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Clues About Iran’s Testing of Obama on The Daily Show

Posted on April 1 2010 12:22 pm
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Last night, Jon Stewart interviewed Roxana Saberi, a journalist with dual American-Iranian citizenship that was arrested in Iran and placed in the notorious torture-house known as Evin Prison. The timing is noteworthy: It happened shortly after the inauguration of President Obama, where he made some pro-democracy statements but said that the U.S. would extend a hand if countries like Iran unclenched their fists.

The regime extracted a false confession from her. She admitted to committing espionage on behalf of the United States. Of course, the Iranian intelligence agents knew the charge was bogus. She says that her interrogator even admitted to her that they knew she wasn’t a spy. It is unfortunate that Stewart didn’t keep her for an extended interview like he has when he’s had heated debates with conservative guests, because her story is important.

Watch the interview below:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Roxana Saberi
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Health Care Reform

Saberi said that her arrest shortly following Obama’s inauguration may have been a way of telling Iranians that sought better relations with the U.S. that it wasn’t going to happen. I think there was something else going on. This was a test. The Iranian regime chose to arrest someone with American citizenship—a direct challenge to the government of the U.S. I can’t prove it, but I believe this was their way of seeing how Obama would react. Would he jeopardize an outreach to the Islamic Republic to stand for human rights? In other words, would he exploit their weak point at the cost of his diplomatic initiative?

The answer was no. The Iranian regime is petrified of the idea that the West may aggressively support the population fighting against them, and they needed to know if this is an option the U.S. would pursue. What they learned was that as long as they leave the door open for engagement, the U.S. would be unwilling to support the opposition and eliminate the chances for a deal to be reached. 

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