Iran is now racing, literally hell-bent toward two dramatic confrontations: one within the country, between forces of tyranny and forces of democracy and/or reform. The other rages outside the country, a desperate war against the United States, its Coalition allies, and the Iraqis who support us. Both derive from the fundamental weakness of the fundamentalist regime, which has lost the support of the overwhelming majority of the Iranian people, and is increasingly defining itself a pariah state because of its support for terror and its brazen pursuit of atomic weapons.
Unreported in the American press and apparently unnoted by the leaders of the Bush administration, the regime is in open battle with its own people. In late January the regime’s thugs murdered four workers, injured more than 40 others, and arrested nearly 100 more in Shahr-e Babak and the small village of Khatoonabad, prompting an official protest from the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. (Would that the American trade-union movement had leaders worthy of the name, capable of expressing such outrage). Demonstrations five days ago in the western city of Marivan were so potent that the regime sent helicopter gunships to shoot down protestors, and there are reports that members of the regular armed forces joined the demonstrators. And in Hamadan, demonstrators clashed with security forces after the closure of the unfortunately named “Islamic Equity Ban.” The demonstrators accused the bank managers of stealing the bank’s money and smuggling it out of the country to their personal benefit, and that of the regime’s top figures. The charge is credible because, as Western governments know well, large quantities of cash–just as in the case of Saddam Hussein–have been moved out of Iran in recent months by friends and relatives of the leading officials.
Much more attention has been given to the “hard-liners vs. reformers” kabuki dance leading up to Friday’s parliamentary elections. The ritual dance itself-the hard-liners first removed thousands of reformers from the electoral lists, then, following protests, restored a few hundred–is not as important as most reporters and columnists would have us believe, since the makeup of the parliament has nothing to do with the real exercise of power in Iran. But the lessons from the dance are enormously important. Above all, the dance has shown both the political impotence and the moral fecklessness of President Khatami, because he first failed to get his people on the ballot, and then, once the Supreme Leader and the various theocratic institutions had slapped him down, he supinely obeyed and then had the cheek to call upon the people to turn out and vote, in support of “Iranian democracy.” Maybe he’d been listening too much to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, the other great philosopher of “Iranian democracy.”
The other great lesson is that many Iranians, when pushed to the wall by the tyrants, do indeed have the courage to fight back. In an unprecedented step, more than 100 reformers issued a letter to Supreme Leader Khamenei, in which they used language more traditionally reserved for greater and lesser satans in Washington and Jerusalem. They surely know that punishment will be severe, but they did it anyway. One fine day such shows of courage will inspire the Iranian people to defend them en masse, fill the public spaces of the major cities with demonstrators, and demand an end to the regime. And one fine day such actions will compel the Bush administration to support the Iranian people. And on that day the regime will fall, and with it the keystone to the international terror network with which we are at war.
Meanwhile, the regime is placing terrorists in parliament. Loyal members of the security forces are now candidates in the upcoming elections from Teheran and other metropolitan center. For example, 30 candidates running under the banner of Abadegarane Irane Eslami (The Builders of an Islamic Iran) are members of the security forces and are being managed by the father-in-law of Khamenei’s daughter Mr. Hadad Adel. For example:
1. Parviz Sorouri, a top Basij organizer in western Teheran. He is the editor-in-chief of Revolutionary Guard (Pasdaran) publications in Lebanon and Syria. A terrorist activist.
2. Said AbuTaleb, a member of the security apparatus and intelligence of Pasdaran. He was active in Iraq, posing as a television worker. He was arrested in Iraq and later released.
3. Hosseyn Fadai, one of the organizers of the army’s branch known as the Badr forces. The Badr forces have undertaken terrorist activities in Iraq. A known terrorist, he is also a member of the group that oversees supplies for the armed forces.
4. Mehis Kouchakzad, responsible for organizing the safehouses for the terrorists in Karbala, a known terrorist.
5. Elias Naderan, the manager of legal matters regarding the Pasdaran in parliament.
6. Alireza Zaakni, responsible for the Basij at Teheran University and its presence in the student body, he oversees all Basij/student activities nationwide.
7. Emad Afrough, a member of the Governing Council of the Army and in charge of security and intelligence matters in the Guardian Council.
8. Seyyed Fezollah Moussavi, director of the Committee for the Defense of the Palestinian Nation and the head of the council overlooking the benefits of the Martyrs of the Intifada, a known terrorist group.
The chief of staff of the armed forces has cancelled all leaves for all military personnel starting Tuesday for one week. All soldiers have been commanded to cast their ballots in the elections on Friday, as have all members of the revolutionary guards and all air force personnel.
In other words, the regime is now removing the “reformist” mask from all Iranian institutions. Henceforth we will see Stalinist Shiites alone.
And we may see them with atomic bombs. Oddly, just as the foreign minister was announcing Iran’s intention to sell enriched uranium to interested parties–thereby spitting in the eye of the French, German, and English diplomats who sang love songs to themselves just a few short months ago, proclaiming they had negotiated an end to the Iranian nuclear program–two smugglers were arrested in Iraq, near Mosul, with what an Iraqi general described as a barrel of uranium. Here is what General Hikmat Mahmoud Mohammed had to say about the event: “This material is in the category of weapons of mass destruction, which is why the investigation is secret. The two suspects were transferred to American forces, who are in charge of the inquiry.”
Compulsive readers of these little essays may remember that, late last summer, I told CIA that I had been informed of a supply of enriched uranium in Iraq, some of which had been carried to Iran a few years ago. I had offered to put CIA in touch with the original couriers, who said they would take American inspectors to the site, but CIA could not be bothered to go look.
I am told that the uranium in the barrel near Mosul came from the same secret laboratory. Perhaps now the CIA will think better of my sources, and work harder to find these materials.