17, 2009 at 12:25 pm |
  11. Roger D.

    Does it really matter who leads countries like these? You meet the new boss – same as the old boss!

    June 17, 2009 at 12:24 pm |
  12. John

    June 17th, 2009 11:32 am ET

    "Leave Iran alone. If the Democrats had behaved in the manner that the losers in the election are showing now, after the american 2000 elections, what would the world have done? Nothing. period.
    This is the visible minority backed by american news.
    I noticed that the western media did not cover the story of Ukrainian workers protesting and driving away the US navy in the Black Sea port.
    Such biases can only bring money to the media for selling what people want to hear in the west.
    Iran is a sovereign nation and will deal with its problems when they arise. This is no problem. It was a democratic election and the US and its media slaves are always condemning any nation that does not lick up to them after a democratic election. Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Palestine, Syria, Russia etc are among the several. When will the well-fed and well-paid start to earn their money honestly.
    The US and allies invade countries to bring in democracy. Well democracy is well and at work in Iran. No excuse to go in and conquer!
    Iran is a world power and will continue to grow in health and stature. When GB was going to war in Iraq, 1000 times the number of people of the world protested. It was a war of lies. What did America do then? What did you do then?
    Have a good day in your 5 star hotel!"

    Are you on Ah-mad-i-nijad's payroll? You really think we live in a 5 star hotel? Get a clue.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:24 pm |
  13. Steve the Soothsayer

    There was already a strong movement toward democracy and freedom in IRAN in the early 2000's which was brutally suppressed despite the existence of a "reformist" president. As a result of the U.S. efforts in freeing both of Iran's next door neighbors (Iraq and Afghanistan) from the grip of tyranny, Iranians are thirsting more than ever for a taste of freedom and acceptance by the community of civilized nations. Those who suggest that the current uprising is a result of Obama's speech in Cairo are clearly deluding themselves.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:24 pm |
  14. Bill

    As you can see what we've been told about the Iranian politics isn't the reality on the ground. These people love their kids and want a better life and future. In many ways they're not what Bush portrayed them to be. They're leaders may be nuts, but the average guy wants better. Give credit to Obama for his speech in Egypt, it likely helped convince the youth of Iran, America is not the sound bites of the Bush era. By reaching out to Iran Obama has more leverage than if he created a rift between us. "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer" allows you to control situations and have a hand in future diplomacy.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:23 pm |
  15. Dan

    All you "pull everyone out of all wars" morons need to learn about real life and get off your hippy bandwagons. This has nothing to do with anything else except the people in Iran. I am 90% sure CNN and every other news agency is blowing this completely out of proportion (like they did/do with Irag and Afghanistan). You are maybe getting 10% of the what is really going on because our crappy "news" systems spins it for ratings and the almighty $$. Example, the stupid "swine flu" that only infected 300k or so people . . . how is that supposed to be scary, the regular flu infects that many people in a major city, and tens of millions around the world . . . way out of proportion on a slow news week! I know this about the middle east becaue I am posting this from IRAQ and I see the truth of what is going on. I do agree we need to keep our dirty grubby little american fingers out of this issue (if you recal, we put Saddam in power) and let it sort itself out.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:22 pm |
  16. Daniel Nelson

    Hey people do you not remember when Ahmadinejad said that democracy was a failure? There was no intention for a reformist to win in a democratic election in Iran where only the supreme leader can appoint the person to be president. No this election was just a show to the world that Iran cares for the rights of the people but now it is known that the religious fanatics really do not care for the people! They only care for their power and control over the people!

    June 17, 2009 at 12:22 pm |
  17. Annie

    I think Obama's willingness to talk to Iran was essential to the people of Iran fighting for change. It showed that the U.S. was willing to work towards progress if the Iranian government was as well. These protests are a testament to how much the people of Iran are open to the kind of progress Obama was offering to Iran.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:21 pm |
  18. Patrick, Lake Stevens, WA

    This is all smoke and mirrors, folks. Ahmadinejad is going nowhere. And the Supreme Leader is under no serious threat – and if you believe otherwise, there is someone with real estate to sell you in California and Arizona. Please, do you guys really believe what Mr. Sadjadpour is saying? I don’t. There is no real democracy in Iran. If a new election is held in that country, then maybe there is a glimmer of hope that the incumbent will be ousted, but if that does not happen, Ahmadinejad will continue to rule as president and will persist on his path to nuclear proliferation. It is up to President Obama to quell this attempt with true substantive action.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:21 pm |
  19. Robert Dulany

    The problem is, you cannot overturn an election based on protests.

    There is no determination that Mousavi, in fact, won.

    It reminds me of the elections in Russia. For all they crying in the west, Medvedev clearly won the election.

