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Thread: Observing Iran (catch all historical thread)

  1. #201
    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing good news sources. I am looking forward to what Ken White and Rex Brynen have to say. I will share one article by Bob Baer:

    Don't Assume Ahmadinejad Really Lost, by Robert Baer. Time Online, Jun. 16, 2009.
    Before we settle on the narrative that there has been a hard-line takeover in Iran, an illegitimate coup d'état, we need to seriously consider the possibility that there has been a popular hard-line takeover, an electoral mandate for Ahmadinejad and his policies. One of the only reliable, Western polls conducted in the run-up to the vote gave the election to Ahmadinejad — by higher percentages than the 63% he actually received. The poll even predicted that Mousavi would lose in his hometown of Tabriz, a result that many skeptics have viewed as clear evidence of fraud. The poll was taken all across Iran, not just the well-heeled parts of Tehran. Still, the poll should be read with a caveat as well, since some 50% of the respondents were either undecided or wouldn't answer.
    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    3) U.S. response - should the President and State Department be more vocal, or will doing so only strengthen A/K's hand?
    I do not think we should be more vocal; this is not about us, it is up to the Iranian people. Stand against any violence, and for human rights and free speech. Meddling in the domestic affairs of Iran has brought nothing but trouble for us in the past.

  2. #202
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    To be perfectly honest, I don't know if the election was stolen--Iranian pre-election opinion polling is notoriously unreliable, and when in Tehran in the past I've been struck on how isolated middle class/professional/intellectual north Tehran is from the rest of the country. I tilt towards some degree of electoral fraud at the moment.

    It would be useful to know how big the demonstrations are elsewhere--Isfahan is the only place where I've seen substantive confirmation, and there they've been big. The Tehran crowds are huge, although there's still an obviously disproportionate middle class share (evident from the dress of women protesters).

    A key issue will be the behaviour of the security forces. Will the police follow instructions if ordered to suppress the demonstrations? Or will the regime have to rely entirely on the IRGC and Basij?

    Another key issue is Khameini.. who to this point seems firmly in the Ahmadinejad camp. However, he has to be worried about events spiraling out of control, and may need to look for a face-saving formula. I'm not sure what that would be, however--rerunning the elections after endorsing them would be humiliating for the Supreme Leader.

    Obama is playing it absolutely right. Signs of strong outside support for Mousavi only feed the external conspiracy narrative in Iran, and push potential fence-sitters in the regime and security services in the wrong direction.

    I'm not always a Robert Fisk fan, but his recent pieces in The Independent have been excellent:

    Iran's Day of Destiny

    Fear has gone in a land that has tasted freedom
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


  3. #203
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Ken Ballen from Terror Free Tomorrow explains some of the problems with his own poll, which Baer bases his piece on:

    Iranians want more democracy

    Our op-ed published on Monday has drawn much attention -- and misunderstanding. Our nonprofit organizations conducted the only independent and transparent nationwide public opinion survey in Iran before the June 12 vote. The poll found that Ahmadinejad was leading his nearest opponent, the more reform-minded candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi, by a more than 2-to-1 margin, with almost a third undecided.

    Our poll concluded three weeks before the election. It does not predict the final vote, nor does it measure a possible surge for Moussavi, which many believe occurred in the final weeks. Instead, as we wrote on Monday, our survey indicates "the possibility that the vote is not the product of widespread fraud" because of Ahmadinejad's formidable early lead.

    This single finding, however, has obscured our most important findings, and their significance to what is now enfolding in Iran.

    Nearly 80 percent want the right to vote for all their leaders, including the all-powerful supreme leader, while nearly 90 percent chose free elections and a free press as the most important goals they have for their government -- virtually tied with the top priority of improving the Iranian economy.

