Iranian Regime’s ‘Achilles’ Heel’ – Middle East Times

Middle East Times, November 9, 2007 - Shortly after ousting Tehran's Chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, and appointing one of his own cronies, a former Revolutionary Guards Commander, Saeed Jalili, to the post, the Iranian regime's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, told the state-run news agency ISNA that the regime's nuclear case was "closed" and that U.N. sanction resolutions were "just a pile of papers." He raised the stakes even further by announcing on Wednesday that Tehran had succeeded in manufacturing 3,000 centrifuges, which would enable it, according to some experts, to make a bomb within a year.

Despite Ahmadinejad's asinine attempts to project a commanding and authoritative political tone to the mullahs' foreign interlocutors, however, within Iran his position is as fragile as ever. When he visited Tehran University last month, he was met with the chants of "death to the dictator."

The scene at Tehran University epitomized a dual reality about the Iranian regime. On the one hand, the regime desperately endeavors to portray a powerful image of itself, and thus thwart additional international pressure. On the other hand, that fictitious image is frequently shattered into pieces by students, women, workers, and other disenchanted sectors of Iranian society.

In summer, the ruling mullahs subjected the Iranian population to a dreadful wave of suppression with the sole aim of quelling further social unrest through terror and fear, and thereby thwarting any real prospects of change at one of the most critical junctures of their 28-year rule.

Amnesty international reported that 250 people have been hanged in Iran since January, many in public before the stunned eyes of onlookers, children and adults alike. In yet another barbaric act, some hangings have also been broadcast on state television.

The human rights watch dog, which recently referred to the Iranian regime as "The Last Executioner of Children," added that 71 minors are currently waiting to be hanged in Iranian prisons. Moreover, at least 600 prisoners in a single jail west of Tehran remain on death row.

Close to 150,000 women were arrested in summer for "mal-veiling," while at least 977,000 individuals were interrogated on the streets under other phony pretexts. On July 5th, a man in Takestan, a city in Qazvin, was stoned to death, and at least eight women will suffer the same fate.

All this comes at a time when the mullahs are gripped by terminal crises at home, and are increasingly isolated. The October 25 designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, its terrorist arm, the Qods (Jerusalem Force, the Ministry of Defense and a number of institutions and officials by the U.S. Government as Nuclear proliferators and terrorism financiers sent shock waves through senior Iranian leadership.

However, even as the weakening regime becomes alarmingly more barbarous towards the country's population, Western governments continue to exhibit a troubling proclivity for silence and tolerance. Turning a blind eye to the Iranian regime's severe human rights violations is one of the more revolting symptoms of the appeasement policy towards the mullahs.

Hitler, it is often said, enthusiastically welcomed negotiations during the 1930s in order to buy time for the preparation of war. Once he reached his short-term objectives, however, he declared negotiations as futile, and at one sweep obliterated Neville Chamberlain's vision of "peace in our time."

Today, the Iranian religious tyrants have adopted similar tactics. Not that long ago, in April, Ahmadinejad had said, "negotiation is the best way out of Iran's nuclear stand-off." Today, he openly ridicules the idea by exclaiming that the mullahs "are not ready to sit around a table and discuss their absolute nuclear rights."

So, what has changed since April?

Simply this: As the regime continues to adopt a more aggressive stance towards the Iranian people, the response from Western governments turns out to be ever more timid and lenient.

If the West continues to ignore the dire human rights situation in Iran, therefore, it would ultimately be faced with a more brazen Iranian regime, which struggles to prolong its survival by more suppression at home.

But, that's not all. The regime would also step up its meddling in Iraq to erect a sister Islamic republic there, foment wider chaos in Lebanon, partition Palestine to prevent a long lasting Middle East peace, and inch ever closer towards a nuclear bomb. Therefore, "the Men of Tehran" (to borrow an analogous phrase used in reference to the appeasers during the 1930s - "the Men of Munich") will have chosen dishonor and will definitely have another Mid-East war.

Ironically, the same appeasers of Tehran have caged its most effective opposition, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), by placing it on the terrorist list. They have hitherto effectively covered the mullahs' Achilles' Heel. Referring to this policy as "crazy," Dick Armey, former Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, added in a recent interview with CNN, "[The PMOI] are the people that can keep us best informed of what's going on in Iran, and they are the people that can best inform people within Iran of the opportunities for liberty. And we keep them tied down."

The PMOI is the main component of the democratic coalition of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, whose leader Maryam Rajavi told the Council of Europe earlier this month that the world does not have to choose between war and appeasement. There is a third option, democratic change by relying on the Iranian people and the organized resistance. Western governments could ill afford to ignore her option.

As a first practical step in this regard, the PMOI must be removed from the terror list. As well, and in addition to a strong censure resolution at the current UN General Assembly session, Tehran's appalling human rights record must immediately be referred to the Security Council to consider binding decisions against the mullahs.

Sooner or later, the West will realize that the only parties offering it a helping hand out of its predicament with the mullahs are the Iranian people. Let us hope that will happen sooner rather than later. --

http://www.metimes.com/Opinion/2007/11/09/op-ed_iranian_regimes_achilles_heel/3202/

Ali Safavi of the National Council of Resistance of Iran is president of Near East Policy Research, a policy analysis firm in Washington, DC. (www.www.localhost/nearali)