Skip to comments.Iranian Alert -- July 10, 2004 [EST]-- IRAN LIVE THREAD -- "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 07/09/2004 9:00:51 PM PDT by DoctorZIn
The US media still largley ignores news regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Tony Snow of the Fox News Network has put it, this is probably the most under-reported news story of the year. Most Americans are unaware that the Islamic Republic of Iran is NOT supported by the masses of Iranians today. Modern Iranians are among the most pro-American in the Middle East.
There is a popular revolt against the Iranian regime brewing in Iran today. I began these daily threads June 10th 2003. On that date Iranians once again began taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Today in Iran, most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy.
We are now just a few days away from the anticipated July 9th demonstrations.
The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movement in Iran from being reported. Unfortunately, the regime has successfully prohibited western news reporters from covering the demonstrations. The voices of discontent within Iran are sometime murdered, more often imprisoned. Still the people continue to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime.
In support of this revolt, Iranians in America have been broadcasting news stories by satellite into Iran. This 21st century news link has greatly encouraged these protests. The regime has been attempting to jam the signals, and locate the satellite dishes. Still the people violate the law and listen to these broadcasts. Iranians also use the Internet and the regime attempts to block their access to news against the regime. In spite of this, many Iranians inside of Iran read these posts daily to keep informed of the events in their own country.
This daily thread contains nearly all of the English news reports on Iran. It is thorough. If you follow this thread you will witness, I believe, the transformation of a nation. This daily thread provides a central place where those interested in the events in Iran can find the best news and commentary. The news stories and commentary will from time to time include material from the regime itself. But if you read the post you will discover for yourself, the real story of what is occurring in Iran and its effects on the war on terror.
I am not of Iranian heritage. I am an American committed to supporting the efforts of those in Iran seeking to replace their government with a secular democracy. I am in contact with leaders of the Iranian community here in the United States and in Iran itself.
If you read the daily posts you will gain a better understanding of the US war on terrorism, the Middle East and why we need to support a change of regime in Iran. Feel free to ask your questions and post news stories you discover in the weeks to come.
If all goes well Iran will be free soon and I am convinced become a major ally in the war on terrorism. The regime will fall. Iran will be free. It is just a matter of time.
From our friends at ActivistChat.com ....
Except for some bloggers in Iran, few will admit to it but those feeling somewhat disappointed with the coming and passing of July 8, and a nationwide mass protest that never came, need to look at the picture more carefully.
We cannot conclude that our compatriots today were being apathetic or compliant. We have to recall that the largest, and the most effective protest against this regime during its 25 years of existence occurred five months ago. The mass boycott of Islamic Majles elections in February was nothing short of a national referendum sounding the death knell for the Islamic Republic.
Furthermore, we may want to note that the level of security and surveillance during the past 48 hours has been exceptional; perhaps unprecedented. Were I in Iran, I too would have remained home and kept quiet. But there is something far more important here that should not be overlooked: Far from a show of force, these maneuvers by the regime are signs of trembling and fear. Is it difficult to understand why Supreme Leader Khamenei has spent the last two-three days in Hamedan and away from the capital?
To conclude this little note of mine, this level of security cannot be maintained for long; nor is it desirable. But you see, they have no other choice. They know theyre finished. Rebellions WILL follow.
Movement slams the regime in VOA TV program\
SMCCDI (Information Service)
Jul 9, 2004
The SMCCDI Coordinator, Aryo B. Pirouznia, paid tribute to the Student Movement's glorious uprising of July 9, 1999, during a VOA Satellite and Internet TV program broadcasted tonight Worldwide. The interview was broadcasted from Los Angeles and in duplex from Washington DC where are located the VOA's offices.
Responding live to VOA anchor's Anooshirvan Kangarloo's question on the root of the results generate from the uprising, Pirouznia stated: "The July 1999 Movement pulled off the false mask of any possibility of reforming the theocratic system. People understood gradually the difference between "us, the People" and "them, the mullahs and their cronies". It was in the aftermath of the Uprising that principles, such as, Secularity, genuine Democracy, Modernity and Humanism started to make their way in Iranians' minds and are now becoming pillars that Iranians are looking for..."
