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More Clashes In Iran As Obama Again Engages

Today, on the 30th anniversary of the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran, violence erupted on the streets, as reformers brought out big crowds in protest of the ruling regime. The reform movement still lives in Iran, and is using anniversaries to time their demonstrations. I often recall that the 1979 Iranian Revolution began in 1978.

Police officers firing tear gas and wielding batons clashed Wednesday with anti-government demonstrators in Tehran who sought to turn a rally commemorating the 30th anniversary of the takeover of the American Embassy into a renewed protest against the disputed June 30 election, news reports and witnesses said […]

In Tehran, the protesters had turned out to display opposition to the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose victory in Iran’s disputed elections last June provoked Iran’s biggest political crisis since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

Reuters quoted a reformist Web site, Mowjcamp, as saying police “opened fire” on protesters at Haft-e-Tir Square, but there was no independent confirmation of the episode, in which an unspecified number of people were reported injured. It was not clear whether the police opened fire with guns or were launching tear gas canisters.

One video picking up viewers on YouTube shows protestors chanting “We don’t want atom bomb.”

At the same time, President Obama released a statement to the Iranian people on the anniversary, in English and Persian:

Thirty years ago today, the American Embassy in Tehran was seized. The 444 days that began on November 4, 1979 deeply affected the lives of courageous Americans who were unjustly held hostage, and we owe these Americans and their families our gratitude for their extraordinary service and sacrifice.

This event helped set the United States and Iran on a path of sustained suspicion, mistrust, and confrontation. I have made it clear that the United States of America wants to move beyond this past, and seeks a relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran based upon mutual interests and mutual respect. We do not interfere in Iran’s internal affairs. We have condemned terrorist attacks against Iran. We have recognized Iran’s international right to peaceful nuclear power. We have demonstrated our willingness to take confidence-building steps along with others in the international community. We have accepted a proposal by the International Atomic Energy Agency to meet Iran’s request for assistance in meeting the medical needs of its people. We have made clear that if Iran lives up to the obligations that every nation has, it will have a path to a more prosperous and productive relationship with the international community.

Iran must choose. We have heard for thirty years what the Iranian government is against; the question, now, is what kind of future it is for. The American people have great respect for the people of Iran and their rich history. The world continues to bear witness to their powerful calls for justice, and their courageous pursuit of universal rights. It is time for the Iranian government to decide whether it wants to focus on the past, or whether it will make the choices that will open the door to greater opportunity, prosperity, and justice for its people.

This statement clearly is designed to add diplomatic pressure to the clear pressure being put on the regime in the streets today.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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