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Jewish World Review Jan. 7, 2003 / 4 Shevat, 5763

Michael Ledeen

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The Shape of Things to Come: The terror masters are now waiting for us | If you want to get a sense of the depth of the hatred of the Iranian people toward the regime that has ruined their country and made their lives an unremitting misery, you have only to look at the remarkable sermon preached in Tehran by the Ayatollah Ahmad Janati on December 20. The Ayatollah Janati is one of the regime's most-influential and authoritative figures, since he is the head of the Council of Guardians, the final voice on policy and theological matters, so it is worthwhile to pay close attention to his words.

He spent a lot of time on the very hot topic of public-opinion polls in Iran. Several unfortunate souls are being tortured in Iranian prisons for the crime of asking the Iranian people what they think about their leaders, and then publishing the extremely negative results. Janati, in language that would have made Stalin blush, defines those involved in the process — whether answering pollsters' questions or announcing the results publicly — as enemy agents.

His rage was kindled by a recent poll in Isfahan — long the most politically active city in the country, the center of support for Khomeini during the revolution of 1979, and today the city that supports the regime's most-effective clerical opponents, the Ayatollahs Montazeri and Taheri — in which the people were asked two very important questions about recent Iranian history. The first was why the revolution had succeeded. The second was whether they felt the sacrifices of the Iranian people in the long war against Iraq were justified.

The answers to the first question were shocking (so shocking, in fact, that I doubt the figures are accurate): 70 percent said that the British and the Americans wanted to create turmoil in the country for pursuing their own interests and 25 percent said that the Shah was ineffective and did not put up an effective resistance, and thus his regime fell. No one said anything about Khomeini's efforts.

The answers to the second question — do you think our sacrifices were justified? — were equally devastating. In Janati's own words, "85 percent said we deplore what we did and we wish we would not have sent our children and we regret that we these efforts. The same percentage have also said that we deeply regret that a revolution took place in Iran and they say why we should have a revolution?!"

Then Janati accused the Ministry of Information of failing to carry out its responsibilities. Why are not such people being dealt with harshly? Why are they left free to spread their subversive ideas and support our enemies?

These are the words of a regime that knows its days are numbered. Whatever the real numbers (surely there was at least one poor soul in Isfahan who thought Khomeini had something to do with the downfall of the shah), the overwhelming majority of the Iranian people have turned thumbs down on their leaders, and they are not the least bit afraid to say so. Indeed, with every passing week, violent action against the regime intensifies. Over the past few days there have been armed battles in several cities, most notably in the Ahvaz region, where an oil pumping station was burned to the ground by an enraged mob, and pictures of Supreme Leader Khamenei, former President Rafsanjani, and the hapless current President Khatami were burned in effigy. In the oil region of Khuzestan, there have been violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces, and oil workers are now joining the demonstrations. In coming days there will be demonstrations by teachers and women — celebrating the anniversary of the happy day when women were freed of the obligation of wearing the hijab decades ago.

Meanwhile, as President Bush prepares us for the coming battles, the leaders of the regime are doing the same, providing Hezbollah and its allies in al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas with better weapons — including new missiles of North Korean design with chemical-laden warheads — and coordinating stratagems with Baghdad and Damascus. As I have warned in the past, we had better be prepared for a regional war, not just a limited action in Iraq alone.

Had we acted quickly after the fall of the Taliban, we could have had the luxury of moving deliberately against Iraq without having to worry about effective assaults organized by Syria and Iran, but those days are long gone. The terror masters are now waiting for us, and the brutal language of the Ayatollah Janati suggests that they are simultaneously preparing to use the outbreak of fighting in Iraq as an excuse for a new, more-terrible repression of the long-suffering Iranian people.

Why else would you define truthful answers to simple questions as treason? And why else would you accuse an entire city of working for the enemy?

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JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of, most recently, The War Against the Terror Masters. Comment by clicking here.


