Sunday, April 23, 2006

Is the United States serious about Iran?

Amil Imani, an Iranian blogger
Recently, Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice has requested $85 million to support pro-democracy elements inside Iran and also assist the Iranian opposition groups outside of Iran.

While I am grateful for this kind gesture from President George W. Bush’s administration, I have serious doubts that this amount can change anything in Iran. I doubt that the $85 million (if Secretary Rice indeed receives it) will be used effectively and wisely.

President Bush, in his 2005 state of union address, once again reiterated his support of the Iranian people. He said, “And to the Iranian people, I say tonight: As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you.” A Tehran University student responded, “As long as President Bush stands with the Iranian people, the Iranian people will stand with him and with America."

Is it not totally ironic that the presidential race in the United States was won by a few percentage points, but in Iran, President Bush won by a landslide? What also remains irony is while President Bush is sinking in the polls in his home country, his popularity is climbing in Iran. Yes, the Persian speaking people have found a friend who says he cares about the Iranian plight. But, really, how serious is President Bush about the Iranian plight? Is it simply a lot of rhetoric with no action? READ MORE

It has been 5 consecutive years that President Bush has adamantly supported the Iranian people in his state of the union address. What we have seen is too much carrot, but not enough stick or as they say in Texas all hat and no cattle. Mr. President, while I have supported your efforts to liberate Iraq and bring democracy to the region, I am afraid the key to peace in Iraq and the region is in the hands of the Iranian people. As long as the Islamic regime rules over the defenseless people in Iran, Iraq will never see the light of democracy.

While we are spending over $200 million a day for the war in Iraq, in contrast, a $85 million proposal to bring change in Iran seems utterly unreasonable and unrealistic. We are talking about the Islamic republic in Iran "the world's most active state sponsor of terrorism", according to the U.S. State Department.

According to research by the Iranian Studies Group, an independent academic organization at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), more than one in four Iranian-Americans hold a master's or doctoral degree, the highest rate among 67 ethnic groups studied. Iranians continue to be among the most highly educated in U.S. and annually inject over $600 billion into the U.S. economy.

It would be a travesty for the Iranian opposition groups to accept such an insignificant amount of money while the Iranian-Americans are such large contributors to the U.S. economy.

So far Iranian-Americans have not given big money to the cause of liberating their fellow Iranians in Iran, nor has the U.S. government given any significant amount for the eradication of the mother of all terrorist groups in the world, the Islamic regime in Iran. Again, we are back to square one.

The United States still holds billions of dollars of the Iranian assets in U.S. banks. It only makes sense to utilize this fund for the regime change by the Iranian opposition abroad. This money must be returned to its legitimate heirs, the Iranian people.

So, if the U.S. is serious about a regime change in Iran, if the U.S. is hoping for a democratic form of government in Iran and if the U.S. truly advocates a broader democracy in the Middle East, then I urge the white House to consider unfreezing the Iranian assets and supporting all the Iranian opposition in doing what is best for their country. After all, Iranians know Iranian mentality much better than any foreign governments.

It is time for the US government to get serious about this issue. Bombing Iran’s installations will not help the cause. As a matter of fact, it probably creates unity with the regime inside Iran. The most effective way is spending the Iranian frozen assets in the right direction.

Let us create a secular, democratic Iranian nation and obliterate the venomous theocratic regime in Iran which the majority of Iranians consider to be alien occupiers. The clock is ticking and the majority of Iranians want to be free from the oppressors now. So I urge the administration to stop the bureaucracy and get down to business immediately.

Amil Imani is an Iranian born/United States Citizen and pro democracy activist who resides in the United States of America. Imani is a poet, writer, literary translator, novelist and an essayist who has been writing and speaking out for the struggling people of his native land, Iran. He maintains a website at