Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Hand of the Mullahs

Michael Ledeen once again pleads with the U.S. administration not to be fooled by the repackaging of Rafsanjani as the saviour of the EU3/Iran negotiations and the very real threat of the Iranian regime to U.S. security. In the National Review Online he provides a must read analysis.

Hopefully the MSM will actually read his analysis (unlike the reporters of the Times.UK). Now is the time for informed action, not self deception. Must we wait for another 9/11 before we support regime change in Iran? READ MORE
What we know, and what we don’t do.

The State Department has once again awarded the blue ribbon to the mullahs of Tehran:
Iran remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism in 2004. Its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Ministry of Intelligence and Security were involved in the planning and support of terrorist acts and continued to exhort a variety of groups to use terrorism in pursuit of their goals.
This is no small accomplishment, even for the leaders of the Islamic republic. As recent events in Iraq make all too clear, there are still lots of terrorists with an insatiable appetite for the blood of their friends and neighbors, even if it has gotten much harder for them to slaughter crusaders and infidels. As Coalition fighters repeatedly report, Iran's claw marks — often side by side with the Syrians' and the Saudis' — are all over innumerable terrorist strikes, from Fallujah and Hilla to Baghdad and Mosul in Iraq, and, with the melting snows, across Afghanistan as well. It is not hard to get this story; I have abundant first-hand testimony to these facts from military and civilian sources in both countries. Any serious news organization could get it, but none seems to want it.

The State Department knows it, and says so in its own peculiar convoluted way:
Iran pursued a variety of policies in Iraq during 2004, some of which appeared to be inconsistent with Iran's stated objectives regarding stability in Iraq... Senior (Iraqi) officials have publicly expressed concern over Iranian interference in Iraq, and there were reports that Iran provided funding, safe transit, and arms to insurgent elements...
In normal English, that would read, "Iran says it wants stability in Iraq, but it isn't so; the mullahcracy supports the terrorists." Had the State Department been interested in expanding its context ever so slightly, it could have added, "and its support for the terrorists is coordinated with the Syrians." A few months ago, American forces in Iraq captured photographs and documents about a meeting in Syria between Iraqi terrorists and Syrian and Iranian intelligence officials. Similar information was found in Fallujah.

If we cast our gaze elsewhere, we find the Iranians fighting democracy in Lebanon. Their Syrian buddies have withdrawn their armed forces — while sending their intelligence officers back into the country in new wardrobes — which leaves the Lebanese to the tender mercies of Hezbollah, the Iranian-created and mullah-operated organization that is the most dangerous band of killers on earth. And they have other allies, too, ranging from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (Ahmad Gibril's assassins, who have taken over a goodly number of rocket launchers and T55 tanks that the Syrians thoughtfully left behind in Damour and in the Bekaa Valley) to the militias of the Syrian Socialist National Party, the Baath Party, and the Tawhid in Tripoli.

All this raises some very embarrassing questions for President Bush and his top strategists. We know this is going on, yet we are fighting a purely defensive war in Iraq alone. The Iranians, Syrians, and Saudis have all heard the president say he wants an end to tyranny in the Middle East, because he understands the passionate embrace between the tyrants and the terrorists. The Iranian, Syrian and Saudi terror masters know that those words are aimed at their rule, and they are rightly afraid, afraid that Bush's vision will inspire their own people to become the gravediggers of the old regimes.

The terror masters hoped and expected that they would be able to turn Iraq into a replay of Lebanon in the 1980s, when they drove American and French armed forces out of the country. But they have failed. Contrary to their hopes and expectations, we — and the Iraqi people — have not been spooked by the wave of terror, and the Iraqis have demonstrated grit, bravery, and patience far beyond most expectations. Indeed, as the slaughter of innocent Iraqis grows, the people are manifestly becoming more resolute; dead national guardsmen and soldiers are quickly replaced with new volunteers, and the murder of government officials has not deterred Iraqi citizens from participating in government. The Iraqis are fighting back.

