Obama on Tehran’s Democrats
Tens of thousands of protestors yesterday braved police batons and tear gas canisters in the streets of Iranian cities to denounce their theocratic rulers and call for a change of regime. In spite of repression by the Basiji thugs and the West’s short attention span, the Green Revolution lives on.
On this, the 30th anniversary of the hostage taking at the U.S. Embassy, their message was to a large degree intended for America and President Obama. The opposition hijacked the day, usually an occasion to denounce the Great Satan, to declare their desire to break with that past and build a free Iran. They marched alongside state-sanctioned rallies, before their protests were broken up violently.
For this broad coalition of democrats, America is a beacon of hope and the Iran of the street arguably the most pro-American place in the world. Earlier this year, before the huge demonstrations in the wake of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s brazen theft of the June presidential election, one popular opposition chant was, « O ba ma! »—in Farsi a play on the new American President’s last name that translates as, « He with us! »
But the opposition’s dreams of American support, moral as much as anything, have been dashed. Mr. Obama was slow and reluctant to speak out on their behalf and eager to engage the Iranian regime in nuclear talks as soon as the summer of protest tapered off. Iran’s democrats are now letting their disappointment show. The new chant passed around in Internet chat rooms and heard in the streets yesterday was, « Obama, Obama—either you’re with them or with us. »