He slammed then the Islamic regime's repressive policies and the comments made by General Tala-i who had claimed that the regime's security forces didn't met any opposition yesterday.
The Movement's Coordinator who's in Los Angeles added: "I think that General Tala-i is very unkind to all the regime's repressive forces when he stated that they didn't had to do anything yesterday. He's unkind to all these repressive troops which were deployed in all Iranian streets for the last 2 months and were spreading terror. He's unkind to all these foreign mercenaries which were beating in the last 2 months on Iranian youth and women in order to increase the terror policy. Talai's comments are in the perfect line of demagogy used by the Islamic republic and it's no wonder that the World can't trust such regime. At least and as quoted by the ISNA, the official so-called Iranian Students News Agency, several demonstrators were arrested which is just a news intending to minimize the real impact of yesterday's event. As many know, at least and in Zarabkhaneh area, over 10 thousands had gathered and clashes occurred.."
The program (VOA's "News & Views" of 7/09/04) will be re-aired tomorrow morning, Iran local time, and can be seen on at the following link till 12:00 PM US EST by visiting:
The interview can be seen from the minute 13':55'' of the program on the students starting from minute 07:15". It will be transferred after 12:00 PM to the VOA website's archives section.
Read part of what SMCCDI wrote to
President George Bush:
"Mr. President, in less than three centuries, America has become the beacon of hope and support for people worldwide seeking freedom and democracy.
"Embedded in your actions to free the oppressed is, we believe, a deep seated moral basis that is a reflection of America's founding fathers objectives.
"The moral fiber that you and many of the people in your administration represent is the same democratic principals that the people of Iran desperately want and need.
"Serving as a model for the world to emulate, America, you, and most of your administration provides inspiration and hope for the future of Iran. "
UPRISING ANNIVERSARY: Ruling Authority Wants to Forget, Students Association Leaders Say
In interviews with Radio Farda, two members of the association of Islamic student councils, who participated in the July 9, 1999 uprising and organized many rallies, lectures and political events during the past five years in commemoration of the uprising, reflect on the governments reaction.
Radio Farda Newsroom
RadioFarda Newsroom July 8, 2004- The students Islamic councils themselves and their association (Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat) has concluded that the Islamic Republic cannot be reformed, and legal, open political action is not possible under this regime, secretary of the political committee of the association of Islamic student councils Said Razavi-Faqih tells Radio Fardas broadcaster Maryam Ahmadi about the statement issued today in Tehran by the Daftar in commemoration of the July 9 uprising.
The statement calls for cultural and social work outside the framework of the regime, in order to pressure the political authority to be more responsive to the peoples demands, says Razavi-Faqih, now a student in Paris.
Due to the limitations we are facing, from the interior ministry and from the universities management, the Islamic student councils could not hold any rallies or demonstrations, on or off campus, he adds.
Since we are committed to avoiding endangering the students by violent or unlawful actions, we could not hold any programs this year, he says, noting the regime, particularly the non-elected part of it, had always tried to control the reform movement and the student activism and stop any dynamic movement in its tracks.
He says it is regrettable that many student activists are still in jail, five years after the uprising. We believe that the judiciary is not following the law in dealing with the cases of jailed students Ahmad Batebi or jailed journalists and political activists such as Saber, Alijani, Rahmani and others.
The July 9 anniversary passes in silence and under repression, because the ruling authority wants this day to be forgotten, Hojatollah Sharifi, a former member of the central council of the association of the Islamic students councils, tells Radio Farda. However, he adds, several small events were staged by students, which had symbolic meaning, including a photo exhibit at the Sharif engineering university, and similar exhibits in other schools. The least we can do is to keep the memory of July 9 alive in order to highlight the cruelty endured by the students since then, he says.
The fact that perpetrators of the July 8 attack continue to hold high level positions and have become candidates for the Majles seats has been a slap in the face of the students, who were thrown in jail instead of the perpetrators.
London-based human rights advocacy group Amnesty International and New-York based Human Rights Watch called for the release of student protesters who were arrested five years ago during and after the pro-democracy student uprising.
