IranWatch: June 19

For highlights of previous coverage, see IranWatch: June 18, June 17

Updated 8:19 p.m. Eastern: Khamenei Defends Election Results

A heaving sea of the faithful packed Tehran University's mosque, enthralled to find themselves so close to Iran's holiest man - Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Thousands who couldn't squeeze in listened outside in the surrounding streets.

All week, Iran's state media have been trying to convince people that the political unrest was incited by foreign plotters, including Americans, so we chose to observe from a quieter side street.

On the face of it, the Friday prayer ceremony is a religious occasion. But in spite of thousands of the devout who came to hear the Supreme Leader, everybody knows this is a pivotal political moment.

"The results of an election come from the ballot box - not the street," the Supreme Leader told the crowd.

He defended President Ahmadinejad's landslide win last Friday, saying, "Our system has no room for fraud."

Click below to watch all of CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer's report from Iran.





Updated 4:35 p.m. Eastern: Mousavi Facebook growth off the charts

(CBS)
He may not yet rate with the likes of Vin Diesel or or Will Smith, but give him time. Iranian opposition figure Mir Hossein Mousavi is fast becoming a Facebook celebrity in his own right.

As of Friday afternoon, the Iranian opposition leader had close to 67,000 supporters on his Updated 4:15 p.m. Eastern: Iranian Nobel Prize winner: Election results must be overturnedShirin Ebadi, winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize for Peace, told the French daily Le Monde, that domestic order would return only if the Iranian government annuled the results of last week's elections and held a new election under the auspices of international observers.

Ebadi, who has been traveling in Europe, said she plans to return to Iran within the next 10 days.


Updated 3:50 p.m. Eastern: President Obama weighs in on Iran situation:

President Barack Obama has expressed his concern following statements made today by Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei supporting the country's contested election results.

In an interview with CBS News' Harry Smith, President Obama had this to say:

"And I'm very concerned based on some of the tenor -- and tone of the statements that have been made -- that the government of Iran recognize that the world is watching," the president told Smith. "And how they approach and deal with people who are, through peaceful means, trying to be heard will, I think, send a pretty clear signal to the international community about what Iran is and -- and is not."


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Updated 3:30 p.m. Eastern: Reading the mood on the ground: The depth of the disconnect

Politics is as much about symbolism as anything.

While domestic critics urge President Barack Obama to make a more forceful statement about the situation in Iran, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution today that supports "all Iranians who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties and the rule of law" and condemned " the ongoing violence against demonstrators." (Apropos, here's a video of one such clash:)



More than 6,000 miles away in Tehran, Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei remained unimpressed. In fact, he had tough words of his own for the protesters, spelling out what they ought to do next.

That brought this observation from Simon Tisdall in the Guardian, who said the speech underscored the depth of the disconnect between the regime and its critics.

"Worse, he appeared to show little understanding of the depth of the crisis that he and his protege, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have helped provoke with what looked to many Iranians like a pre-emptive strike last weekend to claim victory before the votes were fully counted. It was a five-star performance in the politics of denial. And it's tempting to conclude: Khamenei just doesn't get it."


Updated 3:10 p.m. Eastern: BBC enlists extra satellites to overcome Iran jamming

The BBC plans to enlist a couple of extra satellites to better beam its Farsi-language service into Iran. The service has been jammed in recent days as the regime has clamped down on reporting by foreign journalists.

"This is an important time for Iran," according to a statement put out by BBC World Service Director Peter Horrocks. "We hope that by adding more ways to access BBC Persian television, Farsi-speaking audiences can get the high quality news, analysis and debate they clearly desire."


Updated 2:21 p.m. Eastern: Report: Tehran Students Plan Sit-In At University

The Guardian's Robert Tait is reporting that students at the University of Tehran, where a reportedly fatal police raid occurred earlier in the week, have announced plans to stage an indefinite sit-in starting Saturday.


Updated 1:47 p.m. Eastern: Iran Expert Predicts "Bad Times Are Ahead"

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's comments Friday are a sign "that the bad times are ahead," and Iran expert told CBS News Friday.

"He's basically warning the people that there will be a crackdown if they continue. This is a clear ominous sign – I think that the bad times are ahead," David Makovsky, a distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute, told Bob Schieffer.
Makovsky appeared with Schieffer on the latest installment of "Washington Unplugged," CBSNews.com's daily Web-only broadcast.

