June 18, 2009
Posted: 1845 GMT

Hello everyone,

Regardless of whether the protests lead to concrete change within the Iranian regime, it is now obvious that what is happening today in Tehran will be seen as a key moment in post-revolutionary Iran.

We will be crossing live to Tehran to speak with an American University professor of Iranian origin, currently in the country's capital. In one newspaper piece, Babak Rahimi wrote that witnessing the mass rallies in Tehran made it "hard not to think of the 1979 revolution."

Don't forget to tweet me questions for professor Rahimi @halagorani and I will choose one to put to him live on air.

We'll be covering the story from every angle, including chatting with our Ivan Watson, who's reported from Iran numerous times and is passing through the CNN Center for a few days.

Also in the show today, the story of a Continental Airlines pilot who died in the cockpit of a plane en route to Newark from Brussels.

Two first officers and a relief pilot were on board and took over. A doctor on board told reporters the pilot was already deceased by the time he got to him at the front of the plane.

Allan Chernoff will be joining us live on that story.

On the lighter side of things, Errol Barnett and I will be trying out a new website that claims to be able to help users make decisions and find solution to everyday problems. I'll be trying it out on air so the site will be put to the ultimate live test.

See you on TV,


Posted by: ,
Filed under: Today At The I-Desk

Share this on:
Shahram   June 18th, 2009 7:22 pm ET

I like to comment on what Errol Barnett said a few minutes ago that “Ahmadinejad supporters mostly live in countryside without access to technology”. I was originally a big fan of Ahmadinejad and I live in London. But the killing of innocence people changed my view and I now support Mousavi. Not to forget, that I am still grateful to Ahmadinejad for bringing Iran back in to world’s attention. Should there be a re-election, there is no way that ahmadinejad would win any votes after all this.

M. Kurian   June 18th, 2009 7:26 pm ET

AZADI SQUARE: A Letter from Tehran

One could not have been in Iran at a more exciting time- it so happened I arrived in Tehran to teach the day of the 2009 presidential elections. One of my students from the previous time I was in Tehran invited me over for dinner. There was an air of excitement- he told me of unprecedented campaigning that was allowed prior to election day. Green head scarfs and wrist bands symbolized the party for reform while the incumbent was represented by the bright red. Presidential debates between two main candidates were aired on television. As we sat down for dinner captions appeared at the bottom of the TV screen encouraging voters to cast their vote. So we hurried our dinner and I accompanied my student and his family to a polling booth near their house. It was close to 9.30 pm and there was a light drizzle- but there were long lines of people waiting to cast their ballot. Young and old even people on wheel chairs came to vote. I was allowed in and watched as people showed their identity papers and picked up their ballot papers and went into a confined room of the school building that served as a makeshift polling centre to cast their vote. I returned home that night after being told the previous night that the results would be announced in 24 hours. But as woke up the next morning the results were already informally announced- the incumbent had won in a landslide. Everyone I spoke to- both the young and old on university campus were angry and sad at the same time. There was a great feeling of betrayal- a feeling that people were being made fools by the establishment.

In 24 hours rallies were called by the opposition candidate- a number were shot and wounded. Some say foreign shooters were called in to do the job- seven deaths were reported. But many more had died. There are only eight TV channels with tight control on content. Al Jazeera’s Tehran english bulletin also repeated the official line- a massive turnout and a great result. People were selectively interviewed by state owned TV channels and their views were aired repeatedly to create the impression that the opposition supporters were a bunch of hooligans who are not mature to accept defeat at the polls. Protest rallies turned violent- busses were set alight, shops destroyed and stones were thrown. Similar rallies began to break out in the provinces. Internet went dead all of a sudden, SMS and mobile phones could not aid the young demonstrators as they planned their next protest rallies. Foreign news channels and national newspapers had their offices raided, journalists were rounded up and reporting from Azadi square and other centres were banned. State channels reported the speech of the reelected president as he jetted off to participate at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in Russia and returned the same evening. The state machinery went into over drive as representatives from the European Union were called by foreign affairs ministries and castigated for their remarks on the election outcome. State channels also actively reported response of western governments to the country’s election as a vindication of a successful democratic process.

