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|The Iranian conundrum
By Alan Caruba
Named as one of the three members of President Bush's "Axis of Evil", Iran represents one of the most difficult foreign policy problems to solve. The people of Iran have clearly demonstrated they want to be free of the oligarchy of ayatollahs that have ruled Iran since the Islamic Revolution overthrew the shah in 1978. The problem for the US and the world is that Iran remains one of the leading state supporters of Islamic terrorism.
American intelligence agencies have ample evidence Iran is linked to Osama bin Laden and has been instrumental in protecting al-Qaida operatives fleeing first from Afghanistan and now from Iraq. In the view of a former CIA director, R. James Woolsey, the ayatollahs running Iran pose one of three main currents of terrorism, while growing more dangerous with every year. This is a nation that funds Hezbollah, the terrorists threatening Israel from its sanctuary in Syrian-controlled Lebanon.
Debka.Com, a rich source of intelligence and analysis about the threats to Israel and throughout the Middle East recently reported that the US is depending on diplomacy to cope with Iran's ayatollahs.
Diplomacy with those who control Iran's policies only provides them the time to rev up their nuclear weapons program, supply weapons to Islamic terror groups, and plan more mischief. Diplomacy can only lead to a continued, protracted war of terrorism and that is exactly what the dictators in Iran want, as does Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida, and the Palestinian leaders who talk peace without ever abandoning terror. The war the Muslims have conducted against Israel has been going on for over a half-century at this point. The Islamic Revolution in Iran touched off all the horrific events worldwide that have dominated the headlines ever since.
Iranians are not Arabs, they are Persians, but their leaders share the view that Islam must dominate the world. In early June, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke on the occasion of the 14th anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founding father of the Iranian Islamic Republic. "The American threats are not new. They have threatened us since the beginning of the Islamic revolution. They know that militarily attacking Iran and the Iranian nation would mean suicide for the aggressor." That's what Saddam Hussein was saying not long ago.
Khamenei, who succeeded Khomeini in 1989, derided the US claim that Iran supports terrorism, calling it "a shameless lie." He referred to those Middle Eastern governments cooperating with the US as "apostate dictatorships and governments." He pointed to the fact that Iran allows public officials to be elected and, indeed, Iran does have a democratically elected government called the Majles, but it can and repeatedly is over-ruled by Khamenei, thus rendering it impotent to represent the will of the people.
The will of the people of Iran has not always been a US objective. It was the CIA that engineered the coup that brought Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi back to power. He ruled for 26 years, there was stability in the Persian Gulf, he promoted westernization, and his secret police were as bad as Saddam's. In 1978, he fled the country and a fundamentalist Islamic government took over. The little known story of the tens of thousands arrested and killed after that Islamic revolution occurred is akin to the huge graves of the dead left behind by Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.
Recently, 127 deputies from the reform faction of the Majles sent Khamenei a letter urging him to save the regime from total collapse and disintegration, but he rejected their plea. Student leaders from Iran's 24 universities wrote to demand democracy and freedom. Comparing Iran to the former Iraq, the students accused "tyrants" of "oppressing their people, jailing dissidents, journalists and intellectuals and political activists.""
However, Khamenei, despised by 98 per cent of Iranians, controls the Council of the Guardians, the nation's radio and television outlets, the judiciary, and the Revolutionary Guards. Thus, these un-elected organs of power remain in the hands of those most committed to the worldwide Islamic jihad initiated by the late Ayatollah Khomeini.
The Iranian conundrum is that the people of Iran support the United States. However, until Iran's band of Islamo-fascist leaders is overthrown, there will be no way to end the intrigues being hatched in the Middle East. The military option is limited right now by our presence in both Afghanistan and Iraq. It is likely to be stretched thin for some time to come. At the same time, the longer we wait to liberate the Iranians, the worse the situation will be, both in the Middle East and because of the potential consequences here at home.
Alan Caruba is the author of "Warning Signs", published by Merril Press. His column is posted weekly on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba, 2003
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