May 22, 2017

Iran Watch – May 16, 2008

[spoiler title=”Don’t enable Iran’s offenses”] Don’t enable Iran’s offenses

Congressman Bob Filner and Lord Corbett
Mercury News
5/15/2008

Peace movements always struggle with the balancing act of wanting to engage enemies without appeasing them. Peace activists don’t want war, but they also recognize that peace at any price can be costly. In the case of Iran, these choices are becoming painful and difficult.

The peace movement is determined to ensure that we not make an Iraq-like mistake by launching a military campaign against Iran. Calls for “engagement” with Iran have been a central component of the drive to deal with the despotic regime in Tehran. But in our desire to end the U.S.-led mission in Iraq, and to avoid any intervention in Iran, significant elements in the peaceful anti-war movement risk being turned into unwitting enablers of Iran’s appalling human rights violations, nuclear proliferation, weapons trafficking and support for international terrorism. The dysfunction of Iraqi politicians, the endless casualties on all sides, and indeed the seemingly widening Iranian influence in Iraq have led to calls for the withdrawal of American-led troops and a simultaneous call for Western engagement with Iran.

Iran taking advantage

Iran’s rulers are more than happy to see this development. Indeed, the Iranian regime is taking full advantage of conflicted sentiments within the activist community – and inside Western governments – that are leading a policy of appeasement toward one of the world’s most anti-democratic and militaristic governments.

Despite its clandestine and overt yet destructive behavior, Iran stands poised to achieve its longstanding strategic goal of expanding its influence over a weak and chaotic Iraq, and extending its hegemony over the Persian Gulf region. In fact, critics of the decision by the United States, the United Kingdom and their allies to invade Iraq five years ago cite the deepening Iranian influence in Iraq as an inevitable consequence of the invasion.

The mullahs in Tehran don’t hold all the cards, however. The Iranian regime’s aggressive policies are rooted in the growing weakness of the mullahs. The unrelenting assault on the civil and human rights of the Iranian people is a direct response to the unpopularity and illegitimacy of the extremist theocratic government, most recently demonstrated by the massive boycott of last month’s engineered parliamentary elections.

It would seem logical that the liberal democracies of the West, with the support of the activist community, should use all peaceful means possible to isolate the Iranian regime. Yet, the desire for a peaceful resolution has been conflated into policies that would provide the regime with the legitimacy it craves and a strengthened hand to pursue its expansionist agenda.

A notable remnant of the West’s previously unsuccessful attempt at “engagement” with Iran is the designation of the main Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK) as a foreign terrorist organization. By branding the MEK as a terrorist group, the West hobbled one of the strongest advocates for domestic reform and the organization that blew the whistle on Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapon and missile development programs.

Recently, several court decisions in the UK and the EU invalidated the unjust terrorist designation of the MEK. Just this week the government of the United Kingdom was ordered to remove the MEK from its list of banned terrorist organizations. The peace movement should urge the American and all European governments to remove the terror designation of the MEK as a necessary step to empower the Iranian people and their genuine, nationwide movement for fundamental change in that country.

Exploiting weakness

Launching a military attack on Iran would be a tragic mistake, but it is an error almost as grave to think that continued pacification of the Iranian regime is the only alternative to war. It is time to recognize that the Iranian regime regards concessions not as gestures to be reciprocated in kind, but as signs of weakness to be exploited. That is not to say that there will never be any room for conversation with Iran, but Western diplomats and policy-makers must avoid the trap of letting Tehran set the terms of the discussion.

Western policies toward Iran have failed because they ignore the immense power of the disenchanted people of Iran. Today, the Iranian people are imbued with democratic aspirations and a well-organized resistance movement. Both pragmatism and principle argue that we should be helping to empower the Iranian people in their brave and determined struggle against the world’s most repressive government – and not coddling that government to achieve what former Prime Minister Chamberlain, returning from a visit to Adolf Hitler, would have called “peace in our time.”

BOB FILNER is co-chair of the bipartisan U.S. Congressional Human Rights and Democracy Caucus. LORD CORBETT, a member of the House of Lords from the Labor Party, is chairman of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom. They wrote this article for the Mercury News. [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Iran’s Nuclear Express”]

[/spoiler] [spoiler title=”The Humiliating Price of Appeasing Iran”] Prof. Sharam Taromsari, Ph.D. – 5/15/2008

In a unique action taken by prominent politicians, including a former home secretary, a former Solicitor General and a former Law Lord of the United Kingdom against the British government, Britain ’s highest legal authority handed out a humiliating ruling against the British Government. This ruling reiterated an earlier ruling by the Proscribed Organisations Appeals Commission (POAC) in which they described the British government’s attempt to list the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) as a terrorist organisation as “perverse”. The 32 page judgement was far stronger and goes beyond what the POAC determined in November 2007. Closer scrutiny of this judgement undermines the process in which the British decided to put the PMOI on its terrorist list.

“The reality is that neither in the open material nor in the closed material was there any reliable evidence that supported a conclusion that the PMOI retained any intention to resort to a terrorist activities in the future”.

