April 15, 2006 VOLUME 23


To our readers,

On April 12th ,president of the fundamentalist regime in Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announced his regime joined the nuclear club by achieving the ability to successfully enrich uranium to a level suitable for use as nuclear fuel. He further explained that “Iran will move forward with the uranium enrichment” and ignore the international calls to halt the program. While Ahamdinajad attempts to portray Iran’s nuclear program as a national pride for Iranians, the West is quick to talk about military options as a mean to end Iran’s growing nuclear threat. Some even caution the world leaders to respect Iran’s “national pride” and allow Ahamdinejad to continue his nuclear drive.  

For the record, there is nothing nationalistic about Tehran’s nuclear drive. If in fact, the nuclear program in Iran was nationalistic and peaceful, then why has it been so secretive even for the Iranian people? Moreover, why, in parallel with its “nuclear advancement”, regime escalates the internal suppression, crackdown on women and youth, and killings of dissidents who oppose its policies? Short answer to that, there is nothing nationalistic or peaceful about Iran’s nuclear program. As long as there is a fundamentalist regime in Tehran, no nuclear advancement will be in the interest of the Iranian people. The fundamentalist regime needs nuclear weapons for its own survival.

There is no doubt that this regime is a threat to Iranian people, peace and stability in the world. More than 90% of Iranians are against the regime, now with the renewed talks of war, Iranians face external threat as well. Any talks of war will add fuel to the fire of regime’s suppression at home, terrorism abroad and instability in the region. Ahamdinejad is inviting the world to attack Iran because only through a war strategy he can promote further violence in the name of “Islam”.

The international community must look to Iranian people as the solution and not war. WFAFI believes that instead of war or further appeasement of the fundamentalist regime in Tehran, the world must listen to the voice of Iranian people. As Maryam Rajavi, leader of Iran’s main opposition group, said in her talk at the Council of Europe, “With every passing day, the world draws closer to the catastrophe of the most active state sponsor of international terrorism obtaining nuclear weapons. Three years of negotiations with and appeasement of the ruling theocracy gave the mullahs the opportunity to acquire the needed time to advance and complete their nuclear weapons program”. Rajavi rejects appeasement and war and says: “There is a third option: Democratic change by the Iranian people and their organized resistance. Making concessions to the mullahs is not the way to avoid war. It would increase the possibility of a war. It is necessary to react quickly. We do not have much time.”

It is time for the United Nations Security Council to act. UNSC must isolate the fundamentalist regime in Tehran and impose political, diplomatic and technological sanctions on this regime. Iranians will take care of the rest.


E-Zan Featured Headlines

Amnesty International – March 28, 2006

The stay of execution granted to Fatemeh Haghighat-Pajouh on 12 October 2004 has been rescinded by the Supreme Court. Her execution is reportedly scheduled to take place on or before 1 April 2006. Fatemeh Haghighat-Pajouh was sentenced to death for the murder of her husband. She alleged that her husband was a drug addict who had tried to rape her daughter from a previous marriage, who was 15 years old at the time. Apparently he had previously told her that he had lost the girl in a gambling match. Amnesty International does not know when she was arrested, but she may have been tried in 2002.


Iran Focus – April 7, 2006

Iranian police held up a 10-year-old girl in Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport for “mal-veiling”, state-run Persian-language websites reported on Friday. The incident took place Tuesday afternoon as the unnamed girl and her father were in the airport heading to the city of Kerman.Security officers held up the girl and accused her of wearing too short a manteau – the knee-length over-garment that all women must wear outdoors under Iran’s Islamic laws. The report said that the girl’s father became incensed at the officers’ conduct towards his daughter and began to yell that his daughter knew more about Islam than they did. “What crime has my daughter committed?” he yelled, as he slapped her once out of frustration.


