Friday, June 30, 2006

Headed for disaster

First off, take a look at this report by The Times's Jeremy Page from Moscow:

The Group of Eight industrialised nations set a deadline of July 5 yesterday for Iran to give a “clear and substantive response” to an offer of incentives for it to scale back its nuclear programme. But Iran said that it needed until August, threatening to drive a wedge between the G8 members in the run-up to the group’s annual summit in St Petersburg from July 15 to July 17.

At the same time G8 foreign ministers failed to agree on how to respond if Iran did not reply, or turned down the June 6 offer from the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany.

A statement issued afterwards said: “We are disappointed by the absence of an official Iranian response to this positive proposal."

Disappointed? Well, the honorable G8 dignitaries, I've got news for you: Wait until mullahs proudly announce the arrival of their first nuclear bomb and I guarantee you'll not just be dissappointed but even heartbroken ! To quote US Congressman Lewis (the late Christopher Reeve) on the Europeans' appeasement policy toward Hitlerite Germany in 1935, in the movie "The Remains of the Day (1993)":

You are, all of you, amateurs. And international affairs should never be run by gentlemen amateurs. Do you have any idea of what sort of place the world is becoming all around you? The days when you could just act out of your noble instincts, are over. Europe has become the arena of realpolitik, the politics of reality. If you like: real politics. What you need is not gentlemen politicians, but real ones. You need professionals to run your affairs, or you're headed for disaster!

Good luck!

Iranian fighters captured in Iraq

Reuters-BAQUBA, Iraq -- Iraqi and U.S. troops battled Shi'ite militiamen in a village northeast of Baghdad on Thursday, and witnesses and police said U.S. helicopters bombed orchards to flush out gunmen hiding there. Iraqi security officials said Iranian fighters had been captured in the fighting, in which a sniper shot dead the commander of an Iraqi quick reaction force and two of his men. They did not say how the Iranians had been identified.

..."We captured a number of militants and were surprised to see that some of them were Iranian fighters," the police intelligence captain said.

An Interior Ministry official, who did not want to be named, also said Iranian gunmen had been captured. Baquba lies 90 km (60 miles) from the Iranian border.

Some Iraqis, particularly Sunnis, are quick to label Shi'ite fighters as Iranian agents. And among the militants are Iraqis who grew up in refugee camps in Iran, speak Iranian-accented Arabic and, in some cases, carry Iranian identity papers.

More...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Washington Post articles on Iran-Saturday June 24

No U.S. administration since 1979 has had a serious political strategy regarding Iran. That has been especially evident in the past decade, when the bloom was off the rose of the Islamic revolution, the Revolutionary Guard joined the baby boomers in middle age and the Islamic republic sank into political, economic and social decline. Opponents of the regime have been calling for a referendum on whether to continue as an Islamic theocracy or join the world of modern, secular democracies. They are sure of the outcome.

The failure of successive U.S. administrations, including this one, to give moral and political support to the regime's opponents is a tragedy. Iran is a country of young people, most of whom wish to live in freedom and admire the liberal democracies that Ahmadinejad loathes and fears. The brave men and women among them need, want and deserve our support. They reject the jaundiced view of tired bureaucrats who believe that their cause is hopeless or that U.S. support will worsen their situation.

it is critical for the United States to recognize that none of the ruling Iranian factions seems keen on confrontation. The real fight is over who will get the credit for normalizing ties with Washington -- and thus augment their power.

More crucially, the administration must be uncompromising in its support for Iranian democrats. The regime is trying to sell the Iranian people the idea that the United States, like Europe in the past and China and Russia today, is willing to sacrifice their democratic aspirations. Washington must combine direct negotiations -- admittedly long overdue -- with an unambiguous message to the people of Iran that the United States is not ready to legitimize a system in which only the select few hold power. (How on earth is this possible? Dr Milani and Mr McFaul fail to explain here-Kash)

As the Bush administration frets over Iran's nuclear program, Iranian dissidents are descending on Washington, seeking help in fostering regime change back home. Just one problem: The exiles can't agree on a strategy.

