I had a great time with a few thousand of my Iranian friends in Los Angeles, California.
The loved President Bush! And there were lines of people changing their registration.
The people were chanting "Thank you President Bush... Shame on You Tony Blair."
They were asking people to support the imprisioned students in Iran.
They had a plane flying the Iranian flag.
They staged a mock execution as they are preformed by the Iranian regime.
I had my own sign calling for the world leaders to take a stand, and gave a plug for the FreeRepublic.com.
I saw lots of friends.
And a lot of support by the followers of the Shah and his son Reza.
They even had Iranian currency (Rials) in anticipation of a change of regime.
Finally, I ended the night on XTV where I did an interview that was broadcast into Iran!
I even spent some time chatting with Iranians in Iran
All in all, it was a great evening.
I just pray that the people of Iran will be able to stand up to the regime in the next few days.
This just in from a student inside of Iran....
Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger do not work at the moment. I think regime doesnt want people to communicate through these messengers.
Students will hold a rally inside the Tehran University Campus today."
The Movement's Leader's Letter to the World's Rights Activists and Free Thinkers
SMCCDI (Public Statement)
Jul 7, 2004
On July 8th, Iranians are planning to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the student uprising of 1999. Many of the western nations, especially the U.S. and Israel, are paying close attention to the outcome of the event. Its short or middle term outcome will determine these two country's policies in reference to Iran's nuclear activities and its interference in the Middle East region's peace process and democratic evolution.
Many of us that live in democratic nations might not apprehend the importance of a date such as July 8th, or the significance of its struggle for the Iranian youth that are seeking secularity and modernism. After all, we were under the impression that the majority of Iranians supported the regime of the Islamic Republic under one of its factions, whether it is the hardliners or so-called reformists. However, with the passage of time and consistent protests made by the Iranian people these injustices cannot be ignored. The student uprising in 1999 was filled with shocking footage, but no image was more symbolic than the young Ahmad Batebi raising the bloodied shirt of a fallen comrade to signify the quest for Justice. We can no longer ignore the existence of a deeper political malaise in Iran and this is evident in the consecutive nightly riots of 2003 and the mass boycott of the regimes last two sham elections. The ever-increasing gap between government officials and the people has reached explosive levels. This apprehension has brought some of the lucid western leaders,
such as President George W. Bush, to acknowledge publicly the plight of the Iranians and to offer his moral and diplomatic support for their right to freedom and self-determination.
We must understand that Iran and its people are fed up and exasperated with a quarter of a century of backward, barbarian, oligarchic, theocratic rule, notorious for human right abuses, widespread official corruption and sponsorship of terror. Now, Iranians want simply a radical regime change in their country, which can be qualified as a firm support of western democracy and the free world in general. Everyone should remember 1997 that Iranians rejected hardliners and voted massively for canalized reforms from within, with hope of changes with a "lesser human cost". Finally, deceived by the empty promises of so-called reformists and Mr. Khatami, Iranians reached the final stage of understanding that ideological regimes simply cannot be reformed. They found the less costly way to show their deception by preferring to abstain from voting in the 2003 and 2004 elections. Iranian perseverance for a "democratic regime change" is increasing drastically; Iranians have become more equipped with the technology of the satellite and Internet which is contributing to a better apprehension of the outside world and a rapid and less monitored exchange of information.
Also by witnessing the consecutive falls of two brutal and backward dictatorships in their immediate and eastern and western borders, Iranians have became more eager to than ever to come hand in hand to defy and bring down the Mullahcracy. This unity has occurred in order to in stature a western-liberal democracy, mixed with Iranian valuable cultural tradition that have often been rejected and referred to as pagan by clerics.
We should be aware that there have been recent alarming reports from Iran, on the massive deployment of security forces that consist of Middle Eastern and African Islamists acting as foreign mercenaries. There have been mass arrests and constant harassment as well as official threats warning the freedom lovers, often referred to as foreign spy, drug addict, bandit, or hooligan, on the consequences of opposing the Islamic State. It is ironic to see how the current Iranian regime deals with any type of dissent at a time that democracy is trying to be instilled in the Middle East region.
Other problems still exist for Irans aspiration to become a responsible and accountable element in the family of nations. However, many Iranian people are increasingly blaming the economic support offered by the main EU members: France, Germany, Austria and the UK. Iranians believe that dealing with the clerics is contributing to extend the political lives of their oppressors, and is causing more damage and pain. The Iranian people and many outsiders cannot understand how respectable governments, claiming the championship of democratic principles, inherited from the Century of Enlightenment and last centurys opposition to Nazism and Communism, can close eyes on the misdeeds of a much dangerous and brutal Ism-Islamic Fanaticism and its sour fruit known as the Islamic Republic regime. Iranians cannot comprehend how countries are continuing to deal billions of dollars to the notorious Iranian mullahs, their corrupt technocrats and brokers. The Iranian people cannot understand why a double standard exists when their husbands, wives, mothers, brothers, sons and daughters are murdered or arrested in a total international disinterest.
After all, werent most of these countries denouncing these incidents and other smaller abuses during the Shahs time? So why is there such silence now? Was it just a matter of bribery amounts? Why were individuals like Milosevic accused for crimes against humanity, and not the Iranian Ayatollahs of whom warrants exist in Germany and France for the extra judicial killings of their opponents on foreign soils?
The commemoration of this years anniversary of the Students Uprising might not lead immediately to a drastic change inside Iran, or to the overthrow of the Islamic Republic. But one thing that is sure, the days of the regime, which has reached an unprecedented stage of unpopularity and rejection, are ending. More time will pass with the regimes dark package of repression and the outcome will be bloodier, but at the end; the losers will be the ruling mullahs and all those who beat for a short time on a very ill horse.
