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IRAN is facing an "international conspiracy" to over throw the Khomeinist re gime with a "velvet revolution," the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) claimed yesterday.
The latest mascot of the plotters is supposed to be Roxana Saberi, a former Miss North Dakota now charged with espionage in Tehran. A US citizen with an Iranian father and a Japanese mother, the 31-year-old Roxana has worked in Iran on and off for years as a freelance reporter.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for Saberi's immediate release and safe return to the US.
IRNA claims that the plo
But what is behind the new "velvet revolution" fever in Tehran? Fear of "soft overthrow" has been deepening in ruling circles since last fall. According to IRNA, with President George W. Bush out of office, the United States is no longer thinking of using force to topple the regime. Instead, the Obama administration, adopting the position of some Europeans, may support "change from within."
The new spy story may also be intended to slow down or forestall proposed talks with Washington.
Some radical elements in Tehran claim that the US may use negotiations as a cover for identifying individuals that might bring about "change from within." According to IRNA analysts, the Reagan administration used the technique in 1985 when it (briefly) opened secret talks with the then-Prime Minister Mir-Hussein Mussavi-Khamenei.
The fact that Mussavi-Khamenei has decided to challenge President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in next June's presidential election may also be a factor. Ahmadinejad's supporters wish to portray Mussavi-Khamenehi as "Washington's man," pointing to his contacts with the US through Manuchehr Ghorbanifar, an Iranian financier in Europe.
Ahmadinejad's supporters claim that, if elected president, Mussavi-Khamenehi would start a process to transform the Islamic Republic into a pro-US Muslim regime.