Iran's oppositionists are divided over what kind of government should follow the Islamic republic, who should lead it and how the United States can help them bring about regime change in Tehran. There is no Iranian equivalent to the Iraqi National Congress, and the exiles have yet to coalesce around a platform or leader. Herewith a brief guide to the leading Iranian activists in town:

THE MONARCHISTS' HOPE

Reza Pahlavi , 45,

the son of the late shah of Iran, advocates nonviolent regime change. A U.S.-trained pilot, Pahlavi lives in Potomac and keeps an office in McLean. His followers, many of whom fled Iran after the shah's overthrow in 1979, still dream that Pahlavi will play a leadership role if Iran adopts a pro-Western secular government. Pahlavi and his advisers have had ties to U.S. officials dating to the Reagan administration, when he was reportedly involved with CIA programs to dislodge Iran's Islamist regime. More recently, Iran hawks close to the Pentagon and the vice president's office have tapped into Pahlavi's circle, seeking ways to undermine Tehran. Shahriar Ahy, Pahlavi's MIT-educated political adviser, is a key force seeking to unite the Iranian opposition abroad.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Human Rights Watch calls for the removal of Iranian torturer from U.N. delegation

Human Rights Watch-Iran should immediately remove Tehran’s notoriously abusive prosecutor general from its delegation to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Human Rights Watch said today. The prosecutor general, Saeed Mortazavi has been implicated in torture, illegal detention, and coercing false confessions by numerous former prisoners.

...In April 2000, Mortazavi, then the judge of Public Court Branch 1410, led a massive crackdown to silence growing dissent in Iran. He ordered the closure of more than 100 newspapers and journals. In 2003, he was promoted to the post of Tehran’s prosecutor general. In 2002, a human rights expert appointed by the old U.N. Commission on Human Rights to monitor the human rights situation in Iran took the extraordinary step of naming Mortazavi publicly in his report and calling for him to be suspended from the bench.

Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi died in June 2003 while in the custody of judiciary and security agents led by Mortazavi. Lawyers representing Kazemi’s family have alleged that her body showed signs of torture, including blows to her head, and that Mortazavi participated directly in her interrogation.

In 2004, Mortazavi orchestrated the arbitrary detention of more than 20 webloggers and internet journalists, who were held in secret prisons. Human Rights Watch collected testimonies from several of these detainees who implicated Mortazavi in their ordeal, which included lengthy solitary confinement and coercion to make false televised confessions.

For further information on Mortazavi, please see: Essential Background:

Overview of human rights issues in Iran http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/01/18/iran12214.htm

"Like the Dead in Their Coffins: Torture, Detention, and the Crushing of Dissent in Iran
http://hrw.org/reports/2004/iran0604

False Freedom: Online Censorship in the Middle East and North Africa
http://hrw.org/reports/2005/mena1105

Iran: Judiciary Uses Coercion to Cover Up Torture
http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/12/17/iran9913.htm

Iran: Journalists Receive Death Threats After Testifying http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/01/06/iran9948.htm

More...

Canada condemns presence of Tehran chief prosecutor at UN Human Rights Council

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office-The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, today made the following statement deploring the presence at the inaugural meeting of the UN Human Rights Council of Tehran Prosecutor General Saeed Mortazavi:

The presence of Mr. Mortazavi in Iran’s delegation demonstrates the Government of Iran’s complete contempt for internationally recognized principles of human rights. The Government of Canada expresses its disgust at the fact that Iran would choose to include such a person in its delegation to a new UN body intended to promote the highest standards of respect for human rights.

“By including Mr. Mortazavi in its delegation, Iran is trying to discredit the Council and deflect attention from the Council’s goal of ensuring greater respect for human rights.

“Two official Iranian government investigations found that Prosecutor General Mortazavi ordered the illegal arrest and detention of Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi, which led to her torture and death. He then falsified documents to cover up his involvement in her case. Mr. Mortazavi has also been involved in the harsh clampdown on the Iranian press and the arrests of many Iranian journalists.

More...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What is Chomsky thinking?

Kash Kheirkhah

Referring to the current crisis over Iran's nuclear program, Noam Chomsky, a key intellectual figure within the left wing of the United States politics as he is called, writes in The Guardian today that before 1979, when the Shah was in power, Washington strongly supported Iran's nuclear programs whereas today the standard claim is that Iran has no need for nuclear power, and therefore must be pursuing a secret weapons program.