If the EU would change its position and adopt a clear stand by backing, as Bush has done, the Iranian people to push for a smoother change of power, as it happened in South Africa, it might have time to weld back some of the broken Iranian sentiment. In such time, maybe, the United Nations will finally force the Islamic regime to comply with the Iranians wishes, or the current Iranian regime may be banned from this international institution.
Iranians are moving fast toward the final showdown and it will be wise to support them, instead of trying desperately to block them from reaching their legitimate goals.
* Aryo B. Pirouznia is the coordinator of the "Student
Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran" (SMCCDI).
Tense situation in Iranian cities
SMCCDI (Information Service)
Jul 8, 2004
Tense situation and an intense military control are reported from most Iranian cities, such as, the Capital, Esfahan, Hamedan, kermanshah, Ahwaz and Oroomiah (Former Rezai-e).
Symbolic and strategic places are occupied by military forces ready to attack. Security forces are stopping cars and brutaly searching them by placing the vehicles occupants by the walls.
Many will try to show their rejection of the regime.
Rights Group Calls On Iran To Release Student Detainees [Excerpt]
July 08, 2004
Dow Jones Newswires
The Associated Press
CAIRO -- Iranian authorities should release student protesters detained in violent demonstrations at Tehran University that began five years ago Thursday, killing one student, a New York-based human rights group said.
Human Rights Watch, in a statement obtained by The Associated Press in Egypt, said an unknown number of students remained in custody out of the thousands it claimed had been initially arrested.
"Five years after the Tehran University protests, it's time for the Iranian government to release the peaceful protesters," Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch Middle East and North Africa Division, said in the statement.
"The government also needs to hold plainclothes militia accountable for the attacks on students that year."
Security forces raided a student dormitory following a peaceful student demonstration, the statement said, beating students and trapping many in their rooms. The demonstrations lasted for a week, involving more than 25,000 people.
Human Rights Watch said several students had been sentenced to death, but authorities later commuted their punishments to time in prison. It also accused Iranian security authorities of torturing many imprisoned students and preventing them from seeing their lawyers.
"While many of those initially detained were released, an unknown number of student protesters remain in prison," the group alleged, including Ahmed Batebi, Abbas Fakhravar, Manouchehr Mohammadi, his brother Akbar Mohammadi and Mehrdad Lohrsabi.
'Azadi' Is More Than Just a Word For Iran's Students [Excerpt]
July 08, 2004
The Wall Street Journal
When Iranian students took to the streets a year ago, it seemed a far cry from the uprising in July 1999 that quickly spread across the country and lead the world to believe the days of the Islamic Republic might be numbered. All they wanted, this time, was to protest against the regime's intent to privatize university studies and charge tuition. But at night, paramilitary forces of the Basij and the Ansar-e-Hezbollah stormed into the dormitories just as in 1999, attacking students in their beds with baseball bats and razor blades, throwing books and computers out of the window and wrestling drivers out of their cars who had honked in support of the demonstrators. In the following days, protests resumed on a larger scale, demanding regime change, democracy and the resignation of the Iranian president Muhammad Khatami.
Now that scenario looked familiar indeed. Angry young men, waving the blood-stained shirt of a fellow student, could not but remind TV audiences around the globe of the Islamic Revolution itself, which had also started on campus. "The revolution seemed to have gone back to its origin," wrote Islam scholar Navid Kermani, "the language of protest: emotionality, public grief for the victims in rituals deriving from the folklore of Shiite martyrdom, all that was exactly the same as in the days when the Shah was toppled."
With one crucial difference, however. Back then, students enthusiastically believed in leftist, Islamist or leftist-Islamist programs. Fierce ideological battles were waged. Later, many of them had even volunteered for the war against Iraq, only to return to a country that was becoming less and less interested in their holy war or their holy texts. "More than my secular students," reported Azar Nafisi, author of the bestselling memoir "Reading Lolita in Tehran," "it was this group that craved the banned Western videos and satellite dishes; they craved also to read works of Western literature, along with the heretical modern and classical Persian poets and writers."
Today's children of the revolution are even more modest in their demands. These days, unrest is about wearing lipstick, about not being flogged for a strand of hair or trendy sunglasses. A teenage friend of Mrs. Nafisi's daughter once was arrested by the virtue police when she and a couple of friends had lemonade on a porch in a private home, and had to undergo three "virginity exams" in different hospitals all night until being finally released in the morning. Reclaiming privacy from the political sphere -- an impulse that would have been condemned as bourgeois decadence in 1979 -- is a central issue for Iranians, 70% of whom are under 30.
Judging from the books that are in vogue on campuses today, the craving for privacy has affected religious beliefs as well. It is high time for an Islamist Reformation. There is even a Martin Luther at hand: Hashem Aghajari, who was a lecturer at the University of Hamedan and an active member of the Reformist Islamic Revolution's Mujahedeen Organization, was arrested in August 2002 and sentenced to death because he had argued that it was counter to the nature of Islam to have a mediating echelon of clerics that had placed itself between God and the believers.
Mr. Aghajari argued that these clerics blocked the people's access to the Quran and to understanding it, and preventing them from developing independent thought. "In Islam, we never had a class of clergy," he said. "The relationship between the clergy and the people should be like the relationship between teacher and pupil; not between leader and follower; the people are not monkeys who merely imitate. A cleric is not a divine being." When Mr. Aghajari went on to criticize their use of luxury cars, the inequality of women, or nonbelievers, his fate was sealed. Recently the death penalty against him has been lifted, but he is sure to spend the next decades in jail. After the students' desperate calls to the inept reformist president: "Khatami, Khatami, where are you?" have died down, it is Mr. Aghajari on whose behalf they are willing to march again.
