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Iranian Alert - March 15, 2005 - Iran Exiles Declare Their Unified Stand For Democracy
Regime Change Iran ^ | 3.15.2005 | DoctorZin

Posted on 03/15/2005 12:00:52 PM PST by DoctorZIn

Top News Story

Iran Exiles Declare Their Unified Stand For Democracy

BY JOSH GERSTEIN - Staff Reporter of the Sun
March 14, 2005

LOS ANGELES - An unusual assembly of Iranian exiles joined together here yesterday to pronounce the external opposition to the Islamic regime more unified than ever and to press for increased international support for democratic reformers inside the country.

More than 100 Iranian dissidents - some from as far away as Paris - offered thanks for President Bush's vocal endorsement of Iran's democracy movement, but many expressed distress over the administration's recent decision to join a European effort to offer the Iranian government incentives to give up its nuclear program.

Organizers said the five-hour strategy session at the Woodland Hills Hilton drew the most diverse group of anti-regime forces to meet under one roof since the Shah was deposed in 1979. The group dubbed itself a "coalition of liberation" for Iran.

"After 20 years, this is the first time all Iranians are together," said Sirus Sharafshahi, the owner of a Farsi-language daily newspaper for Iranian expatriates, Sobh Iran (Iran Morning). "We want to tell the administration of the United States, all Iran is together. If you want to change the government, come to us."

One of the most emotionally charged speeches was delivered by a former Iranian health minister, Dr. Manouchehr Razmara. He was a close associate of the most prominent Iranian dissident to be assassinated in exile, Shapur Bakhtiar, a former prime minister killed by Iranian intelligence agents in Paris in 1991.

"We will not settle for anything less than the removal of the Islamic republic," Dr. Razmara vowed, to emphatic applause from the audience.

In an interview, Dr. Razmara described as unprecedented the degree of cooperation between dissident groups with divergent views. "There is a sense of victory in the air," he said.

Dr. Razmara said discontent inside Iran and outside concern about the country's nuclear program are combining to undermine the Islamic government. "The regime is extremely weak. It is politically and diplomatically isolated," he said.

The Sunday Times of London reported yesterday that Prime Minister Sharon had ordered an air- and land-based attack on Iranian nuclear facilities if the latest round of diplomacy failed. The report said Israel would seek the green light from Washington if it were to authorize such an attack.

An Israeli diplomat in Washington told The New York Sun: "Israel's preference was and remains to resolve this issue through diplomacy by referral to the Security Council." The source added, "The British press is filled with this kind of speculation every other day, we don't feel the need to respond to it every time." In Israel, numerous other Israeli officials, including Foreign Minister Peres, said they had no knowledge that the report about a possible strike on Iran was true. Secretary of State Rice yesterday also said she had no knowledge of any planning from the Jewish state to take out the nuclear facilities. In January, Vice President Cheney warned that Israel may make such a move if Iran does not comply with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press," Ms. Rice said, "The United States administration is not going to authorize anything here. And clearly we have a diplomatic path ahead of us."

Last week, the State Department announced that it would remove its objections to Iran joining the World Trade Organization and would allow the Europeans to sell airplanes with American spare parts as an inducement for the Islamic republic to end the enrichment of uranium. Meanwhile England, France, and Germany announced that they would refer Iranian violations of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty to the U.N. Security Council if the country enriched more uranium, as it has done as recently as this fall. Within hours, Iranian spokesmen rejected the American offer. On Sunday, a senior member of Iran's delegation to the nuclear talks, Sirus Naseri, said, "U.S. officials are either unaware of the substance of the talks or [they are] hallucinating."

Several attendees at yesterday's meeting of Iranian dissidents said Mr. Bush's decision to back the European approach of offering concessions to Iran was a mistake. A leader of the Iranian Freedom Front, Dariush Hashempour, gave a PowerPoint presentation yesterday that highlighted Mr. Bush's pro-reform remarks in his State of the Union address last month. In an interview, Mr. Hashempour said he was startled by the president's new stance.

"All of a sudden he just flip-flopped and was willing to work with Iran," Mr. Hashempour said. Asked if it was a mistake to try the carrot-and-stick technique the Europeans have advocated, he answered, "Definitely, for any period, even for 10 seconds. ... Their approach not only didn't help, it was a disaster for the last 20 years."

"It's a bad decision. It's a very bad decision because it loses time," Dr. Ramzara opined. "The Europeans are being used as a brake on freedom."

Even the most militant participants in the exile meeting yesterday dismissed the idea of military strikes on Iran as a way to foment democracy or contain the nuclear program.

