Iran's hurtling towards being a diplomatic outcast raises cause for serious concern about what is really going on within the country politically, and the impact domestic tensions are having on furthering Iran's nuclear arms ambitions and consequently, its dangerous isolationism.  

It is very difficult to believe that the attack on the British Embassy in Tehran was a spontaneous act by a group of young men who suddenly decided to teach the Brits a lesson for ratcheting up sanctions against the nascent nuclear state.

Mobs of the size that ransacked the building and terrorized embassy staff are just not permitted to form in the Islamic Republic. Think back to the 2009 Green Revolution and the consequences of mass mobilization by everyday Iranians.

This attack on Britain stinks of regime presence because of the obvious planning and co-ordination of the group, the time taken for the authorities to ‘regain’ control, and the somewhat half-hearted apology.

There is a solid body of analysis emerging in the days since the attack which suggests that it was to fuel internal Iranian political tensions in the lead up to next year’s elections. This is a situation which pits the hard line Islamists and supporters of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei against more moderate factions which recognise it is in Iran’s interests to avoid international isolation. It is also about the mullahs retaining control of Iran’s financial and security direction.

The only real nagging doubt as to the pedigree of the looters in this scenario is that if they are mullah  stooges  or Ayatollah-supporting Bassij fighters wishing to discredit Ahmadinejad, why would a regime that is so obsessed with nests of spies within its midst, not gather up all the documents ‘liberated’?  After all secret information about US and British covert actions towards Iran was one of the treasures Iranians gained when they took control of the American embassy in 1979.

Whoever the perpetrators may be, they have certainly managed to rupture well and truly the Iranian relationship with Britain. That there is tension is not new, but the degree is.  

The incident, coming hard on the heels of the IAEA report into Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions, has also put on notice many of Iran’s diplomatic ties with the rest of Europe as countries including Italy, France and Germany recall ambassadors for consultation, consider an oil embargo, and contemplate closing their embassies in Tehran, a step Norway has already taken.

The UK has gone the whole hog and expelled all Iran’s diplomats from their embassy in London, and now the two nations are trading tit for tat threats about consequences...serious consequences no less according to David Cameron.

Cameron is correct in his lambasting the Iranians for their disgraceful behaviour in failing to protect UK embassy staff. It is a Vienna Convention duty for a country to protect the diplomatic staff of other nations represented within its borders, and prevent flags and other symbols and property being defaced, stomped on and burned.

Many Iranians consider Britain still harbours imperialist designs towards its resources – a natural continuation of two hundred years of an on-again off-again relationship which was particularly one-sided in the 20th century.  The 1933 agreement with the Anglo Iranian Oil company proved extraordinarily generous to the Brits before the industry was nationalised under Prime Minister Mossadegh in 1953 for which he was overthrown with British assistance. Iran has long accused Britain – as it has the US and others - of meddling in its internal affairs and they are not wrong.

For all of that, the diplomatic and trade relations between Iran and Britain have carried on to the economic benefit of both nations. There have been a few hiccups including the Islamic Revolution and the fatwa on British writer Salman Rushdie. Britain’s refusal to set aside its principle of freedom of speech and ban the book The Satanic Verses did result in a temporary severing of relations at Iran’s initiative but life moved on eventually and the fatwa was eventually relegated from political/religious to religious only.

Now it seems however the entire EU is outraged with Iran to the point that member nations are focusing on the possibility of an oil embargo – even knowing that such a ban on OPEC’s second largest oil producer could impact world oil prices at the very time the debt laden EU can least afford it.

Of course for a ban on importing Iranian oil to prove effective all European countries would have to agree, and take the chance that Iran will not then mess with energy and other trade commodities which traverse the Straits of Hormuz on Iran’s sea border.

 And then there is China.  As Iran’s largest customer for crude oil it reckons an embargo is an emotional response which should give way to calm.

These sentiments are largely reiterated by Russia for the very reason that the ‘echo effect’ or reciprocated ill-will potentially drives conflict to the point of mutual harm or, worst case scenario, of no return. It would be the Cuban missile crisis played to the mushroom cloud finale.

 Russia is concerned that being too tough on Iran will leave the mullahs little option but to dig in their nuclear heels and pursue their own deterrent weapons.

That said, China and Russia have been unusually firm with Iran in that they both supported UN Security Council sanctions, although it is likely the sanctions would have been tougher were they not accommodating China and Russia so as to avoid being vetoed.

