The Backhanded Compliments of Foreign Boston Marathon Statements

World leaders express their sympathies -- and then some.
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Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast. (Reuters)

A handful of American politicians aren't the only ones politicizing the Boston Marathon bombing, judging by some of the expressions of support coming from America's frenemy (and outright enemy) nations over the past few days.

Here's a running list of condolence statements from around the world that start out nice -- then use the platform as an opportunity to badmouth an unrelated American policy.

Iran:

The Supreme Leader of Iran began on a reasonable note, saying the country opposes acts of terrorism wherever they make strike:

"The Islamic Republic of Iran, which follows the logic Islam, is opposed to any bombings and killings of innocent people, no matter if it is in Boston, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria and condemns it," Ayatollah Khamenei told military commanders in Tehran on Wednesday.

But then he added a jab at the U.S. drone war and played down the event, making it seem as though the U.S. were overreacting.

"The U.S. and other so-called human rights advocates remain silent on the massacre of innocents in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, but they cause a ruckus after a few blasts in the United States," said Khamenei.

What's more, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman seemed to take a swipe at the U.S. decision to remove the Iranian group MEK from a list of terrorist organizations last year -- a move Iran strongly opposed.

"Giving permission for terrorist groups to operate and removing them from the terrorist list under the excuse of freedom will ultimately lead to instability and will affect all of the people," Ramin Mehmanparast said.

Egypt:

Egypt's ruling Muslim Brotherhood went with its classic strategy -- releasing one statement in English and one in Arabic. (This technique has not fooled many since the invention of the Internet).

In English, the Brotherhood's political party said it categorically rejected "as intolerable the bombings committed in the U.S. city of Boston," and "offer[ed] heartfelt sympathies and solemn condolences to the American people and the families of the victims."

But in a Facebook post in Arabic, one senior Brotherhood leader condemned the Boston bombing -- and then went on to link the attack to the French war in Mali, the wars in Syria and Iraq, and even the violence in Somalia.

And borrowing from Glenn Beck's "I'm just asking questions" playbook, the statement wrapped up with this ominous query:

"Who planted Islamophobia through research, the press, and the media? Who funded the violence?"

Russia

While Russian president Vladimir Putin promptly denounced "the barbaric crime," one top Russian senator said the bombing highlighted how crucial it is for the U.S. and Russia to work together to fight terrorism, rather than drawing up blacklists. It was clearly aimed at the recent Magnitsky list created by U.S. lawmakers to target Russian human rights violators (to which Russia responded with a list of its own.)

"It is important for the Russia-U.S. relations that the American side understands that the main threat for the United States comes not from the people on the Magnitsky List, but from terrorists, and the administrations of our countries must make a mutual effort to fight this evil instead of making some lists or counter-lists," Viktor Ozerov said.

The head of the upper house's Foreign Affairs Committee, Mikhail Margelov, chimed in with a similar remark:

"The Boston events are another reminder that instead of making blacklists that are only dividing us, we should unite," Margelov said.

If you don't have a politically agnostic statement to release, just don't release any statement at all.

Additions? Add them in the comments or tweet at me: @olgakhazan

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Olga Khazan is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where she covers health.

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