It has often been argued that Iran is to the West what Poland was during the Cold War. It is one of the most pluralist, most organized, and most pro-American societies in the region. Unfortunately, Europe seems to repeat the mistakes that have been made with regard to the Eastern Bloc during the 1970s. Not one prominent European politician has spoken up for people like Mr. Aghajari and U.S. President George W. Bush was the only head of a Western government to defend the student uprising last year.
All France, Britain and Germany are doing is to hint at the possibility of economic sanctions to pressure Iran on the nuclear front. The mullahs aren't impressed: Two weeks ago they declared their determination to develop a nuclear defense.
Iran's liberation will have to come from within, yes. Still, the West can do more than just looking on in bewilderment. The Nobel Peace Prize for Iranian human-rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi is a case in point. Ms. Ebadi is a Muslim who explicitly says she believes Islam and democracy can and must go together; who was jailed after she had defended students of the 1999 riot in court, and who celebrated the prize as one given to all Iranians who believe in change. As soon as we understand that they are "neither with us, nor with the terrorists," we have found an invaluable ally in the war on terror: the freedom loving, Muslim people of Iran.
For these young, angry, restless, sexually frustrated and jobless people, there is one magic word: "azadi." It means "freedom," and it is still very much associated with the United States. It went nearly unnoticed in the West that on September 11, thousands of Iranians took to the streets to express their solidarity with the American victims, chanting "Death to the Taliban, whether in Kabul or Tehran," while being attacked by Hezbollahi thugs.
In Remembrance of the Fifth Anniversary of the Iranian Students Uprising
July 07, 2004
Mission for Establishment of Human Rights in Iran
Five years ago the Islamic Regime forces attacked the student dorm on July 8 as students held a peaceful gathering protesting the closure of a popular daily paper. Islamic regime reported one person dead and 34 other injured but the press reported that the number of fatalities and injured was much higher. Some 4,000 demonstrators were said to have been arrested.
The student resistance against the repressive regime on July 8, 1999 and the events that followed set the beginning of a new era in Iranian struggle for democracy. It ended the illusion that the so-called "Reformists" may have a genuine respect for human rights and may bring about any real changes. They witnessed that when necessary, all factions regardless of their differences unite to crash the opposition. The July 8th event resulted in shaping up an independent movement for democracy that grew fast and made the entire regime very frightened. Islamic regime declared clearly that demanding freedom of expression and press or any other demand for freedom are acts against the regime and won't be tolerated.
The new student movement in Iran is not based on any ideology and is formed around humanistic ideas. That is why its existence and growth is very vital to the cause of human rights in Iran. This humanistic movement should be supported. Its underlying philosophy and goals should be introduced to the world community. They should know that the young generation of Iranians has no illusion about the Islamic regime. They have been arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and executed but have never given up. They show their courage even when they are in prison. That is why on the eve of the 5th anniversary of the government attack on the students, in spite of the ruthlessness of the Islamic regime, the political prisoners in Iran have staged a hunger strike for the immediate release of all political prisoners.
The world should know that the freedom loving people of Iran want the separation of religion and State. Hopefully, this will stop the propaganda machine of western media that are still trying to portray that the Islamic Regime may be reformed through certain elements and consequently are ignoring all the atrocities and human rights abuses in Iran.
The purpose of these gatherings is to inform the freedom loving people of world of what is actually happening in Iran. Our hope is that they would support our just cause and would put pressure on their government that until human rights are violated in Iran they should not help this bloody regime by establishing relation with it and legitimizing its system of terror.
We believe that the majority of Iranian people does not recognize the Islamic regime as its elected representative and is determined to change the regime of terror by civil disobedience and nonviolent action. If the Islamic regime claims otherwise, it should take up the challenge of a nationwide referendum monitored by the international human-rights community.
P.O. Box 2037, P.V.P., CA 90274
Tel: (310) 377-4590 ; Fax: (310) 377-3103
E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ; URL: http://mehr.org
Iran: Five Years of Injustice and Impunity
July 07, 2004
Amnesty International today renewed its calls to Iran's judiciary to undertake an independent and impartial judicial review of the trials of demonstrators convicted after their arrest during the July 1999 student led demonstrations, known in Iran as the 18 Tir events, after the date in the Iranian calendar.
The organization also calls on the authority to carry out investigations of allegations of torture made by these prisoners and ensure that anyone found responsible for the torture is brought to justice.
In March 2000, in letters from Tehran's Evin prison sent to the Head of Judiciary -- printed by local newspapers -- Akbar Mohammadi stated that he had been ill treated while in custody. He claimed to have been "violently beaten"; suspended by his arms, and whipped on the soles of his feet with electric cables. Prison guards reportedly beat him until he was on the point of losing consciousness, saying that all he had to do was blink to accept the charges [relating to national security] made against him. Another student, Ahmad Batebi wrote that soldiers bound his hands to plumbing pipes; beat his head and abdominal area with soldiers' shoes, and held him under a drain full of excrement for so long that he was unable to breathe.
To Amnesty International's knowledge, no open, independent investigation has ever been conducted into the allegations of ill treatment and torture made by Akbar Mohammadi, Ahmad Batebi or any of the students detained in July 1999. Some of whom later were granted asylum in European countries, where they received treatment for a range of incidences of torture, including instrumental rape.
Amnesty International renews its call to Iran's judiciary to:
Conduct an open and independent enquiry into allegations of torture carried out on Akbar Mohammadi, Ahmad Batebi and other students during the events of 18 Tir
Bring to justice anyone found responsible for torture and ill-treatment of Akbar Mohammadi, Ahmad Batebi and other detainees;
Carry out a judicial review of the case of Akbar Mohammadi and others arrested in connection wit the demonstrations;
Immediately release all those found to have been imprisoned soley for the expression of their conscientiously held beliefs.
