So, as you may have read, it’s just another slow news day in the Middle East.
As they say in Cairo…mumtaz! Turnout is reportedly high for a second straight day of voting in Egypt’s first post-Mubarak election. Although anti-government demonstrators continue to reject the elections from Tahrir Square, the Supreme Military Council are pointing to the apparent success of the polls as validation of their benign, interim rule. Of course, with a name like the Supreme Military Council, who would possibly suspect that your intentions are anything other than Madisonian when it comes to the promise of liberal democracy?
Just across the Sinai, Hizbullah’s decided today’s the day to kick off rocket attacks against Israel for the first time since 2009. The Israelis were kind enough to return the favor. Although no casualties have been reported, it’s anybody’s guess when these two states will literally cool their jets. Interestingly, the Lebanese rockets were reportedly fired from the town of Rmeish…a small(ish), predominantly Christian village that’s filled with churches. This may strikes you as a curious collaboration, but Hizbullah often launches their Katyusha rockets from Christian villages, so they have a shield from return fire.
Taken in context of the political fault-line next door in Syria, it’s anybody’s guess how this conflagration will test the fragile geopolitical balance.
Most alarmingly, Iranian protesters stormed the main British embassy compound in Tehran, following Westminister’s vote to impose new sanctions on the Islamic Republic’s central banking system. Predictably, the Iranian Foreign Ministry reserved “regret” for “unacceptable behavior” perpetrated by a small number of “protesters.” No mention was made of the diplomatic vehicle that was torched, the Molotov cocktails tossed or the windows smashed by these enthusiastic dissidents. Nor was there specific apology made for the six members of the British embassy who were briefly held at a nearby consular facility.
The attacks follow Iran’s parliamentary vote on Sunday to downgrade diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom. The BBC reports that several MPs in the hardlineMajlis chamber chanted “Death to Britain” during the vote which passed with nearly 90 percent approval.
My instincts tell me the attack on the British embassy was not a spontaneous demonstration of nationalism, but a carefully orchestrated political swipe at Her Majesty’s diplomatic proxy. The Iranian government has a nasty habit of assaulting symbolic targets when foreign adversaries act against the regime. In 2007, Iranian forces captured a crew of 15 British sailors and Marines the day before the United Nations Security Council approved new sanctions against the Islamic government. The British servicemen and women were later forced to “confess” to illegal entry.
I’m personally too young to remember the 1979 seizure of the American embassy, and the subsequent hostage crisis, but given today’s events, “flashback” is clearly warranted.
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