View from Europe: Obama tough enough on Iran
If US president is too supportive of protests, he turns them into a 'Western plot,' say analysts.
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
"If you support [presidential challenger Mir Hossein] Mousavi too openly, you destroy him," says Dominique Moisi, a leading French intellectual who has worked extensively on Middle East geopolitics. "So [if you are the American president] you support human rights, you don't support a particular person. It's a correct policy of prudence ... at this time."
But the absence of a strident US voice has brought some European leaders – especially Angela Merkel of Germany and France's Nicolas Sarkozy – to call for a review of Iran's June 19 elections. French officials called the Iranian ambassador, for the second time, asking for a release of protesters thrown in prison.
Tehran itself has saved most of its ire for Britain, a former hated colonial master often dubbed the "Little Satan." Today, Iran expelled two British diplomats for "activities incompatible with their status." Britain responded by sending two Iranian diplomats home.
Obama toughens language
In Washington today, President Obama spoke of the misuse of American statements in Iranian media – including that the US was orchestrating the street riots.
"The Iranian people are trying to have a debate about their future," Mr. Obama said in the administration's lengthiest comment to date on Iran. "Some in the Iranian government ... are trying to avoid that debate by accusing the US and others in the West of instigating protests over the elections," he said, calling this "patently false."
Prior to Obama's press conference, Paris-based Iran expert Clément Therme warned of Tehran's creative use of disinformation. "Iran is a special country in the Islamic world," offered Mr. Therme of the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI). "It uses the USA as a tool to justify its domestic problems. To take a position of distance ... as Obama is doing, pressures Iran's leadership. Why is the supreme leader focusing on Great Britain? Because Obama is not giving him anything to attack. It's a new policy, and it is working."