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Important News on Recent Developments in Iran (Excerpt)

June 26 - 30, 2009

Iran 'has arrested 2,000í in violent crackdown on dissent

The Times (29 June) - More than 2,000 Iranians have been arrested and hundreds more have disappeared since the regime decided to crush dissent after the disputed presidential election, a leading human rights organisation said yesterday. ďA climate of terror and of fear reigns in Iran today,Ē the International Federation for Human Rights , an umbrella body for 155 human rights organisations, said as it released the startling figures.

Protests flare ahead of ruling on Iran vote

The Wall Street Journal (29 June) - Thousands of protesters clashed with security forces at a mosque Sunday in Tehran. Several thousand protestors flocked to the Ghoba Mosque in Tehran on Sunday afternoon to commemorate victims of the recent upheavals. Security forces dispersed the crowd using tear gas and attacking them with batons, according to witnesses.

An Embassy under Attack

The Times† - Leading article (29 June) - The arrest of nine Iranians working for the British Embassy in Tehran takes the abuse and insults heaped on Britain by Iranís embattled clerical rulers to a new level. The regime has now embarked on a policy of harassment and intimidation. It sets the scene for a diplomatic showdown which, the Iranian Government hopes, will deflect attention from its own repressions and mendacity.

Britainís response must be clear, measured and effective. In the embassy, only essential staff should remain. Businessmen, Iranians holding British passports and visitors should be advised to leave. Britain should then warn Iran that the continued detention of its embassy employees or any further official harassment will be met with reciprocal restrictions on Iranian missions, not just in Britain but, if all 27 EU partners agree, across Europe. A carefully calibrated series of other measures should also be prepared, ranging from further restrictions on trade, including aviation, to the downgrading of diplomatic ties. If Tehran wishes to pick a quarrel, Britain does not need to stick around to be abused and insulted.

EU threatens mass pullout of ambassadors from Tehran

The Guardian (30 June) - European Union members are threatening the collective withdrawal of their ambassadors from Iran to secure the release of the British embassy employees being held by the authorities.

Some injured in Iran protests are arrested

United Press International (28 June) - An Iranian paramilitary group has been going into hospitals to arrest people injured in street demonstrations, Amnesty International says. "The Basijis are waiting for them," said Banafsheh Akhlaghi, the group's western regional director.

Iranian cleric urges executing some protesters

The Associated Press (26 June) - A senior cleric on Friday urged Iran's protest leaders to be punished "without mercy" and said some should face execution. "Anyone who takes up arms to fight with the people, they are worthy of execution," Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami, a ranking cleric, said in a nationally broadcast sermon.

G8 foreign ministers deplore Iran violence

United Press International (26 June) - The Group of Eight foreign ministers harshly condemned post-election violence in Iran. "We express our solidarity with those who have suffered repression while peacefully demonstrating and urge Iran to respect fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression," they said.

Maryam Rajavi, the head of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an exiled opposition group, welcomed the declaration but called on the G8 to impose comprehensive sanctions on the Iranian regime. "Making statements does not suffice and time for action has arrived," she said in a statement. "The era of appeasement, negotiations and concessions vis-a-vis the Iranian regime has passed."

Iran's lessons
Shouldn't 'realism' mandate regime change?

The Washington Post, Editorial (27 June) - EACH DAY Iran's extremist regime offers the world new lessons in its true nature. Yesterday we heard the cynicism of the Guardian Council, which announced that this month's presidential election, in the words of its spokesman, "was the cleanest we have ever had." On Thursday the belligerent arrogance of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was on display, as he demanded that President Obama apologize for condemning the massive human rights violations his security forces have perpetrated. All week we have witnessed the cold ruthlessness with which "robocops" attack peaceful demonstrators on the streets of Tehran and the mass arrests of opposition political activists and journalists.

It's still too early to say whether Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Mr. Ahmadinejad will succeed in their hard-line coup. Yet it is becoming quite clear -- for all who care to see it -- what the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad regime will offer if it survives: harsh repression at home and unrelenting hostility toward the West. If the regime chooses to "engage" at all with the United States, it will be to bolster its shaky legitimacy, not to surrender its nuclear program or its support for terrorism. The only plausible path toward ending the threat it poses is that demanded by the demonstrators: regime change.

Some have theorized that Mr. Ahmadinejad's repression of the massive popular uprising could at least make it easier for the United States to build a coalition able to impose tough sanctions. But this week brought a depressingly familiar indication of how that diplomacy will unfold. Russia, which along with China has recognized Mr. Ahmadinejad as the election winner, blocked a Group of Eight meeting from even condemning the government's violence. With U.S. support, the G-8 ended up renewing its invitation to Iran to open negotiations on its nuclear program -- even though the blood on Tehran's streets is not yet dry.

That stance would seem to contradict the position Mr. Obama took on Tuesday, when he denounced the regime's violence, said the protest movement was "on the side of history" and suggested that his policy of engagement would be put on hold. After meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday, Mr. Obama refined that stance, saying that while "multilateral discussions" with Iran could proceed on the nuclear program, the "direct dialogue between the United States and Iran" would be subject to the wait-and-see approach. There may be some tactical sense in that: The administration could preserve the international coalition it is trying to build while denying the shaky supreme leader the political boost that would come from direct dialogue with Washington.

Still, by now it ought to be clear that the best chance to protect what Mr. Obama calls "core U.S. security interests" lies in a victory for the Iranian opposition. That may look unlikely for now. But it is considerably more probable than a turn toward detente by those now engaged in murdering young women. There may not be much that can be done to help the opposition, though some tangible steps -- more money for broadcasting into the country, for example -- are readily available. But at the least, nothing should be done that would harm the cause of change. That is not just the moral course; it is the most pragmatic and realistic.

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