Well, that's distorting the facts in broad daylights. Earlier today in a speech in Kings Point, New York, President Bush once again recognized Iran's right to "peaceful nuclear energy":

"Iranians have a large presence on the Internet and a desire to make even greater progress, including the development of civilian nuclear energy. This is a legitimate desire. We believe the Iranian people should enjoy the benefits of a truly peaceful program to use nuclear reactors to generate electric power. So America supports the Iranian people's rights to develop nuclear energy peacefully with proper international safeguards."

Mr Chomsky, every schoolboy now knows that what has prompted the world to react so strongly to the Iran's nuclear program is the nature of the current Iranian regime. How long will it take you and other members of the liberal elite to realize that the regime you are dealing with now in Iran is of a unique terror nature? How long will it take you to realize that nuclear weapons at the hands of such a regime could mean imminent threat to the whole world? How long should apss before you actually learn anything from the Second World War?

As for the US support for Shah's nuclear program, how can you ever compare the current regime in Iran with Iran's government before revolution? As I once said here, The Americans supported the Shah because his government was always a 110 percent committed to the international treaties. It's like having a knife in the hands of a repeat offender or a respected citizen. which one would you feel safe giving the knife to? Did Shah or any member of his administration ever funded terrorists or spoke of wiping another country off the map?

Chomsky then lapses into politically correct expostulation:

"Iranians are surely not as willing as the west to discard history to the rubbish heap. They know that the United States, along with its allies, has been tormenting Iranians for more than 50 years, ever since a US-UK military coup overthrew the parliamentary government and installed the Shah, who ruled with an iron hand until a popular uprising expelled him in 1979."

Really? Well, I have news for you sir. We also know that when the same Shah that the Americans installed in 1953 began to grow out of the role the Western powers had assigned for him and proudly announced "that era is over", The US, led by Jimmy Carter, and joined by other Western powers, effectively helped pull the carpet from under his feet. Mr Chomsky, Iran under the Shah had problems indeed, but almost every Iranian now knows that in spite of its shortcomings, the previous system was not one tiny bit as evil as the current regime is. As for the coup, well, the Japanese have already discarded history to the rubbish heap and are now looking forward to a peaceful coexistence with the nation that dropped a nuclear bomb on them, why should we dwell on the past? More important than that, how do you know what we really know or want?

Chomsky doesn't stop at that and makes sure he gives mullahs the ultimate benefit of the doubt:

"In May 2003, according to Flynt Leverett, then a senior official in Bush's National Security Council, the reformist government of Mohammad Khatami proposed "an agenda for a diplomatic process that was intended to resolve on a comprehensive basis all of the bilateral differences between the United States and Iran". Included were "weapons of mass destruction, a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the future of Lebanon's Hizbullah organisation and cooperation with the UN nuclear safeguards agency", the Financial Times reported last month. The Bush administration refused, and reprimanded the Swiss diplomat who conveyed the offer."

Sir, are you kidding me or what? Didn't Madeline Albright apologize to mullahs for the coup? What was Iran's response? Didn't Bill Clinton try to shake hands with Khatami in the UN and Khatami instead, decided to make himself scarce out of his fear for his boss's reaction? A solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict by the main banker of Islamic terrorism in the Middle East? Time to engage the reality of Iran sir.

Great arguments Mr Chomsky. Thanks to your thinking which bases its arguments on polemics rather than empiricism, terror states such as the Iranian regime will continue to be alive and well.

Strategy paper reveals Bush won't attack Iran

WASHINGTON, Jun 20 (IPS) - In every statement on Iran, officials of the George W. Bush administration routinely repeat the party line that "the president never takes any option off the table". Despite the constant invocation of a possible military attack on Iran, however, a little-noticed section of the administration's official national security strategy indicates that Bush has already decided that he will not use military force to try to prevent Iran from going nuclear.

Instead, the administration has shifted its aim to pressing Iran to make internal political changes, based on the dubious theory that it would lead to a change in Iranian nuclear policy.

News coverage of the U.S. National Security Strategy (NSS) issued Mar. 16 emphasised its reference to the doctrine of preemption. But a careful reading of the document reveals that its real message -- ignored by the media -- was that Iran will not alter its nuclear policy until after regime change has taken place.

The NSS takes pains to reduce the significance of Iran's obtaining a nuclear capability. "As important as are these nuclear issues," it says, "the United States has broader concerns regarding Iran. The Iranian regime sponsors terrorism; threatens Israel; seeks to thwart Middle East peace; disrupts democracy in Iraq; and denies the aspirations of its people for freedom."