Radio Farda Newsroom
RadioFarda Newsroom - July 8, 2004 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 said in a statement issued on Thursday, marking the fifth anniversary of the largest pro-democracy uprising since the 1979 revolution.
This year the level of crackdown is even greater than that of 1999, HRWs London-based spokesman Urmi Shaw tells Radio Fardas broadcaster Golnaz Esfandiari. The Iranian government is trying to forget the July 9 events. It is threatening any potential protestor with long-term jail sentences and worse, she adds.
The government also needs to hold plainclothes militia accountable for the attacks on students that year, HRWs statement said, referring to July 8, 1999, when uniformed police and plainclothes security policemen raided Tehran University student dorms, beating the students and trapping many in their rooms. The demonstrations spread to other major cities and lasted for a week, before being crushed by police and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Basij unit.
London-based Amnesty International on Thursday renewed its call for an independent and impartial judicial review of the trials of demonstrators convicted after their arrest during the July 9, 1999 student-led demonstrations. The human rights advocacy organization also called on the Islamic government authorities to investigate allegations of torture ensure that anyone found responsible for torturing detained protestors is brought to justice.
Immediately release all those found to have been imprisoned solely for the expression of their conscientiously held beliefs, AI asked the judiciary in a statement complete with a detailed account of the events leading to the uprising, which began with the closing of the morning daily Salam.
Human Rights Watch has issued several reports based on its on-site investigation about the attack, uprising and the crackdown that followed. It accused the Islamic government authorities of torturing many imprisoned students and preventing them from seeing their lawyers.
Of the thousands detained by the police, the IRGC and the intelligence ministry following the uprising, many were released, but an unknown number of students protesters remain in prison, HRW said.
Amnesty International has been campaigning on behalf of students who have been convicted and imprisoned after trials which failed to meet international fair trial standards, AIs statement said.
The anniversary of the beginning of the 1999 protests is usually accompanied by student demonstrations against the country's hard-line authorities, which are controlled by ruling conservative Shiite Muslim clerics, the Associated Press reports in a dispatch from Cairo. Subsequent protests marking the 1999 demonstrations, which were the biggest and most violent anti-government action since the 1979 Islamic revolution that installed the Islamic regime, have been met by crackdowns by Iranian authorities.
Has Shirin Ebadi been too soft in exposing human rights abuses in Iran?
-- Yes 64.97 % (204)
-- No 26.75 % (84)
-- Not Sure 8.28 % (26)
Total Votes: 314
DoctorZin Note: Thought you should see what the Mullahs are saying about July 9th...
Iran regime claims victory as unrest anniversary passes quietly
TEHRAN, July 9 (AFP) - Iran's Islamic regime on Friday claimed a victory against "counter-revolutionaries", after the fear of tough reprisals and deepening political apathy dissuaded pro-democracy activists from marking the anniversary of student unrest five years ago.
"Despite an extensive campaign over the past few days in the counter-revolutionary media, it was not a demanding day and night for Tehran's police," the force's commander, General Morteza Talaie, told the official IRNA news agency.
He boasted that Thursday was "totally normal", and praised the "wise and alert cooperation between police and students" during what had been a tense moment for the 25-year-old clerical regime.
"In the past few years, certain lawless elements have been trying to exploit the students, but this year... they did not dare to do anything," Talaie said.
"The bitter memories can be forgotten."On July 9, 1999, student-led protestors clashed with police in Tehran and other cities in unrest sparked by a heavy-handed police and vigilante raid on a small and peaceful campus protest over the closure of a newspaper.
It was arguably the largest show of dissent against the regime since the 1979 revolution.Officially, one student was killed and hundreds of wounded in the violence, which prompted a major crackdown on dissent in universities -- a major driving force behind the Iranian reform movement.
This year the anniversary fell on Thursday, July 8, due to the difference in the Gregorian and Persian calendars. AFP correspondents saw no sign of any gatherings across Tehran.
There were also no credible reports of gatherings in other major cities, even though foreign-based media opposed to the regime -- notably pro-monarchist satellite channels based in the United States -- had been playing up the anniversary.
Each year since 1999, the regime has sought to prevent any gatherings from taking place and this week Iranian authorities signalled they would not tolerate any commemorations.