On the last day of my stay I visited Tajrifh and Daband areas of Tehran- all seemed normal. But in the bazaars of Tajrif one noticed a larger army presence. But then there was also a distraction- however shortlived- a confederation cup football match between Iran and South Korea that was being telecast live from South Korea. That kept all the short keepers and passers by glued to sport and the final result. It was a draw. As I drove to the aiport I heard students on university campus organize a midnight rally chanting- No Way- No way. All major universities in Tehran were closed for three months- delaying exams that were scheduled. Late into the night as possibility of a recount of ballots were being discussed- police check points began to be set up on roads leading into Tehran. One cannot help thinking of how all the people who lined at the election booths that night or of the additional tens of thousands of Iranian’s who voted from embassies abroad might be feeling. As for me I cannot help thinking how this is going to end. The opposition candidate has called for his supporters to report at mosques all over the country to pay their respects to those killed in the shootings. The supreme leader on the other hand has called a special friday prayer of the faithful in Tehran University. Things are certainly coming to a boil in Tehran. But will it spill over into CHANGE??

M.R   June 18th, 2009 7:39 pm ET

There is a struggle happening in Iran which in my view doesnt involve mussavi , and as president Obama said there wont be any significant change even if Mussavi becomes the president since he has to rule the country within islamic republic limits and on the other hand he is not a decision maker but he is an excuse for the people to express themselves after 30 yaers oppression .

Sohail   June 18th, 2009 7:54 pm ET

Dear Hala
Today I heard the opinion of the US government by Sec.Clinton and it is really disappointing to realise that President Obama's office doesn't care about who is the president of Iran and only emphasises on nuclear & terrorist issues of Iran, so what about human rights or freedom? In this critical point of Iranian movement for freedom, iranians expect full support of the US, EU and all free world to help them to achieve their basic rights. How the world and particularly the US can close their eyes to this brutality and savagery of Iran's government that has suppressed Iranians for all the last 30 years?

risan   June 18th, 2009 8:15 pm ET

i have been following the CNN news all i sence is that you are the biggist culprits as i feel that you are the people who are insighting the young generation against the iranian government to divide iran and impose your own kind of democracy and to weaken iran.
this is all the iranian internal matter you should keep out of it as russia has commented that this is iranians internal matter.
you are only showing one sided story which is in your favour and the young generation of iran.

pedram   June 18th, 2009 9:04 pm ET

thanks to You and your team for such a good program my message to all the iranians is that we don't accept ahmadinejad as the president of Iran and we support freedom of speech and human rights in Iran , but one thing i want to tell to all my iranian country fellows is that continue Your fighting and we people will support U and i know that this election is not fair and the guardian council will again make ahmadinejad as the president of Iran because all the members are supporting ahmadinejad hope the vote of the guardian council will be fair
i dont want to publish my name.

arash   June 18th, 2009 9:50 pm ET

There are many protests in other cities like isfahan and people are killing but no leader.if we want win leaders should lead other cities.

Ahmed Awad   June 19th, 2009 2:55 am ET

I bet that it will be agreat show....

gfn   June 19th, 2009 5:35 am ET

I am so sick of hearing nothing but IRAN, IRAN, IRAN on CNN. Surely there is something going on in the world than news from Iran.

