Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Failed Negotiation; Now What?

It ended with no result. It was doomed even before it begins. But I sometimes wonder whether the representatives from the Islamic Republic and the 5+1 countries, the US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany, would like to get together and; talk just for the sake of talking. 

I am curious to know if these two negotiating sides had envisaged any real solution to their prolonged nuclear dispute when they agreed to talk again after almost a year. Basically their talk is more like a hostage taking negotiation than a nuclear one. On one side of the table is sat a man, Mr. Saeeid Jalili, who represents an illegitimate government; read it a small group of people who has taken Iran and its people hostage and turning the country into a big prison. And just to be sure, he and his friends have been, accelerated in recent years, stretching their terrorist limbs around the Iran's immediate regions, since the Islamic Republic inception over 31 years ago, and more recently in Africa. Their recent arms shipment to Nigeria goes without saying. Questions have also been raised over their ability to have planted their terrorist cells in Europe or North America as well. Notwithstanding, when at the table, or from their tribunes in Iran, they surely try to communicate that message; clearly asking a huge ransom. They essentially say; your idea of prevalent human rights and democracy for the Middle East, Iran specifically, does not work; we want to be in charge of the country as we have been in the last almost 32 years; we want to run Iran, the most strategically important country in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, as the most barbaric dictatorship of the Middle East history; and you accept that! They also say that since we do not trust you; we want to have the Big Bomb handy as well!

On the other side of that table, however, the 5+1 is vividly conscious of those crucial propositions. But at the same time is very much attentive to the fact that in such hostage crisis situation; one cannot trust hostage takers. The stake is too high, and the embracement of a compromise at any price may prove catastrophic. Therefore for the US and its allies, Russia seems moving to become one and China is facing a hard choice-- my guess is that she has to come along as well, the single fact of the Iranian people's inspiration for freedom and democracy overrides the other dim factors. That is perhaps why since the coup last year, US and friends have been hammering this little group of Mr. Jalili and associates, mostly military persons plus Khamenei, with sanctions. The 5+1 cannot possibly entertain this little people's demands.

Now it shouldn't be hard to guess the single; but very dangerous question, the 5+1 has to find an answer at the table; can you give the hostage takers such a prize? I would say that is inconceivable--Tony Blair (former British Prime Minister) agrees, in his recent appearance in the committee investigating British involvement in the Iraq war; he reiterated the absolute necessity to have this people stopped. No wonder the 5+1 has sent Mr. Jalili home empty-handed. There was no other viable option. This only leaves open the door for serious implementation of the existing sanctions; expanding the scale and scope of them; and/or introducing more painful sanctions. Or else which is not my expertise!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Is the Supreme Leader Dead?

It was last week all over the Internet, web sites, blogs and social networks that Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, has died.

If it turns to be only a false rumour, it doesn't really matter, a media sensation has been created and everything will go back to normal soon. However, if true, he has been a known cancer patient for quite sometimes, his death puts an already fragile military regime in a daunting position. It is a widely known fact that after the rigged presidential election last year, the military regime is visibly apprehensive and unstable. It has experienced streets protests by millions of Iranians chanting against the leader and his military associates. There were even occasions, unofficially reported, when aircrafts had been taxied to the runway to take Khameneei and many of his generals out of the country. We also know that the only way this military machine was able to manage the situation since last year was to literally turn Iran into a big prison! 

Now after his death, if true, this military machine needs to coronate someone, discussions have been around for quite sometimes, as his replacement. But this by no means is an easy task. Nominating and appointing a Supreme Leader has constitutionally accorded to the Expediency Council*, currently headed by the renowned pragmatist politician, Hashemi Rafsanjani. Rafsanjani enjoys the support of the majority of the council members, and he himself is a known foe of the appointed president Ahmadi Nejad. Legally, in this situation, any attempt by the generals to shun the council puts them in a collision course with the country's constitution. Having said that, during the aftermath of the generals' coup we have learned that law is the last thing they are concerned about!

Basically this situation leaves the generals with only two potions. First is to try to crown a new leader of their own choice, something similar to what they did in the presidential election, with no regard for the constitutional procedures. However, such action creates a constitutional crisis in the country. Given the semi-revolution demonstrations displayed by the Iranian people last year, such move by the generals possibly creates an environment where people would be able to force them into unpredictable bold responses, bringing their military hardware into streets. That is what they have been able to avoid so far, at least in an apparent way. Because that could have potentially triggered the beginning of their end at the early stage of the coup.  

Their second option, however, is to ostensibly follow the council's line, but threatening the members behind the scene to support their preferred candidate. Since this doesn't sound like a viable option for the generals, I tend to believe that the council and those of pragmatists politicians in the system will succeed to convince this little, and not very wise, group of generals that if they don't change course; perhaps it wouldn't be long before their pictures end up on the playing cards!

