Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Iran takes aim at Queen's party

From the Scotsman. Hoo-boy! The Iranians are claiming it's Psychological warfare.

A party to mark the Queen's official birthday by the British embassy in Iran is "psychological war" planned with the United States against the Islamic Republic, a hardline Iranian newspaper reported.

Kayhan, accusing the embassy of expanding its list of Iranian invitees, reported on Wednesday: "The British embassy in Iran acts as America's 'psychological war' wing and it seems the different kind of programming for the queen's birthday party is a joint American-British project."

'Historically cunning' diplomat pooh-poohs the charge.

A British diplomat in Iran dismissed the charges. "We are just doing what we normally do in embassies all over the world, inviting people from all sorts of walks of life," the diplomat said, adding those invited included officials, members of civil society and others.

Hardline student groups said they would hold a news conference outside the embassy on Thursday to note the "betrayals and the historically cunning behaviour of the British government in Iran."

But! The Iranian 4 are clearly casting a pall over the festivities.

Kayhan put the party in context of the arrest of three American-Iranians, including academic Haleh Esfandiari. A fourth is free on bail but also faces security-related charges.

It quoted one Iranian invitee as saying: "Especially after the recent arrests of Iranians with American passports for espionage, the British embassy is trying to show there is nothing bad about having relations with foreigners."

Iran has linked the arrests to a so-called "soft revolution", a perceived plot by the United States to undermine the government using intellectuals and others inside Iran.

Western diplomats say Iranian analysts, activists and politicians are more reluctant to meet them for fear they may be branded foreign collaborators.


P.S. The Queen was born on April 21 1926, but her official birthday in June is the main focus of celebrations in Britain, its embassies and Commonwealth countries around the world.