Friday, October 02, 2009

Struggling onTwo Fronts for Survival

Struggling on Two Fronts for Survival

A. A. Kazemi
October 2, 2009
Iranian hard-line conservatives are caught in an appalling stalemate in the post-election period. On the one hand, they are facing growing opposition at home in the wake of the unconvinced presidential elections that truly polarized the nation on the credibility and legitimacy of the new government. On the other hand, they are under increasing international pressure for their deceiving maneuvers on the question of nuclear activities. Recent revelations about new enrichment site came as an unambiguous indication that despite its recurrent negation, the Islamic regime is aimed at acceding to a nuclear power status.
Since the mass uprising of 1979 that ended up into the collapse of the monarchic regime, the events which followed the presidential elections of June 12, 2009 will be remembered as a new keystone in contemporary history of Iran. Threatened from abroad for its nuclear ambitions and vulnerable inside for its horrendous performance, the Islamic regime is helplessly fighting in two fronts for its survival.
How far the Islamic hard-liners are capable to carry on successfully the fight in two decisive battlegrounds? What are the plausible outcomes of this concurrent struggle in domestic and international fronts?
Two days after the announcement of the results of presidential elections in Iran, people were still dizzy of the shock they received by the unexpected outcome. Street riots in big cities by disappointed public refreshed memories of the heated days of the 1979 revolution which uprooted the monarchic regime in Iran. Protesters with green emblems, symbol of reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, rushed to the streets to claim their votes, allegedly stolen by the regime in favor of the controversial hard-line incumbent president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Reformists’ peaceful demonstrations turned out to bloody protest rally that took an unknown number killed, hundreds injured and according to officials about 4000 arrested around the country.
The Islamic government tried to manage the crisis which escalated by hours due to the alleged manipulation of ballot boxes. Despite earnest attempt of the government to justify the results of the elections through faked data, people and observers did not believe the statistics and firmly maintained that the regime has cheated and deceived the nation by manipulating their votes in favor of Ahmadinejad. The reformist candidates requested the abrogation of the results and renewal of the elections.
The Post-election crisis consequences in Iran unveiled the persistent appalling repression of the Islamic conservatives against opposition groups who accused the regime for fraud and manipulation of votes in favor of the incumbent president. The newly re-reappointed president, Ahmadinejad, took the oath of office in a tense atmosphere of security and strict precautions while protesters were demonstrating and shouting against him outside the parliament. Abroad, exiled Iranians throughout the world took to the streets in support of their compatriots and shouted the same slogans against the religious regime in Iran.
For the first time in thirty years, since the birth of the Islamic regime, the whole world witnessed with bafflement and disgust what truly was going on in Iran and the amount of support claimed by the regime. The international media coverage of the unfortunate events pressed foreign governments to take position in condemning the Islamic leaders for their brutal reaction against peaceful public manifestation. People around the world too expressed deep sympathy with popular uprising in Iran.
About four months after the turmoil, the crisis has now receded at least on the surface, but it is not sure that it has ended for good. At this very critical moment, Western powers (5+1) who had given severe notice to the Islamic regime for its alleged doubtful nuclear activities became outraged of a new secret nuclear site near the religious city of Qom (Fardou). American President Obama, along with French President Sarkosy and British Prime Minister Gordon, Brown accused the Islamic leaders for their deceiving behavior and warned the regime against the undesired consequences of its defiance. Meanwhile, Israel, anxious for its security, publicized much about its plans for preemptive strikes against strategic targets including nuclear sites inside Iran.
The Islamic leaders caught in a delicate condition at a very inopportune moment, took a series of actions in order to contain the escalating situation:
· With respect to the revelation of the new nuclear site, they prepared and sent a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding the establishment of the new nuclear enrichment location, planned to go into operation next year. This has been done a week before the Geneva Talk 2 of the 5+1 and the Iranian delegation and after the disclosure of the so-called “clandestine project” by the American intelligence.
· Ahmadinejad decided once again to attend the UN General Assembly session; which turned out to be a complete failure, while his pompous speech did not attract any attention. Meanwhile, widespread demonstrations against his presence in New York created nightmare for him and his entourage.
· The Islamic Parliament adopted a quasi-unanimous resolution in support of Iran’s nuclear endeavor as a warning to the 5+1 second round of talks scheduled for October 1st. 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland.
· With a view to deter “opponents” and “ill-wishers” and to overshadow the effect of the nuclear concealment, the Islamic regime has set up a new military exercise in which a number of medium range missiles were tested. This was perhaps to persuade the Americans that in case of Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear sites, the Persian Gulf waterways and littoral states would be at risk of retaliatory attacks.
· With respect to domestic affairs, the regime decided to release a number of reformist leaders and journalists from the jail and terminate the arbitrary arrests and humiliating trial of the so-called “green movement” protestors. It also promised to prosecute officials who had ordered and performed atrocious deeds against dissidents.
· On the level of the supreme leadership, the Assembly of Experts endorsed the incumbent leader once again and invited the whole nation for unity and solidarity.
Despite all these precautionary measures, while the Islamic regime ardently needs the support of the nation to carry out its aggressive diplomacy in nuclear talks with the 5+1, new turmoil in campuses around the country will eventually ignite anew popular unrests. Thus far, the commencement of the new academic year and dispersed ceremonies here and there has given the students fresh opportunity to resume their protests against the president and his government. It appears that hard-liners are now caught in a terrible dilemma as how to tackle simultaneously with two crucial fronts endangering their very survival.
In the domestic front, they are like riding on a tiger; they can’t continue on and are afraid to get off. It seems that the use of violence against angry demonstrators can no longer deter “Green Movement” supporters to relinquish their cause. Repressive measures to curb the popular unrest by the government will further diminish the legitimacy of the regime and provoke dissidents to widen their demands.
On the international level, the Islamic regime is now considered as an unreliable party in the upcoming negotiations. Since, it has virtually lost the confidence of all 5+1 powers, including Russia and China, after the surprising revelation about the new nuclear enrichment site. Western powers seem now prepared to go for “paralyzing sanctions” against Iran, should the Islamic regime continue to defy UN Security Council demands on the nuclear issue. In a worst case scenario, Israel might be tempted to launch preemptive strikes against strategic targets inside Iran before “risking its total annihilation.” This could of course escalate hostilities throughout the Middle East and the larger world. Therefore, containing Iran’s nuclear ambitions has become a vital objective on the agenda of the world powers.
Let’s hope that decision-makers in Tehran come to their sense and opt for peaceful settlement of the ongoing dispute before things get out of control. We shall wait and see how the case will develop in the coming days and weeks. /
Ali Asghar Kazemi is professor of Law and International Relations in Tehran, Iran. See:
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