Then the NSS states, "The nuclear issue and our other concerns can ultimately be resolved only if the Iranian regime makes the strategic decision to change these policies, open up its political system, and afford freedom to its people. This is the ultimate goal of U.S. policy.

This carefully worded statement thus explicitly makes regime change -- not stopping Iran's progress toward a nuclear capability -- the goal of U.S. policy toward Iran.

... A report by David Sanger in the New York Times Mar. 19 quoting an administration official in an interview a few weeks earlier further underlines the administration's decision against using force to prevent Iran from going nuclear. "The reality is that most of us think the Iranians are probably going to get a weapon, or the technology to make one, sooner or later," the official was quoted as saying. The hope, according to the official, was that by the time it happened, "We'll have a different relationship with a different Iranian government."

More...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

We lost because...

Kash Kheirkhah

Unlike many of my compatriots, I'm not so sad to see Iran leaving the World Cup so early. If you take a look at the big picture, you realize that the results our national team produced has nothing to do with our players and everything with our political situation.

We lost because we deserved to lose.

We lost because we live under a corrupt and cancerous regime whose mere existence has almost destroyed every aspect of our life style, including sports.

We lost because due to our leaders' shameful and irresponsible remarks and behavior in the recent months, not a single team in the world-- even from countries such as Russia and China who are mullahs' staunchest backers-- agreed to hold a preparation match with us.

We lost because Ahmadinejad's shameful holocaust remarks and the threat of the UN sanctions raised the specter of the Iranian football team suffering the humiliation of being kicked out of the most prestigious tournament in the world; an embarrassing possibility that dogged our National Team until the very last moment.

We lost the very first moment we were told that of all the people, Germany's neo-Nazis would be the ones who would come to cheer us on in the world cup.

Yes, we had lost before we even kicked off.

There are a huge number of problems in my country much more worthy of attention than two or three football matches. This, we will forget in a month, but how can we--even for a single moment-- forget the ordeal the Iranian people are going through under the Islamic regime?

How can we ever forget about our "freedom"?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Land of confusion



I must've dreamed a thousand dreams
Been haunted by a million screams
But I can hear the marching feet
They're moving into the street.

Now did you read the news today
They say the dangers gone away
But I can see the fires still alight
There burning into the night.

There's too many men
Too many people
Making too many problems
And not much love to go round
Can't you see This is a land of confusion.

This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we're given
Use them and lets start trying
To make it a place worth living in...


Lyrics from Genesis: Land of confusion

Monday, June 12, 2006

Women's rights activists beaten in Tehran


Photos from www.kosoof.com

AP- Iranian police with batons and shields beat women's rights demonstrators in a downtown Tehran square Monday, injuring one protester and detaining 20. The injured woman was taken to a hospital with wounds to her face and head. Her identity and further details were not immediately available.

The protest by about 200 women was organized by a previously unknown group calling itself the Labor and Communist Party. An invitation delivered to The Associated Press on Sunday demanded equal rights for women and the nullification of a law allowing Iranian men to have four wives. "We are women, we are human, but we don't have any rights!" protesters chanted.


Some 100 police, including female officers, attacked the demonstrators and dispersed them about an hour after the protest began. Throughout most of the confrontation, female officers beat female protesters and male police beat male protesters there to support the women. Male police generally are not permitted to touch female suspects.

More...

Khomeini's grandson calls for foreign military intervention in Iran

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)-In an interview with the Al-Arabiyya TV website (www.alarabiya.net ) on the occasion of the 17th anniversary of the death of Islamic Republic of Iran founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Ayatollah Khomeini's grandson Ayatollah Hussein Khomeini said that the current Iranian regime was "a dictatorship of clerics who control every aspect of life," and called for foreign intervention to topple the regime.

"The revolution rocked the foundations of society, which had [previously] been conservative and had rejected freedom. The revolution prepared society to accept democracy and freedom. Thanks to the revolution, all sectors of [the Iranian] society, from the educated class to the peasants and the women, are now able to accept [the notion of] freedom and have become politically aware."

Khomeini further said that his meeting with the son of the deposed Shah Reza Pahlavi was "an ordinary meeting with a man who shares my suffering. The [cause] of our suffering is one and the same, namely tyranny, though each of us has his own [political] orientation..."

