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Different Shades of Green

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

04 Mar 2010 23:2267 Comments
160941056_da6a3cdf94.jpg[ opinion ] The debate over the future direction of the Green Movement has taken on new urgency since the events in Tehran on February 11, the 31st anniversary of the Iranian Revolution. The saturation of Tehran with tens of thousands of security forces and intelligence agents prevented supporters of the Movement, who according to many sources were present in very large numbers, from forming large groups and putting on a show of strength. The crackdown was violent: Anyone who exhibited any symbol of the Movement was arrested. Mehdi Karroubi and his son, Ali, were beaten. Former president Mohammad Khatami was attacked in his car. Many thousands of members of the Basij militia, as well as people from the town and villages around Tehran, were brought to attend Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech in Azadi Square, from which the opposition was entirely blocked (see aerial photos of the event here and here).

Some analysts interpreted the events as a tactical setback for the Greens. Others, including the author, thought that the very fact that the hardliners had to go to extreme lengths just to prevent the Greens from exhibiting their symbols and strength on the Islamic Republic's most important day of self-celebration was a victory for the Movement.

But whatever the February 11 events may have implied, new developments are taking place that may have a significant and undesirable impact on the Movement. These developments are being instigated by some self-appointed "leaders" and "spokesmen" of the Green Movement abroad. Their actions have been damaging to the Movement on two different fronts:

First, some of the self-appointed "leaders" set lofty and totally unrealistic goals for the February 11 demonstrations. They had gotten way ahead of the people in Iran, and ignored the realities of the country's power structure. In fact, in the run-up to February 11 some of these "leaders" spoke as if the Islamic Republic would be overthrown on the anniversary of the Revolution, and that the only thing the people needed to do to achieve this goal was just to show up on the streets of Tehran.

Second, the same self-appointed "leaders" are doing everything they can to endear themselves to the Obama administration and especially to American neoconservatives, who are making a comeback, in order to provoke a fundamental change in the direction of U.S. policy toward Iran. If the shift they desire does take place, it will bring more misery to ordinary Iranian citizens and destroy the Green Movement. Some "leaders" have argued publicly, and some behind the scenes, that crippling sanctions should be imposed on Iran, forgetting that ever since the 1979 Revolution, the United States has maintained tough sanctions against Iran in one form or another. The only people who have ever suffered from these sanctions have been ordinary Iranians. Among their gravest consequences have been the hundreds of deaths in crashes of obsolete passenger aircraft, resulting from prohibitions on Iran's purchase of modern airliners from Europe and the United States.

The latest round of sanctions was ordered by President Bill Clinton. On March 15, 1995, he signed Executive Order 12957, which banned U.S. oil companies from any involvement in the Iranian oil industry. The order was issued after Iran granted a $1 billion contract to the American oil company Conoco to develop two offshore oil fields in the Persian Gulf, the Siri A and E fields. In fact, the real winner of the bidding for that contract was not even Conoco, but the administration of then President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Conoco was declared the winner as a gesture of détente, in the hopes that it would lead to improved U.S. relations.

Then, on April 30, 1995, Clinton issued Executive Order 12959, announced at a meeting of major pro-Israel organizations in the United States, which imposed total sanctions on Iran.

Less than a year later, the U.S. Congress passed the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, imposing major penalties on foreign companies with investments of over $20 million in the development of Iranian oil resources. The act was illegal under international law; no nation has the right to impose penalties on foreign-owned companies for operations outside its own borders. In April 2000, after the reformists swept the elections for the 6th Majles, Clinton lifted the ban on imports of Iranian pistachio, caviar, and rugs, and exports of pharmaceutical products to Iran--token gestures, at best, amid the far more sweeping and economically significant sanctions that were maintained.

There were many absurd aspects of the sanctions. For example, in February 2004, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Department of the Treasury barred the publication of scientific manuscripts from Iran, and warned that U.S. scientists collaborating with Iranians could be prosecuted. The ruling scared the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers so much that it stopped accepting manuscripts from Iranian researchers. It took a lawsuit filed in federal court by Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi (in which I was closely involved) to force the OFAC to modify its position. Ebadi had been told that she needed to apply to the agency for a special permit to publish her memoir, Iran Awakening. While she was told that the permit would quickly be issued, Ebadi decided to sue the OFAC to assist the people of other countries, such as Cuba and Libya, who were suffering under similar bans. As a result of the suit, the agency announced in late 2004 that the publication of scientific works by Iranian researchers and scientific collaboration with Iranian universities would once again be allowed.

Let us now look at some of the self-appointed "leaders" and "spokesmen" who live outside Iran and supposedly support the Green Movement, to see whether what they have been doing has been helping or, in fact, hurting the Movement.

One is Mohsen Makhmalbaf. He is an accomplished Iranian movie director and producer whose films have won several awards. I have admired his cinematic work for years. His film school has produced other quality filmmakers, including his wife, Marzieh Meshkini--whose movie, The Day I Became a Woman, received many international prizes--and his two daughters, Samira and Hana, who are emerging stars.

In the rigged presidential election of June 12, 2009, Makhmalbaf supported Mir Hossein Mousavi, his friend of 20 years. For the first few days after the election he acted as an informal spokesman for Mousavi in Europe, and provided information to the outside world about what was happening. In particular, Makhmalbaf was one of the first people who reported the raid on Mousavi's election headquarters in Gheytariyeh in northern Tehran on the evening of Election Day, while polling stations were still open. I reported on those events and what Makhmalbaf said at the time.

Since then, Makhmalbaf has given many interviews and speeches in numerous countries. He even addressed the European Union (EU) Parliament last summer. Some of the statements that he has made have, in my opinion, hurt the Green Movement, and may create broader problems for Iran's people. For example, in his speech in the EU Parliament, he declared that, "The Green Movement does not want a nuclear bomb." Then, in an interview with Foreign Policy in September 2009, he repeated the point, going even further:

As someone who is in contact with prominent members of the Green Movement in Iran, and as someone who is intimately informed of their points of view, I declare to the world, particularly to the people and government of America, that the Iranian Green Movement does not want a nuclear bomb, but instead desires peace for the world and democracy for Iran. The Green Movement in Iran furthermore understands the world's concerns and in fact has similar concerns itself.

I have a hard time understanding the meaning of such statements, or the necessity of making them in the first place.

First of all, the question of nuclear weapons is simply not a central concern of the Green Movement.

Second, the statement implies that those who oppose the Greens -- the hardliners -- want to produce nuclear weapons, though all the reports by the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) have confirmed that, at least up to now, there has not been any evidence that Iran has a secret nuclear weapons program.

Third, such statements are dangerous for Iran generally, because they provide fodder for the neoconservatives who for years have tried to provoke the United States government to order an attack on Iran.

Fourth, regardless of any other aspect, these matters concern Iran's national security and foreign policy, in which Makhmalbaf has no expertise whatsoever.

In an interview with the British newspaper The Independent, Makhmalbaf said, "I am simply speaking on behalf of all the people who are protesting and dying on the streets of Iran." While any supporter of the Green Movement should, of course, speak publicly about the ongoing atrocities, this does not mean that one should speak about issues that are neither the concerns of the Movement at the moment, nor within one's own area of expertise.

Then, on November 20, The Wall Street Journal reported on Makhmalbaf's visit to Washington. Referring to him as the "campaign spokesman for the Iranian presidential challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi," the paper reported that he had called for President Barack Obama "to increase his public support for Iranian democrats and significantly intensify financial pressure on Tehran's elite military unit, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps." He was quoted further as saying that "the Iranian opposition movement supports targeted economic sanctions"; that "we need certain sanctions that put pressure on the government but not the people"; and that "we definitely want Obama to say he supports democracy. If he doesn't say that, he will lose his support in Iran." Such statements demonstrate Makhmalbaf's utter naiveté, as well as his deep ignorance of current conditions.

First of all, the Obama administration, or any U.S. administration for that matter, has no particular interest in a democratic Middle East. Every administration tries to protect, and if possible expand, what it perceives as the country's vital interests. If that entails supporting a democratic movement or making a deal with a dictator, so be it. All we need to do to confirm this is to look at the history of American involvement in Iran over the past six decades. If the United States has a genuine interest in a democratic Middle East, why does it not begin with its own allies in that region--Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Jordan--all dictatorships of one type or another?

Second, Makhmalbaf does not seem to know that, as I described above, the United States has maintained tough sanctions against Iran for the past 30 years! It is thus no surprise that he is completely blind to the fact that these sanctions have always empowered the hardliners and hurt ordinary Iranians.

Let me make one point clear: I would support any sanction that takes the tools of repression and oppression away from the hardliners. But purely economic sanctions only increase the power of the Revolutionary Guards, which play a central role in Iran's economy, and the several Mafia-like groups that control Iran's underground economy and are reported to have ties with some hardline ayatollahs. I find it very difficult, if not impossible, to identify an effective economic sanction that would specifically target and hurt only the Guards.

Third, why should President Obama care whether the Iranian people support him? The only support that any president cares about is that of the citizens of his own nation.

What is Makhmalbaf's objective in making such strange and damaging statements? Endearing himself to the United States, or to the neoconservatives? They certainly hurt the Green Movement.

The author asked Makhmalbaf for an interview back in December 2009. He accepted the invitation, and asked that the questions to be sent to him in Persian. Several questions were sent to him, including one about his views on sanctions, and another about taking a stance on nuclear weapons vis-a-vis the Green Movement. No response was ever received.

