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Jewish World Review July 9, 2002 / 29 Tamuz, 5762

Michael Ledeen

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History being made, but the West appears clueless | Two bombs were found last week in downtown Tehran, one in an automobile in front of the Judiciary Ministry, the other at the intriguing "Council of Deciding What is Best For the Government." Dozens of anti-government organizations are calling for peaceful demonstrations on July 9, Tuesday, the third anniversary of the monster student rally against the regime at the university, and an army officer, thus far anonymous and perhaps even apocryphal, is widely quoted as having said "if a million people demonstrate July 9th we shall arrest the leaders of the Islamic Republic and turn them over to the people."

That is probably too much to hope for, given that the entire Western world is actively appeasing the Iranian tyranny. The European Union recently lifted trade sanctions on the Islamic Republic, and the misnamed U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva failed to condemn Iran, even though its many gross violations of human decency fill a fat dossier. The U.S. Department of State, to its credit, puts Iran atop its annual list of state sponsors of terrorism, and describes Iranian human-rights violations in considerable detail. One marvels, therefore, at the combination of silence from the top officials at the State Department and the National Security Council and State's continued (not-so-secret contacts) with the Iranian regime to talk about "cooperation" in Afghanistan (where the Iranians are training and arming terrorists to subvert the fragile government and kill western peacekeepers) and Iraq (where the Iranians are happy to work with us in bringing down Saddam. But with allies like that, who needs enemies?).

There is still a day to go in which the American government can place itself firmly in support of freedom for the Iranian people, who are groaning under a constantly mounting repression from their ever more insecure regime. The mullahs have become so paranoid that it is almost impossible to keep up with the endless firings of those judged insufficiently loyal and their replacement with the blindly faithful. As one Iranian friend pointed out to me, Iran looks more and more like Saudi Arabia: Rafasnjani's son was just named ambassador to Germany.

The paranoia goes hand in hand with the widespread conviction that the regime could fall at any moment. Part of the Mehrabad Airport in Tehran has been blocked to public access, at least one landing strip has been closed to commercial traffic, and a number of airplanes have been stationed on the tarmac. It could well be that some of the regime's nastier rats are planning to abandon the sinking ship if they are unable to contain the people's rage. Indeed, in recent days private passengers have been removed from commercial flights to make room for the families of the country's most powerful men, suggesting that the exodus may have already begun.

Tehran is under virtual military rule, with new security organizations seen in the streets carrying out random roadblocks, arrests, and beatings. Similar reports are coming in from other cities, although details are sparse. There are also reports of governmental attacks on clandestine explosives deposits and manufacturing sites.

Meanwhile, Saddam has moved thousands of his best anti-Iranian terrorists, members of the Iraqi Mujahedin, into Iran to carry out sabotage and attempt to inflame the demonstrators (if Iran is going to work against Saddam, he'll certainly do his damnedest to get them first). The Iranians, in return, have moved troops, artillery and missiles to the Iraqi border, planning to assault the Mujahedin camps if things get hot enough.

The whole region is like a Colorado or Arizona landscape, a vast tinderbox waiting for a spark to set it aflame. We hold matches galore: radio and television stations, bully pulpits all over Washington, plenty of high-tech communications toys that the Iranian opposition could use with devastating effect, and money for the overwhelming majority of hard-working Iranians who today cannot subsist on their salaries. Is there really no one in a position of authority who understands the importance of our political and moral voice at this potential turning point in Middle East history?

Faster, please. It may happen tomorrow.

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JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Tocqueville on American Character . Comment by clicking here.


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