Friday, November 13, 2009

The Opposition Demands Obama Take a Stand

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This week at The debate over whether the United States has shown enough support for Iran’s opposition movement has intensified since protesters in Tehran last week shouted, “Obama, Obama! Either you’re with them, or with us.” Joining the opposition chorus is a growing line-up of parties worldwide, all calling on Obama to broaden his strategy from one narrowly focused on making an acceptable nuclear deal with Iran to one that also includes demands to allow the opposition to freely express itself: the government of France; members of the U.S. Congress; international human rights organizations; and much of the active Iranian diaspora. Iran’s strategy so far has been to ratchet up pressure on the opposition, and eventually to crush it altogether, while prolonging the nuclear negotiations with the West, led by the United States. It is a safe bet that in the months ahead, Iran’s leadership will continue to reject proposals from the 5+1 while offering counterproposals it knows the West will almost certainly refuse. This will give it time to consolidate its power – or perhaps simply wear down the opposition – after the worst civil unrest since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

With this in mind, Obama’s decision to remain silent on the lack of freedom for the opposition makes little sense. French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, said of demonstrations on Nov. 4: “We don’t really know the situation in Tehran. We know the demonstrators were very numerous, a big crowd in the middle of Tehran. We don’t know if some of them were hurt or died … but it was a very, very important movement.” He also said that he was “profoundly concerned” about the government’s actions towards the opposition rally. In response, Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that Kouchner’s remarks ran counter to French interests. “We are getting used to the French foreign minister’s lack of insight regarding the developments of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and we believe that these ignorant statements would adversely affect the interest of the French nation,” Mottaki said. “Instead of making condemnatory statements against others, I would advise Mr. Kouchner to pay a little visit to the suburbs of Paris to catch on to the ongoing human rights violations taking place there,” he added, in a pointed reference to simmering tensions between members of France’s minority underclass – many of them Muslims – and the authorities. (Read more...) ...Research conducted by Edith Novy.