If some of Makhmalbaf's actions and statements might be attributed to his lack of knowledge and naiveté, the same thing cannot be said about Mohsen Sazegara, another "leader" and "spokesman" for the Green Movement in the United States. I will not get into his political career in Iran before he emigrated in 2006. Suffice it to say that I believe that he exaggerates many aspects of his career. What is most salient is that he arrived in the United States with an agenda.

Upon arrival, he went directly to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), an offshoot of Israel's lobbying group, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Both AIPAC and WINEP have been behind many sanction resolutions against Iran, supported the invasion of Iraq, and have tried to provoke a war with Iran for years. Neither group cares the slightest bit about democracy in Iran, or anywhere else in the Middle East for that matter. Their sole concern is protecting Israel's interests. In fact, many analysts believe that AIPAC represents only Israel's right-wing Likud Party, which has long sought a U.S.-led war against Iran. Did Sazegara know what type of organization WINEP is? It is difficult to believe that he did not.

Sazegara then became cozy with Michael Rubin, a resident neoconservative "scholar" at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where most of the provocations and "rationales" for attacking Iraq were conceived. Rubin, a leading supporter of the invasion, worked at the Pentagon and was a special advisor to L. Paul Bremer III, the U.S. proconsul who ran Iraq from May 2003 to June 2004.

As Robert Dreyfuss of The Nation puts it, "The AEI, and Rubin, had consensual intercourse with Chalabi for years, and now Chalabi has emerged in full blossom as a pro-Iranian villain purging Tehran's opponents in Iraq." Remember Ahmed Chalabi? He was the man who, with the help of neoconservatives, fooled everyone into believing that invading Iraq would be a cakewalk. Dreyfuss also explains how Chalabi has purged 500 Sunni candidates perceived as Tehran's opponents from the upcoming March elections, and how Rubin justifies what Chalabi has done! And, to learn about Rubin's view of Iran, just read his testimony to the House of Representatives on July 22, 2009.

Reflecting the views of many Israelis, many at the AEI wanted Ahmadinejad to win the June 12 election, because in their view that would justify their strategy of pursuing crippling sanctions and eventual war against Iran. Many of them, including some Iranians who work for the AEI, such as Ali Alfoneh, a supposed expert on the Revolutionary Guards, even ridiculed those who voted in the election. Sazegara himself was opposed to voting.

Despite Rubin's background, Sazegara became chummy with him and participated in seminars on Iran he organized at the AEI. Sazegara appeared at these events as an "expert" on the Revolutionary Guards; see here for just one example. See also here to read how Jashua Muravchik, the neoconservative who called for bombing Iran, talks about Sazegara. Muravchik was so hardcore that he didn't even last at the AEI.

Progressive journalist Reese Erlich recently interviewed Sazegara for his new book, Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence and Empire. Defending his ties with the neoconservatives, Sazegara told Erlich that George W. Bush, "in his speeches, supported the freedom and democracy struggle in Iran. As an Iranian, I agreed with his stands. Not only him, but any government."

Now, anyone who knows anything about Bush, or the human catastrophes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and still believes that Bush was actually interested in democracy in the Middle East and Iran is either fooling himself, or extremely ill-informed and naive, or seeking to fool others, or all of the above. If Sazegara did not know this when he arrived in the United States, he should certainly know it by now. But, in fact, Sazegara is so fond of the totally discredited president that he has joined the George W. Bush Presidential Institute.

The question is, why does Sazegara want to join such an institution? Is it because he needs financial support? If that is the case, why does he not ask his "army" of supporters, which he claims numbers tens of thousands (see below), for help? Is it because he has an ideological kinship with the former president and the neoconservatives? Does Sazegara have any moral qualm about being extremely close to the ideologues who have brought to the Middle East nothing but destruction, and have been trying for years to provoke a military attack on Iran? Or does he believe that the end justifies the means? If so, what is the end, the goal, here?

As I mentioned earlier, Sazegara opposed voting in the June 12 election. In his program broadcast by Voice of America into Iran, he urged people not to vote. However, once voting took place and the Green Movement, which had actually been born before the election, was strengthened, Sazegara jumped in and overnight became a "leader" of the Movement in a crass attempt to ride its wave to power. He has no base of support whatsoever in Iran. If he did, people would have heeded his call and not voted in the first place. He claims that his YouTube postings are seen by tens of thousands of people, which he interprets as a sign of his popularity. But, even if such figures are accurate, they are no indication of credibility and popularity. The reasons are threefold.

First, the vast majority of the people who watch his postings do not know about the neoconservative warmongers in the United States with whom he has been intimately associated.

Second, when the hardliners have closed essentially all the opposition newspapers, websites, and other means of mass communication, and have jailed the reformists, university students leaders, and journalists, and when the national radio and television broadcast sheer hardline propaganda, the people will read and watch anything from abroad.

Third, if Sazegara called on the Iranian people to take a specific action, such as not voting or gathering at a particular place to demonstrate, and it actually transpired, then we would know how popular the man is. But nothing like this has ever happened.

The fundamental issue, however, is not Sazegara's popularity. The issue is what he is doing both behind the scenes and in public, and with whom he is associating in the name of the Green Movement. Just like Makhmalbaf, he is taking actions and making statements that are totally unrealistic, have no relation with the facts on the ground in Iran, actually hurt the Green Movement, and make it seem like the Movement is associated with the neoconservative warmongers. Sazegara has firmly associated himself with the right-wing ideologues who have long sought to provoke a military confrontation with Iran. I would not care about his links with the neoconservatives if he did not present himself as a "leader" of the Green Movement.

Listen to what he said the next day. Just before the anniversary of the Revolution, Sazegara alternately claimed that Ahmadinejad might be arrested by the Revolutionary Guards while speaking at Azadi Square, and that the Greens planned to covertly flood the square and overwhelm Ahmadinejad with a shock attack, similar to what happened to Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu in 1989 in Bucharest's Palace Square (now Revolution Square). None of that happened, of course.

The author sent a detailed e-mail to Sazegara asking for a comment in response to the issues raised. In particular, he was asked about his association with the neoconservatives and his reason for joining the Bush Institute. As of the time of completing this article, the author had not received a response.

Both Sazegara and Makhmalbaf always state that they have no claim to the leadership of the Greens, although they are often introduced as Movement leaders by conservative and neoconservative publications; see here for one example.

Regardless, they both act as if they are the "leaders" of the Green Movement, issuing joint statements on every important occasion. See, for example, here and here. At one point, when there were widespread rumors that Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi were about to be arrested, Sazegara and Makhmalbaf, along with London-based analyst Alireza Nourizadeh, issued a statement. Their communication warned that if the arrests took place, "The leadership of the Green Movement in the absense of Mousavi, Karroubi
and Khatami will be transferred abroad..." Transferred to whom? Themselves?

It was perhaps due to such actions by Sazegara, Makhmalbaf, and others that Mousavi declared on February 8 that "the Green Movement has no spokesman outside Iran." A source in Washington, who has access to information about what is going on behind the scenes and does not want to be identified, told me that Mousavi's declaration and other statements that he has made in the past have angered a lot of exiles who claim to be speaking on behalf of the Green Movement, and have made them more determined than ever to try to discredit him and move the Obama administration toward a policy of "regime change."

A third figure, not known to many Iranians even in the United States, is Karim Sadjadpour. He used to work for the International Crisis Group as an Iran analyst. He then joined the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington as an associate in its Middle East Program. He presents himself as a great supporter of the Green Movement, often wearing a green wrist band when he makes public appearances and gives interviews.

But, the problem is that Sadjadpour says one thing in public, but takes positions in meetings and conferences that seem to contradict his public position.

For example, in an online interview with Der Spiegel a few days ago, Sadjadpour said,

More comprehensive sanctions that hurt the Iranian people would be counterproductive for the Green Movement. I think it's paramount that we do no harm, and sanctions on petrol have unpredictable consequences. While I question the notion that sanctions will rally people around the government -- that hasn't been the case the last few decades in which sanctions have been in place -- it's also true that Iran is going to be facing major economic challenges in the coming months. More comprehensive sanctions could offer Ahmadinejad a pretext for his disastrous management of the economy.

On the other hand, in a Los Angeles Times op-ed published last October 15, "Cripple Iran to Save It," neoconservative John P. Hannah, a senior WINEP fellow and national security advisor to former Vice President Dick Cheney, wrote about the "message" that he had heard "at a recent gathering of Iranian activists in Europe, including figures closely linked to the green movement's leadership [emphasis mine]." According to Hannah, those figures believe "Sanctions must be imposed, and in strong doses... A weak dose, or gradual approach, only allows the regime to adjust... To be effective, sanctions must act like a shock, not a vaccine."

Hannah then quoted "prominent Iran expert" Karim Sadjadpour as telling a Washington conference in September that while the leaders of Iran's opposition had once been "unequivocally opposed to any type of punitive measures by the United States...that's not the case anymore."

This is interesting. I am not aware of any "leaders of Iran's opposition" who have called for sanctions against Iran, unless Sadjadpour is speaking about the pretenders to the leadership in the United States. In fact, in his latest interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Mehdi Karroubi has opposed any sanctions against Iran, saying that they will only hurt the common people. Among the reformists in Iran, including Mousavi, Khatami and other prominent figures in the Green Movement, no one had said a word that indicates support for sanctions.

More interestingly, in his testimony before the House of Representative last July, Sadjadpour said, "Many members of the opposition and the population actually are starting to come around. Their views towards sanctions have changed. They're not in a position to publicly articulate that right now... They're starting to see value in it."

