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Neo-Wilsonism Dead in Iran, But Women Can Still Vote

"Usama, iranians do not want a theocratic state,religion should be put aside, and democracy take hold.and no we dont need america's help."

"Iranian Girl" Blog

A new secular Iran is evolving from the cocoon of its traditional culture. The cocoon serves a purpose, until the new creature casts it aside and takes wing.
In spite of the rise of the "radical clergy" in Iran, we can be somewhat encouraged by the fact that women in Iran have the right to vote. Unfortunately, most women candidates we banned from running in the parliamentary election of 2004 by the ruling clerics in a reaction to the US invasion of Iraq.

For the past year, the Bush administration has been seeking an excuse for an incursion in Iran.

In July, 2005, the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fueled the fire. The fact that Ahmadinejad has a close relationship with the clerics of Islam provides yet another excuse for Washington to trowel over the complexities of the situation and pave the way for an invasion.

I will argue the contrary, and with a quick glance through the milestones of Iran's political history reveal the superficial nature of current US policy in Iran.

At the time the saber-rattling began, Iran had a dual structure of control. On the surface, President Mohammad Khatami in Tehran represented a democratically elected secular government. In the background, military and judical power was controlled by Ayatollas who have long enjoyed popular support in Iran, much to the chagrin of Western leaders. What is viewed as a tendency toward sexist, antidemocratic repression by these traditional leaders is only exacerbated by western intervention. When threatened from without, by "infidels" they have their own version of "homeland security". Do they have any less right to the security of their homeland than we do?

By October of last year, possibly as early as July, US intelligence agents within Iran prepared for an invasion. The infiltration so extensive that it led Scott Ritter and others to believe that a US invasion was "imminent". The US invasion of neighboring Iraq had already precipitated a reaction: the Ayatollas drew a bright line, and advanced a purge of everything Western.

Isn't this exactly what the Bush administration wanted?
According to the 2004 report from Reporters Sans Frontières:

The regime stepped up its campaign against the press in 2003 with the arrest of 43 journalists. A Canadian-Iranian photojournalist, Zahra Kazemi, was also murdered and the investigation of her death became part of the power struggle between reformists and hardliners in the regime.

Iran remains in a dramatic and paradoxical press freedom situation. It is the biggest prison for journalists in the Middle East, with harsh censorship but also a prolific and vigorous written press that is clearly helping the growth of civil society. This press mirrors the split between the regime’s reformists and hardliners, who are part of a unique regime headed by the hardline Supreme Guide of the Republic, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and a reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, who does not have much power. The hardline press, inspired by Islamic revolution and backing Khamenei, coexists with the reformist newspapers, which emerged in 1997 after President Khatami was elected. There is no opposition media in the traditional sense but genuine debate goes on between the two sides.

Reporters Sans Frontières: Iran,2004

The victims were dissidents who would support the rise of a secular government in Iran.
This was expected.

"The blanket hostility to Iran of the Bush administration has undermined the reformers and provided a welcome shot in the arm to the ayatollahs..."

Robin Cook


Khatami, the democratically elected president was never a match for the religious leadership that had driven out Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlev, and once again they were excercising a mandate to oppose intervention by the west. A news clip from 1979 may help explain why they remain so important even today:
1979: Shah of Iran flees into exile
The Shah of Iran has fled the country following months of increasingly violent protests against his regime.

Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi and his wife, Empress Farah, left Tehran and flew to Aswan in Egypt....

... There have been calls for the Ayatollah's return - and news of the Shah's departure was greeted with mass celebrations across Iran.
British and United States' ex-patriates living in Iran - regarded as symbols of westernization - have been the frequent target of attacks. Thousands have left the country....

... The Shah appointed a new military government in early November. But it failed to stem the rising tide of support for the Ayatollah.
Earlier this month he appointed a new prime minister, Dr Shapur Bahktiar. When, on 13 January, the Ayatollah declared a revolutionary Islamic council to replace what he called the "illegal government" of Iran, Dr Bahktiar persuaded the Shah it was time to leave.

BBC: On This Day, 16 January 1979

The people of Iran have many reasons to be grateful for the Shah's absence. In the early 50s, when it the popular leader Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh took a strong stand in protecting the people of Iran against foreign exploitation of natural resources, the CIA along with French and British collaborators sought to undermine his efforts. They found a willing tool in the person of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlevi and staged a coup that is well documented by contemporary accounts and documents via the Freedom of Information Act.Here are 4 URLs that will get you most of that background information:

Immediately after the coup, The Shah entered into an oil agreement with British and US corporations granting their wishes, while leaving most of Iran in a more impoverished condition that it was before the discovery of oil. What he gave to his people in exchange for this was 4 years of martial law during which he sought to purge anyone who might pose a political challenge. In 1964, he drove the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini into exile, made it illegal for women to vote, and established a oligrachy that, according to rumors, diverted Iran's oil profits to "a thousand families". A bottom, the rich got richer and the poor were tortured - by the SAVAK - a security agency the Shah established with the guidance of the CIA. Despite the current of public opinion, he continued to hold sway until 1977, when Jimmy Carter threatened to cut off US aid unless human rights conditions were improved. Meanwhile, the exiled Ayatollah was agitating from across the border in Iraq and this is history:

From Iraq, the Ayatollah Khomeini was giving guidance to people eager to overthrow the Shah, and he ordered work stoppages that swept the nation. The Shah responded by managing to have Khomeini expelled from Iraq, and Khomeini flew to Paris, where he found that he had more freedom of action and to newsmen he began giving four to five interviews a day. The Shah's action against Khomeini resulted in more demonstrations in Iran, and more killings by the army. The work stoppage spread, becoming the kind of general strike about which revolutionaries had dreamed. Oil workers, postal employees, bank employees, journalists, mineworkers, customs officials, transportation workers all went out on strike. So too did almost all universities and high schools. There were demands for better wages, for the dissolution of SAVAK, the ending of marital law and for allowing Khomeini's peaceful return. Iranians with a lot of money, including high ranking military officers, were sending their wealth abroad. Everywhere people were destroying portraits of the Shah.

So it was the Iranian people welcomed the Ayatollah with opened arms in 1979, much to the distaste of the US. He represented a distrust of the west that would be difficult to overcome. The British, given their long experience with "Odious Mesopotamia" have tried to find a path toward reconciliation, having learned by now that it can not be forced. The fact that Robin Cook resigned rather that participate in the US-led Iraq invasion, and that Blair's cooperation triggered an avalanche of resignations, suicides, and mysterious deaths of leaders through the UK, seems to be lost on the US. Jack Straw, Cook's sucessor, made it clear that the UK would not follow the US into Iran.

With the election of Ahmadinejad in July of this year, Iran ended the moratorium on its program for the development of nuclear power. Whether you agree with the use of nuclear energy, this is an issue where the US once again reveals its duplicity with a policy that is either utterly mindless or in the service of a hidden agenda.

During the rule of the Shah, the US was supportive of the the development of nuclear energy in Iran. This is another important fact that seems to have been conveniently forgotten by the corporate media. The one thing they are trying to remember is whether Ahmadinejad was involved in the Iran hostage crisis of 1979. At that time, a rogue government was already emerging in the US under the direction of Oliver North and John Poindexter, that played the crisis to their advantage to ensure the election of Ronald Reagan and his vice president, George H.W. Bush who was later to pardon convicted felons from the Iran-Contra operation including Poindexter, North, and several cocaine trafficers who were responsible for the shipment of millions of dollars worth of drugs into the US.

Today there exists enough evidence to prove the conspiracy theory of the "October Surprise", but attempts to hear this in congress have been repeatedly thwarted by the Republican majority. Now that they have attained what they originally sought with the Watergate conspiracy, they hold enough power to stave off any questions about seemingly misguided policy decision or the reasons that underlie them.

And now the picture that I am trying to show you is beginning to take shape.

First, here is some documentation of the source of Iran's nuclear program. General Electric and Westinghouse were the original sources - but the work had hardly begun when the people of Iran, tired of suffering in poverty in an oil-rich land, turned the country over to the Ayatollah. The documentation:
"The US and her allies were in fact the driving force behind the birth of Iran's nuclear program in the late 1960s and early 1970s" (Mohammad Sahimi, Iran's Nuclear Program. Part I: Its History October 2003). By 1974, the Shah, after consulting with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, boasted that nuclear power plants in Iran would soon produce more than 20,000 megawatts of energy.

In the mid-1970s, led by Kissinger who saw in Iran a "platform state" to fight communism in the region, Washington proposed that The Shah expand his nuclear capacity by acquiring as many as twenty three nuclear reactors. According to Mohammad Sahimi, the work on the reactors began in 1974 with the help of MIT engineers who contracted to train Iranian nuclear technicians.

Sahimi cites a speech by Sydney Sober, a State Department official who in October 1977, "declared that the Shah's government was going to purchase eight nuclear reactors from the US for generating electricity. On July 10, 1978, only seven months before the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the final draft of the US-Iran Nuclear Energy Agreement was signed.

The agreement was supposed to facilitate cooperation in the field of nuclear energy and to govern the export and transfer of equipment and material to Iran's nuclear energy program. Iran was also to receive American technology and help in searching for uranium deposits."

Why, asked critics, should a nation with huge oil and gas reserves invest in nuclear technology? Why not? Both General Electric and Westinghouse sold Iran reactors. These manufacturers of nuclear energy plants for the third world and their media acolytes regaled The Shah for his "westernizing policies," his far-sightedness in seeing beyond the age of oil.

How The United States Supplied Iran With Nuclear Know
By Saul Landau

For some reason, the outright lie that is published in the US media is that the technology Iran has aquired is from Russia and Pakistan. Regardless of their dealings with those countries, real or not, too many records exist that prove the origin of Iran's nuclear program was in the US - as a "gift" to his "thousand families" and to two of the leading pork-barrel military contractors of all time

So in the light of truth, we must reconsider the role of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran, and reconsider the chances that Iran has for political evolution under his rule. What we have now is not a dual control system, as before, but rather one where the cards have been placed on the table. The religious leaders in Iran are placated because they do not see Ahmadinejad as a tool of the west. The persecution of the press has eased. Crowds of people gather to demonstrate their political needs and are not confronted with violence

Can things really be so bad in Iran that US intervention is required for the sake of Democracy?

Ask the women in the picture above, and read the uncensored expression of the Iranian bloggers who have once again come to life with the passing of the previous regime.

In Iraq, as in Iran, a certain degree of press freedom existed before the invasion. It ended abruptly afterward, and a similar tendency occurred in neighboring Iran. This was not an accident. What the US valued most in Iraq were it's intelligence connections within the regime of Saddam Hussein, and the undeveloped oil discoveries in it's western desert. What this article has not yet explored is the current disposition of the SAVAK: the feared security agency that propped up the dictatorship of the Shah for decades. That is another story.

David Roknich,


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