Makovsky expects there will be fewer people on the streets for subsequent protests, "because the ayatollah's words will scare a lot."

"But at the same time, the people that do go to the streets will be more hardcore. I think they know to avoid violence but that will be the trigger for the backlash against them."

Government-sponsored violence at Saturday's planned protest is a distinct possibility, he said.

"[Iran's regime] can be utterly ruthless, and I fear violence. I hope I'm wrong, believe, me, I pray I'm wrong. But I fear that they're ruthless enough that they'll crack down."

And despite the criticism over the White House's largely hesitant approach toward the protests, Makovsky thinks the President Obama's response has bee "very appropriate."

"I think he's taken the proper approach. No one should think this is a made-in-America idea."


Updated 1:10 p.m. Eastern: Women Are Driving Force Behind Iran's Reform Movement

5095028CNN's Moni Basu offers a thorough look at how women have become agents of change in Iran. The report charts the evolution of women in politics, their struggles under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and their hopes to become more than just "second-class citizens."


Updated 12:43 p.m. Eastern: Obama Faces Heat On Iran "Silence"

President Obama's reluctance to wade too far into Iran's election protests has put him in the cross-hairs of some Washington Post columnists.

Charles Krauthammer it's not too late" for Obama to adjust his response.

He draws parallels between Obama's silence and the "initially neutral" responses of Ronald Reagan to the Philippine election crisis in 1986 and George H.W. Bush to attempted coup of Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991.


Updated 12:05 p.m. Eastern: Ayatollah's Rhetoric Stokes Fears Of Violence

Latest story on CBSNews.com looks at the increased fear of violent clashes at Saturday's protest given the ayatollah's warning today that protesters will be "held responsible for the chaos and the consequences" of further demonstrations.


Updated 11:59 a.m. Eastern: U.S. House Condemns Iran Crackdown

This from the Associated Press:

In the strongest message yet from the U.S. government, the House has voted to condemn Tehran's crackdown on demonstrators and the government's interference with Internet and cell phone communications.

The resolution was initiated by Republicans as a veiled criticism of President Barack Obama.

The president has mostly spoken in quite measured terms, reluctant to speak too strongly about the disputed elections that left hard-liner President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in charge of the Muslim nation.

Democrats, who are quick to voice their support for Israel, easily agreed with the GOP on pushing through the mildly worded resolution.

Congress frequently weighs in on foreign policy matters, when a similar message from the State Department or the White House would be considered confrontational.


Updated 10:58 a.m. Eastern: Tehran Official: No "Legal" Protest Saturday

According to a PressTV report, Tehran's governor general said Mousavi supporters have no permission to hold Saturday's planned 4 p.m. rally.

"I hope that this rally will not be held as no legal permission has been granted for this rally," Morteza Tamadon is quoted as saying.

While the other rallies this week have also been held in defiance of a government ban, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's latest rhetoric has been more aggressive, warning protesters that they will be "held responsible for the chaos and the consequences."


Updated 10:26 a.m. Eastern: Video Of Mousavi, Singing Crowds From Thursday

A YouTube channel dedicated to the Iran upheaval has some videos of Thursday's rallies.

The first two show Mir Hossein Mousavi among a crowd of supporters:






The next shows the huge crowd singing:




Updated 10:01 a.m. Eastern: Concerns Mount Over Brewing Clash

(AP Photo/Ghalam News)
Despite a more explicit warning from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to abandon protesting, pro-Mousavi Web sites haven't announced any change in plans for their Saturday demonstration.

During his speech Friday, Khamenei said the election "must be determined at the ballot box … not in the streets."

"I call on all to put an end to this method. ... If they don't, they will be held responsible for the chaos and the consequences."

Khamenei's rhetoric has some international groups worried that violence is imminent.

Amnesty International said the language indicated a "readiness to launch violent crackdowns if people continue to protest" and could lead to a "widespread loss of life,"

"We are extremely disturbed at statements made by Ayatollah Khamenei which seem to give the green light to security forces to violently handle protesters exercising their right to demonstrate and express their views," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa programs, in a statement.

"For a head of state to put the onus of security on peaceful demonstrators and not on the security forces is a gross dereliction of duty and a license for abuse," said Sahraoui.