In early July 1999, a small number of students in Tehran gathered to protest against increasing restrictions on freedom of expression. Following the forced closure of the newspaper Salam (Hello) on 7 July, demonstrations swelled into the hundreds. As the days passed, exchanges with security forces became increasingly angry. On 8 July, peaceful demonstrators were attacked by members of the organization Ansar-e Hezbollah, a semi-official organization which opposes political dissent against the state. Security forces at the scene reportedly failed to intervene to protect the students.
In the following days the size and nature of the demonstrations changed dramatically, leading to an escalation in violence. Despite calls for calm from some student leaders, and an official ban on demonstrations in Tehran, demonstrations continued and spread to other towns and cities. Hundreds of people were arrested throughout the country, most of whom were held without charge or trial. Dozens faced torture and ill-treatment in incommunicado detention, followed by manifestly unfair trials and imprisonment.
The unrest, which has become known as the events of 18 Tir (the date in the Iranian calendar during which the events took place), was also marked by a raid carried out by plain clothed (called in Persian the lebas shakhsy) members of the Ansar-e Hezbollah and members of the security forces into the student dormitories. This resulted in the killing of Ezzat Ebrahim Nejat. The attack was strongly condemned by both President Khatami and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and two senior police officers were later arrested and removed from their positions as a result of an official investigation. No one associated with the Ansar-e Hezbollah was charged in connection with the raid or the death of Ezzat Ebrahim Nejat.
Iranian non-governmental human rights organizations, such as the Association of Human Rights Defenders (AHRD, or Kanoun-e Modafe'an-e Hoqouq-e Bashar) have repeatedly called for an investigation into the raid on the dormitories and killing of Ezzat Ebrahim Nejat, and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. Their calls have gone unheeded.
Amnesty International has been campaigning on behalf of students who have been convicted and imprisoned after trials which failed to meet international standards for fair trial. The organization has also been calling for the investigation of allegations of torture made by the prisoners and for those found responsible for the torture to be brought to justice. Please see the following case sheet on Akbar Mohammadi:
Five Years of injustice and ill treatment: Akbar Mohammadi - case sheet
Media Ignores Arrest Of Iranian Agents Building Car Bombs In Baghdad
July 07, 2004
Oh That Liberal Media
Yesterday's revelation that US and Iraqi joint patrols had captured two Iranian intelligence officers with explosives and building car bombs sounded to me like important news. Here, after all, is proof that the so-called insurgency is not only supported by outside forces but contains active elements of official outside governmental agencies. As the Bush Doctrine states, any government engaging in terrorism or supporting terrorism against the US has made itself a target in the war on terror -- and this shows that Iran does both.
Big news, right? Not in America, apparently.
The World section at the Los Angeles Times: nothing.
The World section at the Boston Globe: nothing.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune (AP) reports the story with the headline, "Iran treading lightly in trying to influence Iraq," which contains the following assertion:
Monday's announcement of the arrests by the Iraqi Interior Ministry was a rare instance of tying Iranians to a particular attack.
But there was no indication that the two men were Iranian agents, and they might have been working on their own. Iranians enraged that Shiite shrines in Iraq were damaged in fighting between U.S. troops and Iraqi insurgents have volunteered to join the battle against the Americans.
None except their confessions, of course, that they are Iranian intelligence agents. That's probably immaterial to the story if the AP ignores it.
Washington Post World section: nothing.
The New York Times -- the "paper of record" -- International and Middle East sections: nothing.
MSNBC, CBS News World, ABC News World: nothing.
CNN doesn't carry anything on its front page either, although it has breaking news on Australian killer kangaroos and the legal claims of men dining nude.
I guess a foreign government attacking American troops just doesn't qualify as news. Thank God I found out about those killer kangaroos, though.
Posted by Captain Ed
The Iranian Quest for Nuclear Weapons
July 08, 2004
The United States, the Western World, and the International Atomic Energy Agency all are involved now in trying to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons.
Even if one does not accept the large body of evidence which has accumulated since the regime of the Ayatollahs came to power in 1979 and conclude that Iran is a dangerous exporter of terrorism, whose radical Islamic doctrines mean its aim is expansion and domination of its neighbors, one can still be very concerned about Iran having nuclear weapons. For Iran has powerful neighbors--Turkey, Saudi Arabia--who are strongly suspicious of her and would not allow Iranian nuclear weapons to threaten them unilaterally. An unprecedented nuclear arms race would soon be underway. In another context, Iranian leaders have bluntly stated their intention to use nuclear weapons against Israel, another prospect that certainly should not delight the world. And the far stronger Israel, with its anti-missile defense system and its reported 150 to 200 nuclear warheads, would most likely not suffer the attack passively. A nuclear exchange anywhere in the world would mean untold human suffering and environmental damage to the world as a whole. It is clearly in everyones interest, including the Iranians themselves, to prevent their acquisition of nuclear weapons.
Yet the steps taken by the IAEA, the European powers, and the U.S. government seem very unlikely to deter Iran. To understand truly the ineffectiveness of such steps, one should look at the Pakistani precedent. Pakistan, another self-defined Islamic republic, over a period of close to thirty years brought its nuclear development program to a successful conclusion, from its point of view, despite all the threats, the UN warnings, and the U.S. sanctions against it. Pakistan showed the world the way defiance of the international community works. And here it must be remembered that Pakistan is a much weaker country than Iran. Its an overpopulated, extremely poor country without many natural resources, and certainly with nothing like the Iranian oil-wealth. Also, Pakistan had--and has--no civilian nuclear structure, and it moved ahead despite lacking, at times, all kinds of equipment and expertise.
