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.