Iran warns opposition on eve of 30th anniversary of US Embassy seizure
Iran braces for showdown on Nov. 4 anniversary, during which antigovernment protesters plan to take to the streets for the first time in six weeks.
Iran's supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday slammed President Barack Obama's reconciliation efforts as insincere, as security forces and antigovernment protesters braced for a showdown Nov. 4 – the 30th anniversary of the US Embassy seizure by militant students.Skip to next paragraph
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"The new president of the US ...[sent] messages repeatedly – verbal, written – [saying] come, let us turn the page, come let us create a new situation," Ayatollah Khamenei told a group of students. "Now eight months have passed [and] what we saw was opposite to what they have expressed in words.... The American government is a really arrogant power and the Iranian nation will not be deceived with its apparent reconciliatory behavior."
The battleground between the hard-line government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the reformist opposition that has rejected his June reelection as fraudulent will shift Wednesday to the brick-walled compound of the US Embassy. Its storming in 1979 by students, and their holding hostage 52 diplomats for 444 days, launched three decades of mutual hostility between the US and Iran.
At the time, the father of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, heralded the takeover as a "second revolution, greater than the first." The anniversary has been traditionally marked with chants of "Death to America" and the burning of US and Israeli flags.
But this year, Iran is still reeling from the aftermath of the June 12 vote, which plunged the Islamic Republic into its most severe crisis of authority since the revolution. More than 72 people died in violent clashes, as hundreds of thousands of Iranians wearing the opposition color of green protested President Ahmadinejad's declared victory.
Reformist websites have called for a peaceful and silent "sit-in" in the streets surrounding the US Embassy; some others have called for a gathering outside the Russian Embassy. Rumors in Tehran suggest that Iran's ideological Basij militia – who have boasted that they will bring 3 million onto the streets – will lay siege to the British Embassy, which has been repeatedly accused by hard-liners of fomenting the post-election violence.
The showdown marks a critical juncture for Iran's opposition movement, which has been largely pushed out of public view by repressive government measures. They'll take to the streets for the first time in six weeks Wednesday.
"Tomorrow will be important – Greens will see how well they have managed to hold [popular support]," says one close observer, contacted in Tehran, who could not be identified for security reasons. "I think this is decisive....
"They need to see each other again," the observer says, adding that a large turnout could make them " feel comfortable about their path."