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17.06.09
Ahmadinejad Supporter Speaks
Kaveh Afrasiabi Interviewed by Don Lemon

LEMON: Well, the opposition is up in arms, but there are plenty of people cheering the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Earlier I spoke with an Ahmadinejad supporter.  He is a former political science professor at Tehran University and also a former adviser to Iran's nuclear negotiation team.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Do you agree with all the talk of the presidential elections being rigged in Iran?

KAVEH AFRASIABI, IRANIAN POLITICAL SCIENTIST: Well, you know, there's a saying that the proof of pudding is eating.  The burden of proof is on the shoulder of Mr. Mousavi and his allies to prove with substantial documents, and they have, you know, tons of independent observers at all the voting centers to document these alleged violations, to submit to the election commissions as the law requires.

Unfortunately, three days later, Mr. Mousavi has not done that yet and one wonders why because. . .

LEMON: Can I. . .

AFRASIABI: You cannot ask for re-elections based on unfounded allegations.

LEMON: Let me ask you this, and some are asking why, yes.  But you know he had the option to file a complaint, but there are rumors that he is under house arrest, that there are restrictions on cell phones, there's restrictions on Internet.  Did he really have the option to do that at this point?

AFRASIABI: Well, according to his latest communiqué, he went to the Interior Ministry today and he also submitted a complaint to the Council of Guardians asking for basically new elections, so he's had freedom of movement and he's had plenty of time to put together a dossier citing the specific violations, and as I said there were some 3,000 independent monitors by the four candidates in addition to two sets of official monitors overseeing the election.

So Mr. Mousavi has the burden and he has not carried that burden, and add to that the fact that he was so overconfident about being the clear winner one hour after the voting centers had closed on and the vote count hadn't even begun yet, that he pretty much psychologically boxed himself into this winner syndrome that he hasn't been able to get out of that, and we've seen some of the unfortunate results of that.

LEMON: Are there people who say that the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, did not win by such a huge margin, that he did not get 62, 63 percent of the vote.  Do you believe that he did?

AFRASIABI: Well, look, since the start of the Islamic Revolution 30 years ago, we've had allegations of, you know, voting irregularities at almost every election, including during the era of reformist former president Mr. Khatami, and I incidentally worked with Mr. Khatami on the program of dialogue among civilizations.

And there's nothing new about that.  However, we've never had this kind of blanket rejection of the entire process, and that reminds me of what Mr. Mousavi himself said back in 1986 when he expressed surprise that some people were calling the elections back then as rigged, and he said that, look, with so many monitors, how is it possible to cheat?  And the same question should come and haunt him today, you know.

LEMON: Hey, Mister. . .

AFRASIABI: And. . .

LEMON: Mr. Afrasiabi, I want to get. . .

AFRASIABI: Go ahead.

LEMON: ... a couple of things in here to make sure that we hear from you.  Do you support the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

AFRASIABI: On balance, I do, and I think that he's done a tremendous job in terms of strengthening Iran.  Iran today is a regional powerhouse with considerable international influence.  He has defended Iran's nuclear right, and he has also made conciliatory gestures towards the United States and has offered to enter into dialogue.

LEMON: What do you think of Mr. Mousavi?

AFRASIABI: So overall I think this has -- well, Mr. Mousavi, you know, during the 21 years that the Iranian rulers were building Iran into the powerhouse that it is today, was concentrating on his artistic skills.  And overnight he was parachuted to the forefront of the reformist movement that he had no connection, organic connection to whatsoever, and now he's doing serious harm to the reformist movement by his, you know, exaggerated claims and so forth without backing them with empirical evidence.

So Mr. Mousavi, you know. . .

LEMON: Do you think that the results here will be contested?

AFRASIABI: Well, Mr. Mousavi and to a lesser extent Mr. Karobi have contested them, but as I said, you know, there are election laws that need to be followed, and the irregularity, the abnormality of Mr. Mousavi's actions consists of the fact that he did not follow those rules.

He did not submit a formal complaint to the Interior Ministry saying that in such and such places there were such, you know, abnormalities and irregularities.  He should have done that.  He did not follow the rules.

Mr. Mousavi, let me add that, you know, he's an amateur when it comes to contested elections.  He was never elected to those positions as prime minister.  This is his first time running, and obviously he's an amateur at this. . .

LEMON: And sir. . .

AFRASIABI: . . . because, you know, he boxed himself in this winner syndrome and ran with it basically.

LEMON: I don't mean to cut you off, but I really want to get as many topics as possible here.  When I said do you think it will be contested, what I really meant is do you think it will be overturned and should it be overturned?

AFRASIABI: Well, in the absence of viable evidence proving that -- proving Mr. Mousavi's blanket rejection and allegations, I highly doubt that.  So the burden is on Mr. Mousavi, and he has not proffered any substantial evidence.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: That was Kaveh.  My interview with Kaveh Afrasiabi, former political science professor from Tehran University and supporter of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


This interview was broadcast by CNN as part of "Aftermath of the Iranian Election; Guantanamo Detainess Being Settled in Bermuda" on 14 June 2009; it is reproduced here for educational purposes.
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