One day Washington, in secret talks, assures Tehran that in exchange for help with downed pilots and a promise to refrain from meddling in Iraq's affairs, the US will bomb the military camps of the Mujahhedin-e Khalgh Organization (MKO), which has been fighting the Iranian regime for almost two decades with the full support of the Baathist regime.
The next day the US forces reach a deal with the MKO according to which the group will be allowed to keep its arms to “defend itself against the infiltrators” of the Islamic Republic. Then, according to some reports, the MKO fighters were seen in US Army uniforms patrolling key roads near the border with Iran. At the end of the same week the Washington Post reported that the US Army had seized control of the group. Another report detailed how the group was disarmed.
Is it me, or is there a total lack of consistency in American policies and objectives with regards to the Islamic Republic of Iran and its role and influence in the region? I am not writing this because I think either the MKO or the Islamic Republic is being treated unfairly. They are both cut from the same cloth and, as far as the Iranian people are concerned, are terrorist in nature and in deeds.
What is bothering me is a lack of vision about what steps are to be taken next regarding the IRI.
The first question that I think the American policy-makers need to address is whether a regime such as the one governing Iran is capable of holding on to power on its own, in light of the way it is treating its citizenry. In other words, is there a future for the IRI, with or without outside help?
The overarching concern of the US in attacking two countries and toppling their anachronistic regimes within two years after the terrorist attack of September 11 is, above all, safety. Safety for its citizens, safety for the citizens of the world and safety for the accumulated wealth and culture of a producing and benevolent civilization. Safety for the movement of capital to create possibilities where none exist, and to try and lift the black hue of uncertainty that hovers over a global sagging economy.
This is exactly where the interests of the US parallel that of the imprisoned and captive nations of the region. Therefore, governments that produce nothing but fear for their citizenry and everyone else, torture their opponents and spew hatred, have no legitimacy in the eyes of the world, or in the eyes of their own people for that matter. They only contribute to further nihilistic destruction and mayhem. So they must go, either on their own or by force. That's the only way the nations of the region can rid themselves of the ball and chain that keeps them in their poverty, ignorance and squalor.
Those who believed that the US was after Iraqi oil have missed the mark by a long shot. With a billion dollars in daily trade deficit the US can hardly be bothered to go through all the planning and organization that it takes to pull a military feat of this magnitude in order to cheat a small country out of its resources (as big and sizeable as those resources may seem).
So, even if the UN inspectors find no trace of weapons of mass destruction, and even if the Europeans continue to ignore the administration's claim that there was a link between the Palace of Saddam and the Cave of Osama, I believe that at the end of the day America has done good in Iraq, because the net result of the American intervention has produced freedom for the Iraqis.
I regret the loss of lives that America inadvertently caused in order to defeat tyranny, but I cannot blame her for it because a better future has been born as a result. I see the endless possibilities that have come into existence for Iraq and its people. And that's the ultimate moral gauge that I use to reach my assessment of America's action and the president's tenacity and vision.
The same vision and clarity is called for with regards to dealing with another anachronistic regime; the one ruling in neighboring Iran. Since the Iraq victory, the back tracking of the IRI officials regarding relations with America says volumes about the instability they feel both within their borders and without.
For the first time the regime is surrounded on all sides by its arch-rival and is now shaking in its foundation. Of course Mr. Rafsanjani would admit to mistakes of the past, and speak of “lost opportunities” in opening up to America.
And by the way, is anyone really surprised that the IRI's foreign minister expresses his government's willingness to have relations with the US? Frankly, I can think of 250,000 plus reasons for these flips and back-flips, but in the interest of brevity let me sum it up thusly: the unrivaled armed forces of the United States parked at the border.
No one is asking for a military intervention in Iran; there is a genuine democratic movement in the country that is gathering momentum. What is needed is a clear and genuine resolve on the part of the administration to side with and strongly support the peaceful and democratic aspirations of this movement — the youth and the women of Iran who are on the path to undermine the regime.
If you want to know how sincere the IRI is in its changing attitude look no further than its domestic policy, which has become even more brutal since it was obligated to mind its steps abroad.
The supreme leader's pet vigilantes, Basijis, have just completed a wave of serial killings in the southern city of Kirman in which five young men and women were kidnapped and brutally stabbed to death, their body parts severed and left in the desert to be consumed by vultures.
Over 15 journalists are still illegally detained and more reporters and publishers were summoned to courts on various charges, especially ahead of, and, in spite of, a recent visit by the UN's human rights watch group.
Student activists have been kidnapped by plain-clothed agents, only to surface weeks later in one of the many prisons across the country.
One can act like the French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin, and ignore all reports of the IRI's belligerent disregard for human rights and life, and shamelessly claim that “Tehran's human rights record shows progress” (!!) even though the reality on the ground testifies to the increasing harassment and imprisonment of dissidents, disappearances of journalists and lawyers who dare to represent them, beatings, floggings, stonings to death of adulterers, etc. But for Iranians who have endured 25 years of wicked cruelty in the name of religion, domestic oppression is the other side of the coin of international terrorism.
Perhaps this is why the Iranians are now looking to Washington for reassuring signs that their democratic aspirations will not become the sacrificial lamb at the feast of reaching an understanding with the vicious mullahs of Tehran.
Let no one forget that three of IRI's top leaders, Ayatollah Khamenei (the supreme leader), Ayatollah Rafsanjani (the former president) and Ayatollah Fallahian (the former secret police chief) are on Interpol's wanted list for the assassination of a number of Iranian political dissidents, which took place in Europe during Rafsanjani's presidency in the 1990's. The same guys have also been linked to the terrorist attacks on a cultural center in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
In the current fight against terrorism, Tehran's ruse in switching from fomenting international terrorism to escalating domestic violence and oppression must be highlighted, and cannot be allowed to go unsanctioned by the international community in general, but even more importantly, by America in particular.
The duplicitous leaders of the IRI will have scored big if the Bush administration buys into the fallacy that the Rafsanjani-Khamenei terror regime has the slightest aptitude, as well as willingness, for true democratic reform, peaceful coexistence with Israel, or respect for the rule of law.