“Twitter” has suddenly become a buzzword in the news. Twitter is a website made up of very short news reports written by several different authors. The U.S. State Department announced that it intends to assist Twitter in its plans to expand. This is proof that the U.S. aims to interfere in the Iranian election.
Twitter has been crucial in the Iran election, and Moussavi’s supporters have relied heavily upon the Internet, both to win voters’ support and to call the public to the streets to voice opposition.
During the Cold War, the U.S. used the Voice of America. The Voice of America was broadcasted over European and Asian radio stations to infiltrate Communist countries to promote gradual and peaceful change. The radio station was a tool of the CIA and was an obvious interference in other countries’ internal affairs. But now, in the information age, the Internet’s power is a far cry from wireless radio. What’s more, the CIA does not fund the Internet, and thus it cannot be considered an intrusion in internal affairs. Therefore, it’s extremely unwise for the State Department to try to meddle with Twitter.
This is truly a disaster for the Iranian government and has given the Revolutionary Guard no choice but to intervene and put restrictions on the Internet. For example, the Revolutionary Guard has limited Iranians’ access to international websites and has taken control of text messaging.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Khameni has demanded that the people remain quiet and has suggested that external forces incited the demonstrations, causing the protesters to don their counter-revolutionary hats. The Western media have reported that Moussavi will not surrender and even that he could be “martyred.” The credibility of these reports merits suspicion. If Moussavi has no rights, and no followers, how can he challenge the decision?
As this column has previously asserted, Moussavi is supported by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and his followers. During the last election, Rafsanjani was defeated by Ahmadinejad. This time, he supports Moussavi. The power struggle between Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad is fierce, but does Rafsanjani have the strength to stand up to Supreme Leader Khameni? Rafsanjani is the Chairman of the Assembly of Experts, a governmental body that oversees the Supreme Leader. Theoretically, the Assembly of Experts has the power to recall Khameni. However, the committee is composed of just eighty-six of the most senior clergymen who meet only once a year to discuss national politics and the Supreme Leader. Can Rafsanjani occupy a dominant position in the committee and take out Khameni? If he cannot, then he must draw criticism towards himself in order to draw it away from Moussavi.
Khameni has launched his counter-attack and has the Revolutionary Guard in his palm. However, up to this point he has not directly criticized Rafsanjani, which shows that the fight hasn’t really heated up yet and the situation is still under control. The day that Khameni indicates that Rafsanjani is directly involved with the protests, things will change dramatically. The U.S. and the E.U. hope that Rafsanjani will accrue as much power as possible. However, it looks as though America will remain cautious towards Iran, mainly out of fear that in aiming too high, it will achieve nothing, and only worsen relations with Iran.