June 23, 2009

As gloating over Iran's internal turmoil tunes down, exercises in the Gulf take off as scheduled

22 June

Talking to Al Jazeera International from his Washington DC residence, former deputy prime minister of Iran, Mohsen Sazegara, now one of the leaders of the Iranian dissident communities in exile, deplored what he defined the lack of courage on the part of the US administration to step up support for the diaspora organizations of Iranian dissidents in their attempt to overthrow the government in Iran. Sazegara's acknowledgement of Iranian dissident organizations abroad acting within the frame of a Western policy aimed at pushing for regime change in Iran fits into statements from some European countries, foremost Italy and Sweden, that they might be willing to open their embassies in Teheran to protesters seeking protection against the police.

In the meantime however, as some influential Western countries, urged by a host of Western political parties and organiztions, are mulling more provocative steps against the Iranian government, Iran's Western-allied Arab neighbours and NATO-member Turkey are warning against any further outside interference in Iranian internal affairs. Media outlets in several Arab countries allied with the US and in Turkey are warning against the serious repercussions a policy of destabilizing towards Teheran would inevitably have on their own stability.

Last not least, the leaders of the so-called reformist movement in Iran are not appearing to be willing to let things get out of hand by permitting the reformist movement to be steered from the outside. Mir Hossein Mousavi , in a statement posted on his website yesterday, said he would stand by the protesters, but he would "never allow anybody's life to be endangered because of my actions”. He also defined the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, charged with restoring order on the streets, as “our brothers ... and protectors of our revolution and regime”, urging the some one thousand protesters on the streets to refrain from violence and to show self-restraint. In addition, a close collaborator of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Qorban Behzadian Nejad, denied Mousavi had ever said he was ready for martyrdom in his political struggle, as had been stated by various Western media outlets.

Also today, right on schedule the Iranian air force began military exercises in the Gulf and the Sea of Oman, showing that an internal policy problem, to whatever extent it might affect the power balance inside the establishment of the Islamic Republic in the short term, does not tune down Iran's ambition to consolidate its position as a major regional power. Iran has the strongest navy in the Gulf, deploying ships to international waters such as the Gulf of Aden near Yemen and has carried out numerous long-range missile tests.