Agence France Presse – April 8, 2006

A Canadian beauty queens campaign to save the life of an Iranian teenager is drawing worldwide interest, with more than 7,000 people signing a petition.  The petition, addressed to the United Nations and the Islamic Republic of Iran, asks that the death sentence of a young woman named Nazanin be commuted.  Amnesty International has said the woman was 17 when she "reportedly admitted stabbing to death one of three men who attempted to rape her and her 16-year-old niece in a park in Karaj in March 2005."  Now 18, Nazanin was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by hanging.  Amnesty International and human rights workers in the case said they have been unable to contact her family or lawyers, and do not know if legal appeals are scheduled.  "It is a horrific story, and her name being Nazanin shocked me," said Nazanin Afshin-Jam, who came as a baby with her refugee family to this western Canadian city, fleeing Iran's revolution. "I could have been in the same situation, she said, "but I'm lucky I live in a country (Canada) that knows what justice is about." She said she hopes her Miss World profile will help save the Iranian girl.


Iran Focus – April 10, 2006

Iran is set to launch a sex-segregated bus service in Tehran in the coming months, a semi-official daily reported on Monday. The hard-line daily Kayhan wrote that special 11-seater minibuses will be set up “in the near future” to transport women only. The report quoted the head of the Tehran Bus Company Mohammad Ahmadi-Bafandeh as saying that the minibuses owned by private companies would be driven by women.  “By introducing these companies, female drivers will be able to use these vans to transport women, thus making transport easy for women”, Ahmadi-Bafandeh said. He added that in accordance with instructions by the Mayor of Tehran, the new women-only buses were expected to start running in as early as the latter half of June. Sex segregation was given a boost when hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became President in 2005. Prior to his rise to the presidency, Ahmadinejad was the Mayor of Tehran. One of his first decisions in the city hall was to order gender segregation on elevators. In August, Iranian official announced plans to set up a sex-segregated park in the north-eastern city of Mashad.


Agence France Presse – April 11, 2006

The price of human life has gone up in Iran, with the official blood money rate -- or cash paid out in the case of violent death -- rising four percent to 28,700 dollars. Justice Minister Jamal Karimi-Rad, quoted in the governmental newspaper Iran, acknowledged the increase was lower than in previous years. It is also far below the official inflation rate of 13.5 percent. Under Islamic law in force in Iran, anybody who kills another person has to pay compensation -- known as blood money or "diyeh" -- to the family of the victim. Blood money can therefore be claimed by relatives of a murder victim, and is also built into vehicle insurance as compensation in cases such as a driver killing a pedestrian. The figure is set by the judiciary on an annual basis and coincides with the start of the Iranian New Year beginning March 21. Blood money for a woman is still half that for a man, although women's rights activists have been campaigning for equal value in the eyes of the law. Iran's recognized religious minorities -- Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians -- were in 2003 awarded equal blood money status, having previously been worth half a Muslim.


NCRI-Website – April 11, 2006

Under the pressure of extreme poverty, a man gassed his wife and six children to death in Tabriz, provincial capital of Azerbaijan. The mother, 41, was found suffocated along with her children aged between four and 14. The husband hanged himself after killing the whole family. The judge dealing with this case stated that when the family's house was searched, they could only find some bread, a small piece of cheese and an apple. It was clear that the family did not have enough to eat.  The news of this horrific incident stunned local residents on Monday. They were outraged by the horrific news and wondered where all the oil revenue was going. People are extremely angry as Iran is the second major oil exporter and the clerical regime spends billions of dollars on its nuclear weapons program. According to official survey in Iran, 80 percent of the population live under poverty line.


Iran Focus – April 12, 2006

Iran’s Majlis (Parliament) deputies called for a bill to be adopted to regulate women’s attire during the hot summer months, a state-run daily reported on Wednesday. Gholam-Reza Mesbahi-Moghaddam, a hard-line deputy from Tehran called for the bill against “mal-veiling” during an open session of Majlis on Tuesday, the daily Sharq wrote. The report said that each year young people tend to disobey the Islamic dress code more during the summer months. This year, Majlis deputies were looking to adopt the bill against “mal-veiling”, the report added. At the same time, Emaad Afroogh, head of the Majlis cultural commission, said that he was trying to table a bill to create a “national costume” to counter the effects of Western fashion in Iran. Mohammad-Taghi Rahbar, a hard-line deputy from the central city of Isfahan, called for a “cultural revolution”. “You cannot call the tiny cloths that girls put on their heads as hijabs. The stage must be adequately set to bring about a cultural revolution”, Rahbar said. In August, Iran’s Justice Minister vowed that “improperly-veiled women” will be treated as if they had no Islamic veil at all. “Being improperly veiled and not wearing a veil are no different. When it is clear from the appearance of a woman that she has violated the law, then the crime is obvious and law enforcement agents can take legal measures against her”, Jamal Karimi-Rad said. “Crimes such as mal-veiling or other prohibited acts, which happen before the eyes of a law enforcement agent, are evident crimes and must be dealt with in accordance with the law”. Women have been facing a harsher crackdown since hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office as President.



