Iran Needs to be Liberated Too, Not Just Iraq
Like other recent émigrés and defectors, the Iranian rowers fled from a country in a headlong plunge into one of Dante's lowest levels of hell, where drug use has reached epidemic proportions, where prostitution is rampant, particularly among the young, where any publication that dares suggest the regime is rotten is immediately shut down and its editors dragged before Islamic tribunals, where the regime admits to one-seventh of the population hopelessly below the poverty line, and where, as a result, the people now show open contempt for all the leaders, from Supreme Leader Khamenei to President Khatami — the so-called president who is the darling of the regime's Western apologists.
The authority of the leaders has reached such a low point that Khamenei himself found it almost impossible to find a replacement for the Ayatollah Taheri, who shocked the country a few weeks ago when he resigned as Friday Prayer Leader in Isfahan. There are 70,000 mullahs in Iran, but the Supreme Leader had to go outside the country to recruit his personal representative in Syria, Mr. Tabatabai-Nejad. The mullahs' man in Damascus for several years, Tabatabai-Nejad was the paymaster for Iranian-sponsored terrorists in Syria and Lebanon, and got a warm sendoff from Hezbollah when he left the Syrian capital.
Even such publications as the British Guardian are now publishing articles with such catchy headlines as "No One Wants Mollahs in Iran," that begin with phrases like "'No one wants the mullahs, not even Khatami, who no longer seems to have any power,' said Farideh, a medical student at the university..."
The latest courageous man to describe the dreadful Iranian reality is one Akbar Ganji, perhaps the country's leading journalist, now serving a five-year sentence, took full advantage of a one-week parole by distributing a sixty-page pamphlet he had written in prison. "The Islamic Republic of Iran," he tells us, "not only is basically anti-democratic but also irreformable." He calls for a mass movement of civil disobedience to force the rulers to accept a national referendum on the proper form of government for the country.
This alone would be sufficient to confirm Ganji's status as an enemy of the regime, along with other lay and clerical critics. But Ganji went much further. He attacked the leader of the Iranian Revolution, the Ayatollah Khomeini, pointing out that Khomeini had promised democracy but, once in power, had instituted a clerical tyranny. "So long as this system...is in place, there is no way for Iranians to acquire democracy."
Strike two. But he went even further. Islam itself, he said, is "irreconcilable" with the idea of democracy, because Islam insists on different rules for different sexes, people of different faiths, and so forth, and therefore Islam is incompatible with the ideal of true equality for all citizens.
And then, for those who still hold out hope that the system can be reformed, Ganji proclaimed that not only are the reformers — from President Khatami on down — "dead," but their goals have by now been overtaken by the more radical goals of the Iranian people: a secular regime, equality among all, and full human rights.
No wonder that most Iranians believe that Ganji has signed his own death sentence, but the larger import of this amazing document is that it really does reflect the feelings of the Iranian people today. Like Ganji, they have concluded that the regime is so corrupt, and the society has become so degraded, that the people in authority are utterly unable to deal with the crisis. So it must go.
Indeed, the behavior of the leaders suggests that they know it themselves. Just this past week, Foreign Minister Kharrazi sneaked into New York and held quiet meetings with former American diplomats, and whispered that Iran would be willing to cooperate with the United States in the war against Iraq, provided that the Bush administration promised not to threaten the regime. This should fool no one (although the State Department wizards no doubt still hope for rapprochement), since the White House is well aware of the extensive Iranian operations against our troops in Afghanistan, not to mention efforts to murder President Karzai. And they also know that at 6:45 in the morning of September 21, nearly 60 top Iranian officials from Khamenei's office flew to Saudi Arabia (where they will stay until October 4), to try to coordinate joint efforts against us once the campaign against Iraq begins. Khamenei is convinced that once Saddam is brought down, he and his cronies are next on the American list, and he is telling the Saudis that they will follow in relatively short order.
From his lips to God's ears.
Meanwhile, as the Iranians feign peace, they prepare for war. They intend to test within a week or ten days a super-modern air-to-ground missile of far greater accuracy than anything they have shown us before. Components come from various Western countries, from South Africa and France to Australia and Canada, with critical technology courtesy of our Chinese and North Korean friends.
And, in keeping with its role as the mother of all terrorism, Iran continues to pour its resources into the terror network. Elahe Hicks, a researcher for Human Rights Watch who visited Tehran in July, felt compelled to put the lie to Foreign Minister Kharrazi in a letter to the New York Times on the 15th of September: "I met with several senior Iranian government officials...who assured me that Qaeda members were indeed being sheltered in Iran by hard-line clerical leaders..."
Faster, please. Much faster. These people will soon lunge for our throats.
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