For now the ‘West’ and Iran remain headed for the lose-lose equation in which no diplomatic relations plus ever increasingly harsh sanctions which may placate Israel, still only add up to an isolated nuclear power which hates...big time.

Unfortunately for Iran it has backed itself into this corner – domestically and internationally. As usual it is the citizens who suffer most, and the West must not forget the, albeit thwarted, efforts those citizens made in 2009 to overthrow the illegitimate Ahmadinejad government.

If they get their chance again on the coat-tails of the democracy protests that still sweep the region, the West should be better organised and committed to assist. A second Green revolution will come in some form, and let’s hope it beats pre-emptive military strikes to the starting blocks.

Comments (4)

by on December 03, 2011

Wow, Spam on Pundit. Looks bad.

Anyway here is my two cents on the Iran situation and I suggest Jane Young you inform yourself thoroughly before you present yoursef as a global strategic thinker because judging byt the narrow Kiwi perspective you present here you have never read a news outlet other than the New Zealand Herald or the Waikato times.


by Tim Watkin on December 03, 2011
Tim Watkin

Evelien, spam removed. It's a constant battle at the moment.

You're obviously new to Pundit. The one rule we stick to is to play the ball, not the person, so your comments are out of line. And also make you look a bit foolish.

Jane's a former Political Editor of TV3 and lives in Canada, for a start.

Your profile says you're prepared to have evidence-based arguments. If so, we're pleased to have you. Why not give that a go?

by Andrew P Nichols on December 04, 2011
Andrew P Nichols

Two things here that you gloss over like too many journos marinaded in the latest propaganda and not recognising it.

1.You say " they have certainly managed to rupture well and truly the Iranian relationship with Britain."

And what kind of relationship was that anyway?  hardly what you'd call cordial. Just like the schoolyard bully who persists in goading the weaker lad in the playground  till the latter snaps, strikes then gets pummelled for his "resistance,  Britain esp since Cameron took over has applied renewed overt and covert fervour towards a US/Israeli march to war with Iran. exhorting the rest of europe to apply ever more stringent sanctions onthe basis of evidence that is no better than what was used to annihilate Iraq.  So surely the embassy invasion is understandable blowback if ill -advised as its exactly what the Brits.Israel/US/France are trying to provoke. I think the Iranians are showing incredible dignity in the face of the unrelenting belligerence.

2. You also say "The incident, coming hard on the heels of the IAEA report into Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions,"

Your choice to use the loaded term "nuclear weapons ambitions"  reveals your unwllingness to do your duty and challenge such assertions.They have to prove such things and they just arent doing a decent job outside winning the propaganda war though the media.

This latest evidence rehashed by Yukia Amano (revealed as a US stooge by the US own diplomatic cables kindly leaked by Wikileaks) is the contents of the laptop supplied by none other than our friends the Israelis 7YEARS AGO in 2004 and dismissed after careful analysis by IAEA staff at the time as a worthless plant   (These staff such as Robert Kelley   a former I.A.E.A. director and nuclear engineer are now appalled at its resurfacing). This is supported by some "evidence" on an explosive chamber in a plant somewhere similar to the rehash of the disgraceful "Aluminium tubes/Yellowcake from Niger/Chemical weapons trucks" nonsense that was used to do Iraq. Seymour Hersh in the New  yorker ( would be a good place to start to gain some better informed understanding in this matter.

I know Mr Watkin likes your stuff but I fear you are just unwittingly or otherwise just adding to the enablers for war that infest the media in the leadup to too many conflicts throughout history.

You really do need to read more widely!



by on December 05, 2011

Tim, I did.

The two cents is linked to a post on my blog in which I present a far wider view. If Jane actually is a professional political editor her views are even more shocking especially since she is living abroad and has access to Internet and should be researching the entire situation concerning Iran and not just the Main Stream propaganda sludge fed to us everyday in order to lead us straight toward WWIII but then again I don't think much of TV3's political nouse either and perhaps her limited insight in geopolitics is the reason for that. I don't know Jane and I'm sure she is a nice person so I m not attacking her personally but if you write for something like Pundit I would think that you'd at least mae an attempt to understand the entireity of the subject you are writing about and I'm sorry but she didn't.

I'm sure you'll find that over time I rarely if ever insult writers and that I never ever troll.

But if someone who apparently is a "professional" writes something which is so clearly based on ignorance on her subject I feel compelled to point that out.

Here is the link again for those interested:

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