In recent months, thousands of police and special forces units have been out in force in the capital, officially to help crack down on bad driving.
Observers said the fear of arrest, together with a deepening political apathy following the sidelining of reformists in February's parliamentary elections, had dissuaded students and their sympathisers from taking to the streets.
"Staging a demonstration against the regime nowadays is seen as being both too dangerous and totally pointless," a senior editor at a pro-reform Iranian newspaper told AFP.
"Conservatives in the regime are clearly in control of things. People who supported Khatami have been badly let down, so why should anyone stick their neck out?" said the journalist, who asked not to be named.
Iran's reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, has been left isolated and powerless by the February polls, in which conservatives romped to victory following the disqualification of many of their reformist rivals.
And even though the mild-mannered president -- once a symbol of change in Iran -- said he supported the right to protest when fresh demonstrations erupted in June 2003, he did nothing to stop a subsequent crackdown that saw thousands arrested.
The president also failed to speak out against the running of February's elections, even though many of his supporters dismissed them as "rigged".
Khatami's second and final term in office ends in June 2005.The anniversary was, however, marked by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, who challenged the regime over what they said were widespread incidences of torture committed in the wake of the 1999 unrest.
Email i received from Iran.
Translation from Persian:
Thanks alot European and US media. We've demonstrated for 5 years- and you have paid virtually no attention. In the 70's the BBC ran daily spotlight demonstrations on their frontpage of Khomeini's radical fundamentalism from France, unfortunately at the time he spoke of freedom and democracy and the BBC followed him every second of the way, when the Shah protested the BBC replied that we "must back democracy wherever it prevails"... 25 years later, we the students have demonstrated on a more consistent and basis, but your representative in Iran, Jim Muir has spoken proudly of the Islamic Republic, sometimes even denouncing our and our plight. When tens of thousands came out into the streets, you not only didn't report it, but you lamested us as a ridiculous group of foreign induced monarchists out on the streets... Thanks alot!
Praise be to Allah for the hopeful delivery of a global 2nd Amendment Rite.... 1 crazy S.Baptist, Brothers of Abraham unite. D
I was on the Sonny Perdue for Governor Staff, i aided Saxby and i was a tough chief for Bob Barr.
We've got alot of progressive Republicans in Georgia, from your latest post.. my guess is that you aren't one of them.
Keep me pinged on what you hear!
Rabid Libertarian here with a respect for the truly pious and freedom minded. Love to stir the puddin' a bit... Thanks for your service, they got my vote ('cept for Barr, J. Lewis district).
Dealing with a new Iran
July 10, 2004
PARIS -- Whoever wins this November's presidential elections, the U.S. faces an urgent question that the Bush administration has not resolved: What is America's strategy for coping with the rising power of Iran?
Washington and Tehran have engaged in extensive secret contacts since 9/11, premised on their shared goal of destroying al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. But despite many meetings, nothing has come of the contacts, partly because the Bush administration was internally divided over the right strategic course.
What's poignant about these wary U.S.-Iranian feelers is that just over a year ago, they yielded a plan for an "anti-terrorist" deal that both countries should have loved: Iran would hand over some senior al-Qaida operatives in its custody, and the U.S. would transfer to Iran some prisoners it was holding from the Iraqi-backed Mujaheddin-e Khalq organization, a group America has branded as terrorist.
The State Department is said to have favored such a deal, but the Pentagon balked, arguing that the Mujaheddin might be useful in fomenting regime change in Tehran.
To understand why Iran is such an interesting case study of lost opportunities, a little background is necessary. The following account is drawn from current Iranian officials, former U.S. officials and other sources.
The U.S.-Iran dialogue began in earnest after 9/11. The initial intermediary was United Nations official Lakhdar Brahimi, the same man who recently served as special envoy in Iraq. The U.S. representative was often Ryan Crocker, one of the State Department's top Middle East experts.
One former U.S. official says flatly that without Iranian help, it would have been impossible to establish the new government in Afghanistan.
A new issue arose as al-Qaida operatives fled from Afghanistan into Iran after the war. The Iranians arrested more than 500 of them in late 2001 and early 2002, according to one senior Iranian official.
