Tuesday, 25 November 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

Britain Downgrades Diplomatic Ties With Iran

Wednesday, 30 November 2011 05:11 By Rick Gladstone, Alan Cowell and Robert F Worth, The New York Times News Service | Report

London - Britain said on Wednesday that it had closed its embassy in Tehran, withdrawn all its diplomats and ordered Iran to do the same within 48 hours at its own diplomatic mission in London in the worst rupture of relations in decades.

The measures were announced in Parliament by Foreign Secretary William Hague a day after Iranian protesters shouting “Death to England” stormed the British Embassy compound and a diplomatic residence in Tehran, tearing down the British flag, smashing windows, defacing walls and briefly detaining six staff members in what appeared to be a state-sponsored protest against Britain’s tough new economic sanctions against Iran.

The attack was the most serious diplomatic breach since the traumatic assault on the American Embassy after Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Mr. Hague had initially expressed outrage over the attack, saying Britain held Iran’s government responsible and promising “other, further, and serious consequences.”

In Parliament Wednesday he declared: “We have now closed the British embassy in Tehran. We have decided to evacuate all our staff.”

All British diplomats had now left Iran, he said.

“We require the immediate closure of the Iranian embassy in London and all staff must leave in the next 48 hours,” he said.

The British measures deepened Iran’s international isolation but Mr. Hague said they did not represent a complete rupture of diplomatic relations, which were now, he said, at “their lowest level.”

Separately, Norway said it had temporarily closed its embassy in Tehran but had not withdrawn diplomatic personnel. A spokeswoman, Hilde Steinfeld, said the Norwegian authorities decided on the move late Tuesday after the attack on the British facilities.

The scale of Tuesday’s attack — led by hundreds of students described as members of the Basij militia by the Iranian state media — appeared to surprise even some Iranian officials. Later in the day, Iran’s Foreign Ministry released an uncharacteristic expression of regret that contrasted sharply with the angry rhetorical jabs at Britain issued a day earlier by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran’s leaders, buffeted by the new sanctions, a collapsing economy and increasingly bitter infighting among the political elite, may have welcomed a chance to change the subject, analysts said. But the episode also appeared to be a shot across the bow aimed at the West, in line with Tehran’s old policies of escalating defiance.

“Khamenei’s philosophy is often to react to outside pressure with provocation, to imply that Western pressure will only further radicalize, not moderate, Iranian behavior,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Security forces initially stood by as students laboriously broke through the embassy’s massive main gate and then ransacked the offices, burning British flags and smashing pictures of Queen Elizabeth II. Only later did police officers in riot gear begin a somewhat lackadaisical effort to remove the protesters from the grounds, according to reports from state-supported Iranian news media and images broadcast on state television.

President Obama, speaking about the assault during a meeting with Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands at the White House, said he was “deeply concerned” that the Iranian authorities had permitted it to happen. “For rioters essentially to be able to overrun the embassy and set it on fire is an indication that the Iranian government is not taking its international obligations seriously,” Mr. Obama said.

The European Union also rushed to condemn the assault, and the United Nations Security Council issued a statement calling on Iran to protect foreign diplomats and embassy property.

Of the three nations Iran’s leaders loathe the most — Israel, the United States and Britain — only Britain maintains an embassy in the country, making it an easy target. But hostility to the British taps a deep vein in the Iranian psyche. The United States may be the “Great Satan” to Iran’s theocratic rulers, but it is Britain — the crafty old colonial power whose designs in Iran go back two centuries — that is still widely blamed for almost every upheaval in the country. One of the events that helped ignite the 1979 revolution was Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi’s decision to publish an article accusing Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the revolt’s then-exiled spiritual leader, of belonging to a family of British agents.

“The ‘British hand’ is said to be behind every major event of the past 150 years,” said Abbas Milani, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at Stanford University. “The Americans are seen as naïve malleable tools in the hands of the Brits.”

“Khamenei’s philosophy is often to react to outside pressure with provocation, to imply that Western pressure will only further radicalize, not moderate, Iranian behavior,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
 

Security forces initially stood by as students laboriously broke through the embassy’s massive main gate and then ransacked the offices, burning British flags and smashing pictures of Queen Elizabeth II. Only later did police officers in riot gear begin a somewhat lackadaisical effort to remove the protesters from the grounds, according to reports from state-supported Iranian news media and images broadcast on state television.

President Obama, speaking about the assault during a meeting with Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands at the White House, said he was “deeply concerned” that the Iranian authorities had permitted it to happen. “For rioters essentially to be able to overrun the embassy and set it on fire is an indication that the Iranian government is not taking its international obligations seriously,” Mr. Obama said.

The European Union also rushed to condemn the assault, and the United Nations Security Council issued a statement calling on Iran to protect foreign diplomats and embassy property.

