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The Last Days of the Mullahs By Dr. Ledeen

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2005 10:50 pm    Post subject: The Last Days of the Mullahs By Dr. Ledeen Reply with quote

The Last Days of the Mullahs
By Michael Ledeen
FrontPageMagazine.com | March 9, 2005

Source URL:[url] http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=17305[/url]

As has so often happened in American history, we have a chance to be saved from our folly by our enemies, rather than by our own exertions. Our diplomatic corps have labored mightily, ever since the bloody seizure of power in Tehran by the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, to reach a rapprochement with the tyrannical rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Kenneth Pollack wrote in his recent book, "The Persian Puzzle," we have tried every possible approach, and they have all failed. And he sadly concluded that they all failed because the Iranian tyrants are not interested in rapprochement with us. Would that he remembered what he wrote, because Pollack, along with a vast array of self-styled foreign policy professionals, continues to propose new stratagems to weave this well-aged pig's ear into a diplomatic silken purse. But the response is always the same: the mullahs will have no part of it. In the past few days, they have told us and the European appeasers to take our carrots and go away. They will not terminate their nuclear program.

Decades of failed American demarches have not put an end to the dreams of ending our conflict with Iran. Indeed, secret meetings with the mullahs have continued apace throughout the Bush years, notwithstanding the president's repeated statement on behalf of the Iranian people's legitimate desire to be free of the murderous mullahcracy. No amount of evidence will deflect the "realists" from their dream of a negotiated settlement, because their "realism" does not accept one of life's fundamental facts: we have real enemies, they truly wish to destroy us, and the Iranians are one of them.

It does not require secret intelligence or an advanced degree to see this. Indeed, NOT to see it requires the rare sophisticated skills so highly prized by the chatterers. One of the main reasons for the absurd and embarrassing kabuki dance over the nuclear issue -- with its attendant speeches, essays, proposals, and schemes -- is that it distracts us from the central issue, which is the ruthless hatred of us that drives the mullahs, and the many thousands of people who have died as a result of Iranian actions.

Lest we forget: we are at war with the terrorists, and Iran is the world's leading supporter of terrorism. We cannot win this war, nor can Iraq be secure and peaceful, so long as the mullahs rule in Tehran, bomb or no bomb. Therefore we must liberate Iran, and that liberation, in all probability, can be accomplished without military action.

Time seems to be running out on the mullahs, and a dispassionate look at their actions in recent months suggests that they are well aware of their impending doom. Last Christmas Day, Air Force spokesman Colonel Salman Mahini announced that Iranian fighter pilots had been ordered to shoot down anything that flew in Iranian air space, especially the "unknown objects flying over parts of Iran where nuclear facilities are located." Colonel Mahini was not quite sure about the nature of the "objects," but he noted that they could be "satellites, comets or spying or reconnaissance crafts."

So far as I can tell, the Iranian Air Force hasn't brought down any itinerant comets of late, but there was a curious announcement a few weeks ago of an explosion near a nuclear site. First, it was branded the result of an American missile. Then, it was explained as a fuel tank that had fallen off an Iranian jet. When the laugh meter got too high, the mullahs tried to explain it away as the result of "friendly fire." Maybe one of their own missiles was launched at a satellite or a comet, and came down near the nuclear site.

The regime was quite concerned about the event, and rightly so, since it came amidst several fires and bombs in sensitive locations in and around Tehran. The first, and most widely reported, was a fire in one of the most important mosques in the capital, in which hundreds of people were injured, and as many as a hundred or more were killed. The official explanation was that a woman accidentally permitted her chador to come into contact with a kerosene heater, the garment caught fire, and then spread to the men's section below. But many Tehranis believe there was a bomb in the mosque that day, especially since there was a bomb in the bazaar at precisely the same time. And there have been other fires and explosions, one about ten days ago at the country's most important automobile factory, another in the bazaar again, and still others in mosques frequented by top officials.

Are these part of an organized campaign, and if they are, is it a campaign against the regime or rather an excuse for the regime to crack down ever more harshly? You can be sure that every imaginable theory is running through Iranian society. This has predictably intensified the mullahs' paranoia, and there have been new crackdowns on potential dissidents, most notably including bloggers. And now comes a report that Iranian dissidents living abroad have been threatened with harsh reprisals if they don't shut up.

Neither they nor the increasingly restive people back home are likely to be silenced for very long. In recent days, labor agitation has spread from the oil and textile sectors -- where it has been endemic for some time -- to the coal industry. Students at the university in Mashad hooted down a minister who is running for president in next June's phoney elections. And more than five hundred intellectuals, students and religious and political figures have come out with a ringing denunciation of the regime, calling for a national referendum that would either endorse or reject the Islamic Republic. Their words are echoed by a flurry of graffiti on the walls of Tehran: referendum, referendum.

The Iranian democratic opposition has been greatly cheered by the strong words from President Bush and Secretary of State Rice, and they are hoping for the passage of Congressional bills -- notably Senator Santorum's -- that call for the administration to work for a transition to democracy in Iran. It seems unlikely that the third ranking Republican leader in the Senate would be pushing hard for such a policy if the president did not agree. But the administration should not wait to be pushed by Santorum; now is the time for Secretary Rice and her colleagues to support a free referendum in Iran. The Iranian people are clearly ready to vote for their freedom, and nothing would so damage the terror network as the fall of its greatest supporter.

Freedom is spreading, and we are its inspiration. Don't go wobbly on us, George. Don't play the one-step-at-a-time game, we are a big country and we have big dreams. So, to the amazement of the cynical professionals, do the peoples of the Middle East.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bush Urged to Support Iranian Opposition


(CNSNews.com) - As President Bush continues to voice support for democracy in Iran, calls are growing for the U.S. to take more active steps to exert pressure on the Islamic regime and hasten political change.

