Monday, March 14, 2011

Compromise? At What Price?

The Islamic Republic's political-battle-ground has seen some significant turnarounds in the past week or so.

The most significant development was the replacement of Hashemi Rafsanjani, the chair of both the powerful Expediency Council and the Assembly of Experts, up to last week, and one of the most prominent architectures of the Islamic Republic, from the Assembly last Tuesday. He himself, not contesting, cleared the way for Mahdavi Kani, a reactionary cleric close to Ali Khamenei, to basically occupy the chair on behalf of the leader!

Earlier in the week in yet another Hashemies' back-down, Mr Mohsen Hashemi, the son of Mr Rafsanjani, had resigned from the management of Tehran's Underground Metro. The control over the blessed asset has always been the subject of an ugly feud between the Rafsanjani's family and the conservative government of president Ahmadi Nejad. Mohsen Hashemi and his father were widely perceived as ardent oppositions to president Ahmadi Nejad.

Days prior to these, leader's thugs had attacked Faeze Rafsanjani, the daughter of Hashemi Rafsanjani and once a member of parliament, and threatened to kill her, her family and his dad. It sounded like the ultimate message to the Rafsanjanies, left them to choose between only two options; either you are with us or against us--familiar phrase, though Iranian version.

Given the seriousness of the internal political-crisis of the Islamic Republic compounded by the effects of the recent social upheavals against dictators in Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt; both Rafsanjani and Khamenei were aware of their options and the ensuing consequences. For Khamenei the only way forward, after putting Mr Mosavi and Karobi, the Green's leaders, under house-arrest, and at the same time threatening Mr Rafsanjani, was to, in fact, materialise those threats. However this would have had dire consequences for him and his generals; and perhaps led to the implosion of the Islamic Republic political establishment, if not immediate, in the short-term. That was more like a suicidal option. Besides, they had to ask themselves a question, say they manage to survive the implosion, what good does the removal of the local oppositions bring for them? The answer was simple; none. In fact, such move would force Iranians and the West to search for oppositions elsewhere! Khamenei and his fellows would not want that; that was a given.

Hence they were more inclined to compromise. The unusual and rather quick response by Ali Khamenei to publicly embrace Rafsanjani's move and happily congratulating him on the matter of the Assembly's election was a clear indication of his relief. Khamenei went further and denounced what he had orchestrated himself, using the most vulgar language by his thugs against Rafsanjani's daughter just few days earlier. If all these were not enough to show his jubilation; Khamenei signaled his thugs to move Mr Mosavi and Karobi along with their wives back into their homes, they had been moved to safe houses since Bahman 25, Feb 14. By these quick concessions to the Rafsanjani's moves, he was hopeful to cement some sort of going back to normality after close to two years of the tense political situation in Iran.  

For Rafsanjani and the Green's leaders, shielding in the same trench, on the other hand, the consequence of differing could have been more dangerous and immediate. They could be physically eliminated i.e. thugs may invade their homes and kill them by the name of Jihad (an Islamic call to fight against the god's enemy). That way Khamenei could wash his hands and blame the revolutionary people. For example, Nephew of Mr Mosavi has been shot dead in a peaceful demonstration in Tehran last year. That was a clear warning at the time. Moreover, Rafsanjani, Mosavi and Karobi all knew that they are in the same Islamic Republic Ship as are Khamenei and the generals after all. The ship has now encountered the worst heavy seas in its 32 years old voyage; Iranians are demanding their freedom and democracy; and the West is worrying with the regime's nuclear ambitions and its support and links with terrorist organizations. In addition, the recent demise of the dictators in Tunisia and Egypt has mirrored Khamenei's fate. From the three's view points, there was no logic in their actions if they were to be thrown off the board with the prospect of the ship itself being wrecked only later. After all Mr Mosavi and Karobi have all along shown their commitment to the Islamic Republic Constitution. Alike Khamenei and his camp, Rafsanjani, Mosavi and Karobi also knew the destiny of the Islamic Republic should harm come their way. 