Nevertheless, in the event of Khamenei's death, the most influential party involved is the people of Iran. While their Green Movement has been violently suppressed in the past one and half-year; it is still very much alive. The movement means over 70 percent of the country's 70 millions population; they are not to being shepherd by force for an unforeseen future!

This military regime may have been able to hold the country and its people hostage for now. But should Khameneei dies, a created leadership vacuum would force the generals and their reactionary clerics allies to try to appoint a replacement. That would once again place them in direct clash with the country's constitution and the sovereignty of the people. This sounds as the beginning of the end to me!

*Article 107 of Chapter VIII of the Islamic Republic Constitution

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Referendum For Iran

What Ali Khamenenei, the so-called Supreme Leader, and his little group of reactionary mullahs did during last year's presidential election in Iran and the ensuing street-protests by millions of disgruntled Iranians was a clear indication of the urgent need to assess the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic system of governance, which can be done only by consulting the Iranian people in a referendum.

Ali Khameneei, with the assistance of his few appointed, unelected clerics and his Revolutionary Guard buddies, executed a plan, that signaled Ahmadi Nejad to set his government's policy for the next five years; a year before the election. This act constituted a coup against the will of close to 25 million of Iran's 40 million eligible voters.  

Last year, Ali Khamenei and his billionaire generals and disciples basically had only two choices. They either could give up their lucrative business deals, which amounted to over 80% of the country's economy, and relinquished their political powers in the short or medium term, or stand against the people with their guns drawn. They opted for the latter because they very well knew that their political and ideological views were, and are, at odds with those of the new generation of Iranians. They also knew that the former option entailed the prospect of being investigated for any crimes committed against humanity. What they didn't know, however, or perhaps knew but proceeded anyway, was that doing so fundamentally changed the election's character from a simple presidential election to a significant referendum on the Islamic Republic's legitimacy.

What actually happened was, in essence, a clash between the people's will and the Supreme Leader's power and authority granted by the Islamic Republic Constitution. Khamenei and his appointed few have always maintained that they merely are exercising their constitutional power and authority, but we now know that millions of Iranians were in the streets last year chanting against his authority, tearing his posters down and burning them in disgust. Those actions were a consequence of his still asserting his distorted powers under the constitution and leading the coup against the people's sovereign right to elect their president, despite his control over the candidates' vetting through his appointed Guardian Council. People felt insulted by his arrogance. The following national protests by the Iranian people have dislodged him already, in a sense; he has lost his legitimacy. And because he derives his authority from the Islamic Republic's constitution, the protests also have rendered that constitution illegitimate.

I should say here that I am not a fancy person, nor are these claims bold and fanciful. Iranian's 80% participation in the election, the highest in recent history, was an astute political move on their part. They did it on purpose because they wanted a change, mainly constitutional, in the powers of their leader and his unelected appointees. Their unprecedentedly high turnout cornered that leader and his gangs, forcing them to make a difficult decision. The result completely disenfranchised the Supreme Leader and his unelected appointees under the Islamic Republic's constitution.

The message for us is that the new Iranian generation does not recognise the Islamic Republic's constitution or this guy as its sole powerful tyrant. The referendum was the mean by which the new generation of Iranians desperately tried to get rid of this little guy, Ali Khameneei, and his reactionary followers and generals. In other words, the people are telling us that the constitution is where the real problem lies. They also are telling us the 98% support for the constitution, which this group claimed from the old Iranian generation over 31 years ago, is now irrelevant. This new generation of Iranians is now in charge of its destiny and a new official referendum is a must for the country to both rectify and ratify its highest legal document, the constitution, by its sovereign people.
But we know very well that Khamenei and his colleagues have no intention to respect the people's sovereign right - they proved this by the election coup last year. Therefore, I like to believe that the international community has a moral duty to assist Iran's people with their attempt to regain their sovereignty. The alternative is a civil-war somewhere along the way. The French fought one, Americans did it; and I am sure that the Iranian people are also capable of doing it for their freedom. The international community has an opportunity at the nuclear negotiation table to demand a referendum as a requirement for establishing the regime's legitimacy. I am not sure how realistic this would be, but I can only say that the timing is right and such referendum would serve the best interests of both the Iranian people and the West. After all, whom does the West really want to negotiate with, and what guarantees can it get from them? Can this little guy and his associates really offer the West assurances? I really doubt it. Iran, as a unified nation, must give these sort of guarantees; no one can offer them except Iran's sovereign people.

After a clear majority of Iran's eligible voters demonstrated their dissatisfaction by rejecting this guy and his Guardian Council's authority, he and his disciples cannot, and must not be allowed to, make the absurd claim of representing Iranians and their country on the international stage. Iran's new generation has registered unequivocally its 'No' vote on the Islamic Republic's constitution. If Khameneei and his conspirators are to repudiate this claim, there is only one way to settle the dispute, there must be a real referendum, observed by independent international observers, on the Islamic Republic constitution's content.