    This opposition candidate, declared himself the winner, because thats what they always do in some countries, both candidates declare themselves the winner. And the losing candidates people flood into the streets with a sense of outrage.

    But in fact, only one person did, in fact win, and at this point its doubtful Mousavi really won.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:20 pm |
  20. johndtuttle

    Once again we see the path to change is dialogue. Just like in the case of the former Soviet Union the way to empower change is to make it clear that the extremists within the society cannot use America as a scapegoat. Moderate our rhetoric and they can no longer use us as a bogey man to enforce order.

    Then and only then can the reforming elements in the Society enact change when the message is clear: We wish the people of Iran no ill and welcome their efforts to ensure a just outcome of their elections so that they may truly join the World of Civilized Nations that share a respect for the dignity of a Vote.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:18 pm |
  21. Rudi SoKoBe

    If the Iranian goverment did not stop this on the first day you only can be sure that deep change is coming....this is great for the US and the world. Its not If...its now.

    Rudi Sokobe

    June 17, 2009 at 12:17 pm |
  22. Bugs

    I'm still not sure I understand what the "progressive" Iranians – those protesting the election – really want. We seem to be projecting a lot of our own ideas about democracy onto them. Is it realistic to assume they want to overthrow the mullahs and institute a western-style democracy, though perhaps with many Sharia principles written into the constitution? Or are they happy with their current arrangement and merely trying to change some hard-line policies? While the current events in Iran are certainly important, I'm not sure they mean the same things to Iranians as they do to us in the States.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:17 pm |
  23. Dan

    The Iranian people protesting the corrupt election results are the true hero's of their country, what courage these people have. If I were Iranian I would be so proud. The Iranian regime not allowing journalist to report whats going on in the streets speaks volumes. The people of Iran deserve better.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:17 pm |
  24. Avi Ben Shaul

    It is a known fact of history that a governed people can only be oppressed for so long. The Iranian people are starting to realize that they have been lied to, by the government, for many years. The internet generation cannot be duped like previous generations and now the Theocracy of Iran is paying the price for it's exploitation. Bravo to the Iranian people. Don't give in to your lying leaders. Oust them and form a government of change as we did with George W. Bush and his lying cronies.


    June 17, 2009 at 12:16 pm |
  25. Gordon

    ram...could not have said it better...congratulations!

    June 17, 2009 at 12:16 pm |
  26. Arkay, MI

    Todd says
    Just another day of dealing with the nutcases who run Iran. You know, the ones Obama was so anxious to talk to. Now that the true totaliatarian nature of their government is obvious to all, I wonder if Obama still wants to talk to them…
    If we decide not to talk to countries totalitarian governments, we will probably be not talking to 80% of the countries. Yes, that includes our 'allies' like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Georgia. etc. Even Reagan with all his rhetorics kept talking to the 'evil empire' which was crumbling..

    June 17, 2009 at 12:14 pm |
  27. Adam in Denver

    Good for the people in Iran. And to Todd who uses this as a reason to jab at Obama, let's step back and take a look at the last few month's events – 1. The war in Iraq is coming to an end next year, and our military focus is moving to Afghanistan – where is belongs. 2. You have townspeople in Pakistan rising up against the taliban and fighting them on their own! 3. You have Iranian citizens rising up against their government and demanding the prevailance of democracy, and the election of a new president (who is pro-western relations and wants to improve dialogue with the U.S.) 4. You have Netanyahu endorse a Palestinian state for the first time ever (with obvious dis-armorment of Palestinian forces and protection for Israel included) 5. And you have a U.S. president who is actually reaching out to the Islamic world and explaining that the U.S. is not against them but that we want to live peacefully with them and improve relations for a better world.

    President Obama has taken huge strides and put his own head on the chopping block by trying to open dialogue with the middle East. His actions and his words have been well received by Muslims world wide, and look at the resposne that we are now seeing. If anyone says that he is doing a bad job, or that he is making America 'less safe' ..or even worse that they think that Pres. Bush would be better than Obama... then those people are simply ignorant to the big picture. I'm happy to see everything that is happening in the middle east and I hope that these people continue to fight for their rights.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:13 pm |
  28. Enver Khorasanee

    Proved beyond any doubt this concept about Vilayat e Fiqhi, a supreme leader answerable only to ALLAH. For the sake of NOT to make Iran appear more of a laughing stock (thanks to Ahmedcrazynejad) the people now cannot take it anymore. Ayatollah Montazeri too has now come out openly in favour of the people of Iran.
    Enver Khorasanee

    June 17, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  29. GoAwayRam

    Try to keep your comments on topic. This story is about Iran. We're not interested in the USA–we're interested in Iran.

    the US and its media slaves are always condemning any nation that does not lick up to them after a democratic election. Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Palestine, Syria, Russia etc are among the several. When will the well-fed and well-paid start to earn their money honestly.
    The US and allies invade countries to bring in democracy.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  30. Robert Floyd

    Its not about Obama Todd. GET OVER IT! still thinking like a caveman i see. Why would he/we not want to talk to them. Regardless of what you think dialog is much better than the cold shoulder we have been giving to those we do not agree with. Its time to get over ourselves as Americans and understand that dialog is the answer when disagreements arise. You send your children to fight another war because you think bullying is still a viable tactic. Who's the crackpot, war monger. let me guess you probably consider yourself a true American Christian. I wonder if you and your partner have a disagreement do you ignore them or do you try to work things out. its really no different. There is a true revolution going on in Iran the people want freedom and to further isolate and bash only plays to the hardliners. Think people, THINK! and get over the fact that Obama is president. Imagine if Mccain was president we would be in 2 more wars, Korea and Iran.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:11 pm |
  31. Shawkat

    This was not an election – it was selection. Some say Ah-mad-i-nijad is a shrewd man – I think he is a moron and the people who support or vote for him are bigger morons. A man who denies facts from history (he believes the holocaust never happened) or says that there are no gays in Iran cannot be an intelligent man! Listening to him is painful – he cannot even answer the simplest of questions. A 3rd grader is more articulate and logical than this man. Iran and its people deserve better.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:11 pm |
  32. n.Jamiel

    Murad Nayal, THANK YOU very much for posting that. That was enlightening. I hope your message is taken to heart by all the Americans who read it. We want dialogue, we want international camaraderie. We are all human beings after all. Thank you.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:11 pm |
  33. JPM

    Just another day of dealing with the nutcases who run Iran. You know, the ones Obama was so anxious to talk to. Now that the true totaliatarian nature of their government is obvious to all, I wonder if Obama still wants to talk to them…
    PRESIDENT Obama is anxious for keeping the peace and mending relations after 8 years of failed foreign policies. In the end, he will speak with whomever becomes the new leader. Obama is trying to mend relations with that nation as a whole but he has to start with their president.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:11 pm |
  34. Jeff

    The fact that Iran has a Supreme leader says it all. It doesn't matter who the president is he would have to be approved by the Supreme leader anyway. Enough of this, the good people of Iran are oppressed by their government and should be free. I truly hope the people of Iran take their country back from these nutcases.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:10 pm |
  35. marc from MS

    Why doesn't BO do what his most similar predessessor, i.e. JEC, did with the Shah? Talk the nut jobs into reqlinquishing power to the people.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:10 pm |
  36. jolee

    Well its good to see that the people over there are tired of being stepped on by their own gov. I think they did rig the election cause its the whole country thats against that election. If obama goes over there to talk peace its just a waste of time and effort cause it will be happening again and again. I see that they are, or probably will use the force of violence against the people over there protesting anyway. I say just let them be and turn the other cheek as if nothing was goin on over there.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:09 pm |
  37. Adam

    Khamenei is in trouble. Someone said that if demands the president be removed after quickly endorsing the 62+% victory, he will be seen as self-supporting and not for the country of Iran as a whole.

    I disagree with Sadjadpour in that it is a possibility of Khamenei to oust the president to save his own skin. He may very well do this, but he will not be the Supreme Leader for very much longer if he does. I truly believe that we are on the verge of a new Iran. I believe that there is a chance for a more stable transition for Iran than there has been for Iraq and Afghanistan. Violence begets violence, and there has been no outside interference with this election. The people of Iran are doing the work here. Congratulations.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:09 pm |
  38. sharon kitchen

    I hope the old pres is out.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:08 pm |
  39. Stefan

    "Todd June 17th, 2009 11:11 am ET

    Just another day of dealing with the nutcases who run Iran. You know, the ones Obama was so anxious to talk to. Now that the true totaliatarian nature of their government is obvious to all, I wonder if Obama still wants to talk to them…"

    Of course, that is the point. You need to talk to people you disagree with. You need to try to come to some sort of understanding. We just got done with 8 years of a President who didnt talk to anyone he didnt like, and that got us a savaged economy, 2 wars, and a devastated reputation in the world commmunity. Not talking to people doesnt help anything; case closed.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:08 pm |
  40. Kevin

    It's amazing what "words" can do to move a people – and not one drop of U.S. blood shed – as opposed to Iraq.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  41. Amir