    And here is the most important fact of all: More than 86 percent of those who told us they support Ahmadinejad also choose free elections and a free press as their most important priorities for their leaders. In other words, in our survey, Ahmadinejad supporters back real democratic reforms in Iran as much as supporters of the more avowedly reform candidate Moussavi.
    That over 50% of people in Ballen's poll refused to express a preference for a candidate (and this was before Moussavi's surge in the last week --- the election cycle in Iran is purposefully kept very short) in the early stages of the election, while definitely expressing support for liberal goals, indicates that support for a liberal alternative to Ahmadenijad was definitely out there waiting to be grabbed. That makes a sweep for Ahmadenijad very unlikely.

    Tehran Bureau is definitely a pro-opposition website, but this article makes clear that Moussavi's support was not restricted to north Tehran:

    Iran's Rural Vote and Election Fraud

    I just heard a CNN reporter in Tehran say that Ahmadinejad’s support base was rural. Is it possible that rural Iran, where less than 35 percent of the country’s population lives, provided Ahmadinejad the 63 percent of the vote he claims to have won? That would contradict my own research in Iran’s villages over the past 30 years, including just recently. I do not carry out research in Iran’s cities, as do foreign reporters who otherwise live in the metropolises of Europe and North America, and so I wonder how they can make such bold assertions about the allegedly extensive rural support for Ahmadinejad.

    Take Bagh-e Iman, for example. It is a village of 850 households in the Zagros Mountains near the southwestern Iranian city of Shiraz. According to longtime, close friends who live there, the village is seething with moral outrage because at least two-thirds of all people over 18 years of age believe that the recent presidential election was stolen by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    ...

    The president was very unpopular in Bagh-e Iman and in most of the other villages around Shiraz, primarily because of his failure to deliver on the reforms he promised in his successful 2005 presidential campaign. He did have some supporters. Village elders confided, “10 to 15 percent of village men, mostly [those who were] Basijis [militia members] and those who worked for government organizations, along with their families.”

    ...

    By Saturday evening, the shock and disbelief had given way to anger that slowly turned into palpable moral outrage over what came to be believed as the theft of their election. The proof was right in the village: “Interior Ministry officials came from Shiraz, sealed the ballot boxes, and took then away even before the end of voting at 9 pm,” said Jalal. In all previous elections, a committee comprised of representative from each political faction had counted and certified the results right in the village. The unexpected change in procedures caught village monitors off guard, as it did everywhere else in the country.

    By Saturday evening, small groups of demonstrators were roaming the main commercial streets of Shiraz, a city of 1.5 million residents, and protesting the announced results as a fraud. People refused to believe that Ahmadinejad could have been re-elected. Larger demonstrations took place on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, beginning in the late afternoon and continuing long after the sun had set. These attracted carloads of supporters from Bagh-e Iman and other villages, including several that were 60 kilometers from Shiraz.

    Although the crowds shouted slogans such as “Death to Dictatorship,” most protestors shouted “Allah-o-akbar,” the popular chant of the 1978-79 Revolution. Indeed, in Shiraz, thousands climbed unto the roofs of their homes Sunday to shout ‘Allah-o-akbar’ for several hours.

    Most villagers are supporters of the Islamic Republic, but they are ready for the reforms that they say are essential so that their children will have a secure economic future. They saw hope in Mousavi’s promise to implement reforms, even though he is a part of the governing elite.

    Last edited by tequila; 06-17-2009 at 06:36 PM.

  4. #204
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Not much I can add to all Tequila'a links.

    I'm inclined to agree with Baer; I think Ahemdinajad probably won though that does not mean the vote wasn't fiddled. The fiddling just gave him a larger majority.

    This was a battle between Rafsanjani (with Mousavi as hired proxy) and Khameini (with Ahmedinejad as controllable proxy) for who would really run things. It looks as if most of the Iraniha figured that out, decided Rafsanjani was already more than wealthy enough and opted for Khameini. I suspect most are willing to let Ahmedinejad continue his anti-corruption campaign, which Rafsanjani and his big business associates and the secular north Tehran socialites would like to see disappear...

