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Iran’s election puts EU at crossroads

ImageRecent reports of involvement of the mullahs’ new President Mohamoud Ahmadinejad in the takeover of US Embassy in Tehran in 1979 has shocked the world.

True to form, prior to the elections, Ahmadinejad had boasted: "We did not have the revolution to have democracy." "The wave of our Islamic revolution will reach the whole world soon," he said after the election.

Commentary by Mohammad Mohaddessin
Foreign Affairs Committee Chair
Except for a number of business-driven European leaders who have demonstrated the propensity to compromise democratic and humanitarian principles for petty economic gains, there is an unprecedented consensus worldwide on the Iranian public’s apathy toward the elections. Impartial observers, foreign journalists on the ground in Iran and even the warring factions within the regime confirmed that the turn out was far less than the figures announced by officials.
The new President’s record speaks for itself. Ahmadinejad is a hostage taker, a terrorist, a thief, and a cold-blooded killer who fired coup de grace at executed political prisoners.
Only those who find dealing with Tehran more beneficial than siding with the truth, parrot state-run newspaper headlines that Mr. Ahmadinejad had the backing of impoverished Iranians. With nearly eighty percent of the population below the poverty line, the whole nation is demanding regime change.
In reaction to the landmark election, which confirmed the futility of Europe’s policy of engagement, some EU leaders have adopted a wait-and-see attitude. The obvious question is what they are waiting to see to be convinced that they were dead wrong in insisting that conciliation would strengthen the moderates’ hand in Iran. Are they waiting for more executions, more terrorism, more hostage taking and the mullahs’ finally acquiring the nuclear bomb?
When the arch-patriarch Ayatollah Khomeini died 16 years ago, some in Europe rejoiced that the Islamic regime was on the verge of moderation. The euphoria belied the reality that just a few months earlier, the murderous ayatollahs had massacred 30,000 political prisoners in a matter of a couple of months. Lining up to embrace then-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, they also turned a blind eye to the death decree against one of their own citizens, the British author Salman Rushdie.
No more than forty days after Khomeini’s death, Tehran’s hit squads struck with deadly success in Vienna, when two Iranian Kurdish leaders were shot at point blank range by a team conspicuously sent to negotiate with them. Less than a year into Rafsanjani’s presidency, another leading human rights activist, Prof. Kazem Rajavi, was gunned down in broad daylight near his home in Geneva. Shortly thereafter, assassins slit the throat of Dr. Shapour Bakhtiar, the Shah’s last Prime Minister, in his home near Paris. In all three cases, the unscrupulous Europeans turned the killers over to those who had sent them to kill. The disgraceful decisions were justified as serving the interests of the state.
That was not the end. Just as a court in Berlin was dealing with another case of Iranian complicity in the murder of dissidents in Germany, the man later implicated for ordering those killings, Iranian Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahiyan, was being given a red carpet reception by his German counterpart in Bonn. The court’s ruling in 1997 that not only Fallahiyan, but also Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hashemi Rafsanjani were the principles in the murders prompted a feeble show of protest by the Europeans who recalled their ambassadors from Tehran. When Khatami took office two months later, the Europeans lost no time to resume their rapprochement for eight more years, which saw the failure to censure Iran’s rights record, the commencement of “human rights dialogue” with the executioners, the expansion of trade and to top it all, the designation of Iran’s main opposition group, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq as a terrorist organization. The final chapter in this shameful policy was the June 17 raid on the office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran in Paris two years ago.
Today, Europe is at crossroads, either returning to the destructive 16-year-old policy of appeasement or siding with the millions in Iran whose cry is freedom. Either way, the election was milestone and the wheels of change cannot be stopped.
There are several lessons to be learned:
1. The Supreme Leader had no choice but to consolidate power in the hands of one faction in the face of incurable and mounting crises. As such, his power base has dangerously shrunk, which makes him much more vulnerable in the weeks and months ahead. This might prove the undoing of the regime as a whole. With all his power and cunning, Khomeini was keenly aware of the explosive potential of a unipolar rule, for which reason he always insisted power sharing among the various ruling factions.
2. After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Iranian regime had to choose between genuine reform or sticking to the status quo. With the ascension of Ahmadinejad, it is apparent that Khamenei has opted for the latter, i.e., more crackdown at home, continued terror sponsorship and greater intransigence internationally.
3. Buoyed by European appeasement, which included, among other things, cracking down on Tehran’s mortal enemy, the Mujahedeen-Khalq, Supreme Leader wasted no time in purging his rivals.
4. The Iranian Resistance was vindicated for its assessment of political developments in Iran, the central tenet of which was that the ruling theocracy lacked the capacity to reform and that the real showdown was not between the warring internal factions, but between the Iranian people on one hand and the regime in its totality on the other.
5. Europe has an excellent opportunity to remedy its colossal blunder by abandoning appeasement, refraining from suppression of the Iranian opposition and recognizing the Iranian people’s right to resist against tyranny. Advocating the status quo will not set the clock back; it will only exact a higher price from Iranians. History will judge the architects of appeasement as partners in the crimes the mullahs have perpetrated against the Iranian nation.
Mohammad Mohaddessin
Foreign Affairs Committee Chair
July 1, 2005