    I am a bit bothered by what I see today mainly because all the incidents look very much like what it took place during the revolution in 1970's. I lived through those years and I can not believe how similar everything seems alike. The only difference are the names and the fact that both opposition parties come from the same regime.
    I am absolutely against Ahmadi Nejad but at the same time it feels very strange to me that all the movements, tones and feelings toward this government sounds very much like feelings toward Shah during those days.
    Soon people found out that they have been used.
    Again despite my hatred toward this government, I have a very bad feeling that someone is taking advantage of the people in order to buy some more time for the regime by giving it a new face.
    Shah tried to do this by changing the government and electing Bakhtiar as the prime minister but people did not accept that and only demanded a change of regime.
    I assume people in charge of this regime have learned their lesson from that and doing a great job to bring a new face with the full approval of people just to buy more time.
    I hope this is not true but it is just a thought that kind of bothers me.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  42. Bill

    What's the big deal the percentage difference is the same as McCain-Obama numbers. The Bush-Gore was 50-50 with Bush edging Gore out under questionable voting fraud in Florida.

    We did not have a revolution and our government is still as scewed up as ever

    June 17, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  43. Larry L

    To Jessica & Todd: You found a way to blame the Iran debacle on President Obama? I'll ask you to consider the state of affairs left behind by your right-wing nuts and find something good about that period of leadership. What good came from the "Axis 0f Evil" comments? President Obama is trying to promote dialogue rather than war. What a novel concept...

    June 17, 2009 at 12:05 pm |
  44. David

    I think this is inspired by President Obama reaching out to Iran and the people are receptive to it. These people are well educated and are a very kind and compassionate people. Tehran is a beautiful, modern city with a great deal of western influence. Hopefully this will lead to the freedom of the Iranian people.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:05 pm |
  45. Robert

    Good for the citizens of Iran! It worked in the US when we threw out the Bush/Cheney regime and it can work for them too.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:05 pm |
  46. Cindy

    Wow... Todd... You just don't get it. It's precisely Obama's message of being willing to talk and open to relationships with any nation that doesn't oppress its people that is fueling this type of resistance. It's very diffcult for the old hard-line Iranian dictators to successfully wave a Death to America flag when young people see an American President they can relate to and envy. His approach is helping to drive true change in a country that has traditionally been an enemy to the U.S.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:05 pm |
  47. al-haidar

    As a Non-Iranian Shi'a Muslim, I must add that Ayatullah Khamenei is not just the Supreme Leader of the Iranians but of ALL Shias in the world. Knowing this will of course complicate all of the commentaries given thus far of ousting him simply based on what's happening in Iran today.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:04 pm |
  48. Steve Simmons

    I am thinking that Gordon who posted on June 17th should pack his bags (if he hasn't already) and move to Iran to see how it really is in that country. I only hope that the Iranian people can come to grips with what is going on, expect more, want more and get more so they can live a prosperous life free of persecution or of being shot for disagreeing with the current system that they have. My heart goes out to anyone, not just the Iranians, but to anyone that lives under brutal circumstances. I understand that in that oil rich country, over 30% of the people are unemployed.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:03 pm |
  49. neuroperson

    So when Bush was president, and he said Iran was Axis of Evil, all the liberals yelled at him for not being kind to this poor innocent nation and cheered when Obama wanted "to talk" like adults.

    Well its pretty obvious who was right from the beginning. HINT: it wasnt the liberals.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:03 pm |
  50. alekinnyc

    All the king's horses,
    And all the king's men
    Cannot deny the fact that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the election fair and square.

    Once again we are meddling. This is so September 11, 1973. The people spoke. And we did not like the outcome. Pity.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:02 pm |
  51. Harry

    Please America, resist the temptation to stick your nose in there.

    If Iranians want a revolution, they'll have a revolution.

    If we take sides, it will give tremendous power to the side we go against.

    Please, lets not give Hamedinutjob the opportunity to scream "America is trying to overthrow our government like it did in the 70s".

    For once lets keep our big mouth shut.

    June 17, 2009 at 12:00 pm |
  52. Maggie

    Don't be naive...Obama knew all along who he'd be dealing with in Iran. He just recognizes that the way the US has been dealing with Iran has NOT be is time to try something else.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:57 am |
  53. Rob

    Any pragmatist should realize that ideological differences do not preclude countries building mutually beneficial relationships. The U.S. has healthy economic ties with China, Vietnam and Russia, countries with whom we differ on political issues. Unfortunately, it is not so with other countries, such as Cuba, Syria, Venezuela and Iran. While the U.S. is as much to blame as Castro, Assad, Chavez and Ahmadinejad for that state of affairs, Ahmadinejad's intrangigence on many issues, not the least of which is threats to "wipe Israel off the map" makes any sort of reapproachment impossible. This is truly a loss since the Persian culture is rich and has much to offer if we are willing to live with the political differences. Moussavi offers that possibility, and for that reason, Ahmadinejad must go.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:57 am |
  54. Jerry Hall

    I hope that the Iranian people are able to revoke this fraudulent election and move their country towards greater freedom and plurality. The Mullahs stole the original Iranian revolution thirty years ago. It's time that the Iranian people took their country back. The world would welcome them....

