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Referendum

Hamoon aasho, hamoon Kaasseh
Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me twice, shame on me!

Amir Fassihi
November 30, 2004
iranian.com

In 1997, I was one of the 26 million people who saw no other exit strategy for the Islamic Republic but through internal reforms. Rafsanjani was nearing an end of an 8-year run on power where he had consolidated his forces, money and strength. The intelligence ministry was a feared entity not unlike the SAVAK 20 years before it. Clinton administration was non-confrontational and the world was looking to end the impasse with the Islamic Republic.

The end goal of mine and the 26 million others who voted for Khatami was to create a division within the regime and to somehow exploit the division for the benefits of Iran. The end goal was sincere. But the method to get there and the tools used were inadequate.

Rafsanjani/Khamenei coalition soon crushed the movement. They destroyed the student movement violently and closed more than 70 news papers. The forces behind this change were dispersed, sent to prison or fled the country. The tools used to make this change were either destroyed and were proven to be incapable.

Looking back, we can learn one thing from what happened: Rafsanjani and Khamanei will use any force necessary to stay in power. To unseat them, they need to be confronted. Confrontation needs to be non-violent; however, a confrontation and a forceful exit nevertheless.

To the politicians, academicians, intellectuals and writers who made up the 2nd of Khordad movement and who let me down, who let the students down, who let Iran down: Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me twice, shame on me!

Some of those same leaders, the self-claimed intellectuals and philosophers once again want you and me to follow them down a path. This time, their plan is once again with a sincere and respectable goal of a civil and democratic society, but again there are some flaws in this plan.

Their plan is to gather all people and force the Islamic Republic to hold a referendum to change the constitution. And once the constitution is changed, ask Mr Khamenei and Rafsanjani to politely step down per requirements of the new constitution.

They are really hyped up about Step 1) Referendum. They also talk about Step 2) Changing the Constitution. But for Step 3) there is not much talk.

They're just assuming that Mr Rafsanjani and Mr Khamenei will say: "Thank you very much, it was nice to be your leader, but now since the constitution has no role for me, I will step down as requested."

An Iranian referendum cannot be vague on its wording in regards to democracy and freedom. It cannot only hint at separating religion from state. It must be direct and to the point. The referendum must be forceful and include the elimination of the Islamic Republic and the separation of religion from governemnt.

The leaders of this movement have a decent plan, without being able to see two or three steps down the line. The weakness of this plan is both in lack of planning for the steps down the line, as well as its inability to look at the world around and distinguish the position of Iran today as compared to 1996.In today's world, the Islamic Republic is at a dead end.

The political pressure for the nuclear issue is immense. The economy, unlike 1996 (at the end of a 6 year borrow and spend boom) is at a halt with no serious hope for a rebound. Taliban is gone in the East, Saddam is gone on the west and replaced by American forces. And lastly, an American president who's made "Greater Middle East Plan" a central goal of his administration has just replaced his dovish Secretary of State with the architect of the Soviet downfall.

With all this going on, some are calling for a referendum where steps 2 and 3 are not only unclear, but unknown, not clearly planned and a source of easy manipulation by the Islamic Republic.

If I sign this petition, I will be pushing for a plan with no clear outlines of what needs to be done and if I get fooled again with an incomplete plan, Shame on me!

This plan may force IRI, just prior to the presidential elections and as a last option, to drop its opposition to barring candidates from running and allow someone like "Mohsen Sazgara", one of its sponsors to run for president. Then what, "Hamoon aasho , hamoon kaasseh..."

This article is from my weblog, fassihi.blogspot.com.

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