Addressing the issue of the hijab (i.e. the veil), Khomeini said that if he came to power in Iran, he would first of all "pass a law which makes the wearing of the hijab an optional choice for Iranian women. The Iranian regime shackles women by forcing [them to wear] the hijab in its ugliest form - namely a black [veil], even though the [veil] may be colorful. Girls coming out of schools or out of the university [campuses look] depressingly somber. I am personally in favor of the hijab, but not like this. The hijab is a personal issue. If a woman wants, she may [wear it], and if she doesn't [want it], she may [refuse it]. Many female relatives of my grandfather Khomeini did not wear the hijab..."

The Al-Arabiyya website stated: "As for his call to American President George Bush to come and occupy Iran, Hussein Khomeini explained that 'freedom must come to Iran in any possible way, whether through internal or external developments. If you were a prisoner, what would you do? I want someone to break the prison [doors open]...'"

More...

Iran accused of hiding secret nuclear weapons site

June 12, 2006 Telegraph Con Coughlin,
Defence and Security Editor

Fresh evidence has emerged that Iran is working on a secret military project to develop nuclear weapons that has not been declared to United Nations inspectors responsible for monitoring Iran’s nuclear programme. Nuclear experts working for the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna are pressing the Iranians to make a full disclosure about a network of research laboratories at a secret military base outside the capital Teheran.

The project is codenamed Zirzamin 27, and its purpose is to enable the Iranians to undertake uranium enrichment to military standard. Zirzamin means “basement” in Farsi, which suggests the laboratories are underground and 27 refers to the 27-year-old Iranian revolution. Concerns over activity at Zirzamin 27 will be raised at this week’s meeting of the IAEA’s Board of Governors in Vienna, which starts today.

More...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

John Bolton: Regime change could remove Iran's nuclear threat

Financial Times: Time is running out for the diplomatic effort to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear programme and Washington has no intention of striking a comprehensive "grand bargain" with Tehran, the US's ambassador to the United Nations has warned. Speaking to the Financial Times, John Bolton made clear many of his reservations about the current outreach to Iran, which Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, has persuaded President George W. Bush to endorse. Referring to a report by the United Nations nuclear watchdog that Iran has stepped up uranium enrichment - a process that can create both nuclear fueland weapons grade material - Mr Bolton said: "They've got both feet on the accelerator, which is why we have a sense of urgency that these diplomatic efforts can't continue indefinitely . . . Each day that goes by gives Iran more time to continue to perfect its efforts for mass production."

He said US security guarantees for Iran were "not on the table", and argued instead that regime change could remove a nuclear threat: "Our experience has been that when there is a dramatic change in the life of a country, that's the most likely point at which they give up nuclear weapons." He added: "I think there will certainly be discussion of the question at the G8 summit" on July 15-17, by which time he said Iran had to make its response to the offer known.

"Some people thought for three years they [Iran] wanted to do a deal and there's no deal out there, at least no deal that they've adhered to," he said. "Maybe the deal that they want is the best of both worlds." Mr Bolton also voiced doubts International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors would be able to prove Iran's programme was purely peaceful and said sanctions against Iran if it declined the offer were "a step in the process".

More...

TIME: 10 questions for Reza Pahlavi

TIME-As the oldest son of the Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi's youth in Tehran's sumptuous palace — and his prospects for the throne — ended at age 17, when the 1979 Islamic revolution drove his family into exile. Between meetings with French politicians last week, Pahlavi, now 45, sat down with Time's Vivienne Walt in his mother's Paris residence to describe the best way to oust the Tehran regime — and return him home.

How can the opposition defeat the regime? A campaign of civil disobedience is the only way to force the regime to retreat — national strikes, demonstrations, a refusal to cooperate. What [Supreme Leader Ayatullah Ali] Khamenei fears most is not economic sanctions or military strikes. It's people on the streets

What do you want the U.S. and Europe to do? If there was a first item on the shopping list, it would be communication to bypass the regime's blocking of weblogs and so on. This could change the whole dynamic of what can evolve inside Iran. Communication has been very restricted. That explains why many movements like the labor strike, student protests and acts of civil disobedience have been limited and sectarian. If you can communicate with people, they can organize on a much more mass scale.