    June 17, 2009 at 11:56 am |
  55. Vman

    If only the people in the US had the same courage to go to the streets when the Bush stole the elections in 2000!!


    June 17, 2009 at 11:56 am |
  56. navid

    Ahamdi nejad and Khamenei have done a coup d'etat against Iranian people. Khamenei has been the supreme leader of Iran from 1989. He has the absolute power in Iran by the constituition. There is a council in constitution which should observe supreme leader legitimacy, however, that council is not effective since its members are mostly under Khamenei's influence. What Ahamdi nejad and Khamenei did in our election was not a simple fraud. Khamenei has apparently has said that "Ahamdi nejad defeat is my defeat and I will not let your green revolution succeed". Then the interior ministry who is in charge of holding election has engineered the data and have published fake results. Who can believe they have read 40 million ballots in 3 hours? More importantly there are many statistical proofs that the numbers they have published are NOT REAL. There is completely linear correlation between candidates share of ballots. and the linear correlation is more that 0.95 which is far from a normal distribution of people. There are 70 area in which the number of ballots are %140 of eligible voters. These are only part of statistical proofs. There have been many legal issues which have been violated before, during and after the election so that the government as well Khamenei can claim Ahamdi nejad is the elected candidate. We free people of Iran announce that MOUSAVI is our president and urge all countries to NOT recognize Supreme leader's choice as the president. It will definitely be a shame for any country to recognize Ahamdi nejad since MOUSAVI's supporters will eventually win this dirty game and remember every individual and government action during their efforts to gain freedom. Lets just give a hint to every body: Russia is one of the most unpopular countries in Iran because historically it has always betrayed us. Interestingly they are a good friend to Ahamdi nejad and Khamenei. Just to let you guys know more Putin was the only western president who went before Khamenei.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:56 am |
  57. Carl Justus

    I know it is a hard thing for them to do but the people should not bow to police, they should keep up the demostrations. If necessary they should start taking up arms themselves and fight back. They do not need to be pushed down by dictators it they are saying they are a democracy, then the people should demand it to stay a democracy.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:56 am |
  58. Murad Nayal

    It is precisely due to Obama's civil, respectful and reasonable approach to Iran that reconciliatory forces in Iran now feel they can dissent without getting accused of being traitors and agents of the Americans. 8 years of Bush belicose speech did nothing but strengthen the hardliners. I give Obama's phenonemon a lot of credit for what's happening in Iran right now. For republicans and republican- leaning commentators I say: you had your chance to lead, and you failed us. Please don't pretend you know anything now.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:55 am |
  59. BJ

    My heat aches for the people of Iran, and people everywhere that just want what we Americans want... worship, work, get an education and raise our families. Children are taught to lie, and hatred is also, sometimes taught in the home...... "Cultures" are different, but the people, whatever the race, nationality or faith, want the same things.....

    June 17, 2009 at 11:55 am |
  60. Fabriciano Vela

    Iran's clerical leaders have been under control of everything up to the present time.The new kind of iranian citizens have realized that this religious system only takes to confusion , abuses, corruption and loss of freedom.Therefore this time the iranian system of government will have to change his ways or be condemned to disappear all together.Power will return to the good people of Iran.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  61. Nicholas II

    Unthrone? Is that a word?

    June 17, 2009 at 11:53 am |
  62. Ayatollah Youso

    Hooray for the Iranian youth! I do wish for their well-being and success. Hopefully this will not be another Tianamen Square. These people need and deserve a viable govenment, not just some wild nutcases running around on the loose.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  63. Scott from St. Charles, MO

    You underestimate the Iranian leadership by just calling them nutcases. These are very cold calculating people, the best thing we can do now is watch and wait. Keep in mind that the "open dialog" that the Obama Administration is stressing has nothing to do with the current leadership, it's a way to communicate to the more moderate people within Iran that the time has come and we'll stand with you.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  64. Carl

    who cares? nothing changes in that country ; they still have the Ayatollahs who rule with inpunity.That's not going to change Khamenei
    is the true power, the mastermind of this wholse election.Give me a break; no matter what happens to Ahmadinejad the country is still
    screwed.Lost cause!

    June 17, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  65. Trevor

    With respect, Ali is incorrect with his comparison to the Night of Long Knives in Nazi Germany. That event was not a coup by Hitler but rather an internal purge of elements of the Nazi Party that Hitler felt had outlived their usefulness and become a threat to his power. The Sturmabteilung (aka SA/Brownshirts/Stormtroopers) were a working class paramilitary force that Hitler had used to great effect prior to his election in 1933, but their brutish nature had become a political liability once he was actually in control. The Night of the Long Knives was a purge of party leaders who were a potential threat to Hitler, such as SA Commander Ernst Rohm. The purge was carried out by the much smaller and elite Schutzstaffel (SS), which absorbed much of the SA organization once it's leadership was decapitated.

