Maybe the tyrants decided Kerry is just too tall to fit into their torture cells, and the continued economic crunch doesn’t permit significant expansion. Or, more likely, all the cells are full even as the nationwide ravaging of dissidents continues apace, even to the first violent shutdown of a mosque, this one in Shiraz, associated with Ayatollah Dastgheib, a supporter of Green leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. And in the last few days, regime clerical supporters in Qom tried to demote the standing of Grand Ayatollh Sane’i, the heir to the mantle of the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri.
Meanwhile, security forces are now killing demonstrators with sawed-off shotguns, the traditional weapon of the Sicilian Mafia, loaded with heavy shot.
In short, the embattled regime is at war with most everyone except the thin sliver of fanatical and/or opportunistic loyalists around Supreme Leader Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad (the latter increasingly absent from major events). And even within that band of torturers, assassins, and terrorists, many of whom have been killing Americans for decades, the tension sometimes explodes, as it did during the recent Ashura demonstrations, when, I have been told, one of his colleagues shot General Ahmadreza Radan (Deputy Police Commander) three times during a heated disagreement.
Not to mention that the Revolutionary Guards are under attack. The regime announced yesterday that 7 security forces had been killed in a shootout with “drug smugglers” in Khorasan Province near the Afghan border. The real number was more than 25, with another dozen or so wounded, and they were gunned down by anti-regime Balouch. The fighting was so intense that the RG had to call in helicopters and then armored vehicles.
So the mullahs aren’t much interested in foreign visitors who want to talk about new departures. It’s not just Americans; they just nixed a long-planned visit from some European parliamentarians (appropriately organized by the Green Party). Seems the Euros actually wanted to talk to dissidents (which was not on Kerry’s agenda). Imagine!
There’s a lesson there about the “talking cure.” Back when Ronald Reagan decided to do everything he could for the Soviet dissidents, American diplomats meeting with their Soviet counterparts always had a list of political prisoners suffering in the Gulag Archipelago; that list was presented at the meetings, along with a request that the prisoners be released. Moreover, support for the dissidents was outspoken at international meetings (George Shultz was especially good at this). The Wall Street Journal recently suggested that we begin to familiarize ourselves with the names of Iranian dissidents, which is all to the good. Here are a few more:
- Heshmatollah Tabarzadi: An engineer, who has already spent seven years in prison. He is secular, not a devout Muslim, but is widely respected on both sides of the religious/secular divide;
- Mashaolah Shamsolwaezin: A journalist and human rights activist who founded several newspapers during Khatami’s presidency;
- Emadedien Baghi: A student of the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, He was himself a spiritual figure, but he has abandoned the turban. He was arrested because of an interview on the BBC Farsi servicewith Montazeri.
- Ahmad Qabel: A progressive theologian who nonetheless wants a secular state. He was also a Montazeri student.
As I’ve been saying, the supreme leader and his cohorts seem to be groping for some “solution” to the terrible crisis that grips the country, but so far they are unable to find a way out. Mousavi made them an offer they are unlikely to accept, a brilliant proclamation sent out over his web site that stressed the Green Movement’s commitment to peaceful change. His so-called statement #17 contained 5 main proposals:
1) The government should take declare that it is directly accountable
to the nation, parliament and the judiciary branch. This should be done
in a way that the government does not receive unusual support for its
deficiencies and weaknesses. The government must be directly accountable for the troubles it has caused…if the government is competent and just, it should be able to answers to the concerns of the people and the parliament and if it is incapable and incompetent, the parliament and the judiciary branch would react within the framework of their constitutional powers.
2) Proposing transparent and credible election regulation such that it
can convince the nation in having free, fair elections, without trickery and interference. This regulation must assure people’s
participation in elections despite their differences in thoughts and
3) Free and exonerate the political prisoners. I am confident that
this act will not be read as a weakness but will show how visionary the
4) Acts such as Freedom of press and media along with release of
confiscated licenses of newspapers…are among the essential elements of
solution process… Wave interferences and constrains on the internet can only have a short term effect. The only solution is to have a good variety of free media that are well informed and operate within the country.
5) Recognizing rights of people for legal congregations, establishing
political parties and groups, and abiding by the article 27 of the
constitution. Any action to promote this side of the solution…can replace the atmosphere of conflict between Basiji and security forces with people or conflicts of people with people within only a few months with an atmosphere of friendship and national reconciliation.
And then Mousavi put the burden of action where it belongs: on the rulers’ pained shoulders: “all these suggestions can be carried out without any agreements and political contracts and negations. Instead it can be
put to action from standpoint of wisdom, competence, and compassion.”
In short, it’s a call–carefully couched in apparently gentle words (which has misled some to characterize it as an abandonment of real regime change)–for the mullahs to abandon their claim of Divine Right, end the state of siege, and submit to the verdict of the people. It’s a call for the end of the Islamic Republic.
To which we can all say, Faster, Please.