    Most everyone would like to see the Komite (the moral police) and the Baseej disappear and that was one of Mousavi's big drawing cars. Easy to say, less easy to do when those two are the Guidance Council's boys and girls, not those of the government of the day. Iit is perhaps notable that he said nothng about disbanding the Pasdaran.

    Many forget that Mousavi was Khomeini's Foreign Minister and Prime Minister (until that job was eliminated by the new Constitution) and he was a real piece of work. He is no Mr. Nice Guy and arguably dealing with him would be a bigger problem than dealing with Ahmedianajd ever could be.

    I also agree with Bourbon -- we need to stand clear. Support in any form for the protestors will just make it harder on them in the long run. It will also make it more difficult to talk to Iran which we eventually will have to do. Been rather stupid IMO to let things fester this long.

    The university students and the moneyed elite in the North Tehran Hills, the majority of the twittering crowd are not the bulk of the Iranian populace. the bulk are pretty pious Shia and they are not yet ready for a revolution IMO. Iran will change governing styles when it is ready. That will almost certainly not be on a western timetable.

    ADDED: I think one would be wise to not pay too much heed to English (or any western) language reporting out of Iran. If it's not in Farsi, it's probably suspect. Westerners tend to give more credence to western language speakers but most in Iran do not speak a western language and those that do are quite adept at manipulating that ability to their advantage. Recall, you're dealing with a place where haggling is a national sport....
    Last edited by Ken White; 06-17-2009 at 07:07 PM. Reason: Addedndum

  5. #205
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    Thumbs up Handling of Iran election correct

    I don't forsee my developing the habit of agreeing much with our current president, but his decision to keep US out of any means of intervening with current Iran election situation is wise and prudent. Let's not fool ourselves. There is no pro US side in this recent "election." Perhaps, one side can be deemed at least potentially more reasonable towards US interests but to believe the current situation in Iran will ever veer near being remotely pliable towards western interests would be foolish. To take a stand in the current powder keg developing due to the recent election would be insane.

  6. #206
    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default Tehran, Iran situation

    As a young officer I visited Tehran twice between 1963 and 1965. The Shah, who I liked, was in power.

    Having a scotch and water in a Hilton Hotel street front bar in N. Tehran, abruptly the plate glass window blew inward and we were all hit by flying glass. Minor cuts and bruises, no one seriously hurt, fortunately...bomb was in a nearby curb parked Mercedes...almost all cars in Tehran in the 1960s were Mercedes.

    Bar tender, a local Iranian, said such episodic bombings, etc. were done by the "Islamic extremists." This particular event was some time during 1964, I think in February!

    Radical events are the worst, ever, in today's Muslim world. There has long been radicalism in the name of religion all over the Muslim world, and anyone who says this ain't so isn't dealing with the truth and long term reality.

    My opinions on the election there:

    1. You cannot count 40 or so million votes in 2-4 hours when paper ballots, not machines, are used to vote.

    2. It is illogical and amazing that a partial recount would take at least 10 days, and a full recount up to two months.

    3. All this says no matter who anyone thinks did or did not win, the votes were in fact not counted at all...bogus outcomes too quickly announced by a panicked status quo religious oligarcy and their thuggery friends/guards/army/police.

    My best guess: By this weekend look for riots, the numbers in the streets now are in the low millions, hot a few hundred thousand...and some armed militia and military to change sides and support the demonstrators.

    Wait and see, I could be wrong, but my political nose for this part of the world is a darn sight better than all chair bound US and European talking heads who contradict themselves several times a day in overseas news "sensationalism" dialogues.

    My track record on events inside Pakistan since 9/11 have been on target heavily...and I now see a real war being waged by the Paks against their former "allys" the Taliban and al Qaida...as the PPP wants commerce/piplelines from and with Iran and the Stans, and to do such Pakistan has to learn to get along with India, a pipeline partner who will help pay the construction cost of the Pakistan leg of the new pipelines, etc, etc.

