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Seeing Iran Plain

June 27th, 2010 - 9:27 pm

The apologists for the Iranian regime generate so much nonsense that a whole crew of fact checkers could be gainfully employed simply exposing them. Let’s take two: “the Islamic Republic has never invaded anybody,” and, “the regime is in control, the opposition is dead.”  The first is invoked to silence anyone who wants to take action, even limited political action, against the Islamic Republic. The second is used to discredit those of us who have been calling for our governments to help the Iranian people in their urgent efforts to gain freedom.

In fact, Iran is one of the world’s principal aggressors. On the one hand, the regime has unleashed its proxy forces — most significantly, the revolutionary guards, but also Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda — throughout the Middle East, East Africa, and South America.  Americans have been the primary victims of this proxy war, from the Marine barracks bombing in Lebanon in 1983 to the current campaign against our soldiers and diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Saudis can testify to attacks by Iranian proxies on numerous occasions, as can the Argentines, who have indicted several Iranian leaders for mass murder in Buenos Aires.

But Iran does not limit its aggression to the use of proxies. Virtually unnoticed by the chattering classes, Tehran is waging open war against Iraq.  More precisely, against the Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Iranian campaign involves both ground troops and air assaults, and seems to be carried out in tandem with their new Turkish allies.  Here’s the beginning of the UPI  report:

SULEIOMANIYAH, Iraq, June 24 (UPI) — The Turkish military has mounted several attacks on Kurdish separatist bases in northern Iraq in recent days as Ankara’s 26-year war with its troublesome minority, one of the world’s longest-running guerrilla conflicts, swells yet again.

At the same time, Iran has intensified its operations against its own Kurdish separatists holed up in the Qandil mountains of northern Iraq, including incursions across the rugged border.

This two-pronged assault on the groups sheltering in Iraqi Kurdistan has put Baghdad in the middle of a fight involving two of its neighbors, both of whom seek to influence events in the oil-rich country as U.S. forces withdraw.

And here’s Le Monde:

Iranian troops, like the Turkish ones, do not hesitate to enter Iraqi territory to track down the (Kurdish) rebels and to conduct cross-border operations, either alone or with Ankara…

Since early June, Iranian soldiers have multiplied their incursions beyond their borders. Already in May a helicopter crossed the line to attack a village. In December, 2009, Tehran had partially occupied the Fakka oil field inside Iraq…

Back in the Clinton years, I  remarked that it seems to be a fixed principal of American foreign policy to betray the Kurds at least once every 10 years, and we have certainly respected the rules. But this is considerably worse, for not only do we leave the Kurds at the mercy of the two big Islamist countries;  we have failed to guarantee the territorial integrity of Iraq, which is a much more serious matter.

So I think it’s fair to say that anyone who claims that Iran has not launched military attacks outside its territory is either misinformed or dissembling. Quite the contrary;  the Islamic Republic has conducted lethal military operations all over the world for decades.

And as for the presumed strengths of the regime and the death of the opposition, here too reality is quite different from the conventional wisdom. Anyone looking at the behavior of the Iranian regime today has to be astonished at the deep cracks among the leadership, and the increasingly explicit condemnation of the regime from all sectors of the opposition.

Hardly a day goes by without open conflict among the leading darknesses of the regime. Take for example the counterintuitive debate over women’s clothes.  You might have thought there was no room for disagreement on this subject, as any woman showing too much hair or skin has been rounded up and turned over to the sadistic beasts in the prison system.  But you’d be wrong;  of late, one of the top leaders — President Ahmadinezad himself — has been calling for easing the dress code.  Imagine!  And he’s been savaged by the hard-liners, his own people.  Why is he doing it?  I wouldn’t venture a guess.  The important thing is that there are now angry debates within a regime that clearly does not know what to do.

Then there is the raging debate over the future of the Free University, which produced the amazing spectacle last week of the siege of Parliament by the fanatical Basiji, who at one point called for cannons to be trained on recalcitrant deputies. And what was the cause of this amazing confrontation? Listen to RFE /RL :

At the center of the tug-of-war is Azad University: its leadership, board, 1.4 million students, and tens of billions of dollars in assets.

On one side are hard-liners within the Iranian establishment, most prominently President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who appears ready to punish Azad University for its alleged support for opposition candidates in the 2009 presidential election. Supporting Ahmadinejad is the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution (SCCR), whose resolution to alter the Azad University’s charter, replace its current head of Azad University, and change its governing board was recently approved by the president.

On the other side are the conservatives within the same establishment, mainly former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who co-founded the university in 1982 and now heads its board of trustees. Also supporting the conservatives are parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, and Abdollah Jasbi, the university head who is up for replacement and is a close Rafsanjani ally.

Let me deconstruct this for you.  It’s mostly about money, and powerful men like Larijani and Rafsanjani are trying to prevent Ahmadinejad from getting his hands on it.  The headline is perfect:  “Battle over Azad University Deepens Iran’s Divisions.”  Those divisions are internal ones, not part of the life and death battle between the regime and the Green Movement.

On the latter front, there have been numerous physical assaults on sites — including mosques — linked to dissident ayatollahs, especially the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri and his likely spiritual heir, Ayatollah Sane’i.  This prompted a condemnation from the Iranian representative of Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Sistani, an event of considerable import, since Sistani is the most authoritative clerical figure in the Shi’ite world today.  Those who think that the Greens have no religious support should take notice.

Nor are things more favorable to the regime on the “secular” front. In the city of Rasht last Thursday, the morality cops tried to detain a mother and daughter, but the mother challenged the police.  Predictably, the cops started beating the woman with batons.  Whereupon, the people on the street rallied to the women, started chanting “Dictator, dictator” (the Greens’ anti-Khamenei slogan), and the police sped off.  Banafsheh has the video, along with another spectacular video of a disastrous fire at the oil field in Naft-Shahr, which started with an explosion a full month ago and is still burning with great intensity, as you can see. (scroll down a bit).  I can promise you that the explosion was no accident.

Finally,  the Greens are becoming more outspoken about the future of the country, including the fate of their oppressors.  Mousavi laid it out in mid-June:

[The Green Movement supports] freedom for all political prisoners as well as the abolishment of [all] illegal restrictions [and opposes] the security-oriented approach to the activities of political parties, social groups and movements such as the women’s movement, the student movement, labor unions, and the like. To this end, the following strategies should be followed diligently: [ensuring] fair trials for those who authorized as well as those who actually carried out the election fraud and the killing and torture of protesters, as well as exposing and trying those who have theorized and defended violence at various levels of the power hierarchy.

This is a quietly confident voice, and it is heard in the palaces of the rulers.  One day, they will remember those words.  When they are held accountable for their crimes.

Do not believe that the opposition has given up simply because they choose not to take to the streets against armed thugs.  There are many forms of democratic revolution.

Of which more shortly.

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