Having this picture in mind and given the importance of the Rafsanjani's move, giving up the Assembly's chair where the Assembly is constitutionally conferred the power to dislodge the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamnei; the move was received by the Khamenei's camp as a good gesture. They appreciated it very much and readily expressed their willingness to accommodate the other side reasonable demands. But in all these political maneuvers between the Islamic Republic political factions; an absolutely imperative element is lost. That is the people of Iran. Where do they stand in the Iran's political-equation? Are these political factions able to ignore the people's demand? Do the Iranian people admit to the totalitarian regime should the political rivals reconcile their differences? Do the most educated people in the Middle East accept living under whims of a despot while the rest of the Africans and the Middle Easterners are getting rid of their dictators? I don't think so. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dictators' Appetite For Power

What we are witnessing unfolds in Libya and Iran today is a display of appetite for power. That is the dictators’ appetite to stay in power a bit longer at whatever cost. Their appetite is apparently peculiar among all dictators; much stronger than any other form of appetite we, the ordinary people, maybe aware of; that it forces them to such extent to even hire foreign mercenaries to kill their own people! Interestingly, they pay their hired guns from the pockets, their country’s resources, of the very people they are killing.

For the people living in a free and democratic society where they are born and grown up with their human and democratic rights already guaranteed under a strong constitution; story of this kind is hard to conceive. They are as much strangers to a one-man-political-show as to see military and police personnel become involve in politic. Even more strange to them would be watching the country’s judiciary acting as a tool of trade in the hand of a dictator. But that is what the dictatorship is all about. After all the only distinction between the democracy and dictatorship is the 'rule of law' as Hon KITTO J of the High Court of Australia puts it so eloquently in Ziems (1957)

"Without the rule of law, democracy is but a misleading and empty phrase, for the contrast between a democracy and the totalitarian State lies essentially in the reliance, by people wedded to the democratic ideal, upon the law. The substance of democracy is that the State should be subordinate to the needs and welfare of the common individual, and that subordination can only be achieved when the structure of the State ensures that all are bound by a system of law that is defined and ascertainable; which is capable of change in accordance with the wishes of the majority constitutionally expressed; and which is publicly and effectively administered by judicial officers drawn from a profession trained in traditions of impartiality and incorruptibility." 

And now when we see positive signs of end to the dictatorship era; a dictator such as Col Ghaddafi of Libya proves the extent of brutality he is prepared to go; hiring foreign mercenaries against his own people. Fortunately civilised world is not going to sit ideal and watches while he butchers his own people. The UN Security Council and the NATO both responded promptly and accordingly. Since his action is not without precedent; his Iranian counterpart, Ali Khamenei has done it before many times; the international bodies should be willing and prepared to act should Ali Khamenei desperately decide to go down the same route. He has imported Lebanese terrorists, from his terrorist group Hezbollah, to suppress Iranian people in many occasions. The very recent one was on 25 Bahman, 14 Feb this year, when he imported 1500 Lebanese terrorists to Iran, reported by the London-based Al Shargh Al Osaat Arabic-English newspaper. He used them in the crackdowns of the Iranian Green’s gathering on the day called by Messrs Mosavi and Karobi. The importation was in addition to those tens of, if not hundreds, Lebanese terrorists who are being trained at the Ghods Forces', a branch of the Islamic Revolution Guards, camps inside Iran at any one time.

While behavior of this kind by these remnants of dictatorship era is a shock to those living in a democratic society; it has been the dictators’ usual business, albeit clandestine, in decades. Tens of thousands of Libyans and Iranians, just in current cases, who dared to politically oppose these dictators' ruling have been tortured and killed in summary executions whom we haven't heard much about in the past decades. Today, however, there is a positive side to all these shocks and horrors. Both the Libyans and Iranians have exposed the brutality of their dictators. They forced the dictators to bring out to the surface what they have been doing in secret for all these years; arresting; torturing; raping; and extra judicial killing of their political opponents in dark places away from our eyes.

Nonetheless the dictatorship era is visibly coming to end. After the former presidents of Tunisia and Egypt, Bin Ali and Mubarak, have given up their power under their people's pressure; it is only a matter of time before Ghaddafi of Libya and Ali Khamenii of Iran have to go too. The only good the killings of Libyans and Iranians is doing for them is to add to their long list of crimes that they have committed against humanity during their years in power.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Iranians came to streets to demand the release of Messrs Mosavi and Karobi, the Green Leaders. They are chanting against their dictator in tune of "after Mubarak of Egypt and Bin Ali of Tunisia it is now Syd Ali's, first name of the so-called Supreme Leader, turn to go".