    In many ways the Basij is similar in purpose to the SA.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  66. Joe

    I am sure after the atrocities of Florida voting the rest of the world thought the same of the US when George W. gained office a second time, it had to be rigged! We continue to pay for that idiots mess, attacked by terrorists, two wars and he spent way more than Obama will ever spend. People think he saves us for terror; he let them in the front door and kept reading a book to kids while we were under attack. LOSER! So yeah think of what WE looked like to other countries. On the other hand Iran is truly a mess but careful when you cast stones.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:47 am |
  67. michael nyaga

    It is obvious.Change is on the horizon in Iran.The people will prevail.People will die.Indeed,the cost of freedom.A puric victory indeed.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:47 am |
  68. Dayahka

    Shah Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is just another dictator. Ahmaninejad is just a puppet. If Ahmaninejad continues in the office of president, the West should refuse to deal with him and call for direct contact with the Shah. Identifying Ali Khamenei as the Shah is the best way to assure his demise.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  69. Jim

    "Just another day of dealing with the nutcases who run Iran. You know, the ones Obama was so anxious to talk to. " They're sort of like the nutcases who were running the U.S. up until January 20 this year. What would you have us do Todd, bomb them?

    June 17, 2009 at 11:45 am |
  70. Gordon

    The current Iranian regime was honorably elected and should stand
    firm against the opposition. I personally hope Ahmadinejad arrests
    these radicals and try them for treason.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  71. Who cares about Iran

    The US should not give 2 cents for the issues facing iran and their internal strife. We do not use their oil. They will never be our friend. If they buuild nuclear capability, Israel will bomb them. I say we let them stew in their own juices and their 35% unemployment and we start taking care of problems we face here at home. I have the same view of Afghanistan and Iraq – pull the troops and come home. It is time for the Mid east to clean up their own messes. Let Saudia Arabia – and the other rich oil states get their hands dirty for a change and help sort out the mess in Irag and Afghanstan

    June 17, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  72. Brian

    K i dont know why you are using experts and sounding like an awesome news company. this is actually all common knowledge. Im from Canada and everybody knew about that without your "expert" providing his already known facts. I guess because we are ignorant then you and actually care about countries outside our borders.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  73. Jeff

    To: Todd June 17th, 2009 11:11 am ET

    I hate the arguement that because a country is run by a bunch of nut-jobs that you don't have to deal with them. Pretending they don't exist doesn't negate the fact that they are in charge of a country. It just ticks them off even more.... Talking to them is the only way to find neutral ground.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  74. John in Atlanta

    While Ali analogized this situation to the Night of the Long Knives in Germany in 1934, I wonder if it may not be closer to 1917 Russia when the Bolsheviks were able to unthrone the czar because his troops simply decided to put down their guns rather than shoot their fellow Russians. what a great thing to see – that democracy emerges from the will of the people rather than from bombing a country via "Shock and Awe". However, it is after the overthrow that things always become dicey because there is a vacuum of power. It turned out badly in both 1934 Germany and 1917 Russia when the vacuum was filled by totalitairan regimes who ultimately were anti democratic until each fell – one peacefully the other by surrender in a world war.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  75. LibertyQueen

    The demonstrations have been so huge in Tehran, Iran they filled a major boulevard shoulder to shoulder for a distance of FIVE miles. There is no way the 35 million votes could have been counted in two hours...they count their paper ballots by hand!!!! And apparently 14 million votes are unaccounted for...hmm, wonder where the Iranians votes went.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  76. John Q

    Ali, talking to does not mean agreeing with. If you cannot talk, the only option you have is war. And if you can talk, at the very least you have options. Also, Obama has directly addressed the Iranian people, to spite the leadership. So you really have no argument.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  77. Eric

    Too bad the Iraqis didn't do this years ago when Hussein was in power. A revolution starts from within. The people of Iran are speaking up because they want to be free.

    This is the same type of totalitarian regime that the US went into Iraq to uproot. This is also the same Iranian regime that people criticized Bush for picking a fight with.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  78. Norm

    Dictator pretending to have a democracy.
    This country is a stain on the global community.
    We wasted our time and money in Iraq.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  79. peter perez

    did America forget that George Bush was not elected but stole the election and that at least Iran had an election when was the last time suadi arabia or Egypt have an election. The world just doesn't want to deal with the truth

    June 17, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  80. SteveR

    Its Basij, not Basiege. And its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, not Iranian. A little fact-checking here CNN?