What about the latest incentives offered to Iran by the U.S. and Europe to halt its nuclear program? The focus has been so much on the nuclear issue that they have lost track of the big picture. If by some miracle, you can resolve the nuclear issue and you have quid pro quos of security guarantees for the Islamic regime, what does that mean? Giving the regime carte blanche? What about conventional terrorism?

What's the chance of restoring the monarchy? It is for Iranians to decide. As long as the next regime is based on democracy and human rights, the form does not matter. I have absolute conviction that a parliamentary monarchy is just as equipped as, if not better than, a republican system. But 95% of a future constitution would be the same, with all the checks and balances and principles built into the system. The tiny difference is whether you call the head of state Your Majesty or Mr. President.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Reza Pahlavi: The world is wasting its time

Juin 08, 2006 Le Figaro

LF: Do you think that with the present leaders, negotiations are only in vain?

RP: Yes, for three years, the European troika has been involved in endless negotiations, without any result. I cannot see any possible carrot that would bring this regime out of irrationality. It is only biding its time to get closer to the possibility of making WMDs. The world is wasting its time.

LF: The international community should therefore impose sanctions?

RP: I would go even further than that: everything depends on regime change in Iran. This regime is the key problem for our society, for the region and for the world. The best solution would be to put an end to it and invest in democracy. As long as this regime will exist, none of the main world problems, peace between Israelis and Palestinians, religious fanaticism, terrorism and the proliferation of WMDs will be able to be solved. It is a race against the clock. Will Iran become democratized before the regime gets the nuclear weapon? That?s where the crux of the matter is. The West must support democratic movements like it did in South Africa, in Eastern Europe or in Latin America.

More...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The exiled son of Iran's late shah has sharply criticized diplomatic negotiations by the West to persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear program. Reza Pahlavi held a press conference Wednesday. The oldest son of late Iranian shah Mohammed Reza describes diplomatic dialogue with Iran as a lose-lose situation. Pahlavi, 45, says the United States and Europeans will get nowhere in their efforts to coax Iran to abandon its nuclear program through dialogue. He says these negotiations only strengthen the hand of hard-line conservatives in Iran.

Listen to the report on VOA here.

Given the complexity of the proposed deal, as well as the deep mistrust between the sides, the talks could last years, as could the process of Iran "restoring confidence" in its nuclear activities, meaning that the enrichment freeze would also need to stay in place for years. That may be too much for Tehran to stomach. Diplomats expect that it will play for time, by seeking "negotiations about negotiations", but will reject the international offer in the end. While not setting a deadline for a response to Mr Solana's mission, the US and the Europeans want a reply "within weeks", so that national leaders can map out the strategy at a G8 summit in St Petersburg in mid-July.

At the moment, most of our leaders are trying desperately to convince themselves that there is a way out, that we can make a grand bargain, that we do not have to confront the mullahs. It is the illogic of appeasement so well described by Churchill after Munich. Chamberlain, he said, had to choose between war and dishonor. Chamberlain chose dishonor, and he got war. This is the risk our leaders are running today.

And the hell of it all is that the mullahs are terribly vulnerable, loathed by their own people, our natural allies in what is after all a political and ideological conflict. Our failure to support the Iranians’ cry for freedom is a dark stain on our banners, and worse: Our dishonor leads directly a war that we should not need to fight. We can defeat the mullahs the same way we defeated the Soviet Union, by mobilizing their own people against them, and by consistently stating and supporting our own ideals. Instead we are sending our young men and women into the field to fall alongside innocent Iraqis to whom we promised a better fate.

Reza Pahlavi called on the world to support Iran's opposition groups, which he claimed have put differences aside and united in a bid to install a democratic government and rid Iran of the clerical regime.

The fact that the U.S. added its name to the proposal, which includes an incentive package, "puts the regime in an impossible position" - a "lose-lose situation," Pahlavi said."I'm concerned that the status quo will prevail," he said. Iran "will need to take a stand with the world watching. The only question is how long it could drag out the game of confusion and suspend the moment of truth," said Pahlavi.

The current clerical regime thrives on crises, and "the only thing Mr. Khamenei is afraid of is the people on the streets of Iran," Pahlavi said, referring to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The opposition represents "the most logical, least costly and most direct" means for peaceful regime change, he said.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Nuclear 'carrots and sticks' proposal for Iran includes security guarantees

ABC News-ABC News has obtained a draft of the "carrots and sticks" proposal that the United States, Europe, China and Russia made to Iran to encourage it to stop developing its nuclear program. The four-page document offers a "fresh start" based on "mutual respect."