Tehran Polytechnic Student   June 19th, 2009 7:49 am ET

An attempted coup in Iran

There are now some definite facts that an electoral coup d'état has been attempted in Tehran. The followings are our reasons to believe so:
a- The Media and Communication Coup d'état
1- Exactly one day before the presidential election, SMS service, used by those organizing protests, was shut down.
2- Mobile phones went out of service one day after the presidential election.
3- Imposing strict restriction on almost all websites which are proponents of reformist candidates (Mr. Mehdi Karoubi and Mir Hussein Mousavi) and some public-connecting websites like Facebook, Twitter, and so on.
4- Reducing the internet band width which causes the difficulty in people's communication to send and receive the pictures, films and news of the protests and demonstrations.
5- Forcing the newspapers not to publish the proclamations of rivals of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in presidential election in protesting against the electoral fraud (such as Etemade Melli Daily News)
6- Clear electoral fraud can be demonstrated by:
i. The number of votes for Mohsen Rezaee (one of the presidential election candidates) has been decreased by 100000 from almost 600000 to 500000 which is extremely unusual.
ii. The whole number of votes for Mahdi Karoubi (one of the presidential election candidates) is even fewer than the number of people who cooperated with him to win the election which is a clear-cut sign of fraud.
iii. In some provinces like Yazd the number of people who were eligible to vote is fewer than the number of cast votes announced by the national media.

b- Severely crushing the public outcry and civil protests:
1- Overnight, in what looks like a purge of the opposition, up to 100 opposition figures were arrested including reformist politicians such as the brother of ex-President Mohammad Khatami and Mohsen Mirdamadi, the chairman of a reformist party named “Mosharekat” and Mr. Abtahi the consultor of Mr. Karoubi. Further arrests included journalists such as Ahmad Zeidabadi.
3- Security Forces, the Basij militia and vigilante groups have clashed with ordinary groups of people protesting peacefully.
4- Being given the full rein to the revolutionary guard to shoot at citizens and civilians.
5- Shedding the blood of students in the main dormitory of Tehran University "Kouye Daneshgah".
By mentioning the above reasons and situations we have gone through, we are expecting some measures to be taken by the in-charge people, organizations, and associations; thus, Our expectations are;
From presidents of the world countries:
1- Not acknowledging Ahmadinejad as the official president of Iran and shutting down all kinds of cooperation with his government and cabinet.
2- Making an international appeal in order to sentence the violators of Iran presidential election in June 2009.
3- Shutting down their embassies in Iran and summoning the ambassadors and diplomats.
4- Ejecting the ambassadors of Islamic Republic of Iran from all countries and cutting off diplomatic relations.

From the United Nations:

1- Demanding for the participation of the Security Council of the United Nations to introduce a particular committee in order to resolve the electoral crisis in Iran.
2- Introducing a particular committee in order to holding a fair election and protecting Iranian nation’s votes.
3- Demanding for clearly taking tough stance of human rights watchdogs on definite signs of violating the human rights.
From the News reporters:
1- Widely showing and publishing the news and incidents relating to the public outcry.
2- Spreading the news of wide arrests of reformist politicians and top members of accredited reformist political parties.
3- Stressing the fact that Ahmadinejad’s government will be no longer legal from 2 month later on.
4- Amplifying the satellites senders’ strength to simplify people’s access to satellites’ channels in order to make a free flow of information.

At the end, urgently and desperately we need to ask you to put into effect the aforementioned suggestions through all necessary ways you recognize as the effective and appropriate.

In advance, we really appreciate your attention.


A Group of Tehran Polytechnic University Students.

Ashie   June 19th, 2009 10:14 am ET

The words like Relgious Demcracy – is a powerful statement and captures attention.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenie – had the ultimate power today
Different view points can put doubt about the state Iran –
Ayatollah Ali Khamenie final words with prayers touched people at the core of their heart – during the ceremony.
People no matter what, for a cause, will give their lives to support their freedom, rights through religion for their land.

Ali   June 19th, 2009 11:21 am ET

After the speech of Iran's biggest supreme lier , I guess we will observe blood shed in the streets !

I did not vote for any of the candidates as it would be used for what we are facing now, but everyday I m joining the rallies and been beaten badly on my forehead, neck & back !
I hope my fellow country men stay beside each other against this domestic evil although we shall pay heavill.

Still Alive

Ashie   June 19th, 2009 2:58 pm ET

Tehran Polytechnic Student

Thank you for your post. yesterday I posted about the information not going out or in...via internet....its not posted here anymore.

