With the passage of five days since the attack on the British embassy compounds in Tehran, which has so far met with silence from the leader and the president of the Islamic Republic, a senior cleric condemned the attack, amid the strong condemnations that have been made by the British and other governments, newspapers in Iran too are now commenting on the event as have some of the attackers on the embassy.
Among the most astounding responses were the remarks of Majlis member Ahmad Khatami who at Tehran’s weekly Friday prayer sermon initially strongly attacked Britain and called last week’s attack on the British embassy in Tehran as a “necessary slap” on Britain while in a subsequent interview criticized the attackers and pretended that he had always been against this type of activity!
On his return to the UK, the British ambassador to Tehran said that Iran’s Majlis speaker Ali Larijani and Alaeddin Borujerdi wanted tension in the air for their own personal ambitions. He also said that Iran was not the sort of country “where spontaneous demonstrations congregate and then attack a foreign embassy. That sort of activity, he wont to say, takes place only with the acquiescence and the support of the state.”
We Were Used
The web blog of a student association, the Hizbullah University Association of Iran, posted a meaningful comment on the attack on the British embassy, which also included the commentary and writings of two participants in the attack.
The site claims that the attackers were brought into the situation “without any analysis” and their “zeal” took over their minds. It writes that students and members of groups supporting the Islamic republic in universities were “used for the purposes and interests of political groups.” “Student organizations have to a large extent lost their student characteristic and nature and we notice that among the current student bodies, the level of analysis and ideas are so low that they play no role in decision making and instead it is political factions and groups outside, and even personal ambitions outside the student groups that have filled this void,” the article reads.
While the commentary approves of the attack on the embassy, the pulling down of the British flag and generally showing power to the British government but questions the actions resulting in the destruction of property. “The group was controlled from outside and the whole episode gets out of the hands of the law enforcement forces, some enter the embassy who engage in nothing but the destruction of the embassy because there were no plans for this part of the event,” it reads.
Two individuals inside the embassy who were among the attackers describe their observations in these terms: “There were about 30 to 40 soldiers at the gate of the embassy outside it. But we easily went through them and I, who am rather light, easily climbed the embassy wall and jumped over it into the compound. On the other side too there were some 30 soldiers who also did not say anything to us as if this was a normal event and that anybody could jump over the wall into the embassy. They stood there like statues from world war II who occasionally glanced at us.”
Another person who was inside the embassy is quoted to have said, “The dream of the student movement to take over the British den of espionage after years has been fulfilled but orders came from above, from the leader, that we had to vacate the embassy as soon as possible and leave.” He continued to describe the attack on the embassy in these words: “We wondered how could it be so easy to enter the embassy and undertake such actions and then leave it that way. Let me simply say we were used.” Another person who was present at the scene wrote, “a plainclothes person who was most likely a Basij person held his hands for me to climb on, and I used it to climb the embassy wall and enter the compound.” He too said that the attackers were used and said that the attack on the embassy was a “dirty and stupid game,” whose result was nothing other than billions of Toman of damage to public property and an excuse for another year of destruction against the regime. He also made reference to middle level Revolutionary Guards elements involved in the vacation of the embassy.
It is significant that the statement by Hizbullah student group and the writings of the two witnesses and participants was removed from the web blog soon after it appeared.
Principlists Protest the Embassy Destruction
In a related development, Naser Makarem Shirazi, a senior cleric close to the regime issued a statement criticizing the attack on the British embassy. In his statement he labeled the attackers as “dear young enthusiasts” whose “supra-legal” activities has provided enemies the opportunity to engage in adventurism for which we will now have to pay a high price.” Ayatollah Shirazi attributed the destruction of property inside the embassy to “infiltrators” and wrote, “In such situations, (they) should not engage in supra-legal activities and not take any measures without the permission of the great leader of the revolution and responsible authorities.”
Ahmad Khatami who is also a member of the Assembly of Experts on Leadership, and a temporary Friday prayer leader, told IRNA official news agency after his comments on Friday, “We are for law and legal action and this is where were see the interests of the country. I have said in the past that attacking foreign embassies and invading them is like invading a foreign country. This is illegal. For foreign embassies to feel insecure is not revolutionary zeal, and this is not in the best interest of Iran. I categorically say that I am against attacking embassies and invading them in the Islamic Republic.”
Prior to this, Hossein Mir Mohammad Sadeghi, the former spokesperson for the Judiciary had published a commentary in which he said that attacking foreign embassies was in the interest of foreigners. He even criticized the Majlis resolution last week that called for a lowering of Iran’s relations with Britain and said this was interference in the executive branch of government. He specifically wrote that it was not clear whether breaking diplomatic ties or reducing them with a foreign state was in the interests of the country or the nation. He even criticized the language that the Majlis and MPS had used, including calls of “death” to a country or of a person.
At the same time, a Principlist media activist published a commentary in which he accused those who had advocated and or encouraged this act of acting against the national security of the state. Asre Iran, a website belonging to the Principlists (groups and individuals who claim to advance the original principles of the 1979 revolution and its founder of the Islamic Republic ayatollah Khomeini) also criticized the attack on the British embassy and wrote that if attacks on diplomatic missions and the British embassy were good acts, the foreign ministry would not express its regrets over them. It should be noted that the Iran’s ministry of foreign affairs did express its regrets over the attack on the British embassy compounds. He also said that if such acts were ok, the police would not intervene and arrest those who had perpetrated them.
Government Supporters: Attack on the Embassy Was to Hurt Ahmadinejad
With the passage of a few days since the attack on the British embassy in Tehran, Ahmadinejad’s supports labeled the attack as “suspicious” and interpreted the act as a way to pressure Ahmadinejad’s administration. They also wrote that the resolution in the Majlis to reduce the level of diplomatic relations with Britain that was passed last week just prior to the embassy attack, was in fact done for election purposes and a distraction against the embezzlement charges that some prominent officials currently face. It should be noted that critical parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held in Iran on March 2012.
An Ahmadinejad supporter also pointed out that the leader of the Majlis resolution to lower the diplomatic ties with Britain was Alaeddin Borujerdi, who faces some serious embezzlement charges. He also said that the attack on the embassy was carried out on the instigation of some specific individuals inside the regime. It should be noted that Borujerdi is the head of the national security committee of the Majlis.
So just a few days after the attack on the British embassy compounds in Tehran, which some Principlists had originally hailed as the third revolution (the attack on the US embassy in 1979 which resulted in the hostage taking of the American embassy staff was hailed as the second revolution by ayatollah Khomeini), is now questioned and is used by the different power factions inside the regime to attack each other. And all of this is taking place while neither the supreme leader ayatollah Khamenei nor president Ahmadinejad has expressly commented on the issue in public. It is international pressure that has forced them to distant themselves from the attack?