Why not. Or is it because they can?
DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources report that the Basijj militia chiefs have a plan to seize the British embassy inÂ Tehran. Western intelligence agencies monitoringÂ IranÂ have warnedÂ LondonÂ that radical groups are secretly preparing to overrun the British embassy buildings and living quarters and take the diplomats hostage, replicating the siege of theÂ USÂ embassy in 1979, when extremist students held the staff hostage for 444 days. Those students were the early nucleus of the radical Revolutionary Guards Corps.
BritainÂ maintains two embassy compounds inÂ TehranÂ – one downtown occupies a 100-yer old landmark building surrounded by a large garden and a wall; the other housing the embassy’s nerve center and living quarters on a large site which the deposed shah presented to Her Majesty’s Government as a gift.
Our intelligence sources report that two Iranian militia teams have been formed to seize the two compounds: one takes orders from Ayatollah Mohammad Mesbah Yazdi, whereas the other is under the command of senior cleric Hojat-ol-Eslam Ahmad Khatami. The plan has been submitted to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for approval. He favors the project but has yet to set a date. It has also provoked controversy in the Majlis (parliament).
The pretext for the seizure would be that the two sites are the rightful property of the Iranian people. The real reason is that the Iranian regime has been gunning forÂ BritainÂ for some time, scheming revenge forÂ London’s alleged direct role in organizing the wave of opposition protests besetting the government since last June. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has been leveling this charge at theÂ UKÂ for the last six months.
Most of all, the Islamic regime would like to set off a huge row withÂ BritainÂ to overshadow the dispute over another round of tough sanctions againstÂ IranÂ for its nuclear program.
The radical factions behind Ahmedinejad are cheered on byÂ China’s opposition to sanctions and even more bucked up by the letter the US Chamber of Commerce sent to President Barack Obama urging him to refrain from harsher sanctions.
While played up inÂ Tehran, this letter received little media coverage in theÂ USÂ and none at all inÂ Israel.
It states: “The proposed sanctions would incite economic, diplomatic, and legal conflicts withU.S.Â allies and could frustrate joint action againstÂ Iran.”
Iranian radicals believeÂ USÂ business interests took this position under the influence ofTehran’s intransigence in the face of Western pressure to cut back on their weapons-related nuclear projects. They insist that by continuing to play hard ball they will throw the plans for serious military action or economic penalties out of court altogether.
What is Tehran’s beef with London?
IranÂ has a very special bone to pick with the British:
1. Â They accuse theÂ UKÂ of engaging with theÂ USÂ in a series of fraudulent sales of defective nuclear weapons and technology with a view to hobblingÂ Iran’s nuclear progress.
2. Â British secret services allegedly were in touch with and guided some of the ring leaders of theÂ TehranÂ riots.
3. Â TehranÂ takes exception to the content of the BBC’s Farsi broadcasts on television and radio as a key source of information for opposition groups.Â IranÂ has tried shutting it down in the seven months it has been on the air and failed.
4. Â British judicial authorities have crossed the dissident exiled Mujahidin Khalq organization off their list of terrorist organizations.Â TehranÂ claims thatÂ LondonÂ has deployed its fighters in the street demonstrations of Â recent months.
5. Â Â IranÂ claims thatÂ BritainÂ is the leading European wire-puller behind the pro-sanctions campaign.