Updated 9:35 a.m. Eastern: Mousavi, the Obama of Iran?

(CBS)
In an interview with Foreign Policy, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Mir Hossein Mousavi's external spokesman, describes Mousavi as the Obama of Iran, in contrast to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He also calls the Guardian Council, which is deciding the fate of disputed election in Iran, as illegitimate, populated by supporters of president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

FP: There has been growing criticism here in Washington that U.S. President Barack Obama hasn't said or done enough to support those demonstrating in the streets of Iran. Do you think Obama is being too careful? Or even that he is helping Ahmadinejad by being cautious?

MM: Obama has said that there is no difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi. Does he like it himself [when someone is] saying that there is no difference between Obama and [George W.] Bush? Ahmadinejad is the Bush of Iran. And Mousavi is the Obama of Iran.


Updated 9:25 a.m. Eastern: EU Condemns Iran "Brutality"

The European Union unanimously condemned violence against Iran's opposition protesters, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Friday.

"It is for Iran now to show the world that the elections have been fair," he said.

"It is also for Iran to show the world that the repression and the brutality that we've seen in these last few days is not something that is going to be repeated."

Brown spoke to reporters after meeting with EU leaders in Brussels, according to an Associated Press report.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized the "evil" British government for meddling in Iran's affairs, calling them "worse than all of" the rest of Europe.


Updated 9:04 a.m. Eastern: Google, Facebook Look To Join Iran Front Lines

Twitter's been center stage as a communication tool in the Iran crisis, but they may soon have some company.

According to this CNET report, Google is adding Persian and Farsi to its translation service and Facebook is prepping to launch a Persian version of its social networking site.


Updated 8:29 a.m. Eastern: "Evil" U.K. Summons Iran Ambassador Over Ayatollah's Rant

(AP Photo/IRIB)
According to Al-Arabiya TV, the British government has summoned the Iranian Ambassador in London to wage a complaint over remarks made by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during his Friday speech in Tehran.

Khamenei broadly accused the U.S. and the U.K., and the media organizations of those two nations, of fomenting the political unrest which has swept Iran since the disputed June 12 presidential election results were announced.

But the Ayatollah reserved his harshest criticism for Britain, urging opposition candidates "not to be neglectful" of "enemies who are operating from behind their masks."

"The diplomats of a few countries who so far have been speaking to us in diplomatic terms, have now shown their true faces. Worse than all of them is the evil British government," said the supreme leader.


Updated 7:52 a.m. Eastern: The Ayatollah Has Spoken, What Next?

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports from Tehran that, as of 10 a.m. in the Iranian capital, all eyes were either glued to state TV, or physically in the crowd at Tehran University for supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's speech.

Friday prayers are usually a fairly muted religious ceremony, but not today. Palmer reports that the thousands who jammed the square and streets around the university came this Friday to hear a political rebuttal, and they got it, loud and clear.

"Arm wrestling in the streets is not right," the supreme leader told the crowd, referring to the huge protest rallies that have swept Iran's major cities all week.

He went on to say the results of the election come, "from the ballot box and not from the street… I want everyone to put a stop to it," he went on.

The question now, will Iran's opposition movement heed the warning?

It's now reported the state is preparing a crackdown — with as much force as is necessary to suppress the protests.

So far there's no reaction from the leaders of the opposition movement and also no word on whether they have the will to do what only weeks ago would have been unthinkable — to defy the supreme leader himself.


Updated 5:52 a.m. Eastern: Mousavi Asked Supporters To Skip Ayatollah Speech

The Web site of a newspaper associated with Iran's opposition movement announced early Friday that opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi had issued a statement postponing a rally scheduled for Friday for one day, out of a sign of respect for supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The announcement said:

Following request for permitting to rally in the Enghleab Square in opposition to the altered results of the presidential election, and with appreciation for the sensitivity shown by the noble Iranian nation we announce that the decision to attend the Friday prayers wearing black has been cancelled.

Therefore, we request all our dear compatriots to voice their opposition to the process of the presidential election by participating a in the large rally on Saturday from the Enghelab (square) to Azadi (square)
.

Khamenei gave his speech Friday following prayers at Tehran University. He rejected all opposition claims of vote rigging in the June 12 presidential election and blamed foreign "enemies," including the U.S. and U.K. and their media for fomenting the unrest in Iran.

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