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The blame game
Iranians are masters of finger pointing

January 11, 1999
The Iranian

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 regime.)
* 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.

The author

Guive Mirfendereski is an international lawyer and adjunct professor of law at Brandeis University.

Copyright © 1997 Abadan Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved. May not be duplicated or distributed in any form