12/20/02: A Prophecy for the New Year --- Faster, please!
12/16/02: Scud Surrender: The "W" factor
12/13/02: The Heart of Darkness: The mullahs make terror possible
12/12/02: The Real War
12/09/02: Tom Friedman's Reformation: His Iran
11/26/02: How Tyrannies Fall: Opportunity time in Iran
11/22/02: The Blind Leading the Blind: The New York Times and the Iranian crisis
11/13/02: The Temperature Rises: We should liberate Iran first --- now
11/05/02: End of the Road: Iran's Mohammed Khatami, on his way out
10/29/02: The Angleton Dialogues, Contnued: What George Tenet doesn’t know
10/24/02: The Iranian Comedy Hour: In the U.S., the silence continues
10/16/02: Sniper, Saboteur, or Sleeper? Channeling James Jesus Angleton
10/01/02: The real foe
09/27/02: The Iranian String Quartet: The mullahs get increasingly nervous
09/25/02: The Dubya Doctrine
09/23/02: Intelligence? What intelligence?
09/12/02: America's revenge: To turn tyrannies into democracies
09/10/02: Iran & Afghanistan & Us: We'll have to deal with the mullahcracy, sooner or later
09/04/02: Iran, according to the Times: All the nonsense that's fit to print
08/21/02: Life and death of Abu Nidal tells us a great deal about our enemies
08/08/02: Can You Keep a Secret?: The media silence on Iran
08/06/02: Fantasy Reporting: The latest disinformation from the Washington Post
08/02/02: Propping Up the Terror Masters: Europe's Solana on tour
07/16/02: Bush vs. the Mullahs: Getting on the side of the Iranian freedom fighters
07/12/02: The State Department Goes Mute: It's official: State has no message
07/09/02: History being made, but the West appears clueless
06/05/02: Is George Tenet endangering peace in Israel?
06/03/02: Ridiculous, even for a journalist
05/20/02: So how come nobody's been fired yet?
05/14/02: Open doors for thugs
04/20/02: Iran on the Brink … and the U.S. does nothing
04/16/02: It’s the war, stupid … someone remind Colin Powell
04/08/02: Gulled: In the Middle East, Arafat doesn't matter
04/02/02: Faster, Please: The war falters
03/26/02: The Revolution Continues: What's brewing in Iran
03/18/02: Iran simmers still: Where's the press?
03/05/02: We can't lose any more ground in Iran
02/14/02: The Great Iranian Hoax
02/12/02: Unnoticed Bombshell: Key information in a new book
01/31/02: The truth behind the Powell play
01/29/02: My past with "Johnny Jihad's" lawyer
01/21/02: It's Munich, all over again
01/08/02: What's the Holdup?: It's time for the next battles in the war against terrorism
12/11/01: We must be imperious, ruthless, and relentless
12/06/01: Remembering my family friend, Walt Disney
11/28/01: The Barbara Olson Bomb: Understanding the war
11/13/01: How We're Doing: The Angleton Files, IV
11/06/01: A great revolutionary war is coming
10/25/01: How to talk to a terrorist
10/23/01: Creative Reporting: Learning to appreciate press briefings
10/19/01: Not the Emmys: A Beltway award presentation
10/15/01: Rediscovering American character
10/11/01: Somehow, I've missed Arafat's praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism
10/04/01: What do we not know?
09/28/01: Machiavelli On Our War: Some advice for our leaders
09/25/01: No Room for the U.N.: Keeping Annan & co. out of the picture
09/21/01: Creative destruction
09/14/01: Who Killed Barbara Olson?
08/22/01: How Israel will win this war
08/15/01: Bracing for war
08/09/01: More Dithering Democrats
08/02/01: Delirious Dems
07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
07/17/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit
07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
05/30/01: Anybody out there afraid of the Republicans?
05/09/01: The bad guys to the rescue
05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
03/27/01: Fighting AIDS in Africa is a losing proposition
03/14/01: Big Bird, Oscar, and other threats
03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
03/06/01: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/01: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/01: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/01: Ashcroft the Jew
01/11/01: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush

© 2001, Michael Ledeen