Washington, D.C. The Obama administration again chose caution over condemnation in its comments Thursday on the Iranian election crisis, a careful tack followed by other democratic nations anxious not to damage prospects for engaging whatever government emerges.
Around the globe, most nations called for the will of the Iranian people to be respected without overtly taking a side. Authoritarian governments made little mention of the chaos, while activists spoke more harshly of the Iranian leadership, condemning alleged vote-rigging and the heavy-handed response of security forces.
President Barack Obama and his aides have repeatedly urged Iranian authorities to allow “robust debate” between supporters of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and those of moderate Mir Hossein Mousavi. They have also urged Tehran to deal transparently with allegations of election fraud but have stopped short of endorsing protesters’ complaints.
The president has expressed “concern for the way the election was conducted and concern to ensure that demonstrators can peaceably carry out their demonstrations,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday.
At the State Department, spokesman P.J. Crowley said: “This is really about the Iranians and the relationship between the Iranian people and the Iranian government. This is not about the United States.”