THE BLOG

Iran Protests: Is Obama Staying on Ahmadinejad's Good Side?

The Iranians are still coming. In droves.

Despite the intermittent media coverage in the United States, Iranians have not yet stopped protesting the June election. Throughout Tehran, Shiraz, and other major Iranian cities on November 4, Iranians of all ages took to the streets, capitalizing on the government's annual commemoration of the takeover of the US embassy 30 years ago, to commemorate the latest takeover: of the Iranian streets, by the people.

The protests were one of the biggest since the election day defiance of 5 months ago. And with big protest came big violence.

There are even reports that Neda's mother -- yes, that famous Neda -- has been arrested.

"There were something like 5 to 10 security personnel for each one of us protesters," says Ali, a protester who marched at Haft-e Tir Square today in Tehran. According to him, plainclothes officers are mixed into the crowds, while uniformed officers block pathways for the marches, and disperse the protesters.

"They divide us in the streets because they don't want international audiences to see how big our group is and they also want to be able to control us more easily."

Thousands of Iranians chanted "down with the dictator", referring to the Supreme Religious Leader, but also addressed the other big player in Iranian politics: President Obama.

"Obama, Obama: Ya ba oona, ya ba ma"

Translation: Either the US is with the Iranian government, or with the Iranian people. There's a difference, say the protesters.

"We are slowly starting to believe that maybe this is the government the US wants," says Parnia, another protester who participated in Tehran today, expressing frustration at US efforts to negotiate with the Iranian government.

"Either the US still doesn't understand that we don't want this government, or Obama is getting some sort of benefit out of staying on Ahmadinejad's good side."

She says that US history has repeatedly shown that when there is no longer any benefit to the relationship with another government, America stops playing nice.

"Look at the Shah -- the Americans put him aside once he started disobeying them. And look at Iraq and Afghanistan -- there wasn't any negotiation there, either."

But Parnia is quick to add that this isn't about military action against Iran but rather "taking steps to clearly demonstrate that Iran is not a partner for the US."

So the people march on.

And it's not just students, but Iranians of all ages. "We have elementary schoolers all the way up to retirees", Ali says.

According to him, sometimes the older protesters are much braver than the younger ones. "A 60-ish lady told me 'we were the ones who revolted 30 years ago, we regret it, so now we must help to fix this.'"