May 4, 2000
Giving reformists a boost, from abroad
Rasool Nafisi's article ["Reform
in retreat"]is well written and comprehensive. But I want to
take issue with his final paragraph:
It is of vital importance to make clear to Iranians that only they can
shape their destiny. Great Britain or the U.S. have little to do with what
is happening in Iran. Those within the regime with entrenched interests,
will try their best to make the people frustrated, frightened, and indifferent.
The reformists should prevent it by keeping their cool and slowly but
surely march forward.
My objection is to the role he assigns (or refuses to assign) to the
U.S. and Britain (as well as other European countries). I agree that their
record of involvement in Iran is less than brilliant; however, aside from
the people (mellat), these foreign countries are the only other possible
source of support for the reformists. Now the fact that they (foreign
countries) are systematically demonized by the conservatives bespeaks their
potential influence. We, reformist Iranians, should not simply play by
the rules set by conservatives, rules which are rigged from the start.
Now that the distinction between the people's government and the "shadow
government" is more pellucid, U.S. and the European countries can
come to the aid of the reformist in the following ways (the list is by
no means exhaustive):
- Promoting the spread of news, by enhancing the access of the Iranian
populace to the news (radio, internet, etc.).
- Easing the restriction on travel by Iranian people; making it harder
on the officials of the regime.
- Economic sanctions on bonyads and bans on their investment.
- Promotion of economic opportunities for initiatives stemming from
the elected government and the majlis (if it convenes).
- Interference in the interests of the "shadow government"
throughout the world.
This is just some of what can be done by the U.S. and Europe to provide
leverage for reformists and the Iranian people. It is about time that
they abandon their naive policies and look at Iran realistically, and there
are many among the expatriate Iranian community that can help to achieve
this result. On the part of Iranian people and the reformists, PURE reliance
on internal factors and the law results in the advantage of the conservatives.
Center for Research on Culture & Literature
Johns Hopkins University