In an interview on July 16, Sadjadpour said, "The country that has the greatest potential to influence internal Iranian affairs in the short term is Saudi Arabia. The Iranian economy is heavily reliant on oil revenue, and each one dollar drop in oil prices is nearly one billion dollars of lost annual revenue for Iran. If Saudi Arabia--whose relations with Iran have deteriorated since Ahmadinejad became president--were to quietly increase output in order to provoke a price drop it could prove devastating to Iran, far more damaging than any sanctions that are now being deliberated."

So, what is Sadjadpour suggesting? That Saudi Arabia drawn the world in cheap oil and starve the Iranian people in the process, in order to force the hardliners to back down? He should perhaps study what happened during the Iran-Iraq war. During that period, Saudi Arabia did exactly what he is suggesting now, and it did not stop the hardliners from dragging out the conflict; it did, however, bring hardship on the Iranian people.

My Washington source tells me that at any panel discussion held by the U.S. government to which Iran experts are invited, Sadjadpour always takes the most hawkish positions. But, again, he largely avoids articulating such positions in his frequent appearances on CNN and interviews in other widely followed media outlets.

The author contacted Sadjadpour for a response to the issues raised above and received a detailed response. In his e-mail response to the author, Sadjadpour wrote, "regarding the accusation that I privately take 'the most hawkish positions' -- which I assume to mean military action -- I have ALWAYS [emphasis his] opposed military action against Iran." He referred me to several links in which he has spoken against military attacks, including his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in July 2009, in which he stated that, "Based on both recent and historical precedent, there's good reason to believe that not only would Khamanei and Ahmadinejad not be cowed by military threats, but that they would actually welcome U.S. or Israel strikes in order to try and achieve the same outcome as Saddam Hussein's 1980 invasion of Iran -- namely, to unite squabbling political factions against a common threat and keep agitated Iranian minds busy with foreign quarrels."

Other links included an interview with the Los Angeles Times in December 2009, Interview with Center for American Progress, in which he stated that, "I sincerely believe that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad would welcome an Israeli strike on their nuclear facilities; it is perhaps the only thing that could mend internal political rifts, silence the opposition movement, and entrench the most radical elements of this regime for years to come," and a most recent interview with the CNN on February 10th in which he stated that military action would "kill" the green movement and be "disastrous" for U.S. interests.

In my opinion, while it is clear that Sadjadpour is against military attacks on Iran, it is also true that the most hawkish position does not have to be identified with advocating military attacks. Even now, many Israeli leaders, considered to be the most hawkish with regards to Iran, advocate crippling sanctions.

Sadjadpour reaffirmed his position that some leaders of the Green Movement do support sanctions. In his e-mail, he wrote,

"The green movement is not monolithic. It lacks consensus on many important issues, including the potential efficacy of foreign pressure and sanctions. I have no doubt that many figures within the movement sincerely believe that Western sanctions would be hurtful to their cause. At the same time, I've been struck over the last several months by how many prominent reformists and moderates who in the past were strongly opposed to punitive measures have now come to see targeted sanctions as a necessary evil (I have even spoken to some who support much harsher measures). I suppose this shouldn't be surprising, given that many of their contemporaries have been imprisoned, endured humiliating show trials and forced confessions, and tortured."

Sadjadpour did not, however, identify any Green Movement leader who supports sanctions as a "necessary evil," saying that, "I'm sure you can understand that I cannot divulge the identities of people I speak with," but also that, "I make no claims about the breadth of these views, only that they do exist."

The danger with such statements is that, by claiming that some leaders of the Green Movement support sanctions without identifying them, one creates the impression that such sentiments do actually exist, whereas there is no evidence for them.

Regarding the assertion that his public and non-public positions do not seem to be the same, Sadjadpour responded that, "I don't think anyone would take me seriously if I privately argued precisely the opposite of what I say and write publicly."

In response to the assertion that the neoconservatives are trying to drive Iran policy towards confrontation, Sadjadpour said, "To be honest, I am much more concerned about the behavior of the Iranian leadership which is terrorizing and even raping my generation of Iranians, as opposed to the limited influence of a foreign policy clique that abdicated power over a year ago."

Many, including the author, do not agree. A visit to most progressive and antiwar websites, and the avalanche of articles by neoconservatives published in every conceivable news outlet on a daily basis appear to prove otherwise. More importantly, President Obama has proven himself to be susceptible to pressure.

There are other people who have close connections to Washington, and have been speaking about the necessity of imposing sanctions. Consider, for example, Dr. Abbas Milani, who is the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University, a visiting professor in the school's department of political science, and a research fellow and co-director of the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution. In his testimony to the House of Representatives last July 22, he said that if diplomacy fails, he would support "crippling" international sanctions--as opposed to the current ones, which he called "half-baked"--akin to what was imposed on apartheid South Africa; see here and here.

Milani argued that unilateral sanctions do not work and would only help the Islamic Republic. But he also said that he would support sanctions on the import of gasoline by Iran. Referring to a proposal for refined petroleum sanctions described by Rep. Howard Berman (D-California), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Milani said he favored it "as plan C. After plan A and B fail, then the plan C is certainly called for, and I believe many Iranian democrats will be calling for it as well."

It is due to such behind-the-scenes maneuvering that the Obama administration seems to have suddenly changed direction regarding its Iran policy. On February 2, in response to a question posed by MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on whether the administration wanted to see regime change in Iran, Vice President Joe Biden said,

We are moving with the world including Russia and others to put sanctions on them. I think that we've moved in the right direction in a measured way... We're going to end up much better off than we would have had we tried to go in there and physically tried to change the regime.

Then, on February 14, in an interview on Fox News Sunday, President Obama's national security adviser, retired General James Jones, made the link between new sanctions and the encouragement of regime change explicit, when he said of Iran, "We know that internally there is a very serious problem... We're about to add to that regime's difficulties by engineering, participating in very tough sanctions, which we support. Not mild sanctions. These are very tough sanctions." He expressed his belief that the combination of internal and external problems "could well trigger a regime change."

The danger of such statements is that, as soon as "regime change" enters the parlance of a U.S. administration, it begins to take on a life of its own, one that impels policy down a dangerous path. While Biden and Jones are not yet speaking of "regime change" in the manner that George W. Bush and company did, what will stop them in the future, especially if the self-appointed "leaders" and "spokesmen" of the Green Movement encourage them to do so?

The reader may wonder whether I support a change of the political structure in Iran. I do. But "regime change" has two completely different meanings. In the United States, regime change has always been associated with crippling sanctions and, ultimately, military attacks. Regime change in Iran, on the other hand, means continuing the civil-political struggle for democratization of the political system, and eventual elimination of the doctrine of Velaayat-e Faghih, under which the clerics hold supreme power.

In addition, suddenly unnamed Green "spokesmen" have emerged outside Iran who are pushing for crippling sanctions against the country. Consider, for example, the following from the Atlantic Council:

Leading spokesmen for the Green Movement outside Iran are convinced that the average Iranian will blame the regime, not the US, for the economic pain caused by crippling sanctions. One such representative said last December that "while no Green Movement or reformist leader inside the country is in a position to publicly validate the imposition of sanctions, they all feel that it is critical that serious sanctions should be imposed... [T]he two legs that support the Islamic regime are forces of coercion and the country's oil income... Minus the oil income, there will be no forces of coercion. Hence, it is impossible to defeat the regime without limiting the economic capabilities of the ruling establishment

And this:

In recent weeks, senior Green Movement figures -- who have been speaking at major Washington think tanks -- have made up a list of IRGC-related companies they suggest targeting, which has been forwarded to the Obama administration by third parties.

I would really like to know who these faceless, nameless "leading spokesmen for the Green Movement" are. If they truly believe in what they say, why do they not state it publicly?

Even some of the Green Movement's prominent supporters who do not live in the United States and have no connection to a U.S. institution, have made major missteps. For example, Sazegara is not the only exile who has visited the pro-Israeli WINEP. Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post reported on November 2, "Ataollah Mohajerani, who has been a spokesman in Europe for presidential candidate-turned-dissident Mehdi Karroubi, came to Washington to address the annual conference of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy." Why did Mohajerani go there? Did no one tell him what sort of organization WINEP is?

Investigative journalist Akbar Ganji is another case. In many ways I admire him, and have done so for years. He shed considerable light on the infamous Chain Murders and paid dearly for it by spending six years in jail. Ever since he moved to the United States, he has refused to meet with any neoconservatives or government officials and has instead associated himself with intellectuals and progressives.

But Ganji has been speaking about issues that are of no concern to the Green Movement, and expressing views that can only harm the Movement and its leaders in Iran. For example, he has stated that the Quran is not the word of God, and the Mahdi, the Shiites' 12th Imam, does not exist. Regardless of the merits of what he says, and regardless of whether he actually has expertise beyond that of any ordinary person in such matters, are these the most urgent concerns at this point? Such pronouncements have succeeded only in providing fodder for the hardliners' propaganda and their accusations that supporters of the Movement and its leaders in Iran are attacking people's faith.