Ali   June 19th, 2009 6:02 pm ET

Its 22:30 @ Tehran you ve got to be here and listen to down with dictator form every roof!
no dictator leaves the throne upon RQST !

Im sure the crowd of ordinary people whom we all have seen in the streets will not stop!
Tell the world Iran is raedy to bare the cost of freedom.
I appriciate all the media and net toos US has prepared for us to send our message.

Sun wont set on Iran

kourosh   June 19th, 2009 6:14 pm ET

Ahmadinejaad with khameneiy support will be a new Hitler who will destry the world. some of their reaction to Iranians' peaceful demonstration are presented in this clip. See how crule they are to the their own people, if they get power they will be more violent to the people of other countries. Help Iranians to stop him to get the power in Iran

rudy   June 20th, 2009 10:19 am ET

abt iran i thnk western journalists and news networks are only giving more attention to the iranian opposition,cos as i watched on friday the evening prayers in theran university i saw a huge supporters of ahmedinjad....wre they silent throughout the one week of protest by the opposition...i don think they stayed quietly at homes...think they too support their candidate strongly(ahmedinjad).so we didnt hear much from their side no coverage was i feel the journalists should present both sides equally without showing one sided that pple lik me fwho are neutral can understand really what the real situation s in the ground zero(iran)...............

Ophelia Boostan   June 20th, 2009 1:39 pm ET

Report on blast at Iman Khomeini's Mausoleum: This is ridiculous! Iran's state run television runs NOTHING else about the protests and the existing problems, and they all of sudden show a report on the blast at the mausoleum? This sounds like a ploy on the part of the Islamic government to set the public against one another. For those that are blind followers of the regime, it makes it look like the protestors for Moussavi are becoming violent against loved monuments so as to pit the public against one another. It seems to me that the Islamic Government set off this blast themselves to create discord amongst the people! Don't believe everything you hear from the government's propaganda television!!!!

Jim McGee   June 20th, 2009 5:44 pm ET

I've been closely watching CNN's coverage of unfolding events in Iran, and have been struck by the virtual absence of discussion of a matter of potentially great significance–the attitude of the Iranian Army, particularly that of the younger officers and NCOs and of the several hundred thousand conscripts, most of whom are the same age as many of the young pro-Mousavi protestors. We've seen at least fragmentary coverage of the violence being exercised today by the police and the militia. We've also been told that the paramilitary forces of the Revolutionary Guard have sealed the capital. And the impression I've been able to form from the pitifully sparse coverage of this aspect is that the regular army is largely based in the provinces.

I suspect that the senior army leadership is firmly on the side of Khamanei and his puppet president; after all, they owe their promotions to these men. But what of the young officers and the units they command? If the street protests continue and the government's violence escalates–if the police, the militia, ultimately the Revolutionary Guards combine to give us another Tianamen Square on the streets of Teheran, which way will the army go? Will the soldiers stand by and watch, or will they say "no." If Revolutionary Guard tanks roll against the people, will young soldiers, who are subject to the same political currents that have brought their age peers into the streets, drive their own tanks against the Revolutionary Guards.

In 1956 in Hungary, the revolution exploded when the Hungarian Army sided with the young protesters against the secret police and the other agents of the communist regime. But even without siding openly, the mere fact that the army might stand aside if the protest escalates, would be a factor of huge significance. After all, in 1979 the Shah only fled into exile after he ordered the army to fire upon the protestors and the soldiers refused.

We have a tendency in this country to ignore these factors until the tanks actually roll–a tendency much in evidence in CNN Weekend's coverage today. We're fortunate in this country, of course, to have become habituated to soldiers for whom armed political intervention is unthinkable. But in much of the world, armed force is the final arbiter in politics. Even in our own history, such force has mattered greatly–after all, the greatest constitutional question in US history, the issue of a state's right to leave the union, was decided not by the courts or the electoral process, but at the point of a bayonet.

I have no idea how these things might play out in Iran, but I know that the potential role of the Army is a question that deserves an answer. It deserves the coverage, the commentary, and analysis that CNN prides itself on producing–and which has been notably absent thus far.

