[Guest post by DRJ]
A pro-reform group of Shiite clerics in Qom, Iran, have declared last month’s Presidential election invalid because “evidence of vote-rigging were ignored … peaceful protests by Iranians were violently oppressed … dozens of Iranians were killed and hundreds were illegally arrested.” However, the Reuters’ reports says the clerics’ defiance is largely symbolic:
“Qom is Iran’s center of Shi’ite learning, about 80 miles south of Tehran. The assembly has little political influence but its statement is a significant act of defiance since Qom is the power base of the clerical establishment.”
Meanwhile, the Iranian government continues to blame the UK and the US for its problems:
Iran accuses foreign powers, especially Britain and the United States, of inciting the anti-government protests to carry out a “velvet” revolution to undermine the Islamic Republic.
Tehran had arrested nine local British embassy staff but seven of them were later released.
On Friday, hardline cleric Ahmad Jannati, head of the Guardian Council that certified the election result, said the detained British embassy staffers had confessed and would face trial for inciting street protests.
In response to the detentions, EU countries summoned Iranian envoys and have pledged a strong, collective response to any Iranian harassment of staff at European embassies.
I haven’t seen a response from the U.S. on Iran’s detention of the British embassy staff. Does anyone know what America’s position on this is?
UPDATE: Dana provided this link from Monday in which Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, “We find that the harassment of embassy staff is deplorable, and we will continue to support the United Kingdom in calling for their release.” I haven’t located any statement by Barack Obama.