A second group of high-level al-Qaida leaders crossed into Iran's remote Baluchistan province in the spring of 2002. U.S. intelligence officials believed this group included Osama bin Laden's security chief, Saif Adel, and one of his sons, Saad bin Laden. The administration badly wanted to interrogate them outside Iran.
But the Iranians had a demand of their own, which ripened after the U.S. toppled Saddam's regime in April 2003. About 4,000 members of the Mujaheddin had been captured at their bases in Iraq, which they had used for years to conduct attacks against Iran. Though the Mujaheddin were officially terrorists, the administration was wary about turning them over to Tehran.
In a secret meeting in May in Geneva, the two sides explored an exchange of the "terrorist" captives. Iranians pledged to grant amnesty to most of the 4,000 Mujaheddin captives, to forgo the death penalty for about 65 leaders who would be tried in Iranian courts, and to allow the Red Cross to supervise the transfer.
The Bush administration ultimately rejected this exchange.
The secret contacts were broken off in late May 2003, when U.S. intelligence reports suggested that some of the senior al-Qaida operatives in Iran had helped plan a bombing that month in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In the year since, Iranian hard-liners have crushed reformers there and pushed ahead with their program to acquire nuclear weapons.
Finding the right strategy for dealing with an Iran that has nuclear ambitions and terrorist capabilities won't be easy. But Iranians and Americans who were involved in the secret dialogue of the past several years remain convinced that the only answer is a "grand bargain" that builds on the two countries' shared interests. That's one item to put in the White House "in box" for next January.
Iran slammed on Iranian-Canadian photographers death
MONTREAL: The son of an Iranian-Canadian photographer who died in an Iranian jail a year ago Saturday, blasted a looming court proceeding on the case as a farce.
Zahra Kazemi, 54, was arrested in June 2003 for taking photographs outside Tehrans notorious Evin prison. She died in hospital on July 10, 2003 from a brain haemorrhage caused by a blow to the head. The case triggered a diplomatic row between Ottawa and Tehran and ties between the two countries are still in the deep freeze, a year later..
After a fierce struggle over the case between Iranian conservatives and reformers, court proceedings are due to resume in Iran on July 17. Kazemis family will be represented by Nobel peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi. This trial is the same farce that it has always been, Kazemis son, Stephan Hachemi told AFP on Thursday.
Hachemi also complained that the trial would fall well short of a complete inquiry into his mothers death. Intelligence ministry agent Mohammad Reza Aghdam Ahmadi, 42, has been charged with participation in a semi-intentional murder, in a case that has sparked a feud between the courts and the intelligence service.
International press watchdog group Reporters Without Borders marked the anniversary of Kazemis death by warning that impunity would triumph. afp
The Six Days That Shook Iran
July 09, 2004
The US Alliance for Democratic Iran
On July 9, 1999, six days of student-led uprising against the ruling fundamentalists shook the regime to its foundations, marking a new chapter in the history of Iranian peoples two decades of long struggle to overthrow tyranny and establish a democratic and secular government.
With the blessing of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mohammad Khatami, uniformed and plain-clothes security forces brutally cracked down on students and thousands of other Iranians who had joined them. Several thousands were arrested and hundreds killed or wounded.
Nevertheless, if not suppressed, the uprising, which quickly spread to nearly two dozen other cities, had the potential of sweeping the theocracy from power. In a cover-page story, The Economist magazine billed the uprising as Irans Second Revolution and a commentary in the CBS News said that a sense of revolution has returned to Iran.
After nearly two decades of relentless struggle, the movement for democracy and popular sovereignty - the unfulfilled aspirations of the1979 anti-monarchic revolution - burst out in the open on July 9 for the world to see. The student movement, always a vanguard in Iranians century-long struggle against despotism, linked up with nationwide resistance of Iranian people in demanding the overthrow of the clerical state in its totality. The students, chanting "Death to despotism, Death to dictators," exploded out of university campuses and into various neighborhoods where they were joined by thousands of citizens from all walks of life, particularly the young generation.