Among the incentives, or "carrots" for Iran if it ceases its nuclear program:

  • Iran would get help building new nuclear power plants, specifically light water reactors that cannot be used to make weapons-grade nuclear fuel.

  • Iran would get a new facility to hold a five-year supply of nuclear fuel.

  • The deal would also open the door to "guarantees for [Iran's] territorial integrity" — words meant to assure Iran there would be no invasion by the United States or Israel.

  • A package of economic incentives so Iran can purchase a new fleet of American and European aircraft, something that it is now forbidden to do. Its aging airline fleet has become a safety threat.

If Iran rejects the deal, the draft proposal threatens a long list of sanctions — "the stick" approach:

  • Freezing Iranian assets abroad;

  • A travel ban on high ranking officials;

  • An arms embargo;

  • Reducing diplomatic relations with all the countries that made the proposal. Very significant, since Russia and China — two hesitant partners in the sticks approach, both of which have extensive trade with Iran — have agreed to this proposal.

Click here to read a copy of the document.

Proposal would let Iran enrich uranium

Washington Post-The confidential diplomatic package backed by Washington and formally presented to Iran on Tuesday leaves open the possibility that Tehran will be able to enrich uranium on its own soil, U.S. and European officials said.

That concession, along with a promise of U.S. assistance for an Iranian civilian nuclear energy program, is conditioned on Tehran suspending its current nuclear work until the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency determines with confidence that the program is peaceful. U.S. officials said Iran would also need to satisfy the U.N. Security Council that it is not seeking a nuclear weapon, a benchmark that White House officials believe could take years, if not decades, to achieve.

But the Bush administration and its European allies have withdrawn their demand that Iran abandon any hope of enriching uranium for nuclear power, according to several European and U.S. officials with knowledge of the offer. The new position, which has not been acknowledged publicly by the White House, differs significantly from the Bush administration's stated determination to prevent Iran from mastering technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons.

"We are basically now saying that over the long haul, if they restore confidence, that this Iranian regime can have enrichment at home," said one U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "But they have to answer every concern given all that points to a secret weapons program."

More...

Monday, June 05, 2006

West's misconception syndrome

Kash Kheirkhah

In his article "Iran's China Syndrome" published today, Mr Jackson Diehl, the Op-Ed columnist of the Washington Post, recounts his encounter with a senior Iranian official in Tehran and quote him as saying that “What we need is an American president who will follow the example of Richard Nixon going to China." Mr Diehl also says most of the Iranians he has spoken to would like the United States to recognize Iran as "a great civilization and a regional power that must be treated, like China, as a stakeholder in global affairs."

It is comments of this nature that apparently have made Mr Diehl ponder "whether it would be wise for Bush, or any president, to recognize Iran's Shiite Islamic regime as an enduring reality and a regional power whose interests must be accommodated in the broader Middle East and also whether such recognition will pay off in the form of a stable and democratic Iraq, or an end to Iranian support for Palestinian terrorism, or in the disarmament of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement."

The answer to theses questions, through the perspective of an Iranian who has lived for years under the Islamic regime of Iran and has suffered the pain of its inhumane ideology with every fiber of his being, is a strong no, no, and again no.

Mr Diehl, I wish the reality of the current stand-off between the US and the Iranian regime was as simple as you have depicted it. But it is not and the reason it isn't is the fact that the regime you're dealing with here--due to its nature and in keeping with its ideological set-- doesn't operate under any principles of international diplomacy by which you can change its political behavior and as long as you don't realize that, such concessions will only undermine America and the world's peace and security.

The Islamic Republic Government of Iran is a full embodiment of what I call "terror ideology." Such an ideology entitles its followers to enforce their ideals across the world through coercion, intimidation and if necessary, terror. This is the ideology that has times and again been openly applauded by the leaders of the Iranian regime. This is the ideology that the Islamic regime in Iran has spent billions of dollars on, trying to export to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories, Chechnya, Bosnia,... This is the ideology that thrives on terror, human rights violations and complete destruction of anyone or any critical thinking that dares to question it.