This is one major lesson of the Pakistani experience. No matter how weak and dependent on others, even for food and fuel, a state is, if it has the will it can push through its own nuclear program, spiting those far more powerful than it so long as those opposed are only ready to use peaceful means of persuasion. Pakistan was cut off more than once by the U.S. The Symington amendment at one point, and the Solarz amendment at another, denied Pakistan aid. But that did not stop them from going ahead with their program.
And this leads to a second important lesson of the Pakistani development. It is always possible to get by with a little help from ones friends. When the Pakistani program after years of development seemed stuck in 1983, the Chinese supplied them with the centrifuges and separation technology they could not make themselves. Pakistans rocket program would not have gotten very far without the aid of fellow nuclear bandit, North Korea. Now, while it might seem that the noose of control is tightening around Iran, there are still powers who seem willing to aid it. The Russian technicians at Bushehr continue to build this vast facility despite all U.S. pressures. The Chinese may have stopped supplying physical equipment to Iran, but they are ready to aid Iran politically, and will impose a veto on any sanctions the UN Security Council may bring up. Irans vast oil resources mean, in an energy-hungry world, that along with its radical Islamic allies it will find many other friends willing, for a sum, to supply goods and services vital to the Iranian program.
For years, the Pakistanis lied, deceived, delayed inspections, and hid various facilities. To this day, the world does not really know the extent and location of Pakistans nuclear facilities. The Iranians have already shown that they are masters of the art of deception. After having lied about their nuclear program for nineteen years, they immediately found a way out by making new promises which they broke in a few months. Here, it often seems that international inspecting teams aid those they supervise rather than impede them, for those under inspection time and again replace one set of broken commitments with another, one set of promises with another. This happens because these international bodies have by themselves no enforcement mechanisms and are reliant on the decisions of the various nations that make up the UN.
Iran can learn from Pakistan the great advantage of belonging to the large Islamic bloc, and the larger third world bloc. Again, the Pakistanis taught that it is possible to get away with it. The Iranians have by themselves been exemplifying this, but can draw additional strength from the Pakistani precedent.
The Pakistanis did, however, have an advantage that Iran lacks, at least vis-a-vis the United States. It was because the Americans needed Pakistan in the war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan that they chose to look the other way in the early eighties. And it is because they need the Pakistanis now in their fight against Al Qaeda and Islamic terror that the Americans are now about to raise the status of Pakistan to preferred ally. The Iranians might be worried that they are not of value to the U.S. in the same way, that they are in fact everywhere in opposition to the Americans. But then, for the Iranians, there are the Russians, the Chinese, and in another way the Europeans. There are those who can find considerable advantage in trading and doing business with Iran, and whose business interests are far more important to them than is the question of Irans nuclear power.
The great lesson, then, is that one can always find a way to rely on the cynical self-interest of some faction in world politics to push ones way forward. In this, one can expect that Irans Machiavellian artfulness will not be any less than Pakistans.
The sorry conclusion of all this is quite simple and quite sad. It is that there is no peaceful means in the world, no art of persuasion, no sanction, economic or political, which is going to halt the Iranian nuclear program. As Pakistan defied the world, so will Iran. As Pakistan lied and broke promises and got away with it, so will Iran.
And this leads to another lesson. Whether true or not, there were many rumors and reports through the years that the Pakistani program was about to be stopped. One time the rumor had to do with U.S. political and economic sanctions, and another time with the Indian threat of making war. Still another time, and this the most critical, it had to do with proposed military action against the Pakistani reactor. It was even at one point speculated that Israel and India had colluded, and that Israeli jets stationed on the Iranian-Pakistani border were waiting to receive the order to take out the Pakistani facilities in the way they took out those in Iraq. But this military action never got underway, most likely because India feared that its own citizens might be damaged by radiation that the exploded reactor would give off. There was also Indian concern about a possible Chinese response in support of Pakistan. In any case, the military operation never took place, and this enabled the Pakistani program to continue.
Iran has already made genocidal threats against Israel, and at times these have been threats of retaliation if Israel dares attack its nuclear facilities. Iran has warned the United States that it is capable of reaching U.S. Army servicemen throughout the Middle East. And, in fact, Iran is involved in action already against the U.S. in Iraq. But the point is that Iran, like Pakistan, has many ways of threatening and maneuvering so as to delay, and ultimately escape from, the military option. Pakistan reportedly had a cold bomb in 1987 but did not test until 1998, and this in response to the Indian nuclear tests the year before. No one knows for certain at this point whether or not Iran does have a few operational devices. And perhaps it is even worse than this; perhaps Iran at some site we do not know about has already produced a few nuclear weapons. In any case, the Pakistani method of continuing to go ahead with the work despite the worlds talk is probably the modus operandi of Iran also. It is working to reach the point that Pakistan has reached, where it attains so much power that the military option is simply too dangerous for the other side to try.
Pakistan got the bomb by buying a little time, and then buying a little more time. And the international supervising bodies, and now with Iran the IAEA, play the game in such a way as to be always eager to give more time. Here, too, it is important to note the decision or indecision of the major players on the other side. Essentially, every U.S. President from Nixon on who dealt with the Pakistani nuclear program put off the decision to take out these facilities by force. Every one thought that there was a little more time. This attitude of delaying and putting it off for the next guy was exploited by Pakistan. Now Iran, looking at the U.S. bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, understanding that President Bush can ill-afford a third front at this moment, will be buying time until well after the next election. The General Security Organization says Iran will have nuclear weapons by 2006. Others suggest it will be earlier, including estimates that it will be in 2004. The U.S. is not going to stop Iran before then. And so the Pakistani lesson and precedent will apparently be one appropriate to the story of Iranian nuclear development. It also does not seem likely that the overburdened Israeli government, so set on withdrawal from Gaza, wants to look at the Iranian option now. And it is very likely indeed, then, that in a few years time there will be another Islamic bomb in the world. Only this one will not be held by a relatively conservative regime of Army officers, but rather by a jihading group of religious fanatics bent on enclosing the world in their own narrow system.