As well as legal implications, this ruling will have many far reaching political implications for the British government. In this case, the British government stated that,

Presumably, what the British Home Secretary (Home Affairs Secretary) meant to do was to support the Iranian regime in their global fight against terrorism! This is an absurd statement, seeing as time after time the British Prime Minister himself stated Iran ’s role in the support of terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan , Lebanon and elsewhere. This is a major contradiction that the British foreign policy decision makers fail to explain. The British and American troops in Basra and elsewhere in Iraq are targeted by the Iranian made and supplied weapons and many groups in Iraq act as Iranian proxies. Afghan authorities admitted that it is the Iranian supplied IEDs and weapons which hampers the efforts by the Afghan and the US to bring about some form of normality to that country. In Lebanon, Hezbollah continues her campaign with Iranian financial support and blessings. Iran ’s military assistance is a major factor that has helped Hezbollah to conduct its rocket attacks against Israel for so long. In Gaza , Hamas acts as Iranian proxy and many of its members were trained by Iran ’s Revolutionary Guards Corps. Hamas is the major obstacle for peace between Israelis and Palestinian Authority. Therefore for a British Home Secretary to suggest that Iran is a member of the international community which is committed to war on terrorism is an attempt to deny the facts and borders insanity.

Simply, by putting the PMOI in the terror list, the British government tried to help prolong the life a regime which is not only an enemy of the Iranian people but also is a major source of conflict and insecurity in the Middle East. They simply tried to buy time for the regime by denying the right of the Iranian people and their resistance lead by the PMOI to bring about change in Iran.

The ruling by the highest courts in United Kingdom was a deliberation of justice. The most qualified judges in the UK, who were impartial and had no political agenda, after examining all the evidence provided by the British government, decided that the PMOI should not have been on the list of terrorist organisation in the UK. This ruling therefore justifies the PMOI and their agenda for democratic change in Iran. The injustice which was done to the PMOI is the same that is being done to people of Iraq and all those who are targeted by the Iranian regime and their proxies all over the world. The British and American soldiers who die in combat in Iraq are also victims of the silence against the Iranian regime and their actions in that country. Iranian efforts to destabilise Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Palestinian Authorities also remain unpunished. For as long as the international community is not prepared to stand up to Iran and choose to appease them, this injustice will continue. They must side with the Iranian people and their desire for change. Otherwise the alternative is a regime which pursues its policies through terror, violence and instability in the world’s most volatile region. The Iranian regime must not be seen as a partner for peace but the cause of insecurity and mayhem.

As the president elect of the Iranian resistance Mrs Maryam Rajavi has stated numerous times, the real partner for peace is the Iranian resistance and people of Iran . Their inspirations are the same values that the international community adhere to and have fought for. The same values that many democracies have fought for and made sacrifices for. The desire for change is not terrorism and the most important message of this ruling is that justice can not be sacrificed in the name of economic and political interests and diplomacy. It is now time for the EU and the US government to follow suit and by taking the PMOI off their terror lists, acknowledge the right of the Iranian people for democratic change in Iran.
Sharam Taromsari, Ph.D. is a former lecturer in International Relations and Middle Eastern Security and consultant on Middle Eastern Affairs.

View Source Here [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Iran’s arrest of Baha’is condemned”] (CNN) — Six Baha’i leaders in Iran were seized and imprisoned this week, the religious group said. The act prompted condemnation and concern from the movement and a top American religious freedom panel.

A U.S. panel says attacks on Iran’s Baha’is have increased since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became president.

Iranian intelligence agents searched the homes of the six on Wednesday and then whisked them away, according to the Baha’i’s World News Service. The report said the six are in Evin prison and that the arrests follow the detention in March of another Baha’i leader.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry could not immediately be reached for comment, and the incident has not been mentioned in Iran’s state-run media.

“Their only crime is their practice of the Baha’i faith,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i international community to the United Nations.

The U.S. State Department issued a statement Friday “strongly” condeming the arrests, which it said were “a clear violation of the Iranian regime’s international commitments and obligations to respect international religious freedom norms.

“We urge the authorities to release all Baha’is currently in detention and cease their ongoing harassment of the Iranian Baha’i community,” the U.S. statement said.

The group — regarded as the largest non-Muslim religious minority in Iran — says the arrests are reminiscent of roundups and killings of Baha’is that took place in Iran two decades ago.

“Especially disturbing is how this latest sweep recalls the wholesale arrest or abduction of the members of two national Iranian Baha’i governing councils in the early 1980s — which led to the disappearance or execution of 17 individuals,” Dugal said.

“The early morning raids on the homes of these prominent Baha’is were well-coordinated, and it is clear they represent a high-level effort to strike again at the Baha’is and to intimidate the Iranian Baha’i community at large,” she added.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom — a government panel that advises the president and Congress — condemned the Wednesday arrests, as well as another in March. The commission chairman called the acts the “latest sign of the rapidly deteriorating status of religious freedom and other human rights in Iran.”

The commission said the seven were members of an informal Baha’i group that tended to the needs of the community after the Iranian government banned all formal Baha’i activity in 1983.