"I don't see that happening," an Iranian dissident who lives in San Jose, Calif., Sardar Haddad, said. "I don't think it makes sense for either Israel or the U.S. to attack Iran at this point. ... The nuclear reactor in Bushehr has zero significance militarily."

Mr. Haddad said he favors a combination of sanctions and political pressure on the regime. "Basically, the idea is a velvet revolution similar to the one that happened in Eastern Europe," he said.

Officials at the Iranian mission to the United Nations did not return a call yesterday seeking comment on the gathering of exiles. The session included speeches delivered by telephone from dissidents who said they were inside Iran. Despite the public pronouncements of unity, yesterday's assembly did not mask significant fissures in the exile community. A profound disagreement continues over the wisdom of advocating a referendum in which Iranians could choose their form of government. Most at yesterday's meeting opposed such a plan, at least in the near term. Some strident critics of the Iranian regime strongly disagree.

A New York-based dissident who did not attend the Los Angeles session, Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, said a referendum could hasten the fall of the country's theocratic government.

"I think that the people outside of Iran must take their lead from the people on the inside and stop the egotistical, petrified ideological posturing," she said. "If they want an Iran without mullahs, they must put aside personal agendas and support a referendum for a secular and democratic constitution."

The referendum concept has the backing of many dissidents active in Web-based discussions of Iran's future. It has also been endorsed by Reza Pahlavi, the son of the late Shah.

However, participants in yesterday's gathering ridiculed the idea of staging a referendum in a country in which the government controls the press and routinely suppresses speech and political organizing.

"It's impossible," a Paris-based exile, Nasrolah Farahmand, said. "I know how this regime will react to its opponents. Who is going to support this idea? Nobody."

While every speaker yesterday denounced Tehran, most offered few concrete ideas about how to accelerate the process of reform there. The only direct action the group took was to endorse a petition asking that the Islamic Republic of Iran be thrown out of the United Nations for committing widespread violations of human rights.

The founder of a group called SOSIran, Iman Faroutan, said his organization has been trying to find specific ways to encourage restive students in the country to be bolder in their protests.

"They don't really give a damn about monarchy or democracy, left or right," Mr. Faroutan said. "They want to know why they should come to the streets, rise up, and get killed."

Mr. Faroutan said his group, which has a bit younger and more technocratic membership than some others, has been working on plans to bring dramatic improvements to Iran in the first 90 days after the downfall of the regime. He has also been promoting nonviolent ways for Iranians to signal solidarity, such as turning off lights at specified times and causing a currency shortage by taking coins out of circulation.

Yesterday's assembly of dissidents opened with a rousing collective rendition of a patriotic song that once served as Iran's unofficial national anthem. The pre-1979 flag of Iran was on display. Los Angeles was a logical spot for the gathering, as the area is home to America's largest Iranian population and is sometimes jokingly called "Tehrangeles."

Participants in the meeting said they were planning another gathering in Washington next month to build closer ties with the American government.

At the close of yesterday's session, some exiles said they were guardedly optimistic that divisions in the movement were being closed, especially between those who favor a return of the Shah's heirs and those who want a democratic republic.

"We've been fighting each other in exile for 20 years. For the first time, people with different ideas have gotten together," the owner of a satellite television service aimed at Iranians, Zia Atabay, said. "This is a good start."

A Daily Briefing of Major News Stories on Iran:

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
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"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin

1 posted on 03/15/2005 12:01:17 PM PST by DoctorZIn
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To: DoctorZIn

Good news - this is the first time such diverse groups have come together in agreement.

2 posted on 03/15/2005 12:02:27 PM PST by freedom44
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin”

3 posted on 03/15/2005 12:02:43 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

These dissidents need to take a couple pages out of the Iraqi "insurgents" handbook and start giving the Mullahs in Tehran some of the trouble we're getting in Baghdad. Get the people-for-regime-change behind you on the ground and President Bush to back you from the air.

4 posted on 03/15/2005 12:12:23 PM PST by DTogo (U.S. out of the U.N. & U.N out of the U.S.)
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To: DoctorZIn

Terrific news.

5 posted on 03/15/2005 12:13:10 PM PST by tkathy (Tyranny breeds terrorism. Freedom breeds peace.)
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To: freedom44

Iranian exile leaders need to form an Iranian version of Iraqi national council to face the Islamic Republic regime in Tehran.

The west will come to support them, if they can sit together and talk to each other!

6 posted on 03/15/2005 12:13:43 PM PST by F14 Pilot (Democracy is a process not a product)
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To: DoctorZIn

America is solidly behind those who love freedom in Iran! We want you to prevail. We want you to take back your country. Godspeed to you.

7 posted on 03/15/2005 12:35:54 PM PST by Obadiah
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To: All

I attended the meeting and will be writing a report soon.

8 posted on 03/15/2005 1:07:12 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: Obadiah

Throw the mullahs and their lackies out!

9 posted on 03/15/2005 1:25:32 PM PST by sheik yerbouty
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To: DoctorZIn

very exciting, DoctorZin. Very encouraging. I am hopeful. Thank you for all the long hours and for your dedication.

10 posted on 03/15/2005 1:55:30 PM PST by peacebaby (Lithium isn't just for batteries.)
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To: peacebaby
11 posted on 03/15/2005 2:16:34 PM PST by Khashayar
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To: Khashayar


Slowly, but surely we are seeing regime change coming to Iran. I thought during the day today that maybe my criticism has been too harsh. But again, the situation doesn't look as encouraging when I come home.

Such as:

1) Bush administration considering supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon(!) if it will become peaceful. I swear, the Europeans must have done something to Bush. Iran basically pays for Hezbollah to engage in terror activites to support its interests. Why would that change now? Why don't we say the same thing about al-Qaida (and I'm not being sarcastic!)?

2) The Iranian people may becoming confused with Bush's bribes. No kidding. I predicted that last week.

I could go on if I wanted to.

My analysis of the situation is that Bush has decided that Iran is not an immediate nuclear threat (unlike the Israelis). Otherwise, why not just go ahead with the blockade? The UN will never approve it, so we're going to have to go it alone again. Bush is waiting for the Iranians to take down the regime so he doesn't have to do anything. If the regime goes down this summer, I don't expect the Iranian people to thank America when it happens. Because we haven't done anything besides take down their regime's enemies. Bush says that America stands with the Iranian people in their desire for freedom. OK, that sounded good, but what does that mean in the real world? Officially, we're not doing anything to hasten the demise of the regime. It's official US policy to support the continued existence of the Iranian regime.

Iran may not be an immediate nuclear threat, but it sure is a present threat to American forces in the region, who continue to die from Iranian cash, day after day.

It would seem that Bush is in legacy-enhancement mode.

Look, I will acknowledge that I don't know the whole situation. I don't get a threat file from Porter Goss every morning. I don't know the underground deals and strategy going on. But from my perspective, American foreign policy could be a lot more effective.

And more realistic! It makes no *logical* sense to offer incentives to Iran. OK, you want to wait several months for the Iranian people to get organized? Fine. But don't spend that time appearing to prop up the regime.

Maybe I'm too impatient. Or too much of a neo-con.

Freedom is coming to Iran, one way or another...

12 posted on 03/15/2005 4:29:42 PM PST by JWojack (2005 - A historic year?)
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To: JWojack
Hey, look at this. The most ridiculous thing I have seen Iran say yet!

Iran to Offer U.S. Share in Nuclear Program

If we accept the offer, do we get half of your nuclear bombs?

This is absolutely ridiculous! Bush should accept the offer for a joke if for no other reason. He could say, we get half the nuclear output if half the scientists, technicians and engineers are American. Then we sabotage all the facilities!

Maybe Baghdad Bob is providing advice on public affairs. This is so comical!!!

13 posted on 03/15/2005 7:13:24 PM PST by JWojack (2005 - A historic year?)
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To: JWojack

I would also like to offer my congratulations to the Iranian people in their widespread protests last night! Apparantly, the regime is getting scared.

Maybe they can reach that magic 6-hour mark sooner rather than later.

Yet the news media still refuses to cover these escalating protests. It's more worthwhile than any of these carrots being offered.

Although with Iran offering its own carrot (see above), maybe they are getting nervous? Trying to buy some time? Yesterday, they said the incentives were an insult to the regime. Or perhaps all these statements are not entirely coordinated; perhaps the regime does not necessarily speak with one voice?

14 posted on 03/15/2005 7:20:48 PM PST by JWojack (2005 - A historic year?)
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To: JWojack

The Iranians are confused by Bush's recent statements.

But I believe his statements are part of a US strategy to be seen as reasonable and working with the EU, but I am also convinced that he is still on track to support the people in regime change.

Time will tell.

15 posted on 03/15/2005 9:52:22 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
This thread is now closed.

Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin”

16 posted on 03/16/2005 12:51:03 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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