    And Sadjadpour is absolutely right that the IRGC and Basij are not a monolithic entity that blindly supports Ahmadi-Nejad. Like all institutions in the Islamic Republic, selected senior officers may be loyal to the leadership, but the vetting does not go so far down that there is complete loyalty at all levels.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  81. wendy, Portland, Oregon

    Obama's messages to the Iranian people were clear ...especially in his Cairo speech which was covered thruout the Islamic world. In it, he said, among other things, that whatever differences peoples may have now ..(such as with Israel), the Holocaust happened. It is a FACT and that those who deny it are essentially ignorant/and or crazy. He also talked of r eaching out and having a relationship based on mutual respect with Muslim countries. Obama's message and the hope he inspires clearly had an impact. The Iranian young people, and the educated people of Tehran and other urban areas in particular, want to get rid of their toxic President and start a new relationship with the world...particularly with America. Thanks to Obama, they know they can have that new relationship and I hope they will succeed in their "Yes we can ":campaign.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  82. Chris

    @Todd: The President is prepared to talk to any nation to move forward, what's lost by talking? The stupidity and ignorance of the previous government's foreign policies are going to take years to repair. America is not loved, or even feared, in most countries – its hated. That needs to change. Of course, we can stay in the past and be ignorant, as it seems you prefer. Oh, and its President or Mr Obama to the likes of you.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  83. Steven

    The problem with letting people start to think for themselves is that once you let the genie out of the bottle you can not put it back in. I do wished the Irainian people harm. However, there comes a time when a Government fails to support the will of its people, then that Government needs to fall. I whole heartly support the Iranian people in their endeavors to change their society.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  84. Marc

    Why would we want Mousavi to lead the Iranians? It would seem some people havent read their history books. The man was in charge in Iran when it started it's secrete nuclear program. He was also an avid and early support of the Lebanese Hizb'Allah movement.

    He was known as being a religious radical his first time around. What we are seeing here is the secular elite minority of the country being VERY unhappy about loosing to the poorer more religious majority of the country.

    That is how democracy works. Mousavi has already stated before the elections he wont stop work on the nuclear program he started, so why would we have ANY interest in seeing a minority government set up for a man who supports Hizb'Allah, started the Iranian's nuclear program and says he wont stop it?

    Havent we learned to stop push minorities to rule in Iran? The only way this man, an ethnic minority Azeri can lead Iran, is through more dictatorship and more violence. That is the only way a person who doesnt have the majority of the support of Iranians can rule.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  85. L

    Have you thought that it may well have been Obama's words the drop that filled the cup for the iranian reformists to take the streets as they have? Do you remember anything like this taking place while the iranian reformist were being held hostage by W's stupid cowboy like stance towards Teheran?
    I thought so. Now go and wait for another 8 years until you can even THINK of having a conservative elected as potus

    June 17, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  86. Mike M

    What about the Iranian military? They are yung like the protesters. Isn't it significant that there has been no mention of using the military to quell riots?

    June 17, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  87. James Lyles

    Karim Sadjadpou is reporting speculation not fact about the so called injustice in the Iran election. Nobody has shown a factual account of voter fraud.
    Right now Karim Sadjadpou is not an authority on the actual circumstances of the election vote count. In all the anger arising from the citizens of Iran this is the only fact that needs to be addressed openly.

    Neither one of the candidates is really going to be a friend of the west. The current leader only has more negative air time so the Western media is reporting it according to its dislikes and not to the facts. .

    June 17, 2009 at 11:36 am |
  88. Rusty

    Khamenei's biggest mistake was to confirm an election that was obviously rigged (badly). If he is smart he will probably dump Ahmadinejad ASAP, before more damage is done to his own rule. Wouldn't surprise me at all if Ahmadinejad ends up mysteriously dead within the month, as he probably won't want to take the fall alone.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:36 am |
  89. Jessica

    Todd "You know, the ones Obama was so anxious to talk to. Now that the true totaliatarian nature of their government is obvious to all, I wonder if Obama still wants to talk to them…"

    you fail to realize Obama's position. It isnt about the leadership of Iran, its about ALL of Iran. As we can see, their people don't exactly support this tyranny...

    Yes, talking to your enemies shows that you support THOSE within that nation that seek democracy, freedom and safety and peace.

    We arent appealing to Ahmedinajad or Khameni...we are trying to appeal to the people!