The commission chairman, Michael Cromartie, echoed the fears that the “development signals a return to the darkest days of repression in Iran in the 1980s when Baha’is were routinely arrested, imprisoned, and executed.”

The Baha’is are regarded as “apostates” in Iran and have been persecuted there for years.

“Since 1979, Iranian authorities have killed more than 200 Baha’i leaders, thousands have been arrested and imprisoned, and more than 10,000 have been dismissed from government and university jobs,” the commission said.

The commission said that since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power a few years ago, Baha’is “have been harassed, physically attacked, arrested, and imprisoned.”

“During the past year, young Baha’i schoolchildren in primary and secondary schools increasingly have been attacked, vilified, pressured to convert to Islam, and in some cases, expelled on account of their religion.”

The commission said other groups in the predominantly Shiite Muslim country of Iran, such Sufis and Christians, are subject to intimidation and harassment. Ahmadinejad’s inflammatory statements about Israel have “created a climate of fear” among the country’s Jews.

The Baha’is say they have 5 million members across the globe, and about 300,000 in Iran.

The Baha’is say their faith “is the youngest of the world’s independent religions” and that its basic theme is that “humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society.”

They say their founder, Baha’u’llah (1817-1892), is regarded by Baha’is as “the most recent in the line of Messengers of God that stretches back beyond recorded time and that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad.”

View Source Here [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Iran once again rejects halt to uranium enrichment”] Iran Focus
5/16/2008

Tehran, Iran, May 15 – Iran’s Foreign Ministry has warned the United States to recognise Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and not to create an “unwise political atmosphere”, state media reported on Wednesday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini said, “The U.S. government had better pay attention to realities instead of making pre-judgments”. His remarks were carried by the official news agency IRNA.

In relation to a new package offered to Tehran by the world’s major powers in return for a halt to its uranium enrichment activities, Hosseini said, “We have not received any package from the group yet”.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman added, “Iran’s inalienable rights to use peaceful nuclear energy such as enrichment and producing fuel are not negotiable”.

The comments pour cold water on the new incentives package being offered to Tehran by the UN Security Council’s Five Permanent Members and Germany. Uranium enrichment and the production of nuclear fuel are seen as integral parts in the process of acquiring a nuclear weapon. [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Diplomats unmoved by Iran overture in nuclear row”] By Mark Heinrich
VIENNA | Fri May 16, 2008 8:44am EDT
(Reuters) – An Iranian overture to defuse a standoff with world powers over its uranium enrichment programme will not be addressed unless Tehran suspends sensitive nuclear activity first, Western diplomats are signaling.

Iran this week attempted to skirt concern over its nuclear agenda by proposing negotiations on a broad range of world problems, while underlining that the Islamic Republic did not regard its enrichment campaign as one of them.

Countering an updated offer from six powers of trade incentives to suspend the programme, it urged cooperation on “common security threats” like terrorism and again called for a multinational enrichment consortium on its soil, which the West has ruled out.

“We will be prepared to discuss Iran’s proposals in detail once the conditions for full negotiations have been established,” a British diplomat said, referring also to France, Germany, the United States, Russia and China.

Asked if this meant the six did not intend to address Iran’s proposals in substance unless Tehran shut down enrichment first, he replied: “That would certainly be one reading of it.”

Uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power stations or, if sufficiently enriched, in an atomic weapon. Iran insists its nuclear programme is for generating electricity so it can export more oil, and rejects Western suspicions it may be a cover for building a bomb.

A senior EU diplomat, asked if the six were still insisting Iran suspend enrichment before full negotiations could take place, said: “If Iran’s document is indeed a contribution for future negotiations, then it should be discussed in detail when negotiations start. And Iran knows what to do about (that).”

SUSPENSION DEMAND UNREALISTIC?

Analysts say it may no longer be realistic to insist Iran shut down its programme before talks begin and that policymakers should explore a compromise involving mutual security assurances, trade deals and allowing Tehran to keep some nuclear activity under tougher U.N. non-proliferation inspections.

The British diplomat said EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana was waiting for an invitation to come to Tehran, along with top diplomats from the six except for Americans, to present their incentives packet to Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.

He said the six would be in a position to give a preliminary response to Iran’s overture during such a meeting in Tehran.

Other diplomats who saw Iran’s proposal said it glossed over international worries Iran could parlay enrichment technology into the capability to produce fuel for atomic bombs and so was likely to be of little use in overcoming the stalemate.

Tehran’s proposal rejected “injustice and lawless behavior towards the rights of nations”, alluding to three sets of U.N. sanctions slapped on Iran over its refusal to halt enrichment.

A multilateral enrichment consortium in Iran, co-managed with other countries, could theoretically minimize chances of diversions into nuclear “weaponisation”.

But world powers, wary of Iran’s record of nuclear secrecy, curbing U.N. inspections and insistence on nuclear sovereignty, believe such a consortium would allow Tehran to perfect technology applicable to nuclear warheads.

In a letter attached to Iran’s proposal, Mottaki said it was important and urged big powers to “deal with it constructively”.

In an allusion to sanctions and preconditions, Mottaki said further “intimidation” would only “complicate the situation”

(Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

View Source Here

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