Wednesday, Nov. 04, 2009

A Counter Revolution in Iran?

The 30th anniversary of the U.S.-embassy takeover got off to its expected start: thousands of demonstrators were bused in to shout the usual slogans in front of the building now known as the Den of Spies. But in a square not far away, hundreds gathered to protest the government itself, clashing with police and dodging tear gas. Thirty years after Iranian students took 53 Americans hostage, U.S.-Iran relations are nearing another nadir: Tehran has blamed its unrest on Western meddling, and October's U.N.-brokered deal to reduce Iran's nuclear stockpile appears to be collapsing. Yet many Iranians no longer buy their leaders' anti-American orthodoxy. While the Nov. 4 displays of defiance were not as large as June's protests over the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the persistence of such demonstrations is proof that much has changed since the Islamic revolution. The crowds at the former U.S. embassy chanted their traditional "Death to America!" but on other streets new antigovernment slogans were taking hold: "Either you're with them or with us," directed at President Obama, and "Death to the dictator!" for Ahmadinejad.