The blame game
Iranians are masters of finger pointing
January 11, 1999
According to reports by the Associated Press, on Friday, January 8,
1999, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, placed the blame for the
murder and disappearance of a number of prominent writers and political
activists on foreign intelligence services such as the CIA, Britain's MI5
and MI6 and Israel's Mossad.``You will be shocked to learn about the scope
of the crimes, assassinations, bombings and intimidations committed by
these intelligence services," he said.
Given that the fiendish foreign agents, with such apparent large and
pervasive presence, claimed their prey in the middle of the capital city
and in such large numbers, Mr. Khamenei's statement raises the intriguing
possibility of an open admission that the government has failed to protect
the citizens of the republic from these devilish foreign agents.
The cataloging of their activities -- crimes, assassinations, bombings
and intimidations -- raises the additional question of who is in charge
of internal security? If prominent individuals can fall prey to such devious
foreign machinations, then what chance does the ordinary citizen have to
enjoy her constitutional right to safety and security?
Mr. Khamenei also stated that foreign agencies "would never openly
admit their crimes.'' This must be a nasty revelation, considering how
Iran's intelligence services, implicated in all sorts of acts overseas,
come out so openly admitting to their deeds.
The point is this: If there is any evidence showing involvement of foreigners
in the recent political murders, then the evidence should be turned over
to the authorities for prosecution, which may possibly lead to extra-territorial
indictments against the persons and agencies involved.
However, it is doubtful that any foreign intelligence agency was behind
the recent events. What seems to be at play here is the art of distraction,
finger pointing, blame assigning, and misdirection, to each of which Iranians
may well have a legitimate claim of exclusive ownership. The art of misdirection
has been a national sport in Iranian political culture for some time. It
is always somebody else's fault.
Consider these not-so-uncommon conspiracy theories:
* The Mossadegh government fell because of American imperialists and
British free-booters, not to mention a pitiable handful of dollars! (Never
mind the venality of a band of Iranians who would send the popular prime
minsiter down the river.)
* The Shah fell because Palestinian armies in tandem with Israeli operatives
marched up and down Tehran and other cities at the service of the powerful
oil companies! (Never mind that the Iranian public had had it with the
* And, now this.
In the recent wave of murders, the victims were Iranian citizens, living,
working and residing in Iran. They suffered whatever fate in Iran, regardless
of the nationality of the hands that abducted them or ravaged their throats.
The alleged crimes were committed on Iranian soil. By all counts, the matter
is entirely an Iranian matter. No amount of misdirection will succeed in
diminishing or shifting the responsibility of the government to face and
deal with the matter according to the criminal laws.
Guive Mirfendereski is an international lawyer and adjunct professor
of law at Brandeis University.