Tuesday, February 14, 2006

War, Disgrace and Annihilation

Mehrdad Sheibani, Rooz Online:
The week began with the resolution of the IAEA and ended with the “million man” march in its response on February 11th to mark the day of the victory of the revolution in 1979. The hardliners completely dominated Iran’s political scene for the whole week. UN Secretary General tried to calm the atmosphere that now exists between Iran and the world community regarding is nuclear programs by calling on both sides to return to the negotiations table. Mehdi Karrubi, the presidential candidate cleric who now heads the Hezbe Etemad Melli party has called on the leaders to act cautiously. Rafsanjani, the veteran politician and first generation revolutionary has called for wisdom and thought in the next steps. The Mosherakat reformist party wants the country to return to former president Khatami’s and Hassan Rohani’s foreign policy, adding that Iran would not attain its goals by “shouting” but only by strategic policies. But the hardliners on both sides talk of “military action and holly angst. In Iran where president Ahmadinejad asked US president George Bush to bring Islam and become his comrade, spoke in a language similar to his Christian counterpart. READ MORE

And as the BBC correctly predicted, the stock market dropped even further after the IAEA made its announcement to refer Iran to the UN Security Council. And while all indicators were enough to make any person feel concerned, president Ahmadinejad’s government continued to push Europe out of its talks or domain, i.e. the policy formulated by Javad Larijani and implemented by Ali Larijani. The head of Iran’s nuclear organization openly said that it was wrong to trust the Europeans or believe that they were sincere in their goals. Allaedin Borujerdi announced that Europe had made its historic mistake, and called for an immediate resumption of Iran’s enrichment programs. The foreign ministry spokesman called on Europe to rectify its mistake, and Massoud Jazaeri who is considered an expert in pouring oil on fire [sic] laughed at the joy Europeans and the Americans had expressed with the IAEA decision and strongly attacked Europe.

And while president Ahmadinejad made headlines and the cover of Newsweek magazine, issued an 8-point declaration, reminiscent of the days of ayatollah Khomeini, which were nothing but a repetition of his threats and slogans. Suddenly those who called themselves “students” began to act and the Danish embassy was occupied in the same manner the US embassy had been in 1979, and after president Ahmadinejad’s message was read out by his relative who is the head of the police force, the embassy was vacated after being burnt and demolished. The embassies of Austria, Norway, and France too were attacked with lesser damages. This time, unlike all previous times when self-organized groups appeared at the British embassy, nobody marched to the British compound. Nobody could figure out whether the architect of the current policy, Javad Larijani, whose name brings memories of his talks with Nick Brown in London, has changed the rules of the game and decides which embassy to target or was it the astounding words of the British Foreign Secretary’s interview with the BBC’s Persian Service.

The attacks on the foreign embassies in Tehran were apparently carried out because of the insulting cartoons published four months ago in a Danish publication. The highest executive officer of Iran announced to the public that the cartoons were published because of the victory of Hamas in Palestine, two weeks ago! In total there were 9 cartoons, while another 3 were added to them by a young Malaysian cleric Ahmad Arkadi. It is reported that when the plan to incite Muslims did not work, Arkadi took the cartoons to the Middle East.

I Tehran while attacks on foreign embassies and on the West in general have been mounting, seyed Ahmad Khatami, a hardline and radical cleric who is now the Friday prayer of Tehran, who is known for his defense of Saeed Emami the intelligence officer who is considered the master mind behind the governments serial murders of dissidents and intellectuals, called on the demonstrators to stop attacking foreign embassies, while supporting their cause and actions. With his words, the “self-organized” groups suddenly stopped their attacks and their energies were diverted elsewhere. The four days of Ashura and Tasua (holly days for the Shiites) were the occasion to mobilize the “self-organized” groups to put Iran’s nuclear policy on a referendum, or portray it as such. The days also coincided with the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 revolution that overthrew the monarchy of Mohammad Reza Shah. President Ahmadinejad was of course one of the leaders of the annual march in which he declared that the destiny of the enemies of Islam is nothing but “disgrace, humiliation and annihilation”.

The response from the other international camp was no less dramatic: war, disgrace and annihilation. The international press increased its attacks on Iran after it reported that the Russian vote at the IAEA had been secured after it had been promised Iraq’s vast oil resources and, according to Baztab site belonging to Mohsen Rezai the former Passdaran Revolutionary Guards Corps commander, China would soon follow suit with Saudi promises. In just one week, president Bush made three threatening statements over Iran. The US secretary of defense repeated similar threats at a Munich conference. He said the Islamic Republic was a serious threat to world peace and security. The next person to elevate the rhetoric was Dick Cheney who said that we will attack Iran if necessary. The US ambassador in neighboring Turkey even spoke of joint activities against nuclear states.

So with all the saber rattling and diplomatic tit-for-tats, the two contending parties sit face to face. Both talk of war and destruction: one wants the whole world to become Islamic, while the other claims a free Middle East.

Mehrdad Sheibani is a veteran journalist and commentator living in exile.