    Wake up Todd...the Cowboy Charade didn't work.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  90. Fair and Balanced

    It is a little concerning that we quote "experts" who claim to know what the population of Iran is thinking when there is no possible way they could know it. There is no reliable polling and these experts are only able to reliably contact dissident groups. It is similar to the WMD in Iraq where we relied on outsiders looking in and dissident groups who were absolutely certain that Iraq had a massive WMD program. Reality, we know that there is a massive demonstration going on but the question is whether there would have been a similar demonstration if the rival party had won.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:34 am |
  91. ram

    Leave Iran alone. If the Democrats had behaved in the manner that the losers in the election are showing now, after the american 2000 elections, what would the world have done? Nothing. period.
    This is the visible minority backed by american news.
    I noticed that the western media did not cover the story of Ukrainian workers protesting and driving away the US navy in the Black Sea port.
    Such biases can only bring money to the media for selling what people want to hear in the west.
    Iran is a sovereign nation and will deal with its problems when they arise. This is no problem. It was a democratic election and the US and its media slaves are always condemning any nation that does not lick up to them after a democratic election. Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Palestine, Syria, Russia etc are among the several. When will the well-fed and well-paid start to earn their money honestly.
    The US and allies invade countries to bring in democracy. Well democracy is well and at work in Iran. No excuse to go in and conquer!
    Iran is a world power and will continue to grow in health and stature. When GB was going to war in Iraq, 1000 times the number of people of the world protested. It was a war of lies. What did America do then? What did you do then?
    Have a good day in your 5 star hotel!

    June 17, 2009 at 11:32 am |
  92. John in Ohio

    "If Ayatollah Khamenei, who rapidly endorsed Ahmadinejad’s victory and asked the country to unite behind him then turns and calls for his ouster, he will do irreparable damage to himself as well."

    This is exactly right. I've been listening to BBC coverage of the events in Iran. Something they keep hitting on is that, if the supposedly infallible Supreme Leader turns his back on Ahmadinejad, it indicates that prior to that the Supreme Leader was wrong. It takes away his infallibility. The Supreme Leader becomes no longer Supreme, and it undermines their whole theocractic structure. I think you may see, out of all this, a government without a Supreme Leader, but still with the Guardian Council, and with a much stronger President. The Guardian Council is indeed basically a puppet for the Supreme Leader, but it is also the only body that can remove the Supreme Leader. If he has compromised himself, they may do just that, because for them it'd be better to keep their jobs and not have a Supreme Leader, then to have a massive popular revolution that sweeps away all the theocratic elements in the government.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:29 am |
  93. Mike in NYC

    Immediately after the election, Ahmadinejad went to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, where he was well received. This implies that he is, in all likelihood, going to remain President. He would not have gone without the blessing of Khamenei.

    This analysis, by an Iranian no less, omits essential points, such as the struggle between Khamenei and Hashemi Rafsanjani, the historical animosity between Rafsanjani and Moussavi, and the post-election meeting between Khamenei and Moussavi in which the former acted in a much more subtle and confident manner than Sadjadpour indicates. There’s also the implicit assumption that Ahmadinejad did not receive the votes of a majority of Iranians, which is doubtful.

    A most impoverished commentary from this "expert," and one which will merely cement American readers in their jaundiced view of what is transpiring in Iran. Then again, maybe it was intended to do that.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:24 am |
  94. tydica

    If Ayatollah Khamenei, who rapidly endorsed Ahmadinejad's victory and asked the country to unite behind him then turns and calls for his ouster, he will do irreparable damage to himself as well.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:21 am |
  95. Michael Khorshidianzadeh

    I am an Iranian-American and I agree with Sadjapour 100%. I believe there will be a division amount the Guard and the Basiege if the protests continue. Iran will become a true republic soon.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  96. Randy McLeod

    My personal view, the supreme leader will oust the president of Iran for a couple of reasons: the president is called shorty behind his back; he needs a sheet to blow his nose; and the worst reason is HE TALKS TOO MUCH.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:18 am |
  97. BrianG, Sugar Land, TX

    Kudos for the citizens of Iran. Guess we've known all along that their leadership does not represent them.

    My cheerleading is not for Iran itself (still a dangerous adversary), but for any people which will not tolerate corrupted government and rigged elections.

    June 17, 2009 at 11:13 am |
  98. jerry1


    June 17, 2009 at 11:12 am |
  99. Todd

    Just another day of dealing with the nutcases who run Iran. You know, the ones Obama was so anxious to talk to. Now that the true totaliatarian nature of their government is obvious to all, I wonder if Obama still wants to talk to them...

    June 17, 2009 at 11:11 am |
  100. Ali

    There is a similarity between the current events in Iran and the Night of the Long Knives of June and July of 1934 in Germany. Where Hitler jump started a series of events which was essentially a coup, swept up the oposition and rival groups and politicians by utilizing the Brownshirt militia.

    By challenging the leadership and Islamic Republic Gaurds Corps role in recent events by the "others" in Iran it seems like a defining moment for the country and which way it goes will be determind soon.

    June 17, 2009 at 10:49 am |
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