Ganji has also indulged in conflicts with other supporters of the Green Movement in the United States, including Dr. Mohsen Kadivar. The two men have been criticizing and belittling each other, http://news.gooya.com/politics/archives/2010/02/100509.php even though they both joined with Mohajerani, Dr. Abdolkarim Soroush, and Abdolali Bazargan to issue a statement that expressed their view of what the Greens' minimum demands should be:

After the statement was released, Mohajerani declared his and his comrades' intention to play the role of an otagh-e fekr -- roughly, a think tank -- for the Green Movement. This is absurd for at least two reasons. First, a distinct feature of the Green Movement is the fact that it is broad and inclusive. It draws support from people with widely varied goals, hopes, and ideals. A "think tank" for the entire Movement that includes only people whose views overlap in almost every important way, regardless of their merits, is opposed to the Movement's essential nature and one of its greatest strengths.

Second, anyone even contemplating the establishment of such a "think tank," or thinking of contributing to it, must first recognize that democracy in Iran does not pass through Washington or any foreign capital, or through such organizations as WINEP, the Bush Institute, AEI, or the National Endowment for Democracy.

The Green Movement and the struggle for democracy in Iran are the result of the sacrifices of countless courageous Iranian men and women for over a century. Their fate should be decided in Iran, not in Western capitals, particularly Washington. Iranian people are fully capable of advancing their own democratic cause.

Photo by Scienceduck via Flickr.

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67 Comments

It is disappointing to see Sahimi resort to these kinds of attacks. What was the point of this piece really? It is sad that many Iranians cannot seem to work together even at a time when our countrymen are being pulverized on a daily basis. Is it the fault of Ganji, Milani, and Mohajerani? What makes Sahimi think he is so smart and Makhmalbaf is so "naive"? What experience does Sahimi have in politics, besides being an avowed former member of the MKO (admittedly when he was young and foolish)? Sahimi is also incorrect in saying that the IAEA has always given Iran a clean bill of health, he should read the last IAEA report which came out recently. Until the day we get our act together and stop attacking each other, we'll be cursed w/ the awful regime we have.

Marjane_Azadi / March 5, 2010 10:11 AM

Thanks Professor,

HD / March 5, 2010 10:38 AM

Heh, people discussing whether Iranians can work together should check out this article.

Regarding the last sentence - too bad the iranian people's government is advancing towards a nuclear weapon, good luck trying to stop the countries iran has been calling for their death for 31 to not do anything about it.

And about sadjapour, wow, he owned you in just those e-mail snippets. Yes, a military strike IS the most hawkish position professor. You sound like you have a problem with karim and just decided to stick him in with the rest here. He IS right about not being taken seriously if he said different things in private, but the only thing you cite is somebody else's view of what he thinks . Sadjapour is my favorite analyst on Iran.

Lastly,

" If the United States has a genuine interest in a democratic Middle East, why does it not begin with its own allies in that region--Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Jordan--all dictatorships of one type or another?


Yeah, they can just snap their fingers and BOOM - democracy! The rational, tolerant, secular people of the middle east are yearning for it and the US is in the way, not the regimes that their societies produced and support or not oppose.

It never ceases to amaze me what some blame on the US.

And for what it's worth they DID try to build a democracy in Iraq but the iraqis - and thanks to imperial influence of the champions of the dispossessed and their death squads - it didn't work. Who knows, maybe in 100 years.

In Egypt too, bush put pressure on mubarak to open up the elections but nothing came of it. I'm quoting 'progressive' middle east 'expert' juan cole here, that's what he said dubya did.

(I wonder if I'd be reading your articles denouncing US 'interfernces' in egypt and jordan if they went further in supporting democracy. Either way I think we'll see this in the coming years, Obama has too many things to worry about right now).

GeneralOreo / March 5, 2010 1:01 PM

Forgot to add - there's NOT going to be a regime change war, not even a million soldiers and another few trillion would do it. It's just not going to happen for so, so many reasons it's laughable to think otherwise. The closest thing the US will get is bombing the nuclear facilities, and even that probably wont' happen because it'll just delay the nuclear program and not stop it, never mind a world wide recession - or depression - from heaven knows what price of dollar of oil.

GeneralOreo / March 5, 2010 1:06 PM

Bravo to Professor Sahimi and Tehran Bureau for publishing this brave and needed piece. The first rule of any sane policy towards Iran should be Hippocratic - do no harm. Sanctions are perceived as warfare by many Iranians - economic warfare is a form of war.

If there were some magical way an outside force (exile networks, US power, The Return of the King) could click its heels and make all things right and natural in Iran, then perhaps that option could be entertained. But in the real world, with the entangled web of interests that Sahami lays out, it is naive to call for such action. If the several million Iranians outside of the country want to contribute to the welfare of 70 million Iranians inside the country, they should do their utmost to prevent war and sanctions, and educate others about the long lineage of democratic struggle in Iran.

Morad in Tabriz / March 5, 2010 4:25 PM

Dear Dr. Sahimi,


Thank you for this excellent article.


I watched the clip of Dr. Mohajerani's speech to WINEP with great amusement.


Flanked by the sinister Patrick Clawson, he talked to the befuddled gathering of crusty "Israel-Firsters" about Enlightenment philosophy and classics of modern literature, rambling on haphazardly without any of the stirring authority and eloquence his public oratory is famous for.


The Zionist audience was visibly frustrated in the brief Q&A session. Its only interest was whether the Green Movement has proper deference for Israel or not.


To his credit, Mohajerani sidestepped the questioners' crude attempts to pin him down on this bellwether issue, although I cannot figure out why a grounded person like him would want to associate with the nasty WINEP at all.


For an interesting personal vignette of Sazegara, I refer you to the first two paragraphs of Babak Rahimi's excellent review of Danny Postel's book, Reading Legitimation Crisis in Tehran: "Iran and the Future of Liberalism":


http://www.mepc.org/journal_vol14/3Rahimi.asp


I would have liked to hear your views on Saudi-backed figures like Nourizadeh and Khonsari as well.

Anonymous / March 5, 2010 4:59 PM

Dear Dr. Sahimi,


Thank you for this excellent article.


I watched the clip of Dr. Mohajerani's speech to WINEP with great amusement.


Flanked by the sinister Patrick Clawson, he talked to the befuddled gathering of crusty "Israel-Firsters" about Enlightenment philosophy and classics of modern literature, rambling on haphazardly without any of the stirring authority and eloquence his public oratory is famous for.


The Zionist audience was visibly frustrated in the brief Q&A session. Its only interest was whether the Green Movement has proper deference for Israel or not.


To his credit, Mohajerani sidestepped the questioners' crude attempts to pin him down on this bellwether issue, although I cannot figure out why a grounded person like him would want to associate with the nasty WINEP at all.


For an interesting personal vignette of Sazegara, I refer you to the first two paragraphs of Babak Rahimi's excellent review of Danny Postel's book, Reading Legitimation Crisis in Tehran: "Iran and the Future of Liberalism":


http://www.mepc.org/journal_vol14/3Rahimi.asp


I would have liked to hear your views on Saudi-backed figures like Nourizadeh and Khonsari as well.

Ali from Tehran / March 5, 2010 5:00 PM

Brilliant! This piece does an excellent job articulating concerns many people have expressed.

It is a cogent argument for examining in depth any "self-appointed" leader that does not, first and foremost, declare that any democratic movement in Iran must be for all Iranians and be driven by Iranians. Any such movement and its representative leaders must articulate goals that address the needs and desires of ordinary Iranians living in Iran. It must not be co-opted and neutralized by demands that do not specifically and realistically address the aim for a "free" and "independent" Iran.

Jay / March 5, 2010 5:28 PM

Dear Dr. Sahimi, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

"Why did Mohajerani go there? Did no one tell him what sort of organization WINEP is?"
I've been asking EVERYBODY that question! Nobody has given me a response, and they just claim that "he was invited"! What does that mean?!

There is a lot of discussion about what the expat community can and can not do. Well, they should ALL begin by reading your article to see what they SHOULDN'T

Anonymous / March 5, 2010 5:45 PM

Dear Dr. Sahimi, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

"Why did Mohajerani go there? Did no one tell him what sort of organization WINEP is?"
I've been asking EVERYBODY that question! Nobody has given me a response, and they just claim that "he was invited"! What does that mean?!

There is a lot of discussion about what the expat community can and can not do "for Iran". Well, they should ALL begin by reading your article to see what they SHOULDN'T be doing!

Pedestrian / March 5, 2010 5:46 PM

Great read, Muhammad. I agree with much of it, beyond what I've objected to in past comments.

BTW: It isn't hard to manipulate YouTube video view counts.

And speaking of unanswered lists of questions by email, I haven't received a response to a query I made some time ago to Arash Hejazi, regarding inconsistencies of public testimony and law enforcement debriefing over the Neda incident. It's pretty obvious by now I'm not going to get an answer.

Pirouz / March 5, 2010 6:17 PM

Sahimi, you need to read the other article on this site (Iranian DNA). You have slandered anyone who is not aligned with your views.

It seems that YOU are the one who has been trying to damage or slander anyone who is is not aligned with the REFORMER faction of the regime. That is the SAFE option for those who have a vested interest in the ISLAMIC Republic. Do you?

Bobak / March 5, 2010 8:07 PM

Great article, Dr. Sahimi, except that the title is a bit misleading since it does not deal with differences within the movement itself so much as how widely views, pronouncements, goals, etc., of expat Iranians self- or media-proclaimed as leaders or spokespersons of the green movement diverge from the interests of the actual movement (in all its shades of green) in Iran. With that one exception, I agree with everything you say.

Chuck Hamilton / March 5, 2010 8:18 PM

You should have added Trita Parsi to the list of those you criticized while going through the list of people who speak in the name of the green movement without actually sharing its aims and interests.