Of the three nations Iran’s leaders loathe the most — Israel, the United States and Britain — only Britain has an embassy in the country, making it an easy target. But hostility to the British taps a deep vein in the Iranian psyche. The United States may be the “Great Satan” to Iran’s theocratic rulers, but it is Britain — the crafty old colonial power whose designs in Iran go back two centuries — that is still widely blamed for almost every upheaval in the country. One of the events that helped ignite the 1979 revolution was Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi’s decision to publish an article accusing Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the revolt’s then-exiled spiritual leader, of belonging to a family of British agents.

“The ‘British hand’ is said to be behind every major event of the past 150 years,” said Abbas Milani, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at Stanford University. “The Americans are seen as naïve malleable tools in the hands of the Brits.”

A day before the embassy assault, Ayatollah Khamenei assailed Britain in a speech as an emblem of Western imperial arrogance, saying it “has a history of humiliating nations, destroying cultural and civilization heritage and taking control of their resources.”

The intensifying struggle over Iran’s nuclear program was visible in another aspect of Tuesday’s embassy assault: the protesters could be heard chanting the name of Majid Shahriari, an Iranian nuclear scientist who was killed by mysterious assailants exactly a year ago. Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency issued a report on Tuesday accusing Israeli and British intelligence of carrying out the assassination.

Iranian officials have derided the latest United Nations report on Iran’s nuclear program as “propaganda” written at the behest of the United States to justify airstrikes on Iran.

The attack on Tuesday began when about 50 protesters invaded the offices in the vast walled compound housing the British Embassy and its manicured grounds, situated in a busy neighborhood in the heart of Tehran, Iranian state media reported. Outside the gates, thousands of student protesters chanted religious slogans and demanded the expulsion of the British ambassador. Meanwhile, 200 to 300 others broke into a British diplomatic residence a few miles north of the embassy, called Qolhak Garden. The facility also houses a school.

Fars reported that police officers freed six British staff members who had been surrounded by the Qolhak Garden protesters and that 12 of those protesters were later arrested.

According to Fars, the police eventually used tear gas to disperse some protesters inside the embassy grounds, and a number of protesters were wounded. The agency said the demonstration ended after Brig. Gen. Ahmad-Reza Radan, the deputy police chief, warned any recalcitrant protesters they would face a “tough police confrontation” if they did not leave the embassy.

The embassy attack followed the enactment of legislation passed by Iran’s Parliament to expel the British ambassador and downgrade diplomatic relations between the two countries, in retaliation for Britain’s new economic sanctions.

 

Alan Cowell reported from London, Robert F. Worth from Cairo and Rick Gladstone from New York. Ravi Somaiya contributed reporting from London, and Artin Afkhami from Boston.


Hide Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus
GET DAILY TRUTHOUT UPDATES

FOLLOW togtorsstottofb


Error
  • JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 16290

Britain Downgrades Diplomatic Ties With Iran

Wednesday, 30 November 2011 05:11 By Rick Gladstone, Alan Cowell and Robert F Worth, The New York Times News Service | Report

London - Britain said on Wednesday that it had closed its embassy in Tehran, withdrawn all its diplomats and ordered Iran to do the same within 48 hours at its own diplomatic mission in London in the worst rupture of relations in decades.

The measures were announced in Parliament by Foreign Secretary William Hague a day after Iranian protesters shouting “Death to England” stormed the British Embassy compound and a diplomatic residence in Tehran, tearing down the British flag, smashing windows, defacing walls and briefly detaining six staff members in what appeared to be a state-sponsored protest against Britain’s tough new economic sanctions against Iran.

The attack was the most serious diplomatic breach since the traumatic assault on the American Embassy after Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Mr. Hague had initially expressed outrage over the attack, saying Britain held Iran’s government responsible and promising “other, further, and serious consequences.”

In Parliament Wednesday he declared: “We have now closed the British embassy in Tehran. We have decided to evacuate all our staff.”

All British diplomats had now left Iran, he said.

“We require the immediate closure of the Iranian embassy in London and all staff must leave in the next 48 hours,” he said.

The British measures deepened Iran’s international isolation but Mr. Hague said they did not represent a complete rupture of diplomatic relations, which were now, he said, at “their lowest level.”

Separately, Norway said it had temporarily closed its embassy in Tehran but had not withdrawn diplomatic personnel. A spokeswoman, Hilde Steinfeld, said the Norwegian authorities decided on the move late Tuesday after the attack on the British facilities.

The scale of Tuesday’s attack — led by hundreds of students described as members of the Basij militia by the Iranian state media — appeared to surprise even some Iranian officials. Later in the day, Iran’s Foreign Ministry released an uncharacteristic expression of regret that contrasted sharply with the angry rhetorical jabs at Britain issued a day earlier by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran’s leaders, buffeted by the new sanctions, a collapsing economy and increasingly bitter infighting among the political elite, may have welcomed a chance to change the subject, analysts said. But the episode also appeared to be a shot across the bow aimed at the West, in line with Tehran’s old policies of escalating defiance.

