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Dialogue only buys them time
I am opposed to dialogue with the regime because I find it unconscionable

May 24, 2007

After my recent blog post was published on ["Engaging with a ruthless regime"], I received e-mails some of which expressing their desire for a dialogue with the Iranian regime as a just cause. I am opposed to such dialogue on several grounds.

The supporters of dialogue between the US and the regime have never shown, articulated, or even tried to articulate how such dialogue would benefit the Iranian people. Attempts of this kind have been at best limited to vague references to change in countries where the US had diplomatic presence. Moreover, the crimes committed by the regime make any such dialogue unconscionable in my opinion.

I am opposed to dialogue with the regime because I find it incapable of addressing the fundamental issues that underlie the Iranian normalcy crisis in the past 28 years. The only thing that dialogue will accomplish is buying mullahs more time, especially giving them the best opportunity to pursue their nuclear ambitions. The futility of dialogue was once proved in early 90's where EU's "critical dialogue" with the regime was terminated following the Mikonos verdict in Germany.

As a matter of fact regime took advantage of this "dialogue" to consolidate its power through mass assassination and jailing of dissidents, writers, and intellectuals inside and outside Iran. This period also coincided with growing divide between the rich and the poor which brought nearly half of the population below the poverty line. Inhumane punishments and human right abuses continued unabated. "Critical dialogue" turned out to be nothing but a code word for Europe's shortsighted interests in dealing with a murderous regime in Tehran. Is this the type of dialogue that the supporters of dialogue between the US and the regime are looking for?

I am also opposed to dialogue with the regime because I find it unconscionable. The "moral equivalence" camp on the other hand argues that since the sum of the evil around the world is equal to the evil of the regime, this regime is only as bad as the rest of the world. This makes the dialogue morally unobjectionable in their eyes. The moral equivalence argument typically goes by breaking down regime's crimes into pieces, finding a match (close or remote) to each piece somewhere in the world to draw its absurd conclusion. Let me sum up some of the crimes of this regime for those who need to be reminded.

One warm summer day in 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini who at the time was the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic wrote a letter to three of his confidants (the so-called committee of three) ordering them to "clean up" the Iranian prisons as the war between Iran and Iraq was drawing to an end. In plain words, Khomeini left it to the discretion of the three clerics to order the execution of any political prisoner who was not "converted". The committee ordered execution of prisoners based on their answers to a couple of questions such as whether the person did his/her daily prayers or whether they still believed in their cause. Meat trucks carried the bodies of the executed prisoners at dawn to a place that was later named "the cursed-land" by regime thugs. The bodies of the executed prisoners were buried in mass graves in the "cursed-land". Thousands are believed to have been executed in this way. Many of those prisoners had done their sentences and were awaiting release.

It is not clear how many people have been stoned to death in Iran because the regime is particularly tight lipped about this style of execution. The number is large, at least tens, and according to some accounts, the regime judiciary has ordered and carried out the stoning of more than 1000 people. The "crimes" that justify this cruel and barbaric punishment under the regime's "justice" code range from acting in home-made porno movies to accusation of adultery. Soraya M. whose hours before stoning has been portrayed in a book entitled "The Stoning of Soraya M." was accused of adultery because she was cooking for a male family friend. The punishment is carried out by first giving the inmate a "dead wash" (ghosl-e-meyet) in early morning hours before being taken him/her to the killing field where he/she is buried up to the neck/chest. The size of stones is DELIBERATELY chosen in such a way that they don't kill the inmate immediately but rather prolong the suffering for at least 15 minutes, delivering an excruciating death. It is very common that the condemned is alive and aware when their eyes pop out as the mob is carrying out the execution. Stoning is typically overseen by the ordering cleric. Although the barbaric act of stoning may rarely happen elsewhere in the world, this form of punishment is specifically sanctioned by regime's "justice" code, unlike in other places where the act is more of a mob-revenge nature.

Atefeh was only 16 years old when she was arrested because of immoral acts. According to some accounts, she had an affair with some members of the moral police and they asked for her execution to preserve their "honor" and "reputation". During the hearings, Atefeh became momentarily upset and took off her clothes in protest. Shortly after, her execution was ordered and carried out personally by the mullah judge in public. Even the executioner refused to carry out the sentence and plead for reversal.

Several years ago a woman was accused of looking at nude males. Her blinding was ordered by a mullah judge. The wrists and fingers of people accused of theft are cut IN PUBLIC. Hundreds of people are executed by hanging IN PUBLIC every year.

In 2005, a cleric shot and killed a young man in broad daylight in Tehran-Karaj metro. The young man was apparently "hitting on" a girl in the metro. According to regime's laws, clerics can be tried only by a special tribunal, which of and by its own is a clear example of an apartheid judicial system. The cleric was later acquitted and released.

Hundreds of dissidents were killed in exile by regime's agents. The preferred method of killing was slashing throats. Some of these dissidents were lured to meeting with regime's agents by the promise of finding a peaceful political settlement. In 1997, a German court named regimes' top leaders in ordering the assassination of several Kurdish dissidents in Mykonos restaurant in Germany. In addition to all these human right abuses, the regime has brought economic misery on a massive scale to the Iranian population. Nearly half of Iranians live under the poverty line. It is estimated that one in every 18 Iranians is addicted to illicit drugs. Scores of young Iranian women are sold in Pakistan and the Persian Gulf states as sex slaves. Despite its oil riches, Iran imports nearly 40% of its gasoline domestic consumption.

Finally, in regards to Dr. Haleh Esfandiari it should be noted that I was one of the first Iranian bloggers who posted a piece and brought attention to the danger of her being accused of apostasy in an article published by Keyhan. Despite my opposition to what Dr. Esfandiari has been working hard to promote, I believe we should all join forces to seek safe return not only for her but for all those detained against their will by the regime. My piece tried to show the futility of calls for dialogue with a regime which cannot even tolerate Dr. Esfandiari's of this world.

Giving the benefit of doubt has always been my shining light. I want to believe that the supporters of dialogue are truly fearful of an imminent attack on Iran. Let me tell you what I am fearful of. As the game of cat and mouse is being played; as the mullahs take advantage of diplomatic signals and flirtations to buy time pursuing the bomb; and as the US fails to stabilize Iraq, an unholy alliance of regional Arab powers begin investing heavily in creating local insurgencies among ethnic minorities with tacit or direct support from the US. The regime has time and time proved its strategic foolishness and tactical genius. This time strategic foolishness may lead to Iran's disintegration. Comment


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