Saturday, March 29, 2003

USWAR/Iranian police fire in air to disperse anti-war demonstrators

Tehran, March 28, IRNA -- Iranian police here Friday fired in air to
disperse about 1,000 protestors, calling themselves Hizbullah, who
smashed windows of the British Embassy by stones in the first
anti-war rage.
The demonstrators gathered outside the embassy building on the
Ferdowsi Avenue, chanting "British ambassador must be expelled" and
"British embassy must be closed".
They threw stones and eggs at the building and splashed its walls
with red colors. Police arrested several stone throwers.
Those inside the premises filmed the demonstration scene as
special police guards deployed around the building and plainclothes
personnel asked the demonstrators to disperse.

At one point, in front of the British Embassy, demonstrators lobbed rocks and eggs at the compound, shattering 35 windows and damaging a Danish diplomat's car parked outside. (Tallahasee Democrat)

Tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets of Tehran yesterday for the first time since the US and Britain launched their invasion of Iraq, in an officially sanctioned rally that saw some protesters break windows in the British embassy. ... After the main protest a few hundred demonstrators marched toward the British embassy, where a dozen men threw stones at the compound, breaking windows and calling for the embassy of "old arrogance" to be closed down. (Financial Times)

My commentary: it sounds like some Iranians (perhaps a very small number) are doing their best to try to scare all foreigners away from the country. To me, it sounds like the Iranian police effort was rather half-hearted (no barricades?); to others, it may sound like the police did all they could ("special police guards", firing in the air). I wasn't there (thank God) so I can't be certain. Foreigners will inevitably be reminded of the US embassy takeover in 1979; the distinction between protesting against the government policy of a certain country and being against the people of that country has obviously broken down for some Iranians.

The surprising thing is the UK travel advice hasn't changed; the Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand government advice advises against all travel.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

On C-SPAN's BookTV I watched Geneive Abdo and Jonathan Lyons talk about their book Answering Only To God (published by Henry Holt) at the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs on March 18, 2003. The seeds of the defeat of the reformist movement were sown in 1999, when Khatami abandoned the students, his best supporters. Democracy is at least a generation away in Iran unfortunately. I am distinctly reminded of a taxi conversation I had in Tehran when someone said "Islamic Kingdom of Iran" would be a better name for the country.

Oh, I just googled for "Operation Iranian Freedom" and didn't find anything! So here is the first mention if google ever picks it up. The Americans won't be helping Iranians militarily, no matter what Hoder says Iranians want... "There is no wonder why Iranians haven't protested to the war at all. Ironically, they hope the same thing happens for Iran, meaning Western countries someday will rescue a nation tired of a religious tyranny." Actually I don't think this is true in general, and as I said above, democracy is at least a generation away anyway (read the book and find out why), and it's not something which can be "given" to a people.

A barometer of anti-Americanism? Eric Margolis reckons Afghanistan is chaos outside Kabul. So why have more than 2 million people returned since the war ended? I guess there will always be journalists who write knee-jerk anti-American stories, like Fisk. Margolis was also off about Iran being the "next target"...