Chuck Hamilton / March 5, 2010 8:27 PM

As an outsider interested in the success of the Green Movement, and as someone deeply concerned about the militant stance of the current regime in Iran, it is often difficult to find a path through the complicated politics of outside interference. It is incredibly important that the Green Movement succeeds, that the regime is changed FROM WITHIN, that sanctions only damage the regime, that Iran doesn't develop a nuclear weapon, and that the U.S. and Israel don't go to war against Iran.

This is a complicated and delicate web of intermingled issues. However, there are ways for outsiders to get involved without compromising any of them.

Let me point out that my own contacts within the Green Movement want nothing more than the ability to form their own government that represents them instead of represses them. The best way to do this is to focus on getting communication technology, internet, cell phone and SMS networks working in Iran and free of government censors. This WILL require outside intervention.

As an outsider, I do not feel that it is my place to tell the Iranians what to do, or to help install a leader whom I back, but I do feel it is my obligation to help Iran free itself. However, I have noticed that each month that passes it is harder to get information and and out of Iran, despite the fact that the roots of my involvement exposure and contact within the country are deeper than ever. I don't see effective resistance while the Iranian regime is capable of arresting mid-level leadership, shutting down communication, and brutally repressing the people on the ground.

The external political banter is a red herring, which is distracting the world from the real issue: if Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Khamenei weren't ruthless dictators, then all other superficial issues would become much less significant, including the nuclear weapons program. War is the worst case scenario to ouster the regime and install peace, and so the people of Iran must be empowered by the world to do this themselves.

Azadi,

James the Hype
Join the Hype: Dissected News for a Curious World http://jamesthehype.blogspot.com

James the Hype / March 5, 2010 8:38 PM

Given the direction of this article, I think you and your readers may be interested in our analysis of neo-con US foreign policy stance on Iran, which includes discusson of green "leadership," as distinct from green movement, and also discusses the likes of Sazegara:
http://missionfreeiran.wordpress.com/analysis/fusion-and-confusion/

Maria Rohaly / March 5, 2010 10:09 PM

Feet on the street, wins revolutions.

All these names/experts will we footnotes in dustbins. Do you remember Robert Armao from '79...legions hung on his word during the revolution....he lives in oblivian today.

In '79 the smartest political minds on earth (Kissinger, Rockefeller, Brzeznski, CIA, NSA, etc) debated similar issues, under a different cloud: Iran's oil monopoly/OPEC contract renewals rather than NUKEs.

You know what...they were spliting hairs while the roof was collapsing around them.

Unified protest for regime change.

We can hold debates later, while viewing the mullah hangings on CNN.

United we stand.

End of story

Shah / March 5, 2010 10:30 PM

I agree with some of the points of this article but I also read a lot of half truths and mis-statements in it.

The underlying problem with the writer's approach is that he is trying to combine fighting the barbaric coup regime in Iran with a simultaneous fight against the neocons in the US.

Although the two goals will often overlap, that is not always the case.

Iranian people and the supporters of human rights in Iran must stay laser focused on their key goals. To the extent that that overlaps with condemning neocons, that's great. But we should let that force us into unnatural positions.

I'll offer specific examples from this article when I get a chance later today.

Bahman / March 6, 2010 1:21 AM

Mr Sahimi, as usual you put the blame on the Green's supporters!
But let me start to address your general exaggeration at first: whatever Makhmalbaf, Mohajerani, Ganji, Sazegara or Sadjadpour say abroad, cannot be labelled as representative for the Green Movement, as they have not been declared as such by the leaders of the movement. Thus each of them talks for himself, even when representing current beliefs within the Green movement in Iran or abroad.
From which follows secondly, that it is their good right to express their views, even if detrimential to the Green Movement. Or would you really prefer all of them to watch tacitly the carnage in Iran?
Thirdly, Mrs Moussavi and Karroubi have underlined the pluralistic nature of this movement repeatedly, being fully aware that their adherence to the IRI is not shared by parts of the Greens, which should rather be labelled as a rainbow coalition of progressive forces.
It is obvious that neither of them would regard the Quran as a historical text, but there are enough Iranians within Iran, who do so.
Fourthly, and to return to the initial allegation, I ask you, who is insulting Western diplomats, Yukiya Amano and other respected leading figures of the international community, if not AN, the SL and their bunch of footmen?
One does not need to be a political expert to interpret these deliberate provocations as an invitation to military actions.
And then, do you really believe Western observers do not understand?
As a whole your deliberations attest to the same autoritarian mentality predominant in the IRI: Be quiet. It's up me to speak!
Arshama

Arshama / March 6, 2010 1:53 AM

100 % true. alot of ppl have appointed themselves as green spokesperson and plan our fate. it should be decided by us, not ppl detached from iran sitting in the comfort of their homes and going around pretending like they are the ones deciding for us. like they have the right to decide for us.

when u have never been in a protest and gotten beaten you have no right to pretend like you know what is best for us.

no one is in favor of sanctions here.

green from tehran / March 6, 2010 2:43 AM

what agreat job.dr,sahimi i enjoyed reading your article,one has to read it many times.no one could have articulated the green movement and its desire better than you.i cannot wait to see you in person march 12th in dc.bravo to you.

fay moghtader / March 6, 2010 3:20 AM

It seems clear that most Iranians are against military and economic sanctions. They believe these acts will only strengthen the regime.

It is to be noted that any kind of sanction that affects the revolutionary guard and the regime's pocketbook without harming the average man on the street is accpetable.

tooraj bakhtiari / March 6, 2010 3:40 AM

Most of these guys are not qualified to be a leader; they are mostly islamists of various shades trying to set up iranians for another '79 failure. Mousavi, the executioner of decade '80 is no leader, only an excuse. Mousavi should first face justice for his past crimes against iranians and his treason against iran. Mousavi is far more guilty, by light years, than what late PM Hoveida was accused of; and of course mousavi is far less honorable than Hoveida.

Mousavi constantly says that he wants to bring back the ideals of Khomeini's revolution! What ideals is he talking about? The executions, the oppression of women, the attacks on media and the press, or filling up pockets of Arafat and arabs with what belonged to children of iran.

Mousavi is from a nasty and criminal family if one believes in bad genes too. He is a cousin of the supreme leader and related to a number of other criminals in IRI. His wife is also a cousin of Navab Safa, the assassin of late PM Mansoor.

It is very naive to assume that these gangsters will go away by peaceful means and/or allow a democratic system take root in iran; they know that, if there is ever a free press and independent judiciary, tens of thousands of their victims and their families will drag them into courts and they will have to pay for their past crimes. Every nationalist iranian will also pursue them for their past treason against iran and looting of country's resources. Bringing a just democratic system is the last thing that likes of Mousavi/Karrubi/Khatami/etc. want for iran, and as they say each and every time, will block implementation of a democratic system for iran.

BTW, TB is blocked in iran, so all those who claim being from iran/tehran/tabriz/... are only performing their religious duty of Taqiyyeh.

Ebrahim / March 6, 2010 3:50 AM

So why is it that all these "greens" are pointing finger toward each other?
Problem is that the "greens" have not formulated goals that make sense. The Leaders want "reform" within Islamic Republic. Meaning they accept the principal of "Velayat Faghih" and they want to bring about democracy within framework of Islamic Republic. THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN. The "Greens" plan is not coherent. When you don't have coherent policy, everybody goes his own way. The "green" movement will eventually ripen to color RED.

shahin / March 6, 2010 4:43 AM

@ Maria Rohaly

From your article:
"We reject imposing sanctions or threatening Iran with weapons, both of which, if deployed, should be considered collective punishment of the Iranian people leading to extremely inhumane results. We argue instead that the best and most effective way of supporting the Iranian revolution is to cease to recognize this regime as legitimate. This is done by shuttering their embassies and closing off diplomatic relations with this illegitimate entity. "

................

What are your thoughts on "selective sanctions": targeting financial assets (Bank accts and Businesses) of IRCG Generals and Mullahs?

Ahvaz / March 6, 2010 5:49 AM

Dear GeneralOreo,


Your forceful defense of Good Ol' US-of-A, the bumbling giant of benevolent goals and good intentions, brought penitent tears to my benighted eyes.


Of course you invaded Iraq to bring democracy, Herr General.


Why else would you ban worker unions, outlaw strikes, try to arrange for a new US-drafted constitution to be approved by handpicked grandees instead of thru a general referendum, rake gunfire on govt. retirees protesting the cutoff of their meagre pensions, build a mega-embassy several times larger than the Vatican with thousands of personnel in the heart of Baghdad, set your white-trash soldiers loose to torture and rape countless suspects (and their family members) in dungeons like Abu Ghraib, and blanket Fallujah in depleted uranium and white phosphorus, condemning the unlucky survivors to countless generations of malformed offspring?


Too bad those nasty, crafty Iranians foiled your cute plans.


By the authority vested in me by Weltfuehrer Obama, I hereby promote you to Feldmarschall Offmedz.

Ali from Tehran / March 6, 2010 6:08 AM

Dear Ebrahim (06/03/2010 @ 3:50 AM),


Calm down.


TehranBureau is not blocked in Iran.


And even if it was, have you not heard of proxies?


Your juvenile reasoning reminds me of our dearly missed colleague, Valagohar Shahdokht Niloofar.

Ali from Tehran / March 6, 2010 7:00 AM

Ali: Murder of tens of thousands of iranians by islamists like Mousavi, including many juveniles, may be "juvenile reasoning" to you but not to me and many like me. To me it was an unforgivable crime against iranians that only justice against all these newly reformed islamists can remedy: the same justice that was used against likes of Hoveida and hundreds like him. That is the big difference between you/reformed islamists and me that I gladly accept and take pride in.