E-Zan Featured Reports

Crackdown Won't Stop Women's Movement, Activists Vow

By Lisa Soderlindh

Inter Press Service News Agency

March 16, 2006

UNITED NATIONS- Despite suffering under some of the most draconian laws in the world, Iranian women remain at the forefront of the battle for equality and democracy, as shown by their courage on International Women's Day last week, Iranian women's rights advocates here say.  The total number of arrests following a gathering of hundreds of women's rights defenders who had made their way from Tehran's Daneshjoo Park to Laleh Park on Mar. 8 remains uncertain, as is the fate of those arrested by security forces, which reportedly used harsh tactics to disperse the peaceful demonstration.  According to Human Rights Watch, police dumped cans of garbage on the heads of women who were seated before charging into the group and beating them with batons to compel them to leave the park.  Mehri Amiri of the Society for Defence of Women's Rights in Iran reported that three women from her organisation had been released over the weekend, but that four others remained in the Evin Prison in Tehran. She said that many more are likely still being held but that her group cannot get in contact with any of them since the phone lines are being controlled by the government.  

On the eve of International Women's Day, the Women Rights Association of Iran had prepared a resolution calling for an end to gender discrimination and demanding the social and legal rights of all Iranian women.  Under current Sharia laws, women are barred from running for president, lack equal rights to divorce, and after divorce can have custody of their children only up until the age of seven years, and "blood money" for a murdered woman is half that for a man.  Many of the women who handed out some 2,000 copies of the resolution were arrested "and unfortunately I think their verdicts will be execution", said Zolal Habibi of the U.S.-based group Women's Freedom Forum at a panel discussion here to assess the role of women in combating Islamic fundamentalism.  "Despite knowing what would happen to them, women came to the streets in commemoration of International Women's Day," said Habibi.  "And tens of thousands of great women have sacrificed their life for the ideal of equality and humanity," she continued. "But history has failed to acknowledge them because of the male-dominated culture we live in."  Following Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979, the monarchy was overthrown and an Islamic republic was created, in which religious clerics, headed by Ayatollah Seyyed Ruhollah Khomeini, wielded ultimate political control.  

Under Iran's current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who took office in August 2005, the pattern of abuses has not been alleviated, and "the human rights situation in Iran remains dire", notes Amnesty International in a February report on the country.  "For the last 27 years, Iran has been the only country that has had a fundamentalist regime in power, and which has actually turned its views and abuses into the laws of the country," said Habibi, pointing to harsh punishments such as stoning, a sentence that can be handed down for adultery.  "If you are able to escape from the hole when you are being stoned to death, you will be spared," Habibi said. "[But] while men are buried to their waist, women are buried to their neck."  Still, women have persisted in their fight for equality, Habibi said, recalling 13-year-old Fatemeh Mesbah, who was arrested when selling newspapers and executed the following day, in 1981; Mother Zakeri, executed at the age of 70 for supporting the Iranian Islamist opposition group, the People's Mujahedin of Iran; and Mujahedin leader Ashraf Rajavi, executed by the Iranian regime in 1982.
"Those are just some of the thousands of women who paid with their lives for their ideals," Habibi noted.