Shalom Freedman is a writer living in Jerusalem, Israel.
DoctorZIn, can you please put me on your Ping list if possible,
A Free French who supports a Free Iran
DoctorZIn, can you please put me on your Ping list if possible,
A Free French who supports a Free Iran
Brigadier General Ayat Mohagheghi
The plan envisaged for a commando unit to seize control of the Shahrokhi air base in Hamadan (west of Tehran), enabling the group to capture eighteen F4 fighters stationed there. Some of the fighters would then be flown over Tehran, less than six minutes time away, to bomb Rouhollah Khomeinis residence in the hope of killing the ayatollah.
This dramatic act, the plotters hoped, would be the signal to other units positioned in the capital to seize the radio and television stations and to arrest the leading mullahs and their associates. The next move would consist of a demonstration on central Tehran by thousands of tough guys from the southern districts of the capital.
The Mask plot was quickly discovered and stopped before it could get off the ground. More than 300 people were arrested and some 80 of them were later executed on Khomeinis orders. The executions were followed by a fresh purge of the armed forces, weakening them even further only weeks before Iraq invaded Iran in September 1980
Before his trial, General Ayat Mohagheghi was beaten and interrogated and later brought on television where he was questioned by Hojatoleslam Reyshahri about his role in the coup attempt.
Despite his shabby appearance he appeared calm and defiant as he sat in a white short-sleeve summer shirt alongside four other defendants. Clearly there was no doubt in his mind as to what awaited him at the end but he was determined not to disgrace himself.
My decision to participate in the plot stemmed from my disillusionment in the face of what was happening to my family and country, he said.
Although many of the details of the plot are shrouded in mystery a videotape of General Mohagheghis television confession was smuggled out and distributed by Iranian exiles in Europe, Canada and the USA.
What follows is based on this videotape and whilst not the full story it remains to date a modest attempt to reconstruct events leading to the July Plot.
Sometime in April 1980 General Ayat Mohagheghi, a former ace pilot and Air Force Commander under the Shah who had been kept on in his post after the Islamic revolution, was approached by Lt Nasser Rokni. I want to talk to you about our country, Rokni had said.
Mohagheghi suggested that they meet at his house in Tehran where they could speak more freely. The two men had known each other and they discussed the lamentable state of the country and armed forces.
Both officers agreed that something had to be done to change things and so Rokni gradually revealed that certain forces were busy creating a network. You can join us or not join us, he told the sceptical Mohagheghi. Either way the decision is yours to take.
It took Mohagheghi several days before agreeing to join the conspirators. At a secret meeting held at Roknis house Mohagheghi discovered that his old friend General Mehdiyoun had also been drawn into the Mask network which consisted of a military and a civilian branch.
Also present at the meeting was a mysterious businessman known by the alias Ghorban who was to provide economic support for the operations with funds sent by patriotic exiled groups outside Iran. During their meetings, often interrupted by an old maid bringing tea, the men discussed the possibilities of staging a coup and the risks involved.
Politically, the conspirators favoured the restoration of the exiled Shapour Bakhtiar, the Shahs last prime minister and the leader of the Paris-based National Resistance Movement of Iran. There were even hints that the exiled Shah had met with Rokni and received his blessing. As improbable as that may sound it was good for morale.
Organisation was always a great problem for the conspirators as it was always a concern that the agents of the Islamic republic were watching to neutralise any counterrevolutionary plots and every week news of fresh executions most of them in public appeared in the press and media. Some of the meetings took place at the luxury Arya-Sheraton Hotel on the former Pahlavi Boulevard.
In hindsight the plan appears rather amateurish and even Mohagheghi admitted that there was nothing on paper. One day Rokni told him that his team planned to capture Tehrans Mehrabad International Airport and launch the operation from there.
Mohagheghi, a professional and charismatic officer with the looks of a film idol, dismissed the idea as impractical because the area around the airport was too crowded and many innocent people could get killed. Besides the airport was heavily guarded by revolutionary guards.
Instead Mohagheghi proposed another plan that included seizing an isolated air base in Hamadan. Under the Shah he had served as the Air Force Commander of Shahrokhi air base and responsible for training many of Irans top tactical fighter pilots. After the revolution he had been briefly detained and later reinstated in his post because of his exceptional abilities by President Bani Sadr.
After several more meetings the conspirators approved the plan and declared that as the senior officer in the group, Mohagheghi was to lead the supersonic air raids against key targets in Tehran. His unique position and familiarity with the air base made him indispensable to the success of the operation. In the days that followed, Mohagheghi continued to report to his command post at Shahrokhi and formulating a number of operations that were to take place.
Energy, resourcefulness, determination, eloquence, charisma, an irresistible magnetic charm all the qualities Mohagheghi had previously employed in his pre-revolutionary tasks were now directed towards conspiracy. It was a dauntingly arduous and complex undertaking. Tirelessly and with cavalier insoucience, he drew up a plan.
Among the key targets chosen to be struck by Fighter jets dispatched from Shahrokhi were Khomeinis house in Jamaran, the Presidential Palace, the runways at Mehrabad Airport and several key bridges and road intersections to create confusion. Every precaution would be taken to keep the loss of innocent lives at a mimimum.