Ebrahim / March 6, 2010 8:02 AM

Again about sadjapour, the man NEVER said he's a leader of the green movement. he is however on expert on Iran and has opinions on it and that's it. You can disagree with those, I do too, for example like most iran experts he's way too optimistic and probably overestimates how secular iranians, especially the youth, are, but that's still just a difference of opinion. Somehow tying him to neocons who want to bomb iran and making it seem like he's distorting the situation is very disingenuous.


Ali from Tehran,


I never said the US invaded just to install a democracy, but the result is that if the iraqis wanted one and stopped killing each other, they can easily have one.

Funny how you describe the invasion. Shows how easy it is to take half-truths, lies, and offer a distorted narrative.

By any chance are you one of those people complaining about demonizing by western media of iranians and muslims? What irony that would be.

the torture you talk about was revealed by AMERICAN journalists, that tells you more about american culture and its values than anything else. As for protests, I've seen plenty of anti-american protests in iraq - that's the benefit of having an army that doesn't randomly mass murder people in the street for voicing their opinion. Firing on people protesting their pensions? If that did happen it must have been an isolated incident. maybe you should stop watching al-jazeera and presstv for your news (and just in case you're too clever to not respond with this, no I don't watch fox news).

If the US in Iraq was ANYTHING like you described there wouldn't have been any insurgency in either iraq or afghanistan, the brutality of the US army with no rules of engagement would have ensured it. But here they are, building schools in afghanistan and trying their best to let iraq be a stable and successful country. They did not invade for those reasons, but trust me when I say you don't want to see the US behaving like the soviet army or iranian one that forced teenagers to clear landmines with their bodies. I'm not going to even bother comparing to otheer muslim armies. Hint - muslims rarely uttered a word on the tyranny of the taliban (unless you're shia, shocking).


As for 'white trash', lol, how many here would casually accept 'sand nigger'? The difference, you see, is that those 'white trash' have brought modernity to the world and are the light of civilization, the only thing iran exports to the world is oil, terror, and pistachios.

GeneralOreo / March 6, 2010 8:57 AM


Ali from Tehran wrote,

"By the authority vested in me by Weltfuehrer Obama, I hereby promote you to Feldmarschall Offmedz."

Nothing funnier than an idiot calling Obama/US a nazi while a fascist theocratic boot is on his neck.

I remember even poster 'pedestrian' here on his blog, if it is the same person, called the US a fascist country.

Both of you, and all devout iranians, I say enjoy the islamic republic! To every last drop! :D

GeneralOreo / March 6, 2010 1:24 PM

What a fascinating article. Prof. Sahimi identifies the diversity of the Green Movement and then proceeds to berate any difference of opinion!

This is the first very disappointing article I have read from Prof. Sahimi. There is little substance and a lot of tit-for-tat. I am eagerly awaiting a response to this article.

Pak / March 6, 2010 6:28 PM

Pak and others who do not agree with the article:

First of all, I respect your opinion. There is not a single political article in the world on which everybody agrees on.

Secondly, everything that is mentioned in the article is well-documented. There is no ifs, buts, howevers, etc. Therefore, characterizing it as "slander" or "berating" is unfair and completely wrong.

Third, Makhmalbaf, Sazegara and Sadjadpour were given a chance to respond. The first two did not respond. Mr. Sadjadpour did, and his response was reproduced in the article. In fact, due to his response, a part of the original draft of the article was eliminated. That is called fairness.

Fourth, I am not slandering or berating anyone. That is done when one writes without any justification or documentation whatsoever. The article is loaded with links and documents.

Fifth, diversity of opinion is a great feature of the Green Movement. However, the diversity does not extend, in my opinion, to having relations with neoconservatives and lobbies in the US that have wanted to start a war with Iran. People are free to do what they want, but are not free, in my opinion, to do things in the name of the Movement that hurt it.

Finally, just as other people are free to express their opinion and take action based on it, so also are people like me who find what they say and do objectionable. I reserve my rights to criticize what I believe is damaging to Iran and Iranians.

Muhammad Sahimi / March 6, 2010 7:45 PM

@ Ahvaz

Dear one from Ahvaz!

Thank you for your attention and the time you devoted to reading our analysis.

We demand political sanctions and only political sanctions. What you mention fits in that category. We demand blockade of bank accounts of whoever has robbed Iranian people during the last three decades. These assets belong to Iranian people and should be returned to them with due interest as soon as possible, and on the conditions approved by the Iranian peoples' revolution, or its true representative. There is a list of these assets and there are people working on completing this list, but as said before we consider this a political sanction and not economical one.

Economic sanctions primarily affect the Iranian market, the food, medicine, and services supplies; by weakening the people this way, it strengthens the regime and the (usually government-sponsored) black market actors.

What are your thoughts about these measures?

Sincerely,
MFI
http://missionfreeiran.wordpress.com

Maria Rohaly / March 6, 2010 8:34 PM

What a useless piece of writing. I can’t believe how naive this writer is about world politics and how it relates to Iran / oil / and geo-strategic interests of the Middle East.

What this writer has done is a shameless smear campaign and nothing more.

Shahriar / March 6, 2010 8:46 PM

Ali from Tehran,

I don't mean to dwell more on that narrative of the US in iraq you gave, but the bit about the constitution and how the US manipulated doesn't stand up to the fact that the iraqis in parliament right now can change it. If not, then the ones after them. And so on.

The US right now has tens of thousands of soldiers in iraq and still can't counter Iran's influence, a backward third world country. Or multiple insurgencies. Yet you're giving the enough power to pick the iraqi constitution AND keep anybody from changing it. Do you have any idea on the tremendous power you're giving the US? What the hell are they doing, mind control? Again there wouldn't be an insurgency if the US had that level of control on the iraqi population. Or maybe the insurgency and sunni-shia civil war was the US plan in the first place, DUN DUN DUN (I actually read on iranian.com an article by a leftist iranian saying the US purposely instigated and fanned the flames of sectarian violence. maybe he meant his home, the cradle of civilization, and was confused).

Anyway, what does it say in the constitution, that iraq give away its oil for free to the US? What a joke. I remember it says there can't be anything anti-islamic in the law. Yeah, that sounds like something written by the US. Maybe you're angry there's no velayat-faqih in it? I'm expecting any second now a post asking suspiciously why the sky has been in a different shade of blue in iraq and what do the americans have to do with it.

GeneralOreo / March 6, 2010 8:50 PM

It is disappointing to see some of the posts here!

Absence a credible argument, attacking the writer of this piece, or people who have commented, is not persuasive at all. If you wish to be taken seriously, take issue with the substance of the article. Every credible study I am aware of points to the desires of Iranians for liberalization of policies in Iran, but none that I am aware of says that a majority in Iran wants "regime change". The writer draws attention to certain individuals who have assumed de facto leadership by pointing out that they do not speak for the majority in Iran nor for the Greens. Individual personal desire for "regime change" does not discredit the writer's argument - personal attacks does not help either.

Attacking people who have commented on certain hypocritical policies of the U.S. at a personal level is also unconvincing. The friendly folks that list the "democracy scale" place the U.S. below Spain and Malta - and remember, this is a friendly group doing the evaluation. It places Iran along with China, Qatar, Sudan, UAE and others along the bottom of the table. But as a nation we have no qualms dealing with any of these other countries. Therefore, the argument about establishing democracy does not wash on two fronts: a) the countries to give lessons on democracy should be Norway and Switzerland, and b) democracy is not the yardstick in our foreign policy.

These facts do not lend support to the authoritarian regime in Iran, but they do point out that it is naive, an in come case highly cynical, to assign benevolence to the motive of certain people and groups that advocate regime change.

Jay / March 6, 2010 9:13 PM

Sahimi represents the worst elements of Iranian political culture: highly conspiratorial and driven by petty jealousies and insecurity. He and Hamid Dabashi should just stay on the sidelines and get out of the way, whereas others people are trying to build unity all they want to do is promote themselves by tearing down others. Shame on you Sahimi.

Vatandoost / March 6, 2010 9:45 PM

thank you for exposing, these oppurtunist, you forgot to mention azar nafisi!
i agree with you and hamid dabashi, read them
with intrest.

but its about the culture, not polotics, remmeber?

shirin / March 7, 2010 3:38 AM

Thanks Professor Sahimi for makign this important and timely intervention.

Shirin Saeidi

Shirin Saeidi / March 7, 2010 9:08 PM

I wonder if anybody at tehranbureau is minding the shop—much of what Mr. Sahimi has written in this essay now in March 2010, Hamid Dabashi had said in his CNN article in early August 2009 [http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/08/05/dabashi.sanctions.iran/index.html], and then in much more detail later in August 2009 in Al-Ahram [http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2009/961/op51.htm] and then again in Persian in February 2010 [http://www.rahesabz.net/story/10595/] against which he was also attacked in this article [http://tehranreview.net/articles/491].

Mr. Sahimi seems to be too busy writing that he doesn’t have time to read or else he reads and fails to cite. There is an unfortunate and impolite term for this failure to cite sources. This sort of shabby activism and writing is no less damaging to the integrity of the Green Movement. This is not to suggest that I agree with everything that Dabashi and Sahimi say but simply a matter of chronological order and collegial courtesy of which we Iranians seem not to have a sufficient grasp.

