With foreign journalists confined to their offices, the Internet blocked, and fewer opposition protesters venturing into the streets following yesterday’s bloody clashes outside Iran’s parliament building, Tehran has turned suddenly quiet. A planned vigil for the 19 people killed in the violence that has wracked Iran since the contested June 12 presidential election was called off today; meanwhile, the regime is continuing its vicious crackdown on the opposition, with presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi apparently under house arrest.
Into the vacuum rushes the noise of international diplomacy. Iran’s current leaders, the Ayatollah Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have been blunt about blaming outside forces—particularly Americans and Israelis—for the chaos, and the British are “making inquiries” into claims that their citizens are among those who have been arrested in Tehran this week. A senior diplomatic adviser to the ayatollah, Ali-Akbar Velayati, blamed Britain for inhibiting the human rights of the Iranian people by freezing Iranian assets—behavior that Time’s Adam Smith reads as evidence that Iran is reluctant to confront the United States head-on, though that didn’t stop Ahmadinejad from telling Obama to mind his own business, according to The New York Times.
While nothing appears to have come so far of a request from the son of the former shah, Reza Pahlavi, for Israel to get involved in supporting the Green Revolutionaries, the Obama administration has been cagey about how far its previous willingness to engage with the Iranians over key issues—namely the country’s nuclear ambitions, along with its support for Hezbollah and, by extension, the threat to Israel—still extends. (Though it has made clear that Iran’s Fourth of July invitations are now withdrawn.) Suzanne Maloney of the Brookings Institution argues that engagement remains the only way forward, particularly given that the regime is likely to grow “increasingly paranoid and dogmatic,” but that could turn out to be a politically infeasible strategy in the wake of Neda—which may mean that Israel, in the end, may get its way after all.