    It was always both Afghanistan and the Pakistan Northern areas that were and still are the core of the terrorist movement, modern day terrorist Taliban and al Qaida. Those who try to defend, absurdly, the Taliban do so using the ancient terminology that refers to religious teachers well before the history era now underway of terrrosim = Taliban= al Qaida. Again, folks just run from the facts.

    In Iran it is best for Iranians to overthrow Iranians, and in Pakistan it is mandatory that the Pak government (PPP) and miliary kill of and subdue once and for the wild frontier areas of Pakistan along the Durand Line.

    President Zardairi (Mrs. Bhutto's husband) of Pakistan on 6/16/09 saying a new permanent military garrison will remain in Swat is the sort of need and common sense statement which will sooner vs. later encourage the IDP to return to their homes more quickly.
    Last edited by George L. Singleton; 06-18-2009 at 02:47 AM.

  7. #207
    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default Alleged actual election count by candidate: TIMES of London

    23.56
    Yesterday, two Iranian film makers presented a document to Green Party MEPs in Brussels which allegedly contained the true results of last week's election. In the document, a letter from the office of Iran's Interior Ministry to Supreme Leader Ayatolla Ali Khamenei, Mousavi is revealed to have won 19,075,623 votes, Mehdi Karroubi 13,387,104 votes, and Ahmadinejad a paltry 5,698,417.
    A photograph and translation of the letter has appeared online. Make of it what you will.
    The London TIMES tonight also reports that demonstrations have spread througout all of Iran, no longer limited to just Tehran. However, due to the Iranian Government news blackouts, etc. no way to verify as yet.

    Also, CNN TV news tonight 6/17/09 reports that Iranian Police have started protecting the marchers/demonstrators, and are reported to be in sharp clashes/fights to stop the Republican Guard attacks on the peaceful demonstrators.

    If any truth, and one can assume some truth here, things for the existing Iranian hierarcy, including the leading Ayatollah, are falling apart more swifty than even I would have expected.

    COMMENT: Someone on this SWJ thread tonight has asked what the root cause or causes are of this vote surprise and demonstrations. My best guess, and it is only an arm chair guess from across the pond here in US, is that false and failed promises to women voters, who are the majority of the total vote in any Iranian election, have cost AJ his job if the vote is honestly counted. And, I would hope, but have no hard facts to back this wishful thought up, but I hope, and think, that a move away from theocracy to secular governance could be underway???

  8. #208
    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default AP News re why the revolt in Iran

    "The mass demonstrations of support for Mousavi have spread to other parts of Iran, too. Rallies attracting thousands have popped up across the country including the central historic city of Isfahan, the conservative northeastern city of Mashhad and Shiraz in the south.

    It is not just the election many people in the streets are angry about. They want more personal freedoms and a better economy and international standing. They blame Ahmadinejad for giving Iran a bad name abroad."

    You can find this complete article on AOL NEWS if you check it now, 11:20 PM CDT, 6/17/09.

  9. #209
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    "Perhaps, one side can be deemed at least potentially more reasonable towards US interests but to believe the current situation in Iran will ever veer near being remotely pliable towards western interests would be foolish. To take a stand in the current powder keg developing due to the recent election would be insane. " (turtle55h)

    I'm not so sure I can agree with all of that. There are vast numbers of young people born after the 1979 revolution who simply don't buy into the fundamentalist credo of living and thinking, including the official policy of belief and opinion against the US. From a simple cultural perspective, there is too much Western fashion, lifestyle and ideals being lived by this vast number of young people to say there could not be a significant collective change in official attitude towards the US given the right circumstances. US techies via the net are giving advice and assisting Iranian young people to circumvent the restrictive clampdown on freedom of internet expression. Things like that are long remembered. They are not isolated in their massive protests and demands for more basic freedoms - even some Jews are cheering them on. In LA, thousands of Iranian expapatriots are out in the streets and non-Iranians are driving by honking their horns in approval. This could be a real pivitol moment in history. I think too that our elected leader who voices support for harsh sanctions against Iran could make a simple statement that he and the American people find it alarming and worrisome that protestors have been shot and killed. That is a human rights, basic humanitarian statement devoid of politics.

