The British ambassador to Iran was arrested Saturday for allegedly “inciting” protesters that were taking to the streets again against the regime outside of the University of Tehran. The protests sprang from a vigil at the university for the victims of the airliner shot down by Iranian forces.
Ambassador Rob Macaire was arrested by Iranian security forces and briefly held for suspicion of organizing, provoking, and directing radical actions, the Iranian Tasnim news agency said.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab blasted the Tehran regime in a strongly worded statement in which he called the arrest a “flagrant violation of international law” and said that Iran was marching towards “pariah status.”
Macaire, a career diplomat with over 30 years of service to the crown, was attending a vigil for the victims of the crash, which included 82 Iranian citizens and many others of Iranian descent. The vigil turned into a demonstration protest against the regime, which was when Macaire left and was returning to the British Embassy.
On his way back, he stopped at a barbershop for a haircut, and there he was arrested. Only after several calls to the Iranian Foreign Ministry was Macaire released and allowed to return to the British Embassy.
Raab was furious and said in a statement, “The arrest of our ambassador in Tehran without grounds or explanation is a flagrant violation of international law. The Iranian government is at a crossroads moment. It can continue its march towards pariah status with all the political and economic isolation that entails, or take steps to de-escalate tensions and engage in a diplomatic path forward.”
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus took to Twitter and called Macaire’s arrest a violation of the Vienna Convention, which she said the Iranian regime “has a notorious history of violating.”
“We call on the regime to formally apologize to the U.K. for violating his rights and to respect the rights of all diplomats,” Ortagus said on social media.
This newest flap with the Iranian government began just hours after Iran fired several missiles at U.S. bases in Iraq. Shortly afterward, Iranian air defense operators, panicky, expecting the U.S. to retaliate saw a blip on their radar screen and immediately launched surface-to-air missiles at what they believed to be a U.S. cruise missile. The “incoming U.S. missile” turned out to be a commercial airliner. The Iranians had ignored the fact that the airliner had its transponder on.
The airliner, Ukraine International Airlines flight 752, had just taken off from Tehran. It was hit and crashed, killing all 176 people on board. One of the senior IRGC commanders, Gen Amir Ali Hajizadeh, knew that the plane had been shot down almost immediately after it happened. What followed was three days of lies and coverup over the deaths of all of these people. The Iranian government accused the United States of spreading false rumors and steadfastly claimed that the crash was caused by a “mechanical malfunction” — all the while, there was a video that clearly showed a missile hitting the aircraft and setting it on fire.
The virulent anti-Trump faction inside the United States in both Congress and the media quickly jumped on the bandwagon that Trump and the U.S. were to blame for the escalation of hostilities between the two countries. However, Iranian proxy militias under the command of General Qassem Soleimani had attacked U.S. bases in Iraq at least a dozen times in the past several months. When the U.S. struck back, those same militias, under orders from Soleimani, attacked the American Embassy for two days. The U.S. then decided to take Soleimani out with a drone strike when he landed in Baghdad. He, along with a senior commander of the militias, was killed. The Iranians then responded with the last missile attacks.
The Iranian people were not pleased with the escalation by and lying of the regime. There had already been peaceful protests in November that were brutally put down with 1,500 killed and thousands imprisoned.
Saturday just made things worse for the regime as students from the University of Tehran shouted “Death to the Dictator!” meaning Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and “Khamenei is finished!” during the demonstration. Khamenei, in a rare show of attempting to appease the demonstrations, announced that the government would investigate (for the first time) the IRGC. He even allowed Iranian television to show the demonstrations with several of the protesters ripping up pictures of General Soleimani.