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Cablegate: Iran Election Outrage Muted for Time Being

VZCZCXRO1423
RR RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK RUEHTRO
DE RUEHAK #1185 2251410
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 131410Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0513
INFO RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 6158
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS ANKARA 001185

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958:N/A
TAGS: CVIS PREL PGOV PHUM SOCI SCUL TU IR
SUBJECT: Iran Election Outrage Muted For Time Being

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: A broad range of Iranian visa applicants
interviewed in the past two weeks expressed that the public unrest
in Iran has calmed, but hope outrage over the recent election in the
long run will force Mahmoud Ahmadinejad out of office. As one
Armenian middle aged couple stated, "this election has shattered the
hopes that the Islamic Republic was at least in part democratic."
END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) The majority of our applicants in the past few weeks
stated although the streets are much quieter, the situation in Iran
continues to be unstable. Some applicants stated that they were not
interested in the unrest and hoped that things would continue as
before; however, most applicants continued to express anger over the
election and hope for change. Many claimed that 99 percent of the
population remains ready to oppose the status quo. Most believe that
although the situation appears calm now, in the long run Ali
Khamanei will have to relent.

3. (SBU) The volume of requests to Embassy Ankara for expedited IV
appointments which increased during the height of the protests has
subsided. Iranian applicants are still concerned about the security
situation with many asking about their children's welfare.
Applicants from Tehran, Shiraz, Gorgan, Mashhad and Isfahan all
noted that protests have occurred but in much smaller numbers
compared to the larger initial protests in the weeks after the
election. A Kurd from West Azerbaijan noted that most Kurds are in
opposition to the election results but due to their precarious
minority status keep quiet. A couple of religious leaders
interviewed preferred not to comment on the situation and insisted
that people should speak with "softer words."

4. (SBU) A Tehran based female lawyer estimated that at most the
protest size may be in the two to three thousand range. Applicants
report that arrests, beatings and killings, especially of young
Iranians, continue. Another Tehrani explained that his AMCIT fianc
and he avoided the streets due to the prevalent use of tear gas to
prevent large gatherings. Another applicant showed bruises on his
hand and noted that two weeks ago in Tehran he and his friends
protested, but were beaten so harshly that some of them were covered
in blood. Many applicants accredit the relative calm in the past few
weeks to the quick and harsh reaction to the planned protests by
security forces. On the other hand, a former revolutionary guard
draftee emphasized that only permanent members of the guard are
loyal to Khamanei with most draftees opposed to the current regime.


5. (SBU) Based on various accounts it appears that most of the
daily protesters are the Iranian youth. Many noted that the
opposition has to find opportunities for officially sanctioned mass
gatherings such as Friday prayers. According to one youth Ayatollah
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was supposed to give tomorrow's Friday
prayer sermon in Tehran, but Khamanei prevented this and put in a
pro-regime cleric. Applicants report that Mir-Hossein Mousavi is not
in custody but is under de-facto house arrest. Communication between
Mousavi and the public is limited to his website. Many noted that
public protest is difficult because as soon as there is an
announcement, authorities arrive at the scene prior to the
protesters.

6. (SBU) The majority of applicants still articulated hope that in
the long run change will come out of the post election unrest. One
Islamic Azad University student believes that the more Ahmadinejad
continues to "mess up" the country the more the regime will suffer
which will eventually force change. One applicant noted that though
the streets are clear, every night thousands of Iranians continue to
take to their rooftops and terraces and chant "God is great" in
defiance of Khamanei. Many younger Iranians noted they were waiting
for an opportunity to protest more. Some applicants opined that
Mohammad Khatami, Mousavi, and Rafsanjani must continue their
opposition or risk jail or worse.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: The general Iranian public continues to hope for
change, but it appears that without more guidance from the
opposition leadership current civil unrest is limited to small
groups of Iranian youth. Only a handful of applicants believe that
the current situation can revert to pre-election calm with the
majority still holding onto the belief that the system must change.
Despite the appearance of relative calm it appears unlikely that
calm will return without the constant use of intimidation and
force.

8. (SBU) Embassy Ankara has also experienced a number of unusual
occurrences with visa applicants that may be related to stress
resulting from the unrest in Iran. Within the past month, five
Iranians passed out during their interviews. One returning resident
applicant tried to kill himself when he was refused. The following
Monday an Iranian, without an appointment, attempted to jump over
the Embassy fence and nearly died of blood loss when he got caught
in the razor wire. END COMMENT.

SILLIMAN

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