Mahmoud Bagherzadeh / March 7, 2010 10:02 PM

Thank you, Professor, for this brilliant piece. So unbelievably important and well-timed. Shame on Sazegara for his irresponsible and opportunistic approach.

Ramin / March 7, 2010 11:04 PM

Dear Ebrahim (06/03/2010 @ 8:02 AM),


When I referred to 'juvenile reasoning', I meant your statement of 3:50 AM, where you finished by claiming:


"BTW, TB is blocked in iran, so all those who claim being from iran/tehran/tabriz/... are only performing their religious duty of Taqiyyeh."


My response was as follows:


1. TehranBureau is NOT blocked in Iran.
2. And even if it was blocked, haven't you heard of proxies?

_________________________________________________


Dear Feldmarschall OffMedz (recently promoted from GeneralOreo rank),


I did not say that the US 'controlled' the drafting and putting into force of the Iraqi constitution. I said that they tried to do so, and were stymied.


No, the US is not omnipotent. Omnivorous perhaps, but certainly not omnipotent.


The abuses by US white-trash soldiers and mercenaries were common knowledge in Iraq and non-MSM outlets months before your media grudgingly 'exposed' a mere fraction of it.


Dear Feldmarschall OffMedz, please adjust your medication.

Ali from Tehran / March 7, 2010 11:25 PM

Dear Dr. Sahimi,


I am eager to know what motivates individuals such as Sazegara, Khalaji, Milani, et al, to join right-wing neocon and Zionist think-tanks.


Is it for purely mercenary reasons, receiving a sinecure, fame and access to the corridors of Western power, in return for acting as 'native informant', like their Arab colleagues Walid Phares, Kanan Makiya and Fouad Ajami?


Or do they genuinely host a Manichean worldview, believing that because IRI is so bad, its most implacable foreign enemies must therefore be the apotheosis of good (div cho biroon ravad fereshteh darayad, part II)?


Or do they hope to harness Western power to serve their own ends, manipulating it rather than being manipulated by it, and discharging it once their desired outcome is achieved, like Ahmed Chalabi?


Regarding Dr. Mohajerani, he does not fit into any of these categories. Have you or TehranBureau contacted him to seek out his reasons for going to WINEP?

Ali from Tehran / March 8, 2010 2:08 AM

I am not making any accusations but while reading this article, I wondered if the Islamic regime lobbyists had anything to do with it or if Mr. Sahimi is one.
While much of what's said regarding the self declared Green Movement leaders abroad is true, there is a hidden agenda here against crippling sanctions which are going to be aimed at the Revolutionary Guards. It is as if Mr. Sahimi fails to understand between neocons and the Obama administrations and uses the same yard stick on both. The arguments against the economic sanctions lack solid reasoning as Mr. Sahimi keeps referring to 30 years of sanctions that did not work. Mind you that in the past 30 years Europe had supported the regime in Tehran and that is no longer true. Mr. Sahimi sites sanctions of mid 1990s by Clinton adminstration which were unilateral. What were are talking about here is a complete crippling sanction targeting bank accounts of regime officials, military equipment and technologies, gasoline and many other items carefully tailored to weaken the regime in Tehran enabling the Green Movment to topple them.
The idea that U.S. sanctions caused airline crashes is completely bogus and only used as an excuse by the Iranian regime. First of all, most of the fleet in Iran uses Airbus which is European and the article never refers to mismanagement of the Islamic Regime buying second hand planes from Turkey because of kickbacks and Topolov planes from Russia. In fact it's those planes that have crashed which has nothing to do with the U.S.
Will the sanctions hurt ordinary Iranian citizens? yes and no! in the short term there will be more pressure on them. But that will only lead to unrest and strikes and eventual overthrow of the most barbaric regime in our history.
I find this article amazingly short sighted.

Tour Irani / March 8, 2010 3:05 AM

Dear Maria Rohaly,

Personally, I am in favor of targeted sanctions against IRCG and Corrupt Clergy's personal assets AND businesses. In my opinion, IRCG is an illegitimate terrorist/mafia organization, and their leaders should be treated as such, at least politically and financially. I believe this would hit them where it hurts most. Best of all, publically they couldn't make too much fuss about freezing of millions of dollars of illegitimate assets in European bank accounts.

Having said that, there are some concerns that need be addressed:

1. Could this designation be used by neocons as pretext for military attack on Iran?

2. How easiy would it be for the targeted individuals to simply do business under a different name or entity?

3. Could they move their assets to countries that might harbor them s.a. Brazil, Turkey, Dubai, Syria, Russia, Switzerland, etc?

4. With IRCG involved in so much of Iranian economy, can they be targeted without harming the population?

5. What would be the chances of pushing Iran into a North Korea-like closed society?

Ahvaz / March 8, 2010 4:57 AM

We Iranians are inherently worried about opportunists and bandwagon jumpers. for good reason too. There are plenty who traded their tie for a beard after the Revolution, and would switch back when opportunity knocks.

I have listened to several of Sazegaras 10minute recordings. He has many practical ideas for non-violent protests, and he seems genuine enough in his dedication to help topple IR using nonviolent methods.
However, he must respond to the points brought up in this article, as Sajadpour did.

Ahvaz / March 8, 2010 5:07 AM

Excellent piece. This was long overdue. The green movement is being hijacked by radical elements in the diaspora, and for too long no one dared to talk about it due to fears of creating divisions. But the divisions were always there - the question was whether we would address them. Sahimi did just that. Thank YOU!!!

Marjan / March 8, 2010 12:36 PM

Just wanted to make sure that readers/commenters outside Iran know that TB is NOT blocked in Iran, and I am accessing it now from the city of Tabriz. You may proceed to cook up the conspiracy of your choice based on that fact, but it is a fact nonetheless.

Also, because I was curious, I just now checked - the following sites are also accessible in Iran:

www.aipac.org
www.washingtoninstitute.org

Morad in Tabriz / March 8, 2010 5:12 PM

Mr. Sahimi, you should be ashamed of yourself. Or more appropriately: khejalat bekesh agha. Your article is a series of misstatements and half truths and deceptive quotes taken out of context. You seem to have gone to teh Triita Parsi school of analysis. i.e dont analyze anything, just call everyone who disagrees with you a neocon hawk who wants to bomb iran and then sit back and laugh as the stupid american lefties support you and thuink you represent iran and iranians. as an iranian who actually cares more abourt iran and iraniansm, i can say that when the day of victory comes and iranians truly have the freedom they deserve, the mr sahmis of the world will go back to being obscure, third rate academics and they will then have to search forthe next group of people they can bash in order to make a name for themselves. i dont know all of the political opinions of the people mr sahimi assuredly tells us do not speak for the iranian people or thegreen movement but, guess what mr sahimi?, i never assumed any of them spoke for the whole green movement anyway and nor do most iranians,. when cnn brings analysts like sajjadipour on we understand that he's just giving his analytic opnion and when sazegara is on air we understand that he is a an oppos figure and his views may be colored, so we are not stupid. but then again mr sahimi , like most iranian intellectualsm thinks the masses are just stupid and cant decide anything forthemselves, so he has to enlighten us. please save your lectures for your poor, unsuspecting students and spare readers of tehran bureau, a a truly wonderful news site, your third rate conspiracy mongering. one of the worst pieces of jouyrnalism ive read in a long time.

Iradj / March 8, 2010 6:39 PM


Keep crying foul! That is your right of free expression.

However, so long as you do not provide evidence to counter the statements of the author (which is stated along with links supporting the assertions made in the article), you will not persuade anyone who can read and analyze for themselves!

Iranians (in Iran) are politically very savvy - That is why they are not buying the goods being marketed to them from the "outside".

The Greens (in Iran) will find their way to their own vision of locally grown and nurtured democracy. They need patience and support; no dictates from anyone.

Jay / March 8, 2010 9:35 PM

Iradj:

You are entitled to your opinion, of course, and I have no problem with it.

I do not speak for anybody, rather I express strictly my own opinion. Reject it, ignore it, accept it, criticize it, or do what you want to.

But, if you choose to criticize the piece and have a meaningful debate, you must point out where I have taken things out of context. Give one example. Give the full quote, and show the part that I have taken things out of context, so that the reader knows can see the missing part. If you do and show that, I'll take back what I have written.

And, leave Dr. Parsi out of this. It has nothing to do with him. I have never met him in my entire life. But as soon as you bring him in, your true color emerges, and your supposedly green turns yellow and black completely. Only a certain type of green pretenders attack Dr. Parsi.

Muhammad Sahimi / March 9, 2010 2:31 AM


"your supposedly green turns yellow and black completely"

:))))))

Ahvaz / March 9, 2010 6:01 AM

Dr. Sahimi

thanks for a great piece, we have been having these discussion amongst ourselves for quite a while , the facts you have gathered and mentioned actually clarified things better. I certainly believe that green movement is pluralistic in nature, and that is an advantage, but some people take that to mean raising concern about intention or action of certain individuals devoid the movement of it is democratic nature, this is completely false, I think it is more a matter of principle , you cannot be an advocate of a movement that seeks to bring democracy, pluralism and dignity but interact with people or be involved with organizations whose track records are in every aspect against these principles . this was very well timed discussion and criticism . Well done

amir / March 9, 2010 6:28 AM

Mr. Sahimi, thank you for your detailed analysis. I would like to offer some of my thoughts as a way of finding a way to move forward.

I will use Buckminister Fuller's views in system's theory in saying: a System either works or it does not. If it does not, it should be completely discarded in favor of a new one since attempts to reform a dysfunctional system will actually strengthen it.

