During the early morning hours here in the US, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivered an address to the Iranian people.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday demanded an end to the street protests that have shaken the Islamic Republic since a disputed presidential election a week ago and said any bloodshed would be their leaders’ fault.
He defended Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the rightful winner of the presidential vote and denied any possibility that it had been rigged, as Ahmadinejad’s opponents have asserted.
The crowd gathered at the speech, held inside Tehran University, included Ahmadinejad, who sat in the front row.
In addition to declaring a “definitive victory” for Ahmadinejad, Khameni also blasted the United States for “meddling”, even though the Obama administration has said little to nothing about the situation.
During his sermon on Friday, Khamenei condemned what he said was interference by “some foreign powers” in this month’s election and rebuked them for giving Iran “advice on human rights.”
“After street protests, some foreign powers … started to interfere in Iran’s state matters by questioning the result of the vote. They do not know the Iranian nation. I strongly condemn such interference,” Khamenei said.
“American officials’ remarks about human rights and limitations on people are not acceptable because they have no idea about human rights after what they have done in Afghanistan and Iraq and other parts of the world. We do not need advice over human rights from them,” he added.
The spiritual leader accused Iran’s enemies of trying to “discredit” the Islamic establishment by questioning the results of the elections.
The reluctance of Obama to address the situation is now in proper perspective. The hard-liners of Iran predictably blamed America for fomenting this dissent. It would have served Obama well to have spoken up and shown which side he chose to back.
His obvious indecision regarding what to do and how to interject his views on the situation is now shown to be a tactical error of profound proportions. The chance to show solidarity with the Iranian protesters, to offer encouragement for their cause, is now lost. The leader of the United States, the world leader of freedom and democracy, has done nothing.
This was a rare opportunity to foster the spirit of revolution which has gripped the Iranian people. Words could have gone a long way toward accomplishing what the West has desired for so long: A revolutionary upheaval in Iranian politics and society.
Instead, Obama’s lack of judgement and fear of alienating the winning party has now rendered him impotent. Anything he says now will be meaningless.
An opportunity lost.