Since 1981, over 120,000 political opponents have been executed in Iran, according to the Iranian opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). A report compiled by Iranian human rights activists in commemoration of International Women's Day says that four women were executed this year, all under the age of 30.  Another 1,372 women have been arrested since the start of 2006, the group says. And according to Human Rights Watch, security forces have repeatedly resorted to violence to suppress peaceful gatherings.  "The list of people who have sacrificed their lives goes on and on, crossing all ages," said Habibi, "but the good thing is that women have not sat down and taken this, they are still standing up strong against the injustices."  Despite frequent crackdowns on public dissent by government security forces, the Mar. 8 women's day rally drew twice as many participants as last year, according to the non-profit news service Iran Focus.  Habibi said the gathering sent a clear message that the Iranian people are fed up with the regime, "and this resistance, coming from all directions, serves as pressure which will eventually build up to a complete regime change".  "This growing force of women in the resistance inspires women in Iranian society on a large scale to aspire to democratic change and transform them into major force to liberate Iran," said Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the Paris-based NCRI, in a speech presented as a video installation at the U.N. panel.  "The Iranian Resistance has the necessary political and social capacity to realise democratic change in Iran," she went on. "But the spirit that transforms these underlying potentials into reality is women's leadership."  The way to defeat Islamic fundamentalism is to "eliminate the male-dominated culture as an inhumane culture, through women's leadership", Rajavi noted. Because "the establishment of democracy without the active role of women in society's leadership is impossible".


Iranian Women and the Path to a Free Iran

By Roya Johnson

The American Thinker

March 17, 2006

Since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency, the Iranian regime has increased its oppressive tactics at home. The government is indeed tightening its fascist fist around the Iranian people, particularly women. It plans to segregate Iran’s pedestrian walkways on a gender basis, according to a deputy in Iran’s Parliament. Early this March, security forces removed several hundred women spectators from an indoor stadium by force as they were watching athletes performing in the 2006 Gymnastics World Cup tournament being held in Tehran, eye-witnesses have reported. A few days earlier, State Security Forces attacked female soccer fans in Tehran after they held a defiant protest against the government decision to ban them from soccer stadiums. And in another example of mullahs’ “justice,” an Iranian court has sentenced a female teenage rape victim named Nazanin, 18 to death by hanging after since she had unintentionally killed a man who had tried to rape both her and her 16-year-old niece. Iran’s theocratic government has devised a system that is unequivocally stacked against Iranian women, yet they still manage to organize and confront their oppressors. Stories of Iranian women resisting their ruling theocracy to achieve equality, justice and social rights are very compelling. This year’s commemoration of international women’s day was no different. On the evening of the March 8th, hundreds of Iranian women took a stand in Tehran’s Laleh Park. Risking their lives, they held their defiant rally and asked that the West not pursue a policy of appeasement with the Iranian government – and instead help the Iranian people to determine their own destiny. They said that their government was spending incredible resources to develop a nuclear program while basic social imperatives go unmet. Admonishing the advocates of appeasement abroad, they said that conduct of such a tyrannical system can not be changed unless the entire ruling regime in Iran is brought down. The government’s uniformed and secret police forces savagely attacked the coalescing crowds as seen in this video footage of the protest. Many of those participating were arrested and injured in the melee that followed. The spokesperson of the Women’s Rights Association of Iran which had organized the rally mentioned during a telephone interview* that the fate of those arrested at the gatherings could be the same as that of Zahra Kazemi.  Kazemi is the Iranian-Canadian photojournalist who was murdered in 2003, after she was arrested for taking pictures outside the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. According to an eyewitness reached by phone, if authorized, thousands would have turned up in the banned rally. Among the arrested were supporters of the Iranian opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, PMOI (also known as the Mojahedin e-Khalq – MEK) who were distributing pamphlets and posters, according to a second eye-witness account. As a former Iranian political prisoner I can say that the call of the women of Laleh Park is not dissimilar from that which I went to prison for. In the face of a clear and present threat to liberty, those who are willing to stand up will do so regardless of the risks. In Laleh Park, Iranian women risked all just to read out their resolution and to carry banners proclaiming their demands for freedom and democracy. After 27 years, the rights of Iranian women have been virtually eliminated.  Consider Iran’s constitution!  Article 114 articulates the different punishments for men and women, for the same crime. Based on Article 114 a male should be placed in a pit and buried up to his waist if condemned to stoning, but women should be placed in a pit and buried up to their neck. In a case where a female manages to escape from the pit, she would subsequently be executed by firing squad, while if the male victim escapes the stoning, he is free to go. Article 18 states that married women require their husband’s permission to apply for a passport.  Article 105 indicates that a woman cannot leave home without her husband’s permission, even to attend her father’s funeral. Article 209 states that a women’s life is valued only half as much as man’s life.  The cycle of brutality takes the lives Iranians by way of public hangings several times a week. Although verifiable evidence of death sentences and government sanctioned torture exists in the pages of Iran’s state-run newspapers, much of the abuse that occurs goes unreported. Despite the danger women face in Iran today, they will continue to confront the Iranian regime until freedom and democracy is realized in Iran. As Iran’s leading opposition figure, Maryam Rajavi, once said “Iranian women must free themselves. Freedom does not come free and no one will ever deliver it to us on a silver platter.”  Rajavi has been elected by the major opposition coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, to serve as Iran’s interim president for six months following the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime by her movement. To be sure, a secular Iranian democracy has the potential to satiate the century-long aspiration of Iranians for liberty and democratic rights. The demonstrators in Laleh Park are part of a larger movement for peace, freedom and democracy in Iran, one which welcomes regime change.