Now a stable and democratic Iraq and Afghanistan, a Lebanon free of Hezbollah militia and a Palestinian state that recognizes Israel and lack of a hypothetical enemy such as the US to blame all political, social and economic problems on on the other hand, simply means the end of raison d'être for the current radical Islamic regime in Iran. That's why there's NO way an Iranian-American rapprochement can take place under the auspices of the current regime in Iran.

Mr Diehl, please do not deceive yourself into thinking that this regime can ever be compared to China because any attempt at creating such an unrealistic equivalence is just embarrassingly silly. Here you are, faced with the regime that after 27 years of blowing smoke in the eyes of the international community, is blackmailing the world through its nuclear program into leaving them to their own devices. "That's" the recognition the radical rulers of Iran are after and you sound like you are already more than ready to contend with their demands.

In a nutshell, the current regime in Iran can't be recognized "as an enduring reality" because its very existence is a threat to the peace and stability in the region and even the world. A bestowal of legitimacy on Iran's hardline rulers by the US will be the unfortunate replay of what the world went through 60 years ago by bestowing the same recognition on Hitler and the Nazi Germany.

Photo of the day


Toni Braxton & Il Divo will be in Berlin, Germany on June 8th to perform their new smash-hit single "The Time Of Our Lives" live on German TV channel ZDF a day before the World Cup 2006 kicks off. They are also the first performers ever to be invited to perform live at the opening and closing ceremony.

Watch the video here.

'Next Chapter' for U.S. is push to foment change in Iran

Chicago Tribune-The face of the Bush administration's new favorite weapon against Iran's cleric-dominated regime has the cheekbones of a Vogue cover girl. Once a week, digital bits carrying new images and the Persian voice of Luna Shad - an Iran-born actress who spent her formative years in Paris, wears knee-high boots and carries a Louis Vuitton handbag - rain down from American-leased satellites and are collected in antenna dishes across Iran.

"Next Chapter," is aimed at Iran's youth. But the demographics aren't about appealing to advertisers. The show's sponsor, the U.S. government, is trying to foment change in Iran. The Bush administration is moving urgently to deal with Iran, a nation that poses what many believe to be the most vexing foreign policy challenge facing the United States. But it is Shad's U.S.-sponsored broadcast and others like it that are to be the most costly and visible beneficiaries of the administration's latest push, despite questions about their effectiveness.

...Well before the administration's current emergency funding request for Persian programming, the growing sense of urgency about Iran had landed at the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees all foreign broadcasting efforts. Given the political popularity within Washington of the Arabic channels, it seemed inevitable that similar enthusiasm would spread to Persian broadcasts because of the growing confrontation with Iran.

In 2003, the BBG's controversial Republican chairman, Kenneth Tomlinson, called Washington from a board meeting in Prague to urgently order the Voice of America's main Persian-language television show to go daily from once a week. In the fall of 2004, Tomlinson persuaded then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to push for funding that would allow VOA to boost its Persian-language television programming from just nine original hours per week to 28 per week.

Even without the emergency funding, Shad's show is scheduled to go daily this summer. Executives at VOA envision it also going "newsier," while maintaining its youthful edge. Think Anderson Cooper, in Persian and with Shad, instead of the CNN star.

More...

Canadian terror probe expands to 7 nations

TORONTO (AP) - Police said Monday more arrests are likely in an alleged plot to bomb buildings in Canada, while intelligence officers sought ties between the 17 suspects and Islamic terror cells in the United States and five other nations.

The Parliament of Canada, in Ottawa, is believed to be among targets the group discussed. Toronto Mayor David Miller said CN Tower, a downtown landmark, and the city's subway were not targets as had been the speculated in local media, but declined to identify sites that were.
A Muslim prayer leader who knew the oldest suspect, 43-year-old Qayyum Abdul Jamal, told The Associated Press on Monday that Jamal's sermons at a storefront mosque were "filled with hate" against Canada.

In Washington, a spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House, said President Bush spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper about the case Monday afternoon, but gave no specifics of what was discussed.

More...

Jackson Diehl from The Washington Post asks: Would it be wise for Bush, or any president, to recognize Iran's Shiite Islamic regime as an enduring reality and a regional power whose interests must be accommodated in the broader Middle East? Would such recognition pay off in the form of a stable and democratic Iraq, or an end to Iranian support for Palestinian terrorism, or in the disarmament of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement?

Stay tuned for my reply.