After three months the conspirators went into action but from the beginning everything that could go wrong did. On Wednesday, 9th July 1980, General Mohagheghi and twenty other Neqab members left their houses in the early dusk hours and headed for the rendezvous point on Elizabeth Boulevard where a bus was to pick them up.
It was around 7:30p.m. when most of the conspirators gathered together. But the bus was late. At about 8pm. a jeep filled with armed revolutionary Pasdars suddenly appeared on the street causing the group to panic and run. It wasnt until later that Mohagheghi and five fellow conspirators managed to get on the bus.
It was 10:30p.m when the bus left Tehran for the Hamadan highway towards the Shahrokhi air base. Inside the bus the eight occupants had changed into air force uniforms and badly demoralised by the news of the arrest of one of their team members.
Once in Hamadan the bus made its way to the Shahrokhi air base where the conspirators had been told to await the green light before entering. From his window Mohagheghi noticed that the base was heavily guarded by revolutionary troops and vehicles were being searched. Lets turn back, Mohageghi told his men but the driver, a certain Nemati, insisted on going as far as the gas station. The much-awaited green light never came and the conspirators were forced to turn back and drove non-stop to Tehran.
It was dawn when they reached the capital. Rokni and Mohagheghi agreed to rendezvous later in the day near the Modaress freeway. But when Mohagheghi arrived there at 10a.m. he did not see Rokni. Anxiously General Mohagheghi returned to his apartment.
I must see you, Mohagheghi told General Mehdiyoun. Several minutes later a car appeared in front of a public telephone booth and Mohagheghi got in. The two generals shook hands and went for a forty-five minutes drive. This was their fourth meeting since being introduced at Roknis house and as they struggled through the heavy Tehran traffic Mohagheghi told his fellow conspirator everything.
The two generals had known each other for twenty-eight years but since joining the conspiracy had kept a low profile in case they were being watched.
Beads of sweat trickled down their faces on that hot July morning as they negotiated the streets. By now neither of them was prepared to rule out the possibility that someone had leaked their plans.
There was now a real danger that the regimes security forces would begin to hunt down their members. They could only hope that their fears were unjustified. When they parted it was with the understanding that they would not see or phone each other until further orders.
Throughout the planning stages every precaution had been taken to limit direct contact between the various groups especially the pilots that were to carry out the strategic bombing raids. Even Mohagheghi was unaware of their names and his closest collaborators did not exceed five names. Within two days the entire plot had failed and many of the leading conspirators with the exception of the mysterious businessman who escaped Iran were arrested.
Shortly after midnight on 20th July 1980 General Mohagheghi was marched out of his cell along with four other officers and taken to the stone courtyard in Evin Prison. When he faced the bullets it was not with the disappointment, still less the despair, of a thwarted man.
From one point of view, the events of 9th July 1980 and the circumstances surrounding them offer just another story of 20th century political conspiracy, and a failed conspiracy at that. It may have been well-intentioned, even noble and exalted, but it was also bungled.
Some would argue that it did not significantly alter the course of events, and may seem no more than a footnote to history. And yet even in failure, there can be no doubt of General Mohagheghis heroism.
He belonged to a small group of people who against terrible odds and in appalling circumstances kept the spirit of Iranian honour alive, and with it the elusive spirit of humanity. He deserves to be remembered.
Others will dispute that his execution was an honourable death and certainly not the story of a failure. In the footnote of human history General Ayat Mohagheghi ranks alongside others who like the anti-Nazi hero Claus Stauffenberg felt that resisting an evil regime was not a political move but a moral and spiritual necessity. At best he and all those men and women who perished after him stand as an atonement for all the horrible crimes committed under the Islamic republic.
"From Mr. Suresrafil reporting on AzadiTV now:
He has heard about large gatherings in Tehran and Esfehan, but both the people and the anti regime forces are afraid of each other. They are mostly facing each other and staring each other down. Motorcycles have been confiscated.
Mohseni and Mirdamad squares have had large groups, also in Esfehan.
In Amirabad near Tehran university, the Basij are offering people food and drinks (sharbat) to everyone, nobody is taking it except for their own people.
Park Laleh is seeing a heavy increase in crowds. Most likely tomorrow we will have a much better picture of these demonstrations.
He reads a report from Tehran about slogans that can be seen written all over Tehran against Khamenei such as Marg Bar Khamenei. Same from Hamedan."
Sporadic and brutal clashes in most Iranian cities
SMCCDI (Information Service)
Jul 8, 2004
The brutal intervention of the regime's official and plainclothes agents has lead, tonight, to the arrests and injuries of tens of protesters in most main Iranian cities. In Tehran alone, the clashes are wide spread and are happening in Amir Abad, Tajrish, Zarabkhane, Kargar, Guisha, Kargar, Sadeghie, Narmak, Noor, vali e Asr and Enghelab area.
Other clashes have happened, so far, in Esfahan, Shiraz and Mashad were those having defied once again the Islamic State are shouting slogans for a democratic regime change in Iran.
Many have been injured or arrested and transferred by full buses to the regime's detention centers,
The presence of the regime's foreign mercenaries and their brutality is easily noticeable. The regime seems to try to isolate the demonstrators in each area and to avoid a bigger ralliement by more demonstrators who are trying to use the darkness of the night.
Many homes have shut off their lights and people are shouting slogans on their flat roofs.
This just in from a student inside of Iran...
Militia in Tehran blocked main roads and inspect vehicles and there are many check points in this part of Tehran set up by Basijis.
The cell phones were not working between 5 pm - 8 pm local time.
