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Two Iranian Politicians End Up Dead: Possibly Assassinated By The Regime

Last Wednesday two leading members of the Iranian parliament were killed when their car went off a cliff north of Tehran. You would be hard-pressed to find an informed citizen who thinks it was an accident; and the Ayatollah Taheri, the now-celebrated cleric who resigned as the leading religious hierarch of Isfahan, announced they had been executed by the regime, and went on to denounce the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamanei, and his band of thugs.
Taheri has been a constant critic of the Khamenei tyranny for some time, but had been left free because of his considerable prestige and support from other leading ayatollahs. But this outburst was too much, and orders were given to arrest him. However, when the police tried to carry out the orders, they found the citizens of Isfahan long considered the most-rebellious city in the country ready to fight in defense of Taheri, and the police were forced to inform Khamenei that they were unable to arrest Taheri. The uneasy and potentially explosive standoff continues.

The two dead parliamentarians included Ali-Reza Nouri, the brother of a former interior minister, and, like his brother, an outspoken opponent of the regime. Ali-Reza had been a supporter of Iran's enfeebled president, Mohammad Khatami, but recently announced his intention to demand Khatami's resignation, which might have precipitated even greater public outcries and demonstrations against the regime.

It is hard to see how even such a timid and impotent figure as Khatami can remain in office. He made a gesture of bravado last month by introducing two bills, both passed by parliament, insisting that the religious leaders had no power to overrule his actions. The most-revered religious figure in Iran, the Ayatollah Montazeri now in his sixth year of house arrest in Isfahan proclaimed that in fact Khatami was right, and the exercise of such arbitrary power by the regime was not permitted by the Constitution. But Khamenei and his henchmen have no interest in such legal niceties, and continue to veto any and all efforts to introduce pockets of freedom into the life of the Islamic Republic, and so far have demonstrated the will to arrest, torture, and kill anyone who tries to challenge them. Well-informed Iranians with whom I have spoken believe that the "accident" that befell Nouri and his colleague was an explicit warning to Khatami: If you dare challenge us further, you will end up the same way.

Meanwhile, the killing continues relentlessly, with public hangings and stonings the order of the day. And the silence of the West continues apace. Fascinating, isn't it, that the human-rights establishment goes ballistic over the scheduled stoning of one Nigerian woman, but says hardly a word about the three recent stonings in Iran, with more in the works? And it's equally fascinating that neither the Department of State nor the staff of the National Security Council denounces the wave of repression under way in Iran. What can explain the apparent indifference of Colin Powell and Richard Armitage in Foggy Bottom, and Elliott Abrams at the NSC? Do they find Iranians less deserving of human rights than Nigerians? And what can explain the interminable silence of the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, as well as the major news networks, to the butchery of the Islamic Republic? At the time of the Khomeini Revolution, journalists such as Robin Wright and Elaine Sciolino decried the shah's sins. Why do they now blunt their pens?

In any event, the regime now finds itself between many large rocks and innumerable hard places, as demonstrated by the constantly self-contradictory statements issued from the mouths of the mullahs. They punish anyone who suggests it would be goo for Iran to have better relations with the United States, yet they pursue improved relations themselves, most recently by sending a new ambassador to the United Nations with a public mandate to woo American officials and opinion makers. One day they promise to fight against any American action against Iraq, and the next they promise not to intervene if there is a U.N. resolution to that end. They issue a statement promising to support a two-state "solution" to the Palestinian question if the Palestinians accept it, and then swear eternal enmity to Israel and denounce anyone who supports a two-state policy. They deny the presence of al Qaeda terrorists on Iranian soil, and then leak the "news" that a son of Osama bin Laden entered Iran, and was immediately expelled to Pakistan, or maybe it was Saudi Arabia. But Western experts know that hundreds of al Qaeda fighters and leaders have either transited Iran, or remain there in safe havens.

Like the rest of the terror masters, and their appeasers in Europe, the Iranians are trying desperately to buy time, hoping against hope that President Bush will lose his nerve and call off the revolutionary war. They will say and do anything that gets them through another day, but they know that once the war starts they are doomed.

Faster, please. Don't let the war against terrorism turn into a replay of the Gulf War, with the tyrants still in power.
I don't understand 04.Nov.2002 15:29


the author's argument. Is he suggesting that the Bush regime attack Iran? The Iran regime and the Bush regime seem to be playing the same game; baiting both sides of every conflict and flagrantly assassinating their political enemies. We (US) don't have public stonings yet, but we will if Ashcroft has his way. Fundametalism is fundametalism irrespective of who's promoting it. The "tyrants" people all sides of this world war, and the mighty US ought to be very careful about who "we" attack.