Carla Brauer-Lalezari   June 21st, 2009 12:54 am ET

30 years ago, the Iranians had a leader for the Islamic revolution. What Iranians need now is a strong reformist and democratic leader to take over the Mullahs regime. Perhaps they will have to start with a military government first in order to get rid of the current regime. Whatever their choice is, they need a strong leader urgently!!!!

Ben   June 21st, 2009 1:12 am ET

Please continue to be the voice of the brave men and women of Iran....Let the world see what the Iranian people have endured for the past 30 years. We need all the governments in the free world to no longer recognize the current illegitamte government in Iran!

Please support freedom in Iran and expose this brutal government in Iran! Thank you!!!

freedom   June 21st, 2009 6:59 pm ET

recent news from iran via telephone
all parts of Tehran is heavily guarded by riot police and para-military forces,Basij. There is not much going on during the day. There is almost impossible to move easily around in Tehran due to heavy controll and the police everywhere.
After several incidents where people have helped the beaten riot police after they have been beaten, and treating them in a friendly manner,some seen on TV, The Iranian governement has employed forces from venezuella and Lebenon Hizbollah

Please pass the news around

freedom   June 24th, 2009 9:20 pm ET

Tragic comedy

why tragic well it requires no explanation as the world is witnessing the crulties and atrocities comitted by the government, but the comedy of this story is the fact that a regime is concealing all legitimate rights of reporters to report from Iran. The people risking their lives do the job of professonal reporters and then the claim that the media is just talking about one side. Well, world imagine what thepeople in iran have put up with for the last 30 years. it is like blocking the water supply yourself and then complaining that there is no water.
Frankly, world how many nations in the history can you count, that fight empty handed with guns and reporting to the world.
President Obama I am your fan, but with all due respect, do you think you can talk to such a government.

sadaf   June 25th, 2009 7:32 pm ET

Yeyyyyyyyy!!! Finally Reza Sayah...I love him....

Ekow   June 26th, 2009 11:11 pm ET

The worst way to kill a man? First dehumanize him, then criminalize him and strip him of all dignity, then hound him out of his own house. And when he's dead lavish him with glorious epithets. Crazy buttcracks. MJ never dies. RIP!!

freedom   June 27th, 2009 7:34 am ET

Eventhough journalists are supposed to be impartial, and broadcast the facts . I think there is nothing wrong with responsible journalism. It does not mean takong sides in my opinion. A reporters job is being the voice of the unheard or those voices who are supressed. What is wrong in that. So, dear reporters that are interested in their duty as a journalist and can not ignore what goes on around the world, you are doing your job and you have the blessing of all the people in Iran. Please do your job and keep on doing it. In my oppinion you are just relaying what comes out of iran by the people´, nothing is more noble than what you are doing.

thanks guys for your non stop efforts to bring the news to people around the world.

UGOCHUKWU OKAFOR UGOCHUKWU   June 27th, 2009 9:31 pm ET

MJ as an IDOL extraordinary, he proved his massive greatest, such beings dont stay upto 50, he did his best and should be celebrated.All controversies about his death or the cause must stop please, lets allow this man a peace even if it is on death.He just passed on, not dead anyway

freedom   June 28th, 2009 10:00 am ET

The benefits of stamping the west as interfering in internal affairs in Iran.

There are times in the history of any polititian that make them great in what they do and that is not giving in when thry are not supposed to.

to look at the configuration of people in Iran at the moment, we can generally devide them into three main catagories. The pro government, the anti government and those in the middle. accusing the west in interfering has no international use as noone in the world recognizes the government in Iran, or the majority of the world to be exact. The internal use is to work on the naive and the people in the middle. becasue the other to groups have already mad up their minds. In my opinion this is not a major factor at this point in iran.

