The Slap Heard 'Round Tehran
The New York Times's Lede (and Mediaite) are highlighting a story that broke in November and seemingly got lost in the WikiLeaks frenzy. The Times's Robert Mackey reports the classified cables reveal that Iranian General Mohammad Ali Jafari, chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, slapped President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a meeting in January 2010 as the regime "struggled to contain postelection protests." The Pattonesque physical confrontation was apparently triggered by Ahmadinejad's suggestion that media restrictions be loosened in the wake of demonstrations that had turned violent. (Guess the general thought it was a really bad idea.) Small wonder, then, that the former mayor of Tehran called the WikiLeaks documents "worthless" a few weeks ago.
And while the Obama administration likely would have welcomed Ahmadinejad's stance on freedom of the press, the Times and the Wall Street Journal report that American diplomats would like to give the public face of Iran's regime a slap of their own. The Iranians have invited everyone but the Americans to come and take a tour of their nuclear sites in what "is seen as an attempt to divide the international community." And the tour is scheduled just ahead of a meeting between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) for another round of negotiations "aimed at curbing" Tehran's nuclear program. Nobody seems to falling for the ploy—the Journal quotes an Arab official who "expressed skepticism"—and the proposition doesn't include a visit to Iran's uranium-enrichment site near the city of Qom, which the Times says "has come to symbolize" Tehran's "murky intentions."