Friday, June 23, 2006

The Policy of Buying Time

Mehrdad Sheibani, Rooz Online:
The last week of spring began on Saturday in Iran when Shargh newspaper, carrying a large photograph of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Shanghai meeting on its front cover, hit the news stands. In the photograph, which was harshly criticized by pro-hardline newspaper Keyhan, the presidents of China and Russia are seen walking side by side in a communist fashion, while Ahmadinejad trails behind them in a subservient manner. READ MORE

The Youth Association of Jebhe Mosharekat front compared Iran’s ruling system to those in ‘communist and monarchial countries’, while Abdollah Ramezan-zadeh, the spokesman of former government of Khatami spoke of the ‘rootless-ness’ of those who have captured power in Iran, which was a reminder of the words of Hassan Rohani, former chairman of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council who also spoke of the ‘nouveaux riche’ in Iran.

On the same Saturday it was announced that Iran had the world’s second largest oil reserves, the letter of the 50 economists teaching in Iranian universities was published. The letter warned about the ‘serious economic crisis’ in the country’s economy and was harshly attacked by an aide to president Ahmadinejad. As if this was not enough, two other warnings followed up. The Danesh-Amookhtegan student organization and the Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat student organization jointly announced in a news conference the ‘extensive violations of human rights’ in Iran. Ms Azam Taleghani, the daughter of the late ayatollah Taleghani, wrote an open letter to the leader of the Islamic regime warning him about the uniformity inside the administration. Again on the same Saturday, Iran’s soccer team faced that of Portugal in the world soccer series. In the final meeting of the team members with President Ahmadinejad, the latter showed them the path to victory, to complete the successes of the regime, as he put it himself. He told the players: “Say Oh Mohammad and shoot into the goal,” which of course returned laughter from his audience. But when the game ended, 70 million Iranians cried. Nobody heard what the Portuguese said but when they scored t goals against Iran, they ended Iran’s dream of getting in the world race. Hassan Roshan the former star of Iran’s national soccer team who is known as the ‘soccer genius’ called the defeat ‘the reflection of the whole Iranian society.’ A description that befits all the events in the country. The week also completed the first year of rule of the ‘military base party’ which Abdollah Ramezani summed up in the following words: “This is a rootless political group which has no experience or political knowledge, and has succeeded in coming to power simply by manipulating the correlation of power. During the presidential elections, none of the groups belonging to Jame-e Modaresin (Association of Teachers), Jame-e Rohaniyat (Association of Clerics), the Kargozaran or the reformers supported this group.” A group that has “fundamentally put the country in danger’s way.”

During the week, the leader of the Islamic state meet with the ‘leaders of the regime’ of which all except two belong to the right wing of the political spectrum and declared the current danger to lie in the ‘soft overthrow’ of the regime, which is the same term that was used earlier by the commander of the Passdaran Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Mohammad Khatami, who as was revealed from the letter of Ms Azam Taleghani (the daughter of the chairman of the Revolutionary Council and the first Friday prayer leader of Tehran, who was also among the regime reformists) implemented the views of the supreme leader of the state in all his activities as president and used the doctrine of ‘absolute obedience’, warmly welcomed president Ahmadinejad to the meeting, as did the former Prime Minister in the 1908s Mir Hossein Moussavi. In addition to them, Hashemi Rafsanjani too welcomed the president with a smile. These smiles may be interpreted to be the results of demonstrating unity at a time of danger, or they may be reflecting the dealings behind the scenes which remind us Iranians of a poem by a famous Iranian poetess Foroogh Farrokhzad, who wrote:

The world is full of sounds of men,
Who as they smile at you,
Are busy knitting the snooze for your neck.

Towards the end of the week, news came that Saeed Mortezavi, the principal person responsible for the crackdown on the press and supporters of freedom and Karimi Rad the minister of justice of the Islamic regime, will be traveling to Switzerland for a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council which rejected Iran’s membership. And while they do, their most famous victim, Akbar Ganji is already traveling the world where he repeats: “The Islamic Republic is a violator of human rights.”

During the week, another political prisoner revealed that he was witness to Saeed Mortezavi’s interrogations of Iranian-Canadian photo-journalist Zahra Kazemi on the same night that led to her killing.

So as the week was coming to its close, a new file was opened against the Islamic regime while an old one, the nuclear one, awaited its resolution. The words of former president Mohammad Khatami confirmed the words of this writer that both the Islamic Republic and the United States were each buying time, albeit for different reasons which the weekly Economist called dangerous haggling.

Khatami who spoke of the “crises” and the need to get beyond it, announced his hope last week that the new proposal submitted to Iran was not meant to buy more time for the United States and acquire a ‘more potent weapon’ against Iran. The US, on the other hand, now seems to be certain that China and Russian will not veto a possible UN Security Council resolution against Iran and thus increased its pressure on the Islamic regime. In the words of the BBC, US President George Bush warned the rulers of Iran on Monday that if they did not accept the proposal of the group of 5 + 1 powers and the US conditions for direct talks, Iran would face serious international political and economic sanctions.

UN’s foreign policy boss Javier Solanas announced June 29th to be the last day for Iran to make up its mind, while Iran’s foreign minister Manoutchehr Mottaki rejected the deadline and said that “no deadline has been mentioned in the proposed package. The proposal of the 5 + 1 needs time for a response.”

And as the end of the week approached, on Wednesday, June 21st Iran’s nuclear issue and the Middle East peace process are the main topics of talks between the US president and EU leaders in Vienna. The BBC concluded that Iran had brought the US and the EU closer to each other for this meeting. Keyhan newspaper – where one can find the views of Iran’s leadership - on the other hand wrote: “Iran’s progress, Europe’s hesitancy and US’s isolation are all picking up momentum.”

Only time will tell whose perspective and observations are correct. A time during which ‘killing time’ the central preoccupation of a battle that the US considers complete while the Islamic Republic is calling for extended time. What can one do when terms used in soccer find their way into politics during these days when the World Soccer Games are on?