Worst of all, from the standpoint of the terror masters, the ultimate threat — freedom — is growing stronger, just as the president wishes, and freedom is spreading even though, despite his constant promises to support democratic revolution, he is doing virtually nothing to help it. He, along with Secretaries Rice and Rumsfeld, has not rallied to the side of the Iranian people, even though the Iranians have abundantly demonstrated their desire to be rid of the mullahs. Two weeks ago there were massive demonstrations and work stoppages in the oil-rich regions, centering around the city of Ahwaz. The demonstrators called for an end to the regime, scores of people were killed, and hundreds were beaten and arrested. On May Day, workers again demonstrated against the regime, this time in all the major cities. In Tehran, strongman and likely president-in-waiting Hashemi Rafsanjani was hooted down by the crowd, and pictures of him and Supreme Leader Khamenei were torn down and trampled. Yet no one in the American Government spoke a word of support for the demonstrators, and no one has yet endorsed the one thing that unites the overwhelming majority of Iranians, whatever their political proclivities: a national referendum on the legitimacy of the regime itself. If there were a national ballot on the single question — Do you want an Islamic republic? — the regime would pass into history overnight. But there is silence in official Washington.

The anti-Rafsanjani demonstrations are very important, because Rafsanjani will soon formally declare his candidacy for the presidency. Elections are scheduled for June, and the regime is desperate to "prove" its standing with the people. To that end, they will use force and trickery to produce a huge voter turnout. They will compel all government employees and all military personnel to go to the polls, and they will spread rumors (if you don't vote, you'll never get an exit visa; if you don't vote, your family members will be punished, etc.) to bring the unwilling to vote. The mullahs know that many millions of Iranians plan to boycott the elections, in a kind of silent demonstration of contempt.

The trickery has to do with Rafsanjani's grand return to national politics (he is an ex-president). He intends to campaign as the anti-establishment candidate par excellence, and has reportedly connived with Khamenei to prepare a super-reformist image. Rafsanjani intends to run against the Supreme Leader, criticizing the regime's performance on everything from foreign policy (hoping to seduce the West into thinking that he — who has been a key figure in the mullahcracy for decades — will produce the long awaited "opening" to the United States) to the management of the economy. It is unlikely that many Iranians will fall for this; they remember Rafsanjani as one of the most brutal leaders of the vicious crackdown on the student demonstration of the late eighties (a story recounted in shocking detail in the memoirs of the Grand Ayatollah Montazeri), and they are aware of the billions that he and his family have reportedly stashed away in foreign banks and real estate.

All of this is public information, yet we do not hear it from our leaders, and the silence in Washington must be terribly discouraging to the Iranian people. It will get even worse if the Rafsanjani ploy or others that will follow are taken seriously by our diplomats, as they surely will by those Europeans eager to continue to do business in Iran and restrain the United States from pursuing regime change there.

It is long past time for the president to show that he is serious about winning the war against terror; it can't be done by speeches alone, and it doesn't require armed invasion. But it does require action: political action to support and aid the forces of democratic revolution in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.

If you listen to the hateful speeches of Rafsanjani, Khamenei, and the other tyrants in Tehran, you will hear them warning us that our day of judgment will soon arrive. They publicly enlist thousands of would-be martyrs, eager to wage jihad against us wherever they find us, here and overseas. And they are already here. In early March, Mr. Mahmoud Youssef Kourani, a resident of Dearborn, Michigan, pled guilty to providing material support to Hezbollah. The Detroit News carried the story, of which the last three paragraphs deserve our most careful attention:
Kourani received training in weaponry, spy craft and counterintelligence in Lebanon and Iran...Kourani was "a member, fighter, recruiter and fund-raiser for Hezbollah."

His brother is Hezbollah's chief of military security in southern Lebanon and oversaw Kourani's activities.

Kourani...has been in custody since May 2003, when federal agents...charged him with harboring an illegal immigrant. Kourani pleaded guilty, served six months in a federal prison and was awaiting deportation...when he was indicted in 2004 on the terror charge.
We're talking about the brother of the chief of Hezbollah's military security in Lebanon, a man trained as an agent by the Iranians.

We dawdle at our peril, and yet we dawdle.

To continue to say "faster, please" is like spitting into the wind. We're back at September 10, waiting for our enemies to rouse us from our contented torpor.

-Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. He is resident scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute.