Taming the turban
U.S. policy does not call for regime change in Iran
August 6, 2004
Transcript of a program on TV
International English which aired July 26, 2004.
Maryam Namazie: George
Bush has pledged that if re-elected he will bring regime change
in Iran. He has labelled Iran as one of three in an axis of evil.
I want to ask the question that is on everyone's mind - Is
Iran Next? Noam Chomsky has pointed out Iraq is merely a footnote
in the USA's colonial adventure, while Iran is the "grand
prize". What's your analysis?
Hamid Taghvaee: I don't think this is the case, not because
the USA's foreign policy is different towards Iran versus
Iraq but because the political situation in Iran is completely
different from its neighbouring countries such as Afghanistan or
Iraq. I don't think that they can do in Iran what they have
done in Iraq, mainly because in Iran people are on the streets.
There is a mass movement against the Islamic Republic
of Iran, which is leftist, radical and against what the USA plans
in the region. All their talk is just part of the game of diplomacy
and a piece in the USA's foreign policy in the Middle East;
it has nothing to do with toppling the Islamic regime of Iran.
Namazie: So when we hear the 9/11 Commission has reported
links between Iran and Al Qaeda for example, are these part of
this game like the issue of WMD in Iraq?
Taghvaee: The diplomatic tango between the USA
and the Islamic regime in Iran has been going on for years. The
problems in the region are Iraq first and then Palestine; Iran
is somehow involved in both of them. Therefore, they are aiming
to tame the Islamic regime by giving it a place in their foreign
policy. This is the reason behind the pressure they are exerting
on Iran; it is not an effort to change the whole political situation
I don't think that the USA can afford another country
like Afghanistan and Iraq in the region especially in a country
like Iran. They want to keep the 'peace' there while
simultaneously ensuring that the Islamic regime stays in line with
their foreign policy. When they raise issues like human rights,
nuclear weapons, WMD, or relations with Al Qaeda, these are merely
pieces in the puzzle of their foreign policy towards Iran with
the goal of taming the regime not changing it.
Namazie: You have said that they can't do in Iran
what they have done in Iraq. But we see Republican Senator Sam
Brownback plans to introduce an Iran liberation act in the northern
autumn, modelled on the Iraq Liberation Act that mandated regime
change in Baghdad. Why can't they do the same? You said the
difference is that people are in the streets. Can you explain that?
Taghvaee: To do the same in Iran would begin a
chain of events in Iran that will be out of the USA's control.
In that chain
of events, the people will play a very important role. This has
not been the case in Iraq before the start of the war. In Iran,
they know it's the opposite. A few days after their attack
on Iraq, they mentioned regime change in Iran but had to stop saying
so soon after because of the strong opposition in Iran against
The USA administration understood that they couldn't
follow this line in Iran. As I said, they know there is a radical
Left movement in Iran against religion, against the Islamic regime,
for democratic rights, and for demands that the USA cannot afford
in the region. If such a movement comes forth and gains momentum,
then the USA wouldn't be able to control Iraq, Afghanistan
or any country for that matter. Effectively, they don't want
this to happen in Iran. Any such talk is therefore in my opinion
a game of diplomacy.
Namazie: A USA official, speaking on condition of anonymity,
has said that their intervention will be different that that in
Iraq. It won't be a military action, but rather that the
US would work to stir revolts in the country and hope to topple
it. You're saying there is a movement on the streets to overthrow
the regime so how would this be explained then?
Taghvaee: They are not referring to the movement
I am. I am referring to a people's movement and intervention from
below whilst there are speaking of intervention from above such
as a military coup or some form of toppling of the regime that
will bring the right wing opposition to power. But they are not
even serious about this. If they organise a coup, they will still
not be able to control the chain of events that follow, including
a mass movement against the resulting government.
Namazie: If it's a question of control, they have
no control in Afghanistan or Iraq but they go ahead and intervene
anyway. Isn't that so?
Taghvaee: They might make mistakes but we are
talking about the logic of their policy as far as the interests
of the USA government
are concerned, i.e. what is strategic to their interests. It doesn't
mean they will always follow logic. If they are realistic, if they
analyse Iran as it is, they will then understand that it is different
from Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a section in the USA government
that refers to this. The main difference in the situation in Iran
is the role of the people in any future intervention.
Namazie: We're seeing two perspectives in
the USA administration - one calling for regime change and another
relations with Iran e.g. the Council of Foreign Relations task
force, led by Zbigniew Brzezinski, and saying that there is no
chance for the regime to be toppled. What's your analysis
on this? What side will or should win, if any?
Taghvaee: It proves my point; that this is all
part of their foreign policy and a game of diplomacy. It's all
balance of power between the USA and the Islamic regime of Iran.
They have been playing this game for a long time. There are many
other views on Iran and depending on the situation, they will adopt
one of them. Which of these positions are better for the Iranian
people? Clearly, none. None of them have anything to do with what
people want and what they are fighting for and have been fighting
for years now. The Islamic regime should not be recognised by other
states, especially Western ones. It should be condemned as a criminal
Namazie: Where should progressive forces
Taghvaee: People should
be on our side, the side of the Worker-communist Party of Iran.
We represent the Left in
that country, which is
very powerful. Leftist ideas and goals are popular and the movement
to overthrow the regime has been leaning towards the Left. Today,
we have a mass movement fighting for a modern and civilised life,
women's liberation, against religion. Those goals and ideas
are very different than we see is happening in Iraq or Afghanistan. This
must be supported.
Maryam Namazie is the host of TV
International English, Executive Director of the International
Federation of Iranian Refugees and Director of the International
Relations Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran.