February 20, 2018

Iran Watch – January 24, 2008

[spoiler title=”Iran Solution: Empower This Opposition Group”] by Lord Corbett
Human Events
While Americans are busy choosing their next President, the incumbent has been touring the Middle East in the hope of establishing peace and promoting democracy. But peace and stability in that troubled part of the world are not possible for so long as Iran is ruled by a regime that uses terrorism to pursue its ambition of establishing and leading an Islamic empire. Whomever sits in the Oval Office next year will have to figure out a way of neutralizing the threat posed by the lethal cocktail of terrorism and nuclear weapons pursued by Iran’s fundamentalist regime.

The theocratic oppressors of the Iranian people have for years wreaked havoc across the entire Middle East. The countries in that region all, regardless of their differences, look to Washington and London for support and assurances of a firm policy towards Tehran, as they lie in the way of the mullahs’ expansionist ambitions.

The unspoken reality is that the West’s weak and appeasing attitude vis-a-vis Tehran’s tyrants has sent shivers down the spines of the leaders of the moderate Arab countries who have to deal with Tehran supported Islamic fundamentalist groups in their own backyard.

Tehran’s mullahs fully understand the West’s deafening silence in the face of barbaric punishments and daily public hangings in Iranian streets. A similar message is sent by the vacillation in imposing a new set of UN Security Council sanctions following the clerical regime’s non-compliance with previous resolutions. But nowhere is the West’s feeble position more evident than its attitude towards the principal Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI).

The West agreed to blacklist the PMOI in the late 1990s at the behest of Tehran and as a major part of its aim of finding moderates within the Iranian regime. The Clinton administration designated the PMOI a “foreign terrorist organization”, blocking any cooperation with it. Following the 1997 US designation of the PMOI, an unnamed senior Clinton official told the Los Angeles Times that, “The inclusion of the People’s Mujaheedin was intended as a goodwill gesture to Tehran and its newly elected moderate President Mohammad Khatami.” Later, the former US Assistant Secretary of State, Martin Indyk, told Newsweek that the designation was part of the Clinton administration’s strategy and was due to “the White House interest in opening up a dialogue with the Iranian government.”

The West was led on a merry dance by the mullahs and made to look like fools. As the West danced to Tehran’s tunes by acceding to demands and making concessions, the Ayatollahs were using the time to advance their nuclear programs. Having not been able to find anyone who met the definition of the “moderate mullah”, the West is now faced with a monster whose madness they cannot measure. Ahmadinejad talks of a wave of Islamic revolution soon reaching the entire world and of a final war between Islam and the West.

If the terrorist designation of the PMOI was to support the illusory moderate mullah — and not based on a substantive reason – why does the designation remain?

The PMOI has mass popular support. It has spent over 40 years struggling for social justice, basic freedoms and a secular democracy in Iran. It was instrumental in overthrowing the Shah, but after the revolution, the organization and the Iranian people fell out with Tehran’s new fundamentalist regime. For this the organization paid a very heavy price, including the execution of 120,000 of its members and sympathizers. Despite massive repression, the PMOI did not desist from its goals.

In recent years, the PMOI has proven itself to be an ally of the West and an invaluable source of information on the nuclear and terrorist threats posed by the mullahs. The PMOI were the first to expose the regime’s nuclear weapons program in 2002. The organization has also revealed extensive information about the personnel and operations of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Earlier this month, the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on a key General in the Qods Force of the Revolutionary Guards. Brig. Gen. Ahmad Forouzandeh had gone unnoticed until his role in arming Shiite militias to attack Coalition troops in Iraq was exposed by the PMOI. At the same time, the organization has revealed the details of 32,000 agents of the Iranian regime operating in Iraq, the sites of factories in Iran producing improvised explosive devices, and the locations of terrorist training camps in Iran.

In recent years, the injustice of the terror tag against the PMOI has been proven in the Courts. In December 2006, Europe’s highest Court, the European Court of Justice, rebuked the EU for its unlawful inclusion of the PMOI in its list of terrorist organizations. This was followed on November 30, 2007 by a specialist British Court, which ruled that the PMOI is not a terrorist organization. In a judgment, handed down after hearing nearly two weeks of evidence, the Court ruled that the decision of the British government to maintain the PMOI in its proscribed list was “flawed” and “perverse”. For this reason it ordered the British government to remove the PMOI from its proscribed list. This judgment should represent the end of the PMOI’s terrorist designation and the beginnings of change in Iran brought about by the Iranian people and their organized resistance.

In November 2007, the Council of Europe’s Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee adopted a text which criticized the EU for defying the ruling of the European Court. The EU “is no longer following the rule of law. … The [EU] has not only breached its obligations under the EU Treaty, but defied the Court of First Instance as well. PMOI’s fundamental rights continue to be violated”, said the text which had been written up by Swiss lawmaker Dick Marty. The Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly is expected to approve Mr. Marty’s report on Wednesday.

The regime is terrified of the PMOI’s ability to organize the hundreds of thousands of women, students and labor groups that have taken part in anti-regime protests chanting “Death to the Dictator” and taking on the Revolutionary Guards in the streets. As such, the West’s attitude towards the PMOI has become the litmus test of its resolve in confronting Iran. If the incumbent President intends for his talk of Iran being “the most active state sponsor of terrorism” and representing a “threat”, being taken seriously, then he should free up Iran’s opposition to lawfully resist this threat. If he does otherwise, his words will be treated by all, but most importantly in Tehran, as no more than hot air.

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale is Chairman of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom. [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”US Official: New Iran Sanctions Resolution Will be ‘Punitive'”] By VOA News
24 January 2008

A senior U.S. official says a new U.N. sanctions resolution aimed at pressuring Iran to curb its sensitive nuclear activities will be “punitive,” despite Russian remarks to the contrary.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns says the resolution will ban travel by certain Iranian officials, limit the export of some items, and freeze Iranian assets. He says that in some cases, the measure strengthens existing sanctions on Iran.

Burns was responding Thursday to comments by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that the resolution does not call for any tough sanctions. [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Iranian Revolutionary Guards Perpetuate Terror Within and Without”] Majid Sadeghpour, Ph.D. – 1/21/2008

“Cold blooded murders”, a friend of mine cried out recently as she recalled gruesome memories from Iran while reflecting on the newly levied sanctions against Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Encouraged and emboldened, her voice was filled with anger, determination, and a newfound hope that echoed the braveness of dissident university students in Iran of today. All a reminder that the Presidential executive orders 13382 and 13224 carry a subtle but dual benefit affecting not only Iranian regime’s activities abroad, but also its enemies within.

Our knowledge of IRGC’s past and present terrorist behavior within Iran is abstract, at best. The real example she provides would perhaps serve as a reminder of their brutality. Recalling a memory from a sleepy Caspian Sea town north of Tehran, she describes a mid-summer afternoon’s horrifying memory. As it is a Muslim custom, a neighbor’s family was washing their recently executed daughter’s body, in preparation for burial. Fresh blood streamed out of the house and onto the neighborhood pavement, she recalls. “I stood there wondering; why so much blood”. Little did she know at the time, as she evokes the memory today, that post-execution, a certain part of the young woman’s body had been mutilated by IRGC members. For those who wonder, the medical term is Hepatectomy. Historical context of such brutality is beyond the scope of this article. For what crime, one might ask? She was 18 years old, and member of a dissident group called Fadayan Khald who opposed the mullah’s undemocratic government.

In the past 3 decades, IRGC’s have been responsible for the execution of over 120,000 dissidents and students, including some of Iran’s brightest minds. From mullah’s “cultural revolution” of 1980-89, to the current wave of executions, or the recent crackdown of protesters (at Allameh, Tehran, and Polytechnic universities), the revolutionary guard’s main goal was and still is to safeguard the regime against internal social, political, and security threats.

Apart from other intended reasoning, the blacklisting of IRGC and QODS Force is a breath of fresh air for the Iranian people amidst the murky environment of oppression. For the first time in 30 years, the United States, and perhaps the international community have edged themselves closer to recognizing the will of the Iranian people. With every decisive measure aimed at weakening the clerics and their apparatus of fear, more chants of “death to dictator” will be heard in the Iranian streets. Irrespective of the “moderate”, “pragmatic”, or “hard-line” faces the Foxes in Tehran put forth, Iranians have always known that the carnage in Iraq, the devastation in Lebanon, assassination of dissidents, bombing of embassies, nuclear weapons program, and countless other deeds are directed by the mullahs in Iran and their IRGC/QODS force.

So, what to do next? Will Iran adapt to fiscal pressure from the West? Will Iranian people rise and overthrow the regime?

However elusive the answers may appear, one thing is for certain: that Iranian people will weather the storm of sanctions in the near term, for it will hasten regime’s demise. Additionally, and as the cost of doing business with Iran increases, mullahs will eventually have to face the Iranian people. The key, therefore, is not only comprehensive and universal sanctions, but also reliance on the enormous democratic potential of the Iranian people. Admittedly, organization and mobilization of this great force in the present environment of absolute oppression is no easy task. No one should dream of a fantasy laden, soft or velvet revolution in Iran. Armed with the richness of Iranian natural resources, stone-age ideological prowess, and an immense self awarded righteousness, this regime is the most barbaric mankind has witnessed in the modern era. However distant it may seem today, Iranian people and not their government have the needed democratic capacity. In fact, resolving this enigma requires the full capability of the mostly Muslim, secular, and democratic minded people of Iran. They and their resistance are the true antithesis to the darkness of fundamentalism.

