Iraqi President Jalal Talebani flew to Tehran on Sunday, and today–Monday–he spent nearly three hours with Justice Minister Larijani. When asked about the trip, the Iranian Ambassador in Baghdad, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, said that Talebani needed some special medical attention. In reality, Talebani was acting as a middleman for the United States, and he had gone to Baghdad to try to strike a deal for the release of the three young American hikers who were seized by Iran several months ago.
It is not likely that Talebani, or anyone else, will be able to convince the Iranians to do that. The regime had previously told the American Government that they would swap the hikers for three high-ranking Iranian defectors. But even if the US were willing to pay such an expensive ransom–and it’s hard to believe they would send the three to certain death in Iran–it would require the agreement of the countries where the defectors currently reside. Not very likely. So the unfortunate hikers will continue to suffer.
Meanwhile, the death spiral of the Islamic Republic continues. There is an epidemic of failed landing gear on airplanes either belonging to, or transporting officers of, the Revolutionary Guards. The latest was a flight on Monday from Tehran to Mashad that had to return to Tehran and circle the air field for nearly two hours, burning off fuel and waiting for foam to be spread. There were no casualties.
The same cannot be said for two young men who were recently murdered by the regime. The younger was Ramin Pourandarjani, a 25-year old medical doctor whose career seemed guaranteed to soar; he graduated first in his class in Tehran. At the time of his death–November 10th–he was working at the infamous Kahrizak detention center in Tehran, the site of mass torture following the anti-regime demonstrations in June. He had initially refused to sign documents that claimed that a dissident had died of natural causes, when Pourandarjani could see the evidence of torture, and only signed after a month of intense pressure. In recent weeks he had been visited by intelligence officers from the office of Supreme Leader Khamenei, who asked him what he had seen in Kahrizak. He evidently saw too much. His parents were called and told he had been in an automobile accident. They were asked to authorize surgery, which they declined. The next day they were informed he had died of a heart attack on November 10th. His body was washed and wrapped in a shroud with no family member present, and then sent to Tabriz and buried there.