Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Strategy of ‘Survival at any Cost’

Mehrdad Sheibani, Rooz Online:
The first Iranian month of summer ended last week with two key events.

The G8 Summit meeting which had hinted would send Iran’s nuclear dossier to the UN Security Council, and Akbar Ganji’s call for a world-wide 3-day hunger strike which created a global network linked to Tehran. The message of both events was well expressed by Ganji: Regime change. READ MORE

On way Iranian revolutionaries differentiate between the Islamic regime and the former monarchy is by using two different words for the term ‘regime’. But after three decades, some elite who have risen from within the revolution use terminology that was reserved to reference the monarchy. Akbar Ganji has used the term ‘imperial’ to present the face of the Islamic regime and listed its features in these words:Iran is a collection of prison-like islands: people, books, newspapers, happy songs, and any voice of symbol advancing awareness are all in confinement.”

Speaking at an event that links Tehran to the global hunger strike called on by Ganji, Issa Saharkhiz, who speaks of the approaching footsteps of fascism, said, “What is going in the country is nothing but the absolute rule of one man.” He expressly names the leader of the Islamic Republic to be the commander of the ‘military party’ which is running the country. Even moderate former president Khatami says that Hitler too built his system on the deceived masses. A prominent leadership member of the Hezbe Kargozarane Sazandegi (Agents for Construction party) Hedayatollah Aghayee, completes the circle of critics when he says that ‘the government does not accept any criticism.”

But the ‘secret military partyitself does not hide its identity either. A key member of the Guardians Council, for example, has said, “Iran’s revolution (of 1905) was based on the Sharia, and its leader was Fazlollah Nouri.” And in this way, he confessed to the nature of the group that holds political reign in Iran.

Nouri was a senior Iranian cleric who in the Middle East’s first liberation revolution in 1905 sided with dictatorship. And while he was hanged by the revolutionaries of his time, his legacy has remained and his supporters a century later turned the 1979 revolution, which called for independence and freedom, against itself. Nouri’s ideal regime is what goes by the name of Taliban these days.

The current representatives of this thought who have taken complete control of the country after a long gradual coup, see themselves endangered from two fronts. The first from inside the country, where the freedom movement is under attack, but remains resilient. And the other one is from the outside new international order led by the United States which does not accept any regime of Taliban form.

The followers of the Sharia who could not tolerate even the feeble constitutionalism of Khatami, has connected these two events and has identified its confrontation with external aggression and velvet revolution as its survival strategy. Domestically, the order of the day is the policy of ruthless crackdown and iron fist to prevent any event. Last week, Resalat, the main traditional right-wing newspaper announced the completion of a video film on Ramin Jahanbegloo’s ‘confessions.’ This imprisoned Iranian scholar ‘confessed’ after ‘investigations’ – which is a term used for being physically tortured – to what the minister of intelligence had heralded earlier: mission to implement a velvet revolution.

During the ‘decade of terror’ of the 1990s, such ‘confessions’ were used to crackdown on political parties and political movements. Nowadays, the same tactic is used to confront any social and even trade activities. Which is exactly what happened at last week’s peaceful gathering of workers from Tehran’s Vahed bus company. Externally, the strategy of ‘survival at any cost’ turned to a very dangerous tactical phase. On the eve of the G8 Summit meeting and while all signs suggested that the Islamic regime would not be given any more time to kill and its nuclear dossier would be sent to the UN Security Council, Ali Larijani spoke of Iran’s ‘reaction’. And at exactly at the same time that Iran’s nuclear issues were under discussion, a new terrifying war erupted in the Middle East.

This war is a tactical step in the ‘survival at any cost’ strategy of the Islamic regime which involves not just Iran, but also Syria and the Taliban movements in Lebanon. The purpose of this war through the Hizbullah card is to threaten the West, and particularly the US. The presence of the Esteshhadiyun (volunteer martyrs) who had been selected from amongst the 25,000 volunteers, and the announcement of their participation in the current war against Israel, which was later denied, is the practical reminder of the repeated ‘endangering of Western interests’ around the globe. And all of this is for one end: The survival of a regime that will do anything for its life. In Tehran, Keyhan newspaper which normally reflects the views of Iran’s military-political commanders expressly announced this in these words: “It should not be difficult for the West’ huge intelligence machinery to understand Iran’s unprecedented power. One example of this power is currently at display in Lebanon and the occupied territories.”

The initial response of the G8 members to this tactic of the Islamic Republic, which in the words of the BBS managed to overshadow the gathering, was to issue a statement for referring Iran to the UN Security Council, thus starting a new round of complex and long battles.

But the most important event of last week was the sealing of Iran’s civil movement around the world. This is a movement that neither accepts a regime change through the harms of military action nor views the continuation of the current regime in the interests of the country. But this connection had once before been brutally smashed on the eve of its establishment. The Berlin conference where Iran’s domestic political elite from within the regime and outside, had tried to connect the domestic movement to the international network, was crushed through the unity of hardliners inside and outside the regime. Last week, a survival from that conference tried to position himself at the center of this connection and move the pro-freedom movement onto a new phase. The purpose of this movement is to conclude this 150-year old battle between dictatorship and freedom in Iran. Any other way than this domestic movement, will lead to a dead-end.