You knew this was inevitable. Regardless of what Barack Obama said or did, the Iranian regime would accuse the U.S. of meddling in Iran’s internal affairs:

Iran accused the United States on Wednesday of “intolerable” meddling in its internal affairs, alleging for the first time that Washington has fueled a bitter post election dispute. Opposition supporters marched in Tehran’s streets for a third straight day to protest the outcome of the balloting.

The Iranian government summoned the Swiss ambassador, who represents U.S. interests in Iran, to complain about American interference, state-run Press TV reported.

The English-language channel quoted the government as calling Western interference “intolerable.”

Obama’s near silence achieved nothing, as regards the Iranian regime. Which proves the foolishness of those who argue that comments in support of the right of Iranians to free and fair elections somehow would provoke the Iranian regime.

Obama’s statement yesterday that he did not want “to be seen as meddling” all but invited an accusation of meddling.

These accusations appear to be a precurser to, and excuse for, a violent crackdown by the regime, which could start as early as Thursday:

Wednesday afternoon, June 17, armored convoys of Revolutionary Guard forces began rolling into Tehran from three directions to prevent supporters of the opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi assembling on the fifth day after the disputed presidential election, DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources report.

Special IRGC forces and police units are being flown in. Hundreds of opposition activities have been arrested, including some economic experts who criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s policies in recent months, after three reformist politicians, including a former Vice President and adviser to former president Mohammed Khatami, were detained Tuesday.

Rather than placating the regime, weakness by the West and Obama may actually embolden the regime to resort to more violence. In the same breath that Obama voice tepid support for the Iranian people, he also voiced an intent to commence negotiations with the current regime. This mixed message was unnecessary, and counter-productive.

As Robert Kagan aptly points out in The Washington Post, Obama has embraced the regime with his mixed messages:

One of the great innovations in the Obama administration’s approach to Iran, after all, was supposed to be its deliberate embrace of the Tehran rulers’ legitimacy. In his opening diplomatic gambit, his statement to Iran on the Persian new year in March, Obama went out of his way to speak directly to Iran’s rulers, a notable departure from George W. Bush’s habit of speaking to the Iranian people over their leaders’ heads. As former Clinton official Martin Indyk put it at the time, the wording was carefully designed “to demonstrate acceptance of the government of Iran.”

This approach had always been a key element of a “grand bargain” with Iran. The United States had to provide some guarantee to the regime that it would no longer support opposition forces or in any way seek its removal….

Whatever his personal sympathies may be, if he is intent on sticking to his original strategy, then he can have no interest in helping the opposition. His strategy toward Iran places him objectively on the side of the government’s efforts to return to normalcy as quickly as possible, not in league with the opposition’s efforts to prolong the crisis.

Obama’s approach to Iran seems to be in sync with the Arabist/balanced approach to Israel, on which I have posted earlier. It will not bring peace, but encourage rejectionist regimes, such as the current Iranian regime.

If as appears likely, tomorrow brings a new level of regime violence, will Obama remain silent, or straddle the fence once again? Obama’s 3 a.m. test is here.

Related Posts:
Why Are Iranians Using English On Protest Signs?
He Who Cannot Stop Talking, Is Silent On Iran

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