Politically, the six-day uprising rendered hollow the myth of the reformist Khatami. The so-called moderate President did not waste any time to go on national television to order a harsh crackdown of all dissent. While it took the rest of the world five years to see the iron teeth behind the Khatamis smiles, Iranians saw what they had indistinctly knew: When it comes to preserving the clerical system, Khatami is cut from the same bloody cloth as Khamenei, Rafsanjani and their cronies.
In a report from Tehran at the time, the Agence France Presse said that Iranian students bitterly criticized President Mohammad Khatami, saying he tricked them with empty promises. It quoted a student as saying "now we can see he's just a mullah like all the others."
Since then, students and Iranians inside Iran and abroad have marked July 9 as a national day of saying no to the mullahs regime. Every year, the clerics have tried to suppress anti-government anniversary demonstrations by the students and the youths. Last year alone, more the 4,000 students were arrested during week-long student demonstrations preceding the July 9 anniversary.
This year, the ruling mullahs, reeling from political and diplomatic fall-out of the sham parliamentary election in February, and having to deal with anti-government demonstrations and strikes since January, put into effect elaborate security and anti-riot measures to thwart this years anniversary protests.
The plan, under the absurd pretext of helping with the traffic, went into action several months ago and included flooding Tehrans major streets and intersections, especially around university campuses, with security and special anti-riot forces. Even more ridiculous was the excuse for shutting down Tehran University on July: disinfect[ing] the campus because of cockroach infestation.
Reports from Iran indicate that hundreds of students were arrested in recent weeks and hundreds more summoned to courts for questioning. The Interior Ministry also banned any student gathering outside of the capitals main universities, saying it was unnecessary to commemorate the anniversary.
Disturbing reports from Irans prisons and the families of political prisoners bespeak of the deteriorating medical condition of many prisoners. During the weeks preceding the July 9 anniversary, many student political prisoners were denied medical temporary leave to seek urgent life-saving outside assistance. Their families also received death threats and some of them were detained.
In a related development, dissident political prisoners in Tehrans Evin Prison, including many students who have been imprisoned in recent years staged a hunger strike to protest this new wave of crackdown and widespread arrest of university students and youths. Students at several other universities also joined the hunger strike.
Despite all these suppressive measures, reports from Iran indicate that as night fell on July 8, thousands of students and youths took to the streets in various parts of Tehran and other cities. Iranians called Farsi broadcasting media based abroad to reiterate their determination to defy the mullahs security forces.
The July 9 student-led uprising had an undisputable impact on hastening the eventual fall of Irans ruling tyranny. It gave Iranians self-confidence and a sense of power and legitimacy in their demands for democracy and justice. It tore the façade of the bogus champions of human rights and reform, such as Khatami. More importantly, it strengthened the historic ties between the student movement and the nationwide struggle for democracy.
The imprisonments, tortures, and executions, public stoning, amputations and floggings, however, have utterly failed in undermining the resolve of the democracy movement against ruling religious fascism to bring this regime down as a first step toward the establishment of democracy, secularism, popular sovereignty and the rule of law in Iran.
Since 1999, Tehran has continued to kill, maim, and imprison dissidents while Western democracies, particularly European nations, have expanded lucrative trade with Iran. Thanks to advanced anti-riot gear and other equipment bought from abroad, the mullahs are better equipped now than they were in 1999, to arrest, and torture students, women and the youths.
As Tehran is turning the heat on dissent inside the country and acted increasingly belligerent abroad by continuing its nuclear weapons program, spreading its fundamentalist network in Iraq and recruiting suicide bombers, the free world has arrived at a historic cross road: To continue to appease the mullahs ruling Iran or to side with Iranian people and their struggle to establish an Iran free of torture, terror, fundamentalism, and weapons of mass destruction.
The choice, no doubt, will have strategic reverberations in Iran, the Middle East and the Western world for decades to come. This is our chance to be on the right side of history by supporting Iranians and anti-fundamentalist democratic opposition forces who are indeed the true vehicle of change in Iran.
Eye of the Storm: Iraq Gets an Arab 'Helping Hand'
July 08, 2004
The Jerusalem Post
What are Iran and Syria up to in Iraq? Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari says they are up to no good. "They are fanning the fires," he told me in a recent conversation. "We have caught some of their agents."