In a speech at the National Defense University this week, Bush said Tehran should "listen to the voice of the Iranian people, who long for their liberty and want their country to be a respected member of the international community."

"We look forward to the day when the Iranian people are free," he added.

Last month, in his State of the Union address, the president told the people of Iran: "As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you."

Iman Foroutan, director of the U.S.-based Iran of Tomorrow Movement, said most Iranians supported Bush's policy of non-engagement with Tehran and welcomed his expressions of solidarity. But he said it was time for the president to "put those words into action."

He called on the U.S. to declare that the Islamic regime is "an illegal occupier of Iran," a view he claimed had been held by the majority of Iranian citizens over the past two decades.

Washington should also provide "financial and moral support to Iranian opposition groups, Foroutan added.

On Capitol Hill, Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) last month introduced legislation authorizing $10 million in assistance to pro-democracy groups opposed to the Iranian regime.

Co-sponsored by six other Republican Senators, the Iran Freedom and Support Act says to be eligible for funding, groups should oppose the use of terror and support an Iran that is democratic, adheres to non-proliferation treaties, and respects human rights, including equality for women, freedom of speech, press, association and religion.

Santorum said at the time the legislation "will provide much-needed assistance for pro-democracy groups who are committed to advancing democratic ideals and principles, despite living at the hands of a government that views freedom as a threat to their power."

Santorum tied the need for a change of government in Tehran to the terror threat facing Americans "at home and abroad," citing State Department assessments about Iranian backing for terrorism.

Analysts have also argued that regime change would help to resolve another pressing problem - Iran's attempts to acquire a nuclear capability.

Iran says its nuclear program is purely peaceful civilian one, but the U.S. suspects that it is being used to mask a bid to build nuclear weapons. Britain, France and Germany are holding talks with Iran aimed at resolving the standoff, but no breakthroughs have been reported.

American Enterprise Institute (AEI) resident fellow Reuel Marc Gerecht wrote this week that "talking with a democracy about [nuclear weapons] is entirely different from trying to appease a dictatorship, which is what the French, British, Germans, and certain quarters at the State Department and the National Security Council would like to do."

The Iran of Tomorrow Movement (IOTM), which runs a Los Angeles-based Iranian satellite television station, says it is working to support Iranians' efforts to replace the Islamic Republic with "a democratic, secular, and modern government."

Foroutan called recent developments in the Middle East - elections in Afghanistan and Iran, mass protests and anti-Syria sentiment in Lebanon, and calls for reform in Egypt and elsewhere - "extremely encouraging for Iranians."

While Iraq and Afghanistan still faced "a long road ahead" in achieving full democracy, he said the emergence of democratic governments on either side of Iran was "making the Islamic Republic very nervous as they feel the vise tightening firmly on both sides of their neck."

"More recent events in Lebanon and Egypt are extremely alarming for The Islamic Republic," he added. "They see the American influence as a more widespread occurrence in this region, and no longer limited to Iran's immediate neighboring countries."

Unrest, referendum calls

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi responded to Bush's latest comments by saying the U.S. should "stop its futile efforts to divide the Iranian people."

Experts say Iran is, however, deeply divided and likely to become more so this year.

The country faces presidential elections next June, but observers see little chance for meaningful change.

All prospective candidates are screened by the Guardians' Council, a 12-member body which ahead of parliamentary elections 13 months ago barred thousands of candidates -- mostly reformists -- from running.

Among the strongest of the likely contenders are cleric and former president Hashemi Rafsanjani and former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati. Neither is considered a "reformist."

Reports emerging from the country indicate growing calls for a boycott of the election, with many calling instead for a referendum on the drafting of a new constitution, compatible with international human rights treaties.

A referendum campaign is underway, and according to its website, more than 35,000 Iranians have signed a petition supporting the call.

On Sunday, students at Iran's Isfahan University reportedly upset the visit by a presidential election candidate by singing a pre-Islamic Republic patriotic song that is viewed as a nationalist alternative to the official national anthem.

Students also held up placards denouncing the election and calling for a referendum instead.

The student calls came just days after the publication of an unprecedented open letter signed by more than 500 Iranian politicians, scholars, students and others, condemning the regime's "incompetence."

In the absence of true democratic reform, it said, the next president, like the current one, would be no more than a figurehead for "unelected organs," according to the independent Iran Press Service.

AEI scholar Michael Ledeen wrote in a FrontPage magazine article published Wednesday that the time was right for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and others to support the referendum call.

"The Iranian people are clearly ready to vote for their freedom, and nothing would so damage the terror network as the fall of its greatest supporter," he said.

Foroutan of IOTM said the organization supported the campaign for a referendum, but felt it would be pointless if held before a change of government.

He noted that the Guardians' Council and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were empowered to reject any legislation or election or referendum result if they deem it to be contrary to Islamic law.

Foroutan said the referendum could be used by the regime to prolong its life, arguing that Tehran had in a similar tactic installed "moderate" President Mohammed Khatami in 1997 in a bid to manage "unrest within the Iranian community." In 2001, Khatami was handed a second term, which ends this year.

"A constitutional referendum, while the Islamic Republic is still intact, will only extend the regime's life, and enable them to continue toying with the international community as they have in the past two elections and [with] their current nuclear program agenda."

Foroutan urged Washington to continue its policy of isolating Iran, and not give in to calls to re-establish diplomatic ties severed after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

He said Bush should also take a firm stand against the European Union, which he claimed was prolonging the regime's life through its economic engagement with Iran.

"The fall of the Islamic regime is just a matter of time," Foroutan said. "This regime has been cornered internationally and internally and is on its last breath."
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