From Think Again: Iran
By Christopher de Bellaigue
: "“Criticizing the Islamic Republic Helps Dissidents Inside Iran”
No. President George W. Bush’s repeated statements of support for the Iranian people do not help normal Iranians. In the summer of 2003, the last time major riots took place in Tehran, Bush’s expression of solidarity with the rioters forced the reform-minded parliament to condemn American interference. At least one student leader, Abdullah Momeni, lamented that Bush’s statement had given the state “an excuse for repression.”
The Clinton administration, on the other hand, quickly grasped that publicly defending beleaguered Iranian reformists simply allowed the clerics to accuse reformers of being American lackeys. President Clinton also learned the cost of criticizing Iran’s unaccountable, clerical elite. During an otherwise quite conciliatory speech in 1999, then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright contrasted the elected and unelected branches of Iran’s government, and any potential benefits of her speech were drowned in a barrage of Iranian invective."