Let us listen then to the wishes of the Iranian people. Let us attend their gatherings without, watch them protest within, and hear the organized voice of their democratic opposition. Such, and not the voice of the self appointed “Iran experts” who continue to advocate capitulation to the mullahs, remains the only way to avoid a calamitous war. They “experts” have never seen the IRGC-shed blood paint the pavements of Iran.

Dr. Majid Sadeghpour is a human rights activist. He works with the National Coalition of Pro-Democracy Advocates (www.ncpda.com)

View Source Here [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Terror label against Mojahedin of Iran, disastrous effect of the EU blacklisting”] By Geoff Meade, PA Europe editor, Brussels
Press Association, 23 January 2008

United Nations and European Union blacklists of terrorist suspects were condemned this afternoon as a violation of human rights and a threat to the credibility of the international fight against terrorism.

The damning verdict from Europe’s human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, was coupled with demands for a review of UN and EU blacklisting procedures.

The Council’s Parliamentary Assembly, meeting in Strasbourg, backed a report attacking the methods used by the UN Security Council and the EU to blacklist individuals and groups suspected of having terrorist connections abuse basic rights and are “completely arbitrary”.

The report’s author, Swiss MP Dick Marty declared: “Injustice is terrorism’s best ally – and we must fight it too.”

His report, endorsed by MPs from the Council’s 46 member countries, including all 27 EU member states: “Let us say it clearly: the current blacklisting practice is scandalous and blemishes the honour of the institutions making use of it in such a way. Blacklisting without respecting the most elementary rights puts into the question the credibility of the fight against terrorism and thus reduces its effectiveness.” [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Most Reformists Appear Purged From Iran Ballot”] By MICHAEL SLACKMAN and NAZILA FATHI
Published: January 24, 2008
TEHRAN — When voters go to the polls on March 14 to select members of Parliament, they may be able to choose only between conservative candidates and other conservative candidates, leaders of Iran’s main reform party said Wednesday.

With more than 7,200 candidates registered to run for 290 seats in Parliament, officials with the party, the Islamic Participation Front, said it appeared that 70 percent of reformist candidates had been disqualified.

The decisions are not final and will not be completed until early March, but the early indications are that the religiously conservative forces in control of every branch of government will try to block a comeback by the reformists close to Mohammad Khatami, the former president.

“Such a large number of disqualifications is unprecedented,” said a statement by the reformist party posted on the Emruz Web site.

The out-of-power reformists had hoped that the coming election would be a referendum on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s management of the state. With inflation and unemployment high, and now a serious shortage of heating gas during a record cold winter, the races were seen as a way for reformists and their allies to gain a second chance at power in Iran. They had once controlled Parliament and the presidency.

But the president and his allies control the system of vetting candidates for access to the ballot. The first step is for local boards in each province, known as the Executive Councils, to approve a candidate for access to the ballot. The boards are appointed by regional governors who have been appointed by the president.

The next step is for the Guardian Council, a hard-line body of clerics close to the supreme leader, to approve or disqualify candidates. In past elections, the Guardian Council was where reform-minded candidates found themselves disqualified.

This time, however, candidates and party officials said that the mass disqualifications began at the regional boards.

“We have learned that the majority of the disqualifications were done by the Executive Councils, not the Guardian Council,” said Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a member of the party. “The Executive Councils are dominated by much more radical members than the Guardian Council,” he added.

Mr. Abtahi said most of the reformists’ better-known candidates, who could attract votes, had been disqualified.

Two members of Parliament were disqualified as well, including one of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s most outspoken critics, Akbar Alami, who lost most of his right hand in the war with Iraq and has already served two terms in Parliament.

“At age 52, I learned that according to the Executive Board I had allegations of noncommitment to Islam, lack of belief in the system of the Islamic Republic and lack of following the Constitution of the Islamic Republic,” Mr. Alami said

He and other disqualified candidates can now appeal to regional supervisory boards and then to the Guardian Council. In past years, to ease the tensions caused by disqualification, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, intervened, encouraging the reversal of some disqualifications. The key to the value of this next election, analysts said, will be whether the system shuts out those in the opposing camp, or lets them have access to the ballot.

A member of a conservative party, the Independent Fundamentalists, Saeed Abutaleb, said Wednesday that all the party’s candidates had been approved, the news agency ISNA reported. The party’s members have also been critical of the president’s economic performance.

The Interior Ministry said it had screened more than 7,000 candidates, but it was not clear how many had finally been approved to run. Rejected candidates can appeal to the regional supervisory boards until next Wednesday, or they can appeal directly to the Guardian Council.

View Source Here [/spoiler]