Rift with Iran Deepens

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Shouting “Death to England” and throwing in condemnations of the United States and Israel for good measure, members of the Basij militia stormed the British embassy compound and a diplomatic residence in Tehran on November 29th, causing significant damage. The rioters reportedly carried banners bearing the name of Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, which runs the overseas operations of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Iranian security forces did little at first to stop the assault. The militants reportedly ransacked offices, burned the British flag, smashed embassy windows, and set at least one vehicle on fire. Militants also surrounded several British staff members. The police finally stepped in to quell the protest before it was allowed to spiral completely out of control.

The attack by the Basij militants occurred just two days after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, gave a speech to thousands of Basijis from across the country during a meeting held in Tehran.

The next day Khamenei lashed out at Britain directly for unilaterally imposing the one sanction that will likely have a serious impact on the Iranian economy – requiring that all British credit and financial institutions cease trading with Iran’s banks, including the severing of all contacts with the Iranian Central Bank.

Addressing Iranian naval commanders, Khamenei said that Britain has a history of humiliating nations but that the Islamic Revolution resulted in Iran “single-handedly standing up to the biggest arrogant [powers] and imperialists and crushing their will.”

In addition to Khamenei’s denunciations of Britain, Iran’s parliament approved a retaliatory measure to expel the British ambassador and downgrade Iran’s diplomatic relations with Britain. All this helped to set the stage for the next day’s riot.

Referring to the militants as “students,” Iranian Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani said that the “students’” action against the British Embassy was a symbol of the public opinion of Iranians,” in remarks to reporters the day after the mob attack, according to the Tehran Times. Larijani’s expression of support for the militants gives away the lie to the Iranian foreign ministry’s official expression of “regret.”

The British government decided that it had enough of the Iranian regime. It ordered the immediate closure of the Iranian embassy in London and closed its embassy in Tehran. In announcing the decision, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that “If any country makes it impossible for us to operate on their soil, they cannot expect to have a functioning embassy here.” While technically not a complete break in diplomatic relations with Iran, Hague described his government’s action as reducing relations with Iran to the “lowest level.”

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  • tagalog

    Today's (12/1/2011) news reports that the Iranian authorities have, without stating their reason, released the people who broke into the British Embassy from custody.

    What a perfect time for the U.S., Great Britain, and Israel to join in an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. The nuclear project is distributed over several facilities and not all of them could be destroyed, but the ones we could destroy would cause delay in Iran, an international outlaw operating openly in defiance of international standards, in becoming a rogue nuclear power.

    • BS77

      Looks like appeasement, as a policy, isn't working out so well.

      • tagalog

        The thing that's most frustrating in the present set of international circumstances is that we all know that Islam and the Arabic states only respond positively to the threat of overwhelming force coupled with the apparent ability and willingness to use it, but the West lacks the resolution to do that.

        Maybe they're right in the Muslim world; maybe the democratic West is just a paper tiger, just as the Nazis, fascists, and Chinese and Soviet Communists have always said.

  • Steve Chavez

    Isn't this another reason the Keystone pipeline should be approved.

    IMAGINE THE BLACKMAIL Iran will use if they acquire a NUKE! North Korea attacking ships and shooting missiles at will is child's play compared to what Iran will do. They could take over the world if they want and will do it the day after their nukes become operational!

  • mrbean

    Put me in charge. I will solve the Iranian problem permanently. There is no shortage of napalm or cluster bombs. Nothing like smell of napalm in the early morning and the sound of the rolling thunder of carpet bombing in the evening. Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war on Iran as the Romans did to Carthage.

    • tagalog

      I was thinking along the lines of satellite lasers, JDAMs, MOABs, and bunker-busters.

      • mrbean

        Overkill is not off the table either

  • Debanjan Banerjee

    The Islamic republic of Iran is not too much off the mark.

    See after all , the UK was responsible for the overthrowal of Mohammad Mossadegh when he talked about ending the monopoly of British oil interests in Iran.

    Even few months back British Defense Minister Liam Fox and his sidekick werrity were talking with Mossad about assasinating Iranains and nuking Iran.

    @MrBean & tagalog

    I have a better suggesion. Why not hand over Liam Fox and Werrity as well as the current British ambassador to Israel , to Iran ?

    Also what about the head of MI6 handing over all the documents of Operation Ajax to the Iranian government as well as asking for forgiveness to the Iranian people.

    Look the UK is bankrupt. So why not come up with solutions which suit UK at the moment which is ACCEPTING IRAN'S DEMANDS.

    • tanstaafl

      Appeasement did not stop World War II, why think would anyone think that it would work now?

    • Ghostwriter

      Or do the right thing and bomb those lunatics into the ground with American assistance! The world would be better off without the psychotic mullahs running Iran.

  • Marty

    Other democratic states should follow the example of the United Kingdom (which is finally demonstrating a semblance of courage) and dramatically reduce their diplomatic presence in iran until or unless the genocidal socipaths running and destroying the country are removed from power. The iranian leadership must feel a sense of frustration because of the assassination of nuclear scientists and the destruction of nuclear installations. Good. Hopefully, both will accelerate. But, why stop at iran's nuclear program? Targeting the top iranian leaders would be another step in the right direction.