  10. #210
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    This is definitely not just restricted to Tehran, much less north Tehran. Look at the size of this demonstration in Isfahan:


  11. #211
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    Default Isfahan crowd size

    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    This is definitely not just restricted to Tehran, much less north Tehran. Look at the size of this demonstration in Isfahan
    That would be the picture I posted earlier, Tequila

    The square is about 83,200 m2 (calculated from Google Maps). Assuming an average density crowd (at 0.4m2 each), and if the square were completely filled, that puts it a little over 200,000 persons. In practice, give the central fountain, the road at the rear, and some space at the front, its somewhat less than that--but still huge. Given that the city has a population of 2.5 million (and around 4 million including the surrounding area), its an impressive turnout.

    Ironically, the one time I visited Naghsh-e Jahan Square, Ahmadinejad was speaking there in the that same afternoon. Security was so light in the morning that I was able to go right up to his podium
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


  12. #212
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Default

    Oops! Sorry Prof Brynen.

    Here's a pic which is claimed for Shiraz:


  13. #213
    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Default Interesting...

    Robert Baer: Don't Forget Mousavi's Bloody Past, by Robert Baer. Time Online, June 18, 2009.
    Indeed, Mousavi, Prime Minister from 1981 to 1989, almost certainly had a hand in the planning of the Iranian-backed truck-bombing attacks on the U.S. embassy in April 1983 and the Marine barracks in October of that same year. Mousavi, as my Lebanese contact reminded me, dealt directly with Imad Mughniyah, the man largely held responsible for both attacks. (Mughniyah was assassinated in Damascus last year.) The Lebanese said Mughniyah had told him over and over that he, Mughniyah, got along well with Mousavi and trusted him completely.

  14. #214
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    all nice and good.
    however, the unrest was pre-planned by outside sources.
    which country is interested on internal trouble in Iran?
    which ethnic group in the middle east causes ALL the problems?
    which middle east rogue state hold yearly airforce ex to fly long range and bomb Iran?
    which ethnic group makes money of high gasolin prices?
    which ethnic group controls the western media that bombards the public with
    half-truth and outright lies (about the current situation)?

    once you have answers to above questions, you know why.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-21-2009 at 11:55 AM. Reason: staat to state, rouge to rogue

  15. #215
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default You could just say what you mean instead of

    trying to tiptoe through the tulips. This is, after all, a discussion board and not a game show. Actually, it's a small wars / warfare discussion board and NOT a political board; there are plenty of those out there but we leave our politics in a puddle on the keyboard hereabouts and ask that all who post do so.

    How much time did you spend in Iran? That's some in-depth knowledge you display. I'm sure that you would not make such accusations against the poor Hittites unless you have some corroboration of your speculative statements and I'm equally sure you can back each of those statements with reams or web pages of linked and relatively unbiased evidence which would perhaps help you make your case. That would also make for an effective post instead of one that appears to use innuendo and say little that will stimulate any meaningful discussion ...

    Though I admit I did not know the Hittites had an air force.

  16. #216
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    Default Bet Frank's Name Isn't Frank

    Today's events show that the crowds were willing to test Khameini's and the regime's will. Question is, will they be willing to go out again knowing that the regime is likely to try to keep upping the pressure?

    If they do show again the regime will be forced to decide between going all out and turning up the violence or blinking. If the regime does want to turn up the violence, it has to consider just how much stomach its rank and file have for killing their countrymen. Will the police commander who said today, "I have a wife and kids. Please go home so we don't have to beat you," be willing to keep increasing the violence?