I do not want to analyze the US act in Iraq, but definitly it is obvious that there were a lot of miscalculations as what US is stepping into. It seemed like a theory put forward, without thinking about the consequences nad reactions emerging out of it. What was not considered in this senario, was the fact that Iraq was close to Iran and a potential ally for post sadam government in Iraq. Now it is great that we have one dictator less on the face of the earth. But the fact is that the urge to overthrow Sadam was the cause of failure to see things from other sides. I think . To put it in short terms, it was like climbing the mountain without thinking once we got to the top, how we should get down. Now, done is done, the fact is that these to neighbouring countries will unite and there would be a greater danger for the world peace. Believe me there is no other way out of this mess but to use force. And I am not saying this because I am a supporter of using force, it is just considering the nature of tghe government in Iran. I think there should be a summit for the world leaders to see how they can internationally tackle the whole turmoil and look at the long term results since short term interests will get no one anywhere. There is a movemnet in iran, which analysts among others Mr. Hooshang Ahmadi at Rotgers University, is casting doubt on how it turns out. The big question is are we going to sit and watch and see how things turn out. Political leadership does not mean sitting down and waiting to see how things turn out. It is the thinkers duty to see even if considering what is happening in Iran right now, to be something that might bear fruit or not, to bring this matter to another level, orientation and organization. Now I do not know how organized the movement is in iran, but one thing I am sure of is that without organization this movement has less possibility to stand a chance. So, the question is what to do to makethat chance into reality.

freedom   June 29th, 2009 10:30 am ET

process of elimination

what has puzzled forign observers or at least cast doubt about the political upheavl in Iran is the fact that reports are coming from Iran by people how reliable are they. We can go on being paranoid or we can use the elimination rules. The regime has kept silent and journalists out of iran. what does that leave us. there is truth to what people are sending. now which groups or just ordinary people, does not make any difference at this point. the important thing is that the people are daring to come out and stage protests that are life thretning. Talking to people in Iran leaves no doubt they do not want a religous rule. practising religion or having religous beliefs which the majority of iranians do not do is for the most religous people is a privat matter, looking at it with the worst case senario. So despite the yesterday commentary on GPS, one should not go the wrong way in analizing the situation.

Manouchehr   July 23rd, 2009 2:29 pm ET

The whole voting process in Iran is a fraud. Look, they do not let any International observers to monitor the voting process. They do not let reporters to report what is taking place. Iran is practically under military rule. The candidates are selected for the people before hand. To all of my Iranian friends and family, please make a note of this: Your vote will never count. I have not voted for over 26 years because I don't like to be taken as a fool.

Manouchehr   July 23rd, 2009 7:13 pm ET

Dear Shahram...>What attention are you referring to? Hitler also brought a lot of attention to Germany? By doing evil you get the attention of the world all right. Have you travelled in Iran to see how an average Iranian lives? I do not think so. After 30 years, Iran can not even refine gasoline for its own consumption. It is very easy to buy the nuclear secrets from other countries and put your own name on it and think you are progressing. What kind of progress has been made into making peopl's life easier? None....They have chased every other religious groups to run out of country. Basically they are doing ethnic cleansing and the world is standing by silently and watching. We can at least be thankful to the religious establishment in Iran and that is showing their true face and their true religion.

Ali   July 29th, 2009 7:58 am ET

Ahmadinejad is not my president. He and his supporters cheated in the election. Although they tried to make supporting documents, there is much evidence that prove their cheating. If he was the true winner, he should not have need violence against the protesters.
Please note that many do not have access to internet to vote here.

Leave Your Comment


Comments are moderated by CNN, in accordance with the CNN Comment Policy, and may not appear on this blog until they have been reviewed and deemed appropriate for posting. Also, due to the volume of comments we receive, not all comments will be posted.

subscribe RSS Icon
About this blog

International Desk brings viewers into the heart of the largest news gathering operation in the world. Viewers don't come here to watch the news; they come here to be immersed in it. To feel the rush of being the first to know what's happening as stories break, and to leave knowing they've gotten the best and latest information available. The show airs Mon-Fri at 1900 CET.

Powered by VIP