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Liberal Iranian
Liberal as in Liberty and Freedom. Iranian as in Cyrus and Ferdowsi.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Dealing with Tyrannies
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Observing a self-imposed deadline, 10 days before the one set by the UN Security Council resolution 1696, today Iran handed over its response to the package of incentives offered by the group of 5+1, five permanent members of the Council and Germany. It may sound too soon to voice an opinion about the exact minutae of Iran's response; but, from the general attitude of Iranian officials, and the fact that there is no straight yes/no answer from Iran (it covers 21 pages), it is safe to say that Iran has in fact rejected the central demand of the UN Security Council, that is, abandoning the process of enriching uranium on its soil.

Iran's response seems to have been crafted in such a way to cause maximum disunity among the 5+1. First there are mixed signals sent by the regime: the rhetoric before the "official" response was extremely negative. Khamenei, the supreme leader, strongly rejected the offer, saying, "[t]he Islamic Republic of Iran has made its own decision and in the nuclear case, God willing, with patience and power, will continue its path." However, in the announcement of the response, Ali Larijani, Iran's top negotiator, shifted the focus of Iran's response to being "constructive" and the "resumption of talks," saying, "Iran is prepared to hold serious talks from August 23." The 10-day breathing period before the Council's deadline is meant to serve as enough time for these mixed signals to have their effect. This is a risky move, since the same time may be used for defusing this strategy. But it seems that Iran's regime has calculated, with China and Russia's hesitations, this is a move worth the risks.

What seems to have been sadly forgotten in all this, is the issue of human rights and the nature of the regime in Iran. It is simple to see the appalling state of human rights in Iran. Just on August 17, Iran's top prosecutor announced that Ramin Jahanbegloo, a prominent intellectual and philosopher who was arrested in April, has "confessed to plotting a velvet revolution" and that his confession may be aired on the state TV.

The Iranian regime is playing a subtle game. But their objective is simple: to survive. Being a tyrannical system, the country cannot sustain itself from within, so the regime needs outside help. Their nuclear ambitions serve to solicit this help at the price of stability in the region. However, in the deal that should be struck to this end, they also serve to divert the focus away from the human rights issues and to secure their position inside, thus guaranteeing their survival.

This is a disaster for the people of Iran, who will continue to suffer as a result. In the long run it is also a bad deal for the rest of the world. As proven time and again in recent history, tyrannical regimes cannot be trusted in their deals, since the reason they enter into these deals is only to extend their existence. Deals struck with tyrants are always bad deals all around. The only way forward is to deal with them decisively and in unison, on a single clear principle: they shall receive help from outside only when they respect the rights of their own citizens.

UPDATE: Matthew B. Stannard of the San Fransisco Chronicle argues similarly that, "Experts see Tehran using tactic as way of sustaining program"
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