Obama holds to measured course on unrest in Iran
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Obama administration on Friday stuck to a measured response to the uprising in Iran over a disputed presidential election, even as both houses of Congress voted overwhelmingly to condemn an official crackdown on mostly peaceful demonstrations in the streets of Tehran.
Administration officials said they remained convinced that the wiser U.S. course was caution over confrontation. President Barack Obama is coming under growing domestic political pressure to speak out more forcefully in support of protesters warned by Iran’s supreme leader Friday to end their huge street rallies.
In the strongest message yet from the U.S. government, the House voted 405-1 to condemn Tehran’s crackdown on protest rallies and the government’s interference with Internet and cell phone communications. The Senate followed suit later in the day.
The resolution expresses support for “all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties and rule of law” and affirms “the importance of democratic and fair elections.”
It also condemns “the ongoing violence” by the government and pro-government militias against demonstrators, as well as government “suppression of independent electronic communications through interference with the Internet and cell phones.”
Obama’s chief spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said the White House welcomed the resolution, calling its language consistent with the president’s.
“As the president has said, we’re not going to be used as political foils and political footballs in a debate that’s happening by Iranians in Iran,” Gibbs said.