So, let us consider to discarding anyone, whatever they call themselves, associated with the existing system as dysfunctional.

Next, let us consider using our intellectual, educational and experiential knowledge and expertise to address a fundamental and most important issue: how can we as Iranian nationals, regardless of our geographical location, as well as socioeconomic and beliefs factors become united and collaborative towards a common goal?

If we can attempt to solve this challenge, the rest will take care of itself.

In my humble opinion we first need a social evolution that can lead to a sustainable political transformation.

The achievement of this social evolution is not an intellectual exercise. It is in the domain of action from within towards ourselves and others.

And we know how to do it. We do it with well with non-Iranians which is one of the reasons that we have become the most successful immigrant groups in US and all over the world.

Let's extend that level of courtesy and gentleness to one another and save our country.

Let's start with ourselves.

Jamal / March 10, 2010 1:13 AM

Dr. Sahimi, your response to Iradj is cluttered with too many logical fallacies to count, and its blatantly belittling and shrewish tone does you little credit. Especially when you are taking such umbrage on behalf of someone who you say you have never met. In fact, by your statment you seems to be saying that Trita Parsi IS the gren movment and that to disagree with him is to be mohareb.

Chuck Hamilton / March 10, 2010 2:44 AM

Thanks, Prof. Sahami. I agree with most of this, but still hope Sadjadpour has a good explanation. Truth is, I'd been wondering what to think of him. Also, I'm currently reading about Sazegara and Jameah, so this was indeed an eye-opener. I, of course, didn't trust him - but was indeed wondering what game he was playing. Shameful. Makhmalbaf, him I figured out pretty quick, as did we all. There was an article entitled linked at Enduring America about how he is viewed in Iran, "Watching Shrek in Tehran". While I've enjoyed his films, I've become annoyed with him, to say the least.

I hope you follow up on this, and if you get responses, amend the prognoses on said analysts. As to "analysts" at the neocon "think" tanks. Well...

I do get a little shiver when I see the phrase "regime change" - I agree with you. I know not to take them literally, but it should not be said out loud, it can be taken out of context. Furthermore, I, too, worry about the seed taking root and growing into much more real policy.

Biden, too, I wish would be more mindful of his mouth and the signals that it sends. Sometimes I'm really not sure when it's a planned comment or not. Planned or not, from any US official, if I thought that tough talk did anything but feed into hardline propaganda, I wouldn't mind so much. It's not about not being tough, it's about being smart; it's about doing no harm to the Green Movement. Support the movement more, that's okay; but no-nos are bombs and sanctions. Pretty simple, really.

I would like an article on the shades of green within Iran. I may have missed it, but I do read most stuff here. It's mentioned here and there, but I'd love to see a breakdown. Sadly, I'm not sure one is possible due to problems of information, and the old 'each Iranian is a political party unto themselves' factor (if that's somehow an offensive generalization I apologize).

Trita Parsi was mentioned a few times. I would like a take on him. I often agree with him, but am not without a raised eyebrow, either. I've seen hate from all sides, and know the usual complaints. It would be interesting to look into both his motives, and his detractors.

Kurt / March 10, 2010 6:37 PM

Chuck:

With due respect I do not see it that way.

Regarding Dr. Parsi: You do not seem to be aware of the fact that Iranian monarchists and supporters of MKO have been attacking him and trying to discredit him, simply because he is anti-sanction and anti-military attacks. My remark was in that context. I did not mean to say that he was the Green Movement, nor do I think one can interpret what I said that way.

Kurt:

Thank you. An article about Iran's Green is in preparation.

Regarding Dr. Parsi: See my response to Chuck.

Muhammad Sahimi / March 11, 2010 12:19 PM

Dear Dr. Sahimi,


Your response to my post of March 8, 2010, @ 2:08 AM above would be highly appreciated.

Ali from Tehran / March 11, 2010 9:10 PM

i hated the spirit of this article. at a time when we need unity, it preaches hate against one another.

i also think that sahimi's attack against dr. milani and sajadpour was slanderous. i remember after the elections sadjadpour went on fox news to debates the neo-cons face to face. here is the clip:

http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/node/29106

in this video sajadpour also says that he defers to the leaders of the oppositon as to what's best for them, so the accusation from sahimi that he is a "self-proclaimed" leader of the green movement is simply dishonest.

Mohsen Shirazi / March 11, 2010 11:16 PM

I am somewhat of a supporter of the Islamic Republic although I have many a differences on the policies being implemented by the regime, I also would have voted for Ahmadinejad in the elections had I lived closer to a polling station here in Sweden, however I am generally not anti the domestic protest movement (the one that is being refered to as the greens)in spite of my support for the IR. I find this article very interesting. I have actually been pondering that the actions taken by some of the "leading figures" of the Green Movement in exile presented in this article have or will damage the Green Movement's reputation though it will mostly be to the detriment of exiled iranians claiming to be part of the Green Movement, especially since all of the names mentioned in this article are of individuals currently residing in the West. I salute the author of this article for being the first one presented on Tehranbureau as far as I am aware of filled with facts and links, most other articles are just full of conjecture and thousands of hypotheses based on what most iranians base their information on: heresay and rumours (we are masters of 1 kalagh 40 kalagh). Also, it is among the first articles I have read where commentators actually disagree, I had almost started to think that tehranbureau was only meant for individuals with the same mind set and frame of reference contributing to concurrence on every point for their own intermutual admirance. Great work Muhammad Sahimi. And to all others who keep on bringing up Trita Parsis name trying to belittle this man, let me tell you this, he is ten times a better analyst than Karim Sadjadpour and I support Trita Parsi's position when he is against both sanctions and military conflict. If the people who trashtalk on accomplished half of what Dr.Parsi has accomplished with a Green Card, Iranians would be much better off today, instead a Swedish Iranian must come to the rescue of American Iranians, it's almost pathetic but at the same time admirable accomplishment by Trita Parsi.

Keep up the good work

Safe Adel / March 12, 2010 12:21 AM

Dear Ali From Tehran:

My apologies for not responding earlier.

I do not know what motivates people such as Sazegara to behave the way they do. But, in my opinion, when someone moves to the US and immediately associates himself with the neocons and stays the course in being associated with them - people who have brought nothing but destruction - that is truly telling. Ask yourself: Who else associated himself with the neocons and brought destruction to his native land? Also ask yourself: What is it that the neocons want?

As for Mohajerani, I tend to think it was his naivete.

Mohsen Shirazi:

With all due respect, you do not know what slander means. (i) I have documented everything that I say. (ii) I asked the people to respond. In particular, Sadjadpour responded, and his response was exactly copied into the article. So, what is slanderous here?

Muhammad Sahimi / March 12, 2010 4:56 AM

Dear Dr. Sahimi,


Many thanks for your reply above.


You have ascribed it to naivete, which is my guess as well. But it would be a pity if Dr. Mohajerani's motives for attending the WINEP event remained in the domain of conjecture.


Have you or TehranBureau tried to contact him for an explanation? If not, I strongly encourage you to do so.

Ali from Tehran / March 12, 2010 2:24 PM

Dr. Sahimi,

"But as soon as you bring him in, your true color emerges, and your supposedly green turns yellow and black completely. Only a certain type of green pretenders attack Dr. Parsi." In other words, anyone who attacks Parsi is in effect "mohareb".

You clearly have no objectivity where Parsi and NIAC are concerned. I held back my own judgement until hearing his response to 22 Bahman which came out before the day had even concluded. As it turns out, everything he said in it was incorrect.

Perhaps while you're vilifying those who make prouncements in the name of the green movement you should include not only Parsi but yourself.

Chuck Hamilton / March 14, 2010 4:09 AM

You accuse those attacking Parsi as "Iranian monarchists and supporters of MKO"; aren't those the same charges the regime is levelling against the arrested protestors in Iran? As a matter of fact, the two recently executed were so charged and convicted.

Chuck Hamilton / March 14, 2010 9:16 AM

Jay -- new alias for Pirouz?

Anti-Basij / March 16, 2010 12:29 AM

For those of you who suggest that Mr Sahimi is an apologist of the Islamic Republic, you are wrong. He is not. He is even worse. He is a useful idiot of the islamic Republic, the intellectual who lives outside the country and who unwittingly supports the regime by offering a soft gloss on the regime's ugly face. Every totalitarian state has had them throughout history. Mr Sahimi's article is a prime example of the useful idiot model. Rather than taking shots at Khamenei and the killers who have executed young Iranians on the streets, he plays petty exile politics and attacks people who have been brave in standing up to the regime. Mr Sahmi, dont be surprised if you get an "aidee" Now-Ruz check in the mail from Mr Ahmadinejad thanking you for your services.You have earned it.
Ali

Ali / March 19, 2010 11:52 PM

Allow me to use Mr. Sahimi's argument style on himself.

Mr. Sahimi is listed as the NIOC Chair of Chemical Engineering at USC. This means that Mr Sahimi's professorship is funded by NIOC, the National Iranian Oil Company. This means that Mr. Sahimi directly receives money from Ayatollah Khamenei and the Islamic Republic's regime of goons. This means that Mr Sahimi is an agent of the IRI. This means that he likely supports the killing of freedom seekers.

This is Mr Sahimi's style. Of course this leaves out all of the strong articles Mr Sahimi has written protesting the fraudulent elections. But then again, that is beside the point. when you are doing a hit job, you twist facts to make the "hit."

Mr Sahmi's hit job was a disgrace

Ali / March 19, 2010 11:59 PM