Monday , 26 September 2016
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Latest Articles and Commentaries on Iran Affairs

The Islamic Republic, the Elections, and the People to Decide

It is obvious and everybody knows what is happening in our country and what the Islamic Republic is doing to the country and the people. Everyone knows that the government hasn’t fulfilled the promises it gave during the presidential elections in 2013, and still our people are suffering from a miserable condition.

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Let’s quickly have a look at the present elements of misery caused by the Islamic Republic and its broken promises first:

Despite the promises of Hassan Rohani and his government in previous elections more than two years ago to improve the living condition of the people, it is sad to say that hunger and poverty is paralyzing a big majority of people and families in Iran. Most people of Iran now understand what the meaning of being under the poverty line is. They feel it by inch, inch of their bodies, and their empty stomachs and their trembling hands and feet under the pressure of hunger and poverty.

Despite the promises of the president to free the political prisoners and provide an open political atmosphere in the country so people can demand their rights without fear of being beaten by the Basijis and the so called revolutionary guards, or being jailed, or being killed, we see that hundreds of our people still are in prisons for only revealing a truth or following up their personal needs and rights. Our young boys and girls are even raped in the notorious jails and detention centers of the regime for just asking for their primary rights. Most of the people who are now in political prisons are people looking for their personal needs and rights. They are not even political at all.

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Despite the promises of the president to stop bothering and making trouble for our girls and women as the main half of the society, whose social freedom and independence and rights to have an equal and a normal social status is the guarantee for every society to grow, still we witness the pressure that the Basiji police put on them under different pretexts, including “not having suitable Islamic hejab (covering clothing) every day in the streets”.

Despite the promises of the president, people’s personal privacy is easily ignored under a systematic pressure intending to change their personal and national and cultural identity and character to prepare them to take part in the circus of different elections so the regime can use it as propaganda in the world in order to govern our dear country a few years more and plunder our national wealth as much more they can within the remaining short time of their ruling the country.

Despite the claims of the regime to be democratic and relying on the people’s support they have no trust in the people and don’t consider the people of their own, so all of their decisions and actions are made or taken in secret and hidden from the eyes of the people. They don’t even reveal the details of the recent contracts with the West. They can’t say to the people that those expensive, million dollar cars, mentioned in the contracts are going to be used by the Army generals and, the apples of their eyes, that is, their dear sons and children, or the airplanes are going to be used in private airlines owned by those generals.

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Despite the present conditions in Iran and the misery and poverty and hunger that our great and brave, but oppressed people are suffering inside the country, the Islamic regime as usual is intervening in other regional countries like Syria and Iraq and Yemen and Lebanon, spending billions of dollars of our national wealth, and wasting our money, fearing that any change in those countries may lead to the instability of the Islamic regime, the columns of the power of which is not secured by the democratic support of the people.

Conservatives or reformists, no difference, they are the same for the people. Who can forget the crimes of Mohammad Reishahri who ordered the killing of so many people in Islamic Republic’s prisons? Who can forget the crimes of Ghorban Ali Dorri Najaf Abadi , who involved in the chain assassinations in Iran when he was the attorney general and the minister of intelligence during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami. Who can forget his roles in the crimes of Kahrizak where our innocent young compatriots were raped? And now these two are in the list of candidates supported by Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani. They are all the same for people.

Despite the claims of the regime to hold democratic elections, even the loyal partners of the regime in the murders and plunder were disqualified apparently by the Guardian Council, and secretly by the Intelligence Service of the Army of Guardians, let alone the real liberal candidates or freedom-seekers. Who can ignore that the Intelligence Service of the Army of Guardians has manipulated the list of candidates and all the qualifications and disqualifications even outside of the Guardian Council in coordination with Ahmad Jennati to guarantee the elections of certain agents for both the Assembly of Experts and the Islamic Consultative Assembly. As long as Khamenei and the Army of Guardians are in power, the election is nothing but a propagation show to conceal the ugly face of the regime and its leader in international society.

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Now, the question is: What are the reasons of breaking the promises, and all these lies and all these crimes, and repressing the people?

The answer is only one: The difference between the interests of people and the interests of the regime.

First, we, people, should know our interests. What are they?

Are they welfare, freedom, security, freedom, independence, or only religion?

All religions promised, welfare, and freedom from tyranny, and avoiding lies and doing good…, so these are the original reasons for people to follow religions. They need welfare and freedom. In other words, what we, the people, in Iran, need are welfare and freedom and high standards of living and of course independence and security.

Now let’s see what the interests of the regime are.

They need power, in the first place, to guarantee their control over the national wealth and giving them and the bureaucrats and the rich within their system the opportunity to exploit people in economic and social and cultural and political fields.

But within the society the people have one of these conditions:

A small minority of them are rich and are either in foreign countries or temporarily in Iran because they have factories or companies and cheap human resource at their disposal and whenever the wish, they can enjoy having a happy life both in foreign countries and even inside the country so it makes no difference to them what kind of regime rules the country and some of them have some hand in the ruling power, too.

But the majority of people are suffering from economic and cultural and social pressures. Some of them are in prisons, some are killed by the regime, some are refugees or displaced, waiting for an asylum, in other countries, and the rest are facing severely bad conditions with no way around them to survive the situation. Some of them are just laboring under the illusion that there will be some day that the Islamic republic will reform. But it is a big mistake. This regime will never reform.

The Islamic regime has its plan to deceive them by giving them false promises and little by little, as it has been doing during 37 years, change their cultural and social identity and everything systematically. For the Islamic Republic, it is not enough only to repress the people by killing, jailing, raping, as it won’t take so long, but it needs to change the nature of the character of the people to guarantee a longer period of being in power. This is very dangerous, even more dangerous than imprisoning or killing or mass killing of the people. They are taking everything away from the people. They have founded a system in which you lose your identity. That is why they attack people’s culture. History, cinema, literature, art, music, and even private music and dance of people at home are all denied by the Islamic Republic because they intend to systematically change everything in people and finally their identity.

Frogs are amphibious and can adapt themselves to any condition. It is said that if you put a frog in a big pot full of water with normal temperature and heat the pot, as the water slowly gets hotter and hotter the frog accordingly adapts itself to the temperature to the extent that it may die in that water but never jumps out. Whether this is scientifically correct or not, about frogs, it is what the Islamic Republic has been doing to the people. What the Islamic Republic expects from the people is adaptation to any condition they impose on the people.

There are some people who may think that it is an SEP (Somebody Else’s Problem) and don’t mind what is happening to their compatriots, but they are making a big mistake, because during the developing process of this systematic change, soon or late, it will spread to them and burn them, too.

Although late, it is time for us, the people of Iran, to realize the differences between our interests and the interests of the regime. The government and the parliament are both tools in the hands of the Islamic Republic regime. They are the fishing rod in the hands of the fisher (the regime) and the fish (people). Wise fish escape the fishing rod.

Dr. Behrooz Behbudi
Vancouver – Canada
22th of February, 2016

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Opinion:

US and Iranian roles in the Iraq crisis



When in 2003 the US military invaded Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s regime, denounced by the Bush administration as part of the Axis of Evil, nobody could have imagined that just a decade later, and after the deaths of 4500 American soldiers, with tens of thousands maimed and injured, and at a cost of $1 trillion, an offshoot of the same Islamists Washington helped to create to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan would return to dominate Iraqi politics and herald the break-up of the country.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) is a militia force with organisational links to Al Qaida, whose barbaric and violent activities in Syria have already made headlines around the world.

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President Rohani to make a critical decision

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The current challenge of people of Iran is the present critical conditions of the political perspective of Iran. At the threshold of two important upcoming elections we witness circumstances which are unbelievable. Although we admit that lifting of sanctions is a relatively big achievement for Rohani’s government, still there are lots of things for him to do. People who strongly voted for Rohani are people who had been deprived of many primary rights within a real democracy. Among many difficulties the people have been facing during the recent three decades including war, inflation, lack of freedom of expression, inequality of men’s and women’s rights, suppressing any liberal movement seeking freedom, imprisonment of democrat leaders of people, the most dangerous is monopolist policies which does not recognize any other thoughts and ideas and wings inside the system let alone the dissidents or opposition groups. Ninety nine percent of the candidates are refused to be competent for being elected in the upcoming elections of Islamic Consultative Assembly as well as Assembly of Experts which is a disastrous statistics. It was so considerable and obvious that even Rohani also expressed his concerns about this phenomenon stating that a wing which has ten million advocates must not be deprived of being elected. It is a big concern for all democratic institutes and societies representing millions and innumerable people who even by far and several times exceed the number of the people advocating the ruling and dominant wing. Thanks to the recent international achievements and lifting of sanctions, Rohani has the support of not only millions of people who voted for him but also relatively the world’s support, too. It is the time for him with no dread to stand against this monopoly the end of which is what happened to the people of Syria or Iraq.

Khamenei himself admits the importance of people to vote as he frequently says: “Vote even if you disagree with Islamic Republic.”although he ignores the most basic right of the same people to vote for their own favorite candidate not merely those selected or appointed by him or the Guardian Council. The power of people is undeniable. We hope Rohani will take the people serious. He is the incumbent president and it is very difficult for the ruling wing led by Khamenei to oust him. The Iranian nation will open its way to democracy soon but Rohani’s presence and standing side by side of the people will diminish the price that must be paid to reach democracy. The whole history and even the contemporary history of the recent century and decades showed that no dictatorship will remain in power for ever. The only difference is the price that a nation pays for democracy. Rohani is at the threshold of a turning point, an era in which his correct decision to stand beside the people can change the destiny of people of Iran. We hope he will not miss this unique opportunity to get democracy back to Iran.

Editorial board of Center for a Democratic Iran,
Behrooz behboudi

Tyranny of Khamenei-Guards, not sanctions, are behind Iran’s socio-economic degradation

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As President Rouhani declares that the removal of sanctions on Iran “has opened up a golden page in the country’s history”, Dr. Behrooz Behbudi, the founding chairman of the Centre for a Democratic Iran looks at how the true roots of Iran’s social problems will continue to live on, so long as an alliance of the religious establishment and the Revolutionary Guard rule the country and stifles its democracy movement.

President Rouhani has claimed that the lifting of international sanctions on Iran “has opened up a golden page in the country’s history and its future relations with the international community”.

So far, acting more like a “foreign minister” to mend years of mistrust between Iran and the world for the adventurist foreign policy of the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad pact, Rouhani may have finally got his nuclear deal, but the struggle over the rest of his agenda has only just begun.

On the domestic front, his promise of ending, in his own words, “the atmosphere of repression” in Iran’s politics and improving the country’s appalling human rights records remains as distant as during his presidential campaign three years ago.

The leaders of the civil rights Green Movement, with which he ostensibly sympathized in public for gaining votes, are still under house arrest. Hundreds of Iranian political prisoners are also languishing in jails, while under Rouhani’s government Iran has been named by UN as the country with the highest number of executions in the world in 2015.

In fairness, while the removal of sanctions doesn’t guarantee an economic revival for Iran overnight, some of the main obstacles to economic health and growth will be removed.

On more than one occasion Rouhani has made it clear to his hardliner critics that after the nuclear deal he is needed for the Islamic republic’s economic recovery.
And his message has been directed at no one other than the Revolutionary Guard, effectively the economic powerhouse of Iran.
“Just as the country has managed to create a military deterrence through the nuclear agreement, we must now also reach a degree of economic deterrence and the Guards and the Basij must now help the government and the people in business to achieve economic growth”, Rouhani said last September.
On the foreign front, being in the centre of – if not a major factor – in multiple regional crises, which is now affecting the entire world through Islamist extremism and the Syrian civil war, the nuclear deal with Iran is expected to lead to better relations with the U.S. in solving these crises.

“It is not only about the nuclear issue . . .  this is only the first step towards reaching the roof of constructive engagement with the world,” Mr Rouhani said in an address to the nation last month.

However, Rouhani has never belonged to Iran’s reformist block of power and at best has been known as a pragmatist politician for whom the survival of the Islamic republic regime is “the highest priority above all others”, as the ayatollah Ruhullah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic republic put in his political will.

As such, Rouhani does indeed share many ideological objectives with the hardliners that determine Tehran’s foreign policy of support for radical Shias in the region, which has been the basis of Iran’s proxy war with the Saudis, now turned into open following the spat over the execution of cleric al-Nimr and the severance of all diplomatic links with several Sunni countries.

Despite that, Iran’s hardliners are still eager to limit Rouhani’s political gains based on his “victory” in closing Iran’s nuclear dossier, amid fears that this might translate into votes for social reform in next month’s parliamentary election.

A pro-Rouhani majority in Majles could help his camp carry out economic reforms and build their support base ahead of the 2017 presidential elections, a scenario that Iran’s hardliners have been busy to avert through the unelected ultra-conservative bodies that they control.

