BACKLASH

Iran Cracks Down on Protests

While the international media spills ink on the power of social networking in vividly reporting the protests fueled by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's controversial reelection on Saturday, Iran's government is wising up—and cracking down. After announcing Ahmadinejad's 2-to-1 reelection in the face of seemingly unbearable odds for opponent and would-be reformist Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Iran police forces broke out the tear gas and billy clubs on the streets of Tehran. Now Dubai-based news network al-Arabiya says Iran authorities have ordered it to close its Tehran bureau for a week, while access to Facebook remains blocked and text messaging unavailable. Gunfire was reported in Tehran's Vanak Square around 10 p.m. local time, where police, military, and Ahmadinejad reporters have been clashing with Mousavi followers since the election. In a two-hour news conference, Ahmadinejad likened the havoc to a soccer match, deeming the protests "not important." Meanwhile, Mousavi is under house arrest and his party's leaders are in hiding. The runner-up remains adamant in his belief that the election was rigged and has asked Iran's 12-member Guardian Council to nullify Ahmadinejad's win. Stateside, American officials remain cautious. VP Joe Biden acknowledged on Meet the Press that he had "an awful lot of questions about how this election was run," but America is "waiting to see. We do not have enough firm facts to make a judgment."