In late June, with protests against the government in full swing, the regime launched a major propaganda effort to blame Britain above all others for the troubles in the streets. Attacks on the United States continued, but the primary focus was on the perfidious English. That propaganda line appears now to have boiled over and the regime is having trouble containing it.
Most interestingly, even huge numbers of Majlis deputies appear to have swallowed the propaganda line as actual fact. The Majlis chamber is filled with rousing diatribes against Britain and calls for a complete severance in diplomatic relations.
Mottaki responded Tuesday by saying, “There are 10 to 12 working fields between Iran and Britain. We are currently reviewing each area. At the end, the government will make the final decision..”
Mottaki remarks were very vague and it appeared to many that he was playing for time, trying to string the issue out until the frenzy in the Majlis fizzled.
He didn’t explain what he meant by 10 to 12 working fields. He didn’t say how long it would take to complete his review. He didn’t even pledge to reduce relations by at least some degree.
A bill has been introduced in the Majlis to break relations completely. Mohammad-Ali Abtahi, one of the sponsors of the bill, blamed British policies for the bombing last Tuesday that killed a nuclear scientist.
He also accused Britain of recognizing the Monarchy Organization of Iran (Anjoman-e Padeshahi-ye Iran), the group widely accused of executing the bombing, as a legal entity.. Abtahi seemed not to understand that in Britain people can form organizations without government permission.
Abtahi demanded that all British diplomats be expelled and the embassy on Ferdowsi Avenue shuttered. Until then, he said, “The Iranian people will not have a moment of peace.”
He argued that failure to take action against Britain would only encourage it to further insult the Islamic Republic.
The bill was introduced last Wednesday and sent to the National Security Committee. Deputy Kazem Jalili, spokesman for the committee, told reporters the majority of the members of the committee advocate severing ties.
The normally vocal chairman of the committee, Alaeddin Borujerdi, has been unusually reticent on this topic. He told reporters that committee members were insistent on reducing relations, but he also said that the final decision rested with the Supreme National Security Council, chaired by the president, and not with the Majlis.
While Mottaki says it is up to the government to decide on the level of relations with foreign governments, Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani last week told the National Security Committee to study the issue and come up with a proposal. He joined in lambasting Britain for interfering in Iran for scores of years and especially for promoting post-election unrest.
In keeping with the surge of anti-British feeling, the annual Fajr Cultural Festival has canceled the performance of a British play, “Grand Inquisitor,” scheduled for later this month with Peter Brook directing. A news release said, “Some have declared they won’t tolerate performances of this troupe in Iran,” suggesting there had been threats of violence if the play went on..
Many in Iran still view Britain as a world power whose global 19th Century strength is undiminished. A former British ambassador to Iran once said it was a joy to serve in Iran because it was the only country where Britain was still treated as a superpower.