If US president is too supportive of protests, he turns them into a 'Western plot,' say analysts.
"If you support [presidential challenger Mir Hossein] Mousavi too openly, you destroy him," says Dominique Moisi, a leading French intellectual who has worked extensively on Middle East geopolitics. "So [if you are the American president] you support human rights, you don't support a particular person. It's a correct policy of prudence ... at this time."
But the absence of a strident US voice has brought some European leaders – especially Angela Merkel of Germany and France's Nicolas Sarkozy – to call for a review of Iran's June 19 elections. French officials called the Iranian ambassador, for the second time, asking for a release of protesters thrown in prison.
Tehran itself has saved most of its ire for Britain, a former hated colonial master often dubbed the "Little Satan." Today, Iran expelled two British diplomats for "activities incompatible with their status." Britain responded by sending two Iranian diplomats home.
Obama toughens language
In Washington today, President Obama spoke of the misuse of American statements in Iranian media – including that the US was orchestrating the street riots.