  17. #217
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default OK it is all clear to me now

    First they get rid of the "i before e" rule

    And now they undermine the Iranian elections....

    Yes ladies and gentlemen, the Brits are to blame

    Iran's parliament speaker criticizes election authority

    Larijani's statement was in direct contrast to that of Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who considers the possibility of ballot irregularities in the presidential elections as almost nonexistant.

    "The possibility of organized and comprehensive disruption and irregularities in this election is almost close to zero given the composition of the people who are holding the election," he told foreign diplomats on Sunday.

    Mottaki blamed Britain for interfering in the elections, saying it had been planning against the vote for more than a year.

    "We witnessed an influx of people from the U.K. ahead of the election," he said, without offering specifics.

    Mottaki accused Britain of supporting followers of the Baha'i faith, a religion that originated in 19th-century Persia but which Iran does not recognize.

    He also said the West expects a different model of democracy from developing countries.
    Bet you thought I was kidding:

    New Britain Teaching Guidelines Nix 'I Before E' Spelling Rule

    Print LONDON — It's a spelling mantra that generations of schoolchildren have learned — "i before e, except after c."

    But new British government guidance tells teachers not to pass on the rule to students, because there are too many exceptions.

    The "Support For Spelling" document, which is being sent to thousands of primary schools, says the rule "is not worth teaching" because it doesn't account for words like 'sufficient,' 'veil' and 'their.'
    Chaos in Iran and chaos in spelling bees all because of perfidious Albion

  18. #218
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Default

    Things appear to have calmed at least in Iran today. Mousavi appears to be trying to organize a general strike.

    Gary Sick on Mousavi's evolution in the past week, to include his manifesto issued yesterday.

    It is apparent from this statement that Mousavi’s movement — and Mousavi himself — have evolved enormously in the past week. The candidate started as a mild-mannered reformer. After the searing events of the past several days, he has dared to preach a counter sermon to Khamene’i’s lecture on Islamic government. Although he never mentions the Leader by name, there is no overlooking the direct contradiction of his arguments. This open opposition to the Leader by a political figure is unprecedented.

    Mousavi has in fact issued a manifesto for a new vision of the Islamic Republic. The repression and disdain of the government has brought the opposition to a place they probably never dreamed of going. And no one knows where any of the parties are likely to go next.
    Chatham House analyzes the official election results and calls BS (PDF link). Two provinces report 100+% turnout. Most interesting nugget of info is that the Iranian countryside is heavily anti-Ahmadinejad and pro-reformist, from past election data, and increasingly peopled by the down-and-out ethnic minorities of Iran: Baloch, Kurds, Lors, and Arabs.

    edit: Add a link to a morale booster video from BBC Persian service's website. Good to see the demonstrators sending the riot police fleeing for once.
    Last edited by tequila; 06-21-2009 at 06:17 PM.

  19. #219
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    Default Neda

    There are multiple videos out showing an Iranian girl named Neda rapidly bleeding out on the streets of Tehran, reportedly after being shot by the Basij militia. A quick look at YouTube shows video shot by at least two different people, plus a rapidly growing number of tribute videos centering around the girl's death. Depending on how things go over the next month, the fortieth day after Saturday's deaths may be a day of major memorials, a tactic that was used during the Iranian Revolution to create a wave of increasing turnout.

  20. #220
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Two small points

    Tequila,

    The BBC have additional problems with reporting on Iran; the resident correspondent has been told to leave and the satellite TV channel in Farsi is being blocked: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/mid...st/8111638.stm
    The footage of the polie retreating in the face of a crowd is unlikely to be seen I suspect.

    Tom O,

    I doubt if the UK is behind the current crisis, whatever our history and position in Iranian mythology / history which amplifies any British link. Like you I think the Hittites are more likely.

    davidbfpo

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