Iran’s Guardian Counicl has now disqualified more than 99 percent of all reformist hopefuls from the race to enter the Majles and the Assembly of Experts, which chooses the next Supreme Leader, a position currently held by ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“All together more than 3000 reformist-minded people had registered to enter the next month’s elections but only 30 of them have been qualified. This means only 1 percent of reformists have been allowed to take part in the elections”, Hossein Marashai, a senior member of Iran’s Policy Council has been quoted as saying by local media.
Iran’s constitution gives the Supreme Leader unlimited authority over all major state institutions, and Khamenei, who has held the post since 1989, has found many other ways to further increase his influence, most notably through an alliance with the Revolutionary Guard and controlling Iran’s oil and gas revenues.

The household of ayatollah Khamenei is the biggest benefactor of the funds that are paid into “Setade Ejraiye Farmane Hazrate Emam”, headquarters for executing the order of the imam.

According to a recent Reuter’s investigation, the Setad’s holdings of real estate, corporate stakes and other assets total about $95 billion.

As Iran’s de facto head of state, commander in chief, and top ideologue Khamenei’s views are what ultimately shape Iran’s domestic and foreign policy and with his alliance with the Revolutionary Guard and their joint economic power still intact, it amounts to wishful thinking to expect that a deal with U.S., the very nemesis of a despotic ayatollah and his guards can end Iran’s social and economic degradation and herald democracy for its people and peace in the region.

Behrooz Behbudi
Vancouver
18 January 2016

Iran is now a party in the Islamic world’s civil war

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It should have come as no surprise that, while the ink was still wet on the nuclear agreement signed between the Tehran regime and world powers, Russia and Iran made their joint military move into Syria.

The operation had clearly been some time in the planning, given the vested interests that Moscow and Tehran have in keeping the Assad regime in power, with the former now firing its ballistic missiles on ISIS, and Syrian opposition strongholds, and the latter providing foot-soldiers to support Assad’s beleaguered army.

While the Iranian leadership seldom publishes figures on their casualties in Syria, they can no longer tone down the extent of their intervention in the Syrian civil war, given the rising number of public funerals that the regime inadvertently holds to shore up support and justify its devastating regional policy.

Although the regime hypocritically claims that its military intervention in Syria is to deter the ISIS forces from nearing its borders and keep Iran out of the current wider conflicts of the Middle East, it has effectively thrown the country into the civil war of the Islamic world, without the consent or backing of the Iranian nation.

According to the regime’s own sources, the death count among its forces has been particularly high in 2015, with 80 Iranians killed, compared with a total of 140 killed since the conflict began in 2011.

In recent weeks, at least 28 senior Revolutionary Guards commanders—advertised as “military advisers” by Iran—have died on three separate fronts.

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Nuclear deal heralds Khamenei’s political demise, rise of Iran’s civil society

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Only a day after former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani said in an interview with an Arab daily last week that the reopening of the US embassy in Tehran is a possibility, the supreme leader ayatollah Khamenei said that the recent nuclear deal between Iran and world powers does not mean an end to the hostilities between the Islamic republic and “the world arrogance led by America”.

Khamenei even threatened that his regime’s meddling in the affairs of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Bahrain will continue unabated, but he wrapped it up with the cover of “support for the oppressed people”.

Clearly the political line that Khamenei and his close associates within Iran’s intelligence organs and the Revolutionary Guard follow is based on antagonism with the US and its close allies (Israel and conservative Arab states), while the vast majority of the Iranian people have been the direct victims of this ideologically driven menace.

From the outset, Iran’s nuclear crisis was made out of the vicious and costly ambition of the rulers of the Islamic republic regime in an attempt to secure a safety buffer zone against their perceived enemies. In parallel it has demonstrated the militarization of the power structure of a regime at the cost of disregard for all civil and human rights of the Iranian people.

The Rouhani government is the voice of those within the clerical establishment opposed to this “radicalism”, which has resulted in the devastation of Iran’s economy through sanctions and an isolated country engulfed in corruption and numerous social ills.

Rafsanjani’s comment therefore stems from the fact that after the recent nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers the era of hiding behind anti-Americanism for clinging to power in Iran is now over.

However, the international community will be wrong to assume that the Iranian regime is its main and only party to this agreement.

Now that the career diplomats and nuclear scientists have sorted out an agreement to hopefully stop the clerical regime in Tehran ever achieving a nuclear bomb, the key to success in the deal lies in its implementation, and that should be everyone’s business. For this reason, negotiating governments must find ways to integrate civil society into the execution of the deal, and even build upon it, rather than just jumping on the bandwagon of entering the lucrative Iranian markets for Russian missiles and Chinese tanks, and close their eyes on the suppression of Iran’s civil and human rights movement by the ruling regime.

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