World Focus: As Iran protests go global, the regime reacts

Protest demonstrations over Iran's presidential election results spread across at least 80 cities in six continents this weekend – with one worrying sign for supporters of defeated presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi in Tehran: in several cities, protesters could clearly be seen carrying posters advocating the overthrow of the Islamic Republic. This is something that neither Mousavi nor his supporters have encouraged.

For not one of the original protesters in Iran ever demanded the destruction of Iran's Islamic Republic. They were demanding fairness in elections and a re-run of the poll. But their flag was green and Mousavi himself had for years been a supporter of the principle of a clergy-supervised nation. That the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, should have given his personal support to the declared winner, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, proves how politically divided the clergy are. Others in Qom are deeply disturbed by this state of affairs. But it does not mean that Mousavi's voters wanted to throw away the fruits of the 1979 revolution against the Shah.

And herein lies the problem. The ruling clerical leadership in Iran and their security accomplices have been trying to persuade the world and the citizens of Iran – and, indeed, themselves – that the Tehran demonstrations were part of a monstrous, foreign-inspired plot organised by all the usual suspects: the CIA, the opposition Mujahedin Qalq (whom even the Americans these days regard as a "terrorist" organisation) and, of course, Britain. The more that Mousavi and his supporters can be painted into a "spy" corner, the more the arrests and beatings and deaths since the 12 June poll – which this weekend's demonstrations were supposed to be about – can be seen as part of a necessary counter-revolutionary operation.

If the regime can use elements of the weekend demonstrations to their advantage – "Down with the Islamic Republic" was one common banner – then they will use this to try to nullify the work of Mousavi and overseas activists like Nobel prizewinner Shirin Ebadi, who told a crowd in Amsterdam that "Iran is our homeland, let us be united."

Mousavi himself has warned that "the [Iranian] security organisations are mysteriously pursuing wrong and fabricated ideas that the activists [in Iran] are tied to foreigners and ... have therefore given way to using illegal, immoral and unethical methods of extracting confessions."

Interestingly, the weekend protesters paid little attention to subjects which respectively obsess the West and put fear into the hearts of Iranians: Iran's nuclear project; and Iranian aircrafts' disturbing habit of falling out of the sky. Manchester University's Manuchehr Sanadjian has identified the whole nuclear fandango as a false "reinvention of national identity", a form of "fetishism" by Ahmedinejad and his friends – was the first piece of processed uranium not placed in a Shiite shrine? – rather than a vast nuclear plot against the West.

At the same time, the ironic collapse of basic avionic technology has drawn attention to the US-supported sanctions (of which a certain Barack Obama used to be such an enthusiast) which prevent the Iranians from properly maintaining their aircraft. The crash of an old Russian Ilyushin plane at Mashad airport on Friday with the loss of 17 lives, and the more devastating crash of another Russian-made plane en route toArmenia on 15th July with 168 passengers and crew killed, concentrates the mind of anyone who approaches the brand-new Imam Khomeini Airport outside Tehran. As usual, the big stick of sanctions politics is wielded over Iran, and the little people pay with their lives.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'