Politics & Policy

No Family Fight

The Iranian struggle for freedom.

A Persian proverb accurately characterizes the current U.S. policy toward Iran: “Pushing away with feet while pulling forward with hands.” On the one hand, President Bush rightly recognizes the Iranian mullahcracy as a terrorist regime and acknowledges the struggle of the Iranian people to overthrow it. At the same time, his secretary of state, Colin Powell, expresses opposing views quite frequently. In his shocking July 3 remarks, Powell called the recent uprising in Iran a “family fight” and cautioned that President Mohammad Khatami had been elected in a free election. In the process of justifying his erroneous assessment of the elections in Iran, he insulted the Iranian people by saying that: “President Khatami was elected by his people, not in an American kind of election, but in an election, essentially tapped into the desires of the people.”

Powell, of course, has it all wrong. Either his knowledge about Iran is very limited or he has been won over by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s (IRI) lobby groups. The recent uprising in Iran was anything but a “family fight.”

Secretary Powell, haven’t you heard the Iranian people’s slogans in recent demonstrations, reported by many Western correspondents? Does “Death to Khamenei” or “Shame on Khatami” signify a “family fight”? How else do you expect the people to show their hatred for this terrorist regime and its frightening repression? How many students have to be arrested, tortured, and executed before you acknowledge that the Iranian people do not want this regime? Did you notice that the majority of Iranians stayed away from the recent elections in Iran, in spite of fierce campaign and constant appeals by Khatami?

Powell should acknowledge that human rights and the principles of democracy are universal and must be applied to the Iranian people the same way that they are applied to the Americans.

The U.S. Department of State has identified Iran as one of the top terrorist regimes in the world. What else do you need to be convinced that IRI is a terrorist regime and should not be supported by the U.S. and the world community? This regime has been condemned eight times by a U.S. federal court for terror counts against the U.S. citizens. This regime has been involved in many terrorist acts — including bombings of a Jewish center in Argentina and of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, which killed, among others, U.S. Marines. Iranian dissidents have been assassinated, even abroad, by agents of the Iranian government.

The oil companies’ lobby groups and their Iranian fronts — such as the American Iranian Council (AIC) and a whole host of other individuals-and many U.S. lawmakers painted the U.S./Iran relationship as a black-and-white one. They set up a U.S. military-intervention scenario against Iran and conclude (very conveniently) that to avoid disastrous battlefield consequences, the U.S. should establish dialogue and trade with IRI instead!

The ideal course — which is desired by freedom-loving Iranians and serves the best interests of the United States — is to be found in neither of these two ways.

The humane alternative is for the U.S. to recognize the Iranian people’s struggle for democracy and formally declare that it does not recognize the Islamic regime of Iran as the representative of the Iranian people. The U.S. should allow the people of Iran regain their freedom — and change the regime on their own.

— Mohammad Parvin is an adjunct professor at California State University and director of the Mission for Establishment of Human Rights in Iran.

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