*The telephone interview was conducted by the Global Coalition Against Fundamentalism with the Women Rights Association of Iran on March 8, 2006 in National Press Club, Washington DC.

'Only a fraction of Teheran's brutality has come to light'
By Kim Willsher in
Daily Telegraph

March 19, 2006

She is the female figurehead of what she hopes will become a new Iranian revolution. Now, after almost 25 years in exile, the world is beginning to beat a path to her door. Maryam Rajavi wants those who visit her near Paris to know what sort of regime Iran's mullahs are running. As the leader of the largest exiled Iranian opposition group, she talks angrily of the 15-year-old boy flogged to death for eating during Ramadan, and the girl of 13 buried up to her neck and stoned for a similarly trivial "crime". When she describes the punishments meted out by Iran's rulers, a picture of the limp bodies of two hanged men suspended from a crane is projected onto a screen.

She waves a large bound book that, she says, contains the names of 21,676 people who have died resisting the clerical regime. Another 120,000 people have been executed since the mullahs took power in 1979, she claims. Now Iran's rulers are trying to develop a nuclear weapon.

"We have always said that a viper cannot give birth to a dove, but nobody believed us," she told the Sunday Telegraph. "Only a fraction of the true nature of this regime, which is a brutal dictatorship of religious fanaticism, has come to public attention." British MPs, lawyers and human rights campaigners are among those who have recently travelled to hear Mrs Rajavi, 52, hold court on behalf of the National Council for Resistance for Iran (NCRI). Yet while some see her as the best hope to lead a moderate Islamic government in Teheran, others are more cautious. Washington, the British Government and the European Union all regard the organisation's military wing as a terrorist group. Mrs Rajavi has been described as a self-serving zealot, and the head of a personality cult. She combats criticism with smiles, regular repetition of the words "freedom and democracy", and the claim that the clerics in Teheran are deliberately trying to slur the opposition group.

"Terrorists, then cult," she said. "They're trying to substitute one for another. As we disprove them, they find another name." Mrs Rajavi is everything the mullahs fear and loathe - a former revolutionary student turned opposition leader who has been a thorn in the side of the Iranian government. She talks moderate Islam, against their religious fanaticism, and is anxious to present the NCRI as tolerant, progressive and reasonable. As one of six children of a middle-class Iranian family under the Shah's regime, she was a 22-year-old metallurgy student at Teheran University when her elder brother was jailed. Shortly afterwards, she says, her older sister was executed for political activism. Mrs Rajavi joined the Mujahideen-e Khalq (People's Holy Warriors, also known as the MEK) - a student association that mixed Islam and Marxism, and violently opposed the Shah. Mrs Rajavi married a fellow revolutionary and had two children but divorced to wed the Mujahideen leader, Massoud Rajavi. Yet her hopes for the 1979 Iranian revolution turned to disillusionment. "Very quickly we witnessed the mullahs hijacking the freedom of the people," she said. "We had to start a new push, against Islamic fundamentalism."

In 1982, her younger sister, Masoumeh, 22 and eight months pregnant, died under torture by Ayatollah Khomeini's regime, Mrs Rajavi left Iran for France. Now she presides over the NCRI's heavily protected headquarters in Auvers-sur-Oise, 20 miles north-west of Paris. She and up to 100 