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Liberal Iranian
Liberal as in Liberty and Freedom. Iranian as in Cyrus and Ferdowsi.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Wish Come True?
The anti-neocon agenda is behind every thought of the Left.
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Iranian.com, a popular community web site, has published a rare letter by a group of academics including Noam Chomsky and Hamid Dabashi, prominent voices of the Left, to the government of Iran in protest to the recent detention of Kian Tajbakhsh. Though it starts by calling the policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran towards its own citizens "repressive", the real reason behind the letter shows even in the title: the anti-neocon agenda. Here, it shows up as:
The Iranian government should know how damaging these arbitrary arrests are to the country’s reputation and how these arrests have given ample opportunity to American neocons to vilify an entire nation in the interest of yet another military adventurism with hundreds of thousands of innocent lives at stake.
And also in the concluding remark:
The systematic abuse of human and civil rights of Iranian citizens can only exacerbate Iran’s international isolation and play into the hands of warmongers in the United States.
In this logic the problem is not the systemic abuse of human rights per se, but that it plays into the hands of "neo-cons". Even when they finally raise a voice in protest to a really repressive regime, Messrs. Chomsky, Dabashi and Co. would not miss a chance to repeat the false and ideological claim that the neocons are the real villains.

This truly disgusts me.

The neocons' influence on American politics has diminished greatly over the past couple of years. Evidence that no serious presidential contender in 2008 seems keen on the neocon strategy. In any case, there is--and always has--ample opportunity to oust the (remaining) neocons from office democratically. There is no such end in sight for the Islamic Republic's repressive policies. What excuse would this idiotic bunch use when G. W. Bush is gone in less than two years?

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Targeted Arrests: Scare Tactic
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Why should Iran's government arrest people who have apparently been trying to portray a good image of Iran abroad? Ms. Esfandiary, for instance, the director of the Middle East program at the Woodraw Wilson Center had been regularly analyzing the political situation in Iran and its elections as if they are happening in a perfectly democratic setting. In the most recent example of such an analysis, Iran After the June 2005 Presidential Elections, there is hardly any mention of voting fraud, undemocratic laws and institutions, and the extremely limited choice, which essentially undermine any analysis of the elections and their implications for the demographics and the wants and needs of the electorate that presupposes a democratic setting. In brief, her activities could be seen as a vindication of the Islamic Republic. So, why is she prevented to leave Iran after a regular family visit, interrogated long hours for weeks, and finally detained on clearly bogus and selective charges? (In fact there are yet no charges, just hints at what they entail.)

The reason is simple once we look at the Islamic Republic as what it is: a tyranny whose first and foremost objective is to prolong its existence and the reasons behind it. Of course, Ms. Esfandiari has not been active in anything that would resemble a plan for toppling Iran's theocracy. The words freedom, democracy, liberalism and their derivatives do not even appear in the Wilson Center Mission Statement. But she is a known figure in a known institute concerned with Iran's politics. As such, she must have contacts with other scholars, including those who could be considered liberal and/or active in institutions with an agenda for democratic government and human rights in Iran. Her arrest is a scare tactic. It is even more effective once her background and her line of thinking is taken into account.

There are a few million Iranians living outside the country for various reasons. Almost all of them still have family and close friends in Iran whom they would like to visit. This diaspora could be very effective in ending the tyranny in Iran in various ways. So, it pays greatly to scare them off.

But now what? What should we do? Apart from the calls and the campaign to release these innocent men and women, an important thing for the Iranians abroad is to show that they are not scared, and for those who care for freedoms to bolster their calls. This does not mean engaging in silly and plainly dangerous activities. All it needs to show is that such scare tactics will not work. If this advanced assault on our front is not withheld the international pressures by the Iranian diaspora on the government of Iran to behave will be subdued and their effectiveness eroded. Then, we could expect an even worse situation inside Iran for those we love and care about.

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