Tehran's Contemptuous Response
By Washington Times
The Washington Times | July 8, 2004
The latest rebuke from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last month has done nothing to alter Iran's continuing pursuit of an illicit nuclear weapons program. If anything, it appears to have intensified the regime's defiant response to the concerns of the United States and its European allies. Tehran announced last week that it will resume building centrifuges a sure sign of its determination to go forward with its atomic-weapons program. During a visit to Mexico on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi declared that Iran has a legitimate right to produce these nuclear components. The issue is but the latest example of Tehran's acting in bad faith.
Last fall, Iran reached an agreement with Britain, France and Germany to suspend its uranium processing and enrichment activities. But in January, the regime brazenly announced it was building centrifuges wrongly asserting that the agreement didn't apply to them. Then, on April 9, Iran promised to suspend production of centrifuge parts. But, as the IAEA reported last month, Tehran decided to apply the suspension only to three state-run facilities (while centrifuge work continued at three private companies). Instead of rectifying the situation by stopping the illicit activity, Iran effectively is telling the IAEA that it will do whatever it pleases.
Mr. Kharrazi's statements are illustrative of Tehran's long-standing approach to international concern about its nuclear-weapons program: Cheat for as long as possible. When caught in the act, promise to reform. When caught breaking this promise, act defiantly and tell the international community to get lost.
This sort of behavior has been going on in one form or another for decades. In November, the IAEA issued a 30-page report showing how the Islamist regime in Tehran has been deceiving the world about its nuclear efforts since the mid-1980s.
The effort by the so-called "EU 3" Britain, France and Germany to put together a compromise in which Iran ends its effort to develop nuclear weapons is essentially dead. While the United States has taken a somewhat tougher stance, it has shown no stomach for setting a deadline for Iran to comply with its commitments under the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The toughest action that Washington seems prepared to take right now is to try to muster support for a U.N. Security Council resolution denouncing Tehran's noncompliance. That would not occur before September when the next meeting of the IAEA's governing board will take place.
In House testimony last month, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton emphasized the fact that Iran's nuclear program is at the center of a dangerous military-industrial complex. Tehran is forging ahead with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and developing the means to deliver deadly payloads to targets in Western Europe, Israel and Turkey. The question now is whether Washington and its allies have a strategy beyond moral suasion and the threat of U.N. condemnation that will stop Iran from making this arsenal more dangerous in the months ahead.
Talk of lies emboldens 'axis' nations
By Thomas Sowell
LA Daily News
This may go down in history as the year when an attempt to win an election, at all costs, led to longer-run disasters that make any election pale into insignificance. The biggest and loudest political rhetoric of this year is that President Bush "lied" about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
What are the known facts about Saddam Hussein's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons?
We know that, at one time or other, he was either developing or producing or using such weapons. Back in 1981, the Israelis bombed an Iraqi nuclear facility, to the loud condemnation of many nations. But, without that pre-emptive strike, the outcome of both Gulf wars could have been tragically different.
Saddam Hussein not only had, but used, chemical and biological weapons against his enemies, foreign and domestic. With the help of the French, he was rebuilding nuclear facilities, ostensibly for civilian energy purposes, but oil-rich countries do not need nuclear power plants to generate electricity.
More than a decade of playing cat-and-mouse with international weapons inspectors raised more and more suspicions about Iraq's weapons programs, and various nations' intelligence services reported that in fact he was back to his old tricks and developing weapons of mass destruction that could pose a major threat.
Who said so? The Russians said so. The British said so. Bill Clinton said so. Leaders of both political parties said so. George W. Bush was one of the last to say so. Yet he alone is accused of lying.
Were all these people wrong? While that is possible, it is also possible that Saddam Hussein used the long months between the time when the threat of invasion was debated at the United Nations and the time when it actually occurred to dismantle his weapons facilities and disperse them, perhaps to some neighboring country.
There is already photographic evidence of a massive dismantling of a facility of some sort before last year's invasion. These photos were published on the front page of the New York Times. Whether or not that particular building was producing weapons of mass destruction, it shows that Saddam Hussein saw the need to get rid of some things before they got captured.
Nations do not wait for iron-clad proof when there are lethal threats. The massive Manhattan Project that produced the first atomic bomb was begun when the United States was at peace because of reports that Hitler's scientists were working on such a weapon.
We had no proof -- and, after Germany surrendered, it turned out that Hitler's atomic bomb project was nowhere near the stage that we feared. But we couldn't take that chance.
People who talk glibly about "intelligence failure" act as if intelligence agencies that are doing their job right would know everything. But intelligence-gathering has always been a chancy business. In a nuclear age, the only thing that makes sense is to fail safe -- and strike pre-emptively, if necessary. If that offends people who think and talk in abstract terms about international law, then it is better that they be offended than that we wake up some morning and find New York or Chicago in radioactive ruins.
It was Saddam Hussein who chose to play cat-and-mouse with the weapons inspectors whom he had agreed to let monitor Iraqi facilities as part of the peace treaty ending the first Gulf War. It was his intelligence failure to think that he could keep on doing that indefinitely.
Iran and North Korea -- the other nations identified as part of the "axis of evil" -- are now playing the same cat-and-mouse game, and North Korea is openly threatening to produce nuclear bombs. Either or both these countries are potential suppliers of such weapons to international terrorists.
Libya backed out of the nuclear weapons game after Qadaffi saw what happened to Saddam Hussein in Iraq. What would have emboldened Iran and North Korea? Only a disunited America, full of loud irresponsible election-year talk about "lies" on weapons of mass destruction, making it unlikely that the United States can muster the political will to strike Iran or North Korea.
An election-year frenzy has let the longer-run fate of this country fade away into the background.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His Web site is www.tsowell.com.