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Viewing cable 09LONDON1442, IRAN: XXXXXXXXXXXX SAYS ELECTION PRECLUDED BY "POLITICAL COUP," URGES USG FOCUS ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND POLITICAL SUPPORT FOR PROTESTORS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09LONDON1442 2009-06-18 17:05 2011-02-15 12:12 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy London
VZCZCXRO2428
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK RUEHTRO
DE RUEHLO #1442/01 1691750
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 181750Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2658
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 LONDON 001442 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/18/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL PTER PINS IR UK
SUBJECT: IRAN:  XXXXXXXXXXXX SAYS ELECTION PRECLUDED BY "POLITICAL COUP," URGES USG FOCUS ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND POLITICAL SUPPORT FOR PROTESTORS  

REF: 08 LONDON 2691 AND PREVIOUS  

1. (S) Summary:  XXXXXXXXXXXX on June 16 told London Iran Watcher (Poloff) and a small group of diplomats that "a majority" of leaders within the government of Iran and the IRGC want the United States, while continuing to avoid interference in Iran, to continue and even strengthen its public messages on human rights, so as to support popular protests in Iran and prevent any consolidation of Ahmedinejad's electoral win.  XXXXXXXXXXXX said "a majority" of the IRGC have split from the Basij and from IRGC commander Jafari over the manipulation and aftermath of the June 12 elections.  He added that XXXXXXXXXXXX conceived and ordered engineering of the election and of attempted suppression which has followed. XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed no senior clergy other than XXXXXXXXXXXX in fact support Ahmedinejad.  XXXXXXXXXXXX offered no compromise solution among contending parties in Iran, and indicated throughout that either Moussavi or Ahmedinejad would be politically vanquished.  He explicitly played down the prospect of a "civil war" raised by a European interlocutor.  End summary. 

2.(S)  As in the past (ref), XXXXXXXXXXXX appeared at the invitation of the Next Century Foundation (NCF), a small UK policy forum NGO enjoying occasional Embassy support; XXXXXXXXXXXX had just arrived in the UK from XXXXXXXXXXXX late that same day, June 16. The venue was the residence of the German Political Counselor; besides NCF staff, attendees included XXXXXXXXXXXX, the Norwegian, Spanish, and Japanese embassies and a mid-level Whitehall (UK) diplomat.  

Events of June 12 and Afterwards: "A Political Coup" --------------------------------- 

3.(S) After warning the group against any leaks of his remarks, XXXXXXXXXXXX characterized events in Iran since June 12 as a "political coup," and said "the Islamic Republic has never faced such a situation.8  He emphasized it was "not a military coup," since, according to XXXXXXXXXXXX, there was for the most part no involvement by the great majority of IRGC officers; at the same time ,XXXXXXXXXXXXdrew a clear line between the IRGC and the Basij, emphasizing the Basijis' central role in suppression of protestors. 

4. (S) Asked for an explanation of events since June 12, XXXXXXXXXXXX gave a tense, extended narrative that closely resembled reformist narratives, which Poloff and other posts have reported.  XXXXXXXXXXXX said ruling circles on June 12 had fully expected that, due to the political chemistry and excitement generated by the Moussavi-Ahmedinejad debate, Moussavi would emerge a clear winner.  The indicia of fraud he listed were similar to what Western observers have cited, but centered on implausible proportions of the vote for Ahmedinejad uniformly throughout Iran and an implausibly fast announcement. XXXXXXXXXXXX spoke at length on the democratizing effects worldwide and in Iran of digital technology and said the deliberate interruption of SMS services had been a key factor in inhibiting opposition candidates' supporters from effectively monitoring vote compilation at polling centers.  

XXXXXXXXXXXX Version of the Views of "Traditional" Insiders ------------------------------ 

5. (S) Of special interest XXXXXXXXXXXX description of the perceptions of persons inside "traditional revolutionary groups."  XXXXXXXXXXXX said this election, Iran's first failed election "after 40 successful elections since the Revolution," had been unique for its "lack of advance clarity."  The Iranian electoral norm, according to XXXXXXXXXXXX, was that all parties' positions and interests are well defined many months in advance, whereas in this case it had not been clear to insiders, according to XXXXXXXXXXXX, whether one of the major candidates, XXXXXXXXXXXXX, would even stand two days before the election.  XXXXXXXXXXXX said this atmosphere created a need for certainty, and represented an opportunity for "those who had done this before" (XXXXXXXXXXXX did not explain this point to the larger group but see para. 10 below).   Speaking elliptically, and without drawing a clear line between his points, XXXXXXXXXXXX said there were additional elements contributing to insiders' "atmosphere of uncertainty" and the motive and opportunity to "once more" manipulate the June 12 results.  XXXXXXXXXXXXX said there were splits for the first time among the conservatives themselves, and not just among reformists, but emphasized strongly that "only a minority (of high-level individuals) supported Ahmedinejad, then and now. XXXXXXXXXXXX LONDON 00001442  002 OF 004   said the television debates were a very new factor and that the atmosphere, and insiders' "sense of control ....changed completely overnight" after the Moussavi-Ahmedinejad debate; "green appeared everywhere."  

Where Senior Clerics Stand -------------------------- 

6. (S) He also said the debates produced "an explosion" among the clergy, directed, according to XXXXXXXXXXXX, against Ahmedinejad.  The late replacement of Interior Minister Pir Mohammadi by Ahmedinejad confederate Mahsouli had also been a worrisome event.  Also significant, said XXXXXXXXXXXX in a distinctly positive tone, had been the candid and electrifying remarks in May on Iranian television of XXXXXXXXXXXXX, who had candidly criticized the government's rejectionist foreign policy vis a vis the United States.  XXXXXXXXXXXX noted very pointedly that, in his view, there is very little senior clerical support for Ahmedinejad; he said "they remember Ahmedinejad attacked them, and only one -- just one -- in Qom supports him," an apparent reference to XXXXXXXXXXXX. 

7. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX said the ultimate denouement will be determined by interplay between the Guardian Council as it deliberates on the candidates' petitions for redress, and the Supreme Leader.  This deliberation will be set against a background either of acquiescence by the international community and a lessening of the energy behind current protest levels, or of continued pressure and withholding of legitimacy through mass protest and united, sustained international attention.  XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed that opponents of the Ahmedinejad win can settle for nothing less than a "re-vote," that the ballots as cast June 12 are too tainted for a recount now to have value.  He said the United States &must not recognize Ahmedinejad.8  

Rafsanjani Said To Be Unwilling to Tolerate A "Third Provocation" --------------------------------- 

8. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX repeatedly underlined what he called XXXXXXXXXXXX central role in resisting the "coup" and in backing the three aggrieved candidates.  He described the June 12 vote manipulation as "a third provocation" against XXXXXXXXXXXX and the community he represents.  Without naming the specific provocateurs, but saying the same ones are behind the current manipulation of election results, XXXXXXXXXXXX said XXXXXXXXXXXX had chosen not to respond to the electoral manipulations which had undercut him in the previous (2005) presidential elections and the 2007 Majles elections, but that he and "those whom this figure represents.... do not accept a third provocation;" XXXXXXXXXXXX repeated the phrase at several points in the evening.  XXXXXXXXXXXX twice during the evening provided a detailed description of the IRGC and the original leaders of the 1979 revolution as being &those who really decide the national interest.8  At one point XXXXXXXXXXXX declared: &Presidents come and go but we remain and we decide what is the interest of the nation and the interest of the revolution.8  

XXXXXXXXXXXX Picks the Green Folder ----------------------------- 

9. (S) Poloff, seated next to XXXXXXXXXXXX, offered XXXXXXXXXXXX one set apiece of Farsi language versions of President Obama's Cairo speech and his June 15 remarks (during Prime Minister Berlusconi's visit) on Iran: the two document sets were packaged in a green and a blue folder. XXXXXXXXXXXX.   

XXXXXXXXXXXX Points at Jafari, Basij, and XXXXXXXXXXXXX ----------------------------------- 

10. (S) On the margins of the meeting afterwards, speaking to Poloff and to XXXXXXXXXXXXX, XXXXXXXXXXXX said IRGC commander XXXXXXXXXXXX has been a principal planner and instigator of election manipulations.  Asked about the possible role of XXXXXXXXXXXX, XXXXXXXXXXXX said that "yes, we have serious division;" he said he could not name who in XXXXXXXXXXXX was involved, but emphasized "the large majority" of IRGC officers and rank and file "oppose  LONDON 00001442  003 OF 004   what has happened."  

Human Rights ------------ 

11. (S) In response to points Poloff made, drawing from NSC's June 16 public guidance, on USG concern over violence, possible vote fraud, the unchanging nature of international security concerns, and USG respect and noninterference in Iranian affairs, XXXXXXXXXXXX immediately and in front of the group asked that USG be very careful not to de-emphasize human rights in its public comments on Iran in the coming days. There was then a lengthy segue, not without irony, into the role human rights should play in U.S. foreign policy in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel/Palestine and Central Asia, followed by XXXXXXXXXXXX return to a request that the USG keep the human rights and safety of "peaceful Iranian demonstrators" at the center of the USG message.  XXXXXXXXXXXX praised USG public statements on the elections to date, and agreed the principle of noninterference needs to be constantly repeated, but said the human rights component needed to go "somewhat farther." He argued that a failure to establish a strong and clear signal on human rights would legitimate, and thereby empower, security forces to slowly and quietly crush the current resistance.  

Nuclear Engagement: "Cash for Cash" ------------------- 

12. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX asked to comment on prospects for nuclear engagement, politely but immediately dismissed the P5 1 offer as being "not business-like," in that it promises in his view "future U.S. action such as light water reactor or friendly security talks" in exchange for "real action by Iran now -- suspension of enrichment."  He then made general remarks about the possibility of "a practical solution," but repeated "it must be business-like" with concrete motivations, and he raised anti-narcotics and anti-terrorism as things "which mean something to Iran -- you must make a real offer."   He repeated the mantra "cash for cash" at least four times in describing what in the Iranian view constitutes a "business-like" approach to negotiation.  

Personal Disappointment ----------------------- 

13. (S/NF) Poloff informed XXXXXXXXXXXX that, further to XXXXXXXXXXXX earlier expressions of interest at traveling to Washington to brief senior U.S. experts and officials (ref), USG officials were aware of his interest in traveling to the United States.  As before Poloff offered to support and expedite the application but noted sharp limitations on Poloff's ability to assist; XXXXXXXXXXXX was visibly disappointed, remarking ruefully XXXXXXXXXXXXX would have to tell people "my Washington connection cannot produce as I wished."  XXXXXXXXXXXX politely noted Poloff's pending departure from post and asked for an introduction to the incoming London Iran Watcher -- Poloff made tentative arrangements for introductions to be made in person on June 30, shortly before XXXXXXXXXXXX are due to return from the UK to Iran.  

Comment ------- 

14. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXXX (ref).  XXXXXXXXXXXX, whom Poloff has observed in a series of similar small group sessions since 2006 (ref), projected his usual smoothly self-confident, dominating presence, but seemed more internally agitated and ill at ease than in previous meetings.  As the dinner broke up, his manner with Poloff on the margins in requesting USG public rhetorical support for demonstrators and human rights principles was (not quite but) almost pleading in tone, and far more urgent and solicitous than anything Poloff had previously heard from him.  XXXXXXXXXXXX 

Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX  LONDON 00001442  004 OF 004   LeBaron