Zebari's claim is backed by Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations special envoy to Iraq. He visited Teheran on Monday to ask the Khomeinist leaders to prevent "hostile elements" from crossing the border into Iraq - a diplomatic way of saying please don't send terrorists to Iraq.
Next week Brahimi will be in Damascus to deliver a similar message to the Syrians. The Iraqi government has furnished him with "ample documents" showing that Syria is the principal center of pro-Saddam agitation in Iraq.
One of Saddam's cousins, Suleyman al-Majid al-Takriti, is reportedly running a base for the so-called "resistance" across the border in Syria. The first statement of the newly created High Council of Resistance, a grouping of 16 terrorist outfits fighting the Iraqi government, was released in Damascus on Sunday.
Iran and Syria are not the only states in the neighborhood engaged in destabilizing Iraq. Egyptian and Jordanian intelligence services are conducting a campaign of disinformation to undermine the government of Prime Minister Iyad al-Allawi in Baghdad.
A recent rumor claiming that Jews were buying large tracts of land in northern Iraq has been traced to Egyptian intelligence. It was first launched in a column written by a man whose brother holds a senior post in Egyptian intelligence.
The Jordanians have done their bit by spreading rumors, followed by denials, about plans by Raghd, Saddam's eldest daughter, to set up an Iraqi government in exile in Amman.
Farther afield, satellite television channels owned by Qatari, Saudi and Emirati sheikhs often act as platforms for the terrorists working to destabilize Iraq and disrupt its planned elections.
BUT THERE is little doubt that Iran and Syria are the most active troublemakers in Iraq today. Both are happy that Saddam, their enemy for decades, is in prison. They also know that prolonged instability in Iraq could lead to the dismantling of the Iraqi state and plunge the whole region into chaos. But neither wants to see a pro-American government established in Baghdad, especially if it is the product of free elections.
"We are at war with the enemy," Iran's Supreme Guide Ali Khamenehi told a meeting of mullahs in the city of Hamadan, west of Teheran, last Monday. "The central battlefield [of this war] is Iraq."
Iran and Syria are ruled by two versions of Oriental despotism - one religious, the other secular. They see the emergence of a democratic Iraq as a challenge to their legitimacy.
The future of Iraq was at the center of talks in Teheran between Syrian President Bashar Assad and the Islamic Republic leaders last weekend. This was Assad's third state visit to Iran in four years. The Syrian leader has also visited Iran three more times for "working visits" during the same period. In comparison, his father, Hafez al-Assad, visited Iran only once, for a six-hour stopover, during his 30-year rule.
What has prompted the younger Assad to seek closer ties with Teheran is the belief that Iran and Syria are next on Washington's turkey-shoot list. Earlier this year, Iran and Syria signed a defense cooperation pact under which an attack on one would be considered an attack on the other.
"Syria is the frontline of the Islamic Republic," says Iranian Defense Minister Rear-Admiral Ali Shamkhani.
"Iran is Syria's vital hinterland," adds Syrian Vice-President Abdul-Halim Khaddam, regarded as the real strongman in Damascus.
During Assad's visit to Teheran it became clear that the two allies regard instability in Iraq as an insurance policy for them. "The Iraqi resistance is, in fact, fighting for Iran and Syria as well," says Manuchehr Badii, a Teheran analyst. "As long as Americans are busy in Iraq, they will not think of other places in the region."
That analysis is endorsed by Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the most influential mullahs in the Iranian regime. In a recent speech in Teheran he described Iraq as a "battlefield between two visions of the world." One vision was that of "an Americanized Islam wrapped in democratic gift paper." The other was that of Khomeinist Islam, whose aim remained the ending of "American hegemony."
The current Iranian analysis is based on the hope that George W. Bush will lose the presidential election in November and that a new US administration with John Kerry as president would not be fully operational and capable of shaping a strategy for a year to 18 months. And that, of course, could give Iran and Syria ample time to exert a decisive influence on shaping the future of Iraq.
The latest Assad visit to Teheran was aimed at increasing pressure on Iraq in a crucial period of transition. The best way for the new Iraqi government to retain the initiative is to hold elections before the Americans go to the polls in November.