‘The world is watching’

‘THE WORLD IS WATCHING’…. Anyone hoping Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei might make some new concessions in his speech this afternoon was no doubt disappointed. Khamenei not only ordered the end of the demonstrations protesting the election, but warned of additional violence if dissidents ignore his instructions.

Sharply increasing the level of confrontation, he said that opposition leaders would be “responsible for bloodshed and chaos” if they did not stop further rallies in protest of last week’s disputed presidential election. He called for all sides to halt any violence.

With another opposition rally a strong possibility tomorrow, the likelihood of an ugly confrontation remains very real.

Khamenei added that there would be no new election, and the results of last week’s election will not be annulled. He added that to do so would be “the beginning of dictatorship.” What an interesting choice of words.

In the meantime, President Obama sat down with CBS News’ Harry Smith today, and responding to developments in Iran, he repeated a phrase that sends a signal to the Iranian regime, without giving Khamenei and Ahmadinejad a cudgel to be used against demonstrators.

“…I’m very concerned based on some of the tenor — and tone of the statements that have been made — that the government of Iran recognize that the world is watching. And how they approach and deal with people who are, through peaceful means, trying to be heard will, I think, send a pretty clear signal to the international community about what Iran is and — and is not.”

It’s a statement that walks the line pretty well. It notes the right of Iranians to express their concerns peacefully, and signals that Iran’s global reputation is on the line. At the same time, there’s nothing in the statement that the regime is likely to use as a cudgel to characterize protestors as tools of the American government.