“Khamenei’s philosophy is often to react to outside pressure with provocation, to imply that Western pressure will only further radicalize, not moderate, Iranian behavior,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Security forces initially stood by as students laboriously broke through the embassy’s massive main gate and then ransacked the offices, burning British flags and smashing pictures of Queen Elizabeth II. Only later did police officers in riot gear begin a somewhat lackadaisical effort to remove the protesters from the grounds, according to reports from state-supported Iranian news media and images broadcast on state television.

President Obama, speaking about the assault during a meeting with Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands at the White House, said he was “deeply concerned” that the Iranian authorities had permitted it to happen. “For rioters essentially to be able to overrun the embassy and set it on fire is an indication that the Iranian government is not taking its international obligations seriously,” Mr. Obama said.

The European Union also rushed to condemn the assault, and the United Nations Security Council issued a statement calling on Iran to protect foreign diplomats and embassy property.

Of the three nations Iran’s leaders loathe the most — Israel, the United States and Britain — only Britain maintains an embassy in the country, making it an easy target. But hostility to the British taps a deep vein in the Iranian psyche. The United States may be the “Great Satan” to Iran’s theocratic rulers, but it is Britain — the crafty old colonial power whose designs in Iran go back two centuries — that is still widely blamed for almost every upheaval in the country. One of the events that helped ignite the 1979 revolution was Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi’s decision to publish an article accusing Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the revolt’s then-exiled spiritual leader, of belonging to a family of British agents.

“The ‘British hand’ is said to be behind every major event of the past 150 years,” said Abbas Milani, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at Stanford University. “The Americans are seen as naïve malleable tools in the hands of the Brits.”

“Khamenei’s philosophy is often to react to outside pressure with provocation, to imply that Western pressure will only further radicalize, not moderate, Iranian behavior,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
 

Security forces initially stood by as students laboriously broke through the embassy’s massive main gate and then ransacked the offices, burning British flags and smashing pictures of Queen Elizabeth II. Only later did police officers in riot gear begin a somewhat lackadaisical effort to remove the protesters from the grounds, according to reports from state-supported Iranian news media and images broadcast on state television.

President Obama, speaking about the assault during a meeting with Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands at the White House, said he was “deeply concerned” that the Iranian authorities had permitted it to happen. “For rioters essentially to be able to overrun the embassy and set it on fire is an indication that the Iranian government is not taking its international obligations seriously,” Mr. Obama said.

The European Union also rushed to condemn the assault, and the United Nations Security Council issued a statement calling on Iran to protect foreign diplomats and embassy property.

Of the three nations Iran’s leaders loathe the most — Israel, the United States and Britain — only Britain has an embassy in the country, making it an easy target. But hostility to the British taps a deep vein in the Iranian psyche. The United States may be the “Great Satan” to Iran’s theocratic rulers, but it is Britain — the crafty old colonial power whose designs in Iran go back two centuries — that is still widely blamed for almost every upheaval in the country. One of the events that helped ignite the 1979 revolution was Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi’s decision to publish an article accusing Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the revolt’s then-exiled spiritual leader, of belonging to a family of British agents.

“The ‘British hand’ is said to be behind every major event of the past 150 years,” said Abbas Milani, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at Stanford University. “The Americans are seen as naïve malleable tools in the hands of the Brits.”

A day before the embassy assault, Ayatollah Khamenei assailed Britain in a speech as an emblem of Western imperial arrogance, saying it “has a history of humiliating nations, destroying cultural and civilization heritage and taking control of their resources.”

The intensifying struggle over Iran’s nuclear program was visible in another aspect of Tuesday’s embassy assault: the protesters could be heard chanting the name of Majid Shahriari, an Iranian nuclear scientist who was killed by mysterious assailants exactly a year ago. Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency issued a report on Tuesday accusing Israeli and British intelligence of carrying out the assassination.

Iranian officials have derided the latest United Nations report on Iran’s nuclear program as “propaganda” written at the behest of the United States to justify airstrikes on Iran.

The attack on Tuesday began when about 50 protesters invaded the offices in the vast walled compound housing the British Embassy and its manicured grounds, situated in a busy neighborhood in the heart of Tehran, Iranian state media reported. Outside the gates, thousands of student protesters chanted religious slogans and demanded the expulsion of the British ambassador. Meanwhile, 200 to 300 others broke into a British diplomatic residence a few miles north of the embassy, called Qolhak Garden. The facility also houses a school.

Fars reported that police officers freed six British staff members who had been surrounded by the Qolhak Garden protesters and that 12 of those protesters were later arrested.

According to Fars, the police eventually used tear gas to disperse some protesters inside the embassy grounds, and a number of protesters were wounded. The agency said the demonstration ended after Brig. Gen. Ahmad-Reza Radan, the deputy police chief, warned any recalcitrant protesters they would face a “tough police confrontation” if they did not leave the embassy.

The embassy attack followed the enactment of legislation passed by Iran’s Parliament to expel the British ambassador and downgrade diplomatic relations between the two countries, in retaliation for Britain’s new economic sanctions.

 

Alan Cowell reported from London, Robert F. Worth from Cairo and Rick Gladstone from New York. Ravi Somaiya contributed reporting from London, and Artin Afkhami from Boston.


Hide Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus