Iranian mullahs agree to recount ballots

In yet another sign that the Iranian mullahcracy realizes the gravity of their error in their gross manipulation of the otherwise meaningless elections this past weekend, the Guardian Council has announced a ballot recount — although not yet an annulment of the election, as protestors have demanded.  As the protests have spiraled into a street movement, the mullahs have also seen disturbing signs within their power structure that indicates the pressure may have produced cracks in their safety net:

Iran’s powerful Guardian Council says it is ready to recount disputed votes from Friday’s presidential poll.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election is being contested by rival Mir Hossein Mousavi and other moderate candidates, who are seeking a rerun.

The BBC’s Jon Leyne in Tehran says they may not accept the recount offer.

Several people died in a protest on Monday and Mr Mousavi urged followers not to take part in a rally planned for Tuesday, amid fears of new violence.

“This headquarters calls on people to avoid the trap of planned clashes,” a Mousavi spokesman told AFP news agency.

The planned clashes may not have worked out as well as the mullahs would have liked, in any case.  According to the Washington Times translation of a Cyrus News Agency report, a handful of the elite troops of the Guardian Council were arrested, apparently for sympathizing with the protests:

Tuesday morning 16 senior members of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps were arrested. “These commanders have been in contact with members of the Iranian army to join the people’s movement,” CNA reports. “Three of the commanders are veterans of Iran-Iraq war. They have been moved to an undisclosed location in East Tehran.” This report has not been confirmed by other sources. If true, it shows that the regime is losing the loyalty of some members of its control appartus, which is necessary if the opposition has any chance of achieving fundamental change.

These protests will go nowhere if the Revolutionary Guard remains loyal, and the mullahs have done everything they can to ensure it.  The RG gets the best the Iranians can offer, and is a passport to wealth and power in Iranian society.  The US has tried to put the entire Revolutionary Guard on the State Department list of terror-supporting organizations for its profiteering in the terrorism trade (which Congress stopped, thanks in no small part to then-Senator Barack Obama), to give an idea of their power and influence in Iran.

The arrest of “16 senior members” won’t break the RG, but it’s an event that could indicate a trend away from the mullahcracy.  If more arrests follow, the RG may wind up fatally compromised, and the mullahs will have to act quickly to secure their position — possibly by hanging the entire mess on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and tossing him to the mobs.

If they give the election to Mirhossein Mousavi, don’t expect much of a change.  The ironic part of the entire crisis is that Mousavi wouldn’t have been appreciably different from Ahmadinejad, except perhaps in tone.  The Guardian Council approved Mousavi’s presence on the ballot not out of a desire for plurality but because they knew he’d kowtow to them.  Rigging the election, especially in the clumsy manner in which the mullahs did it, was hardly necessary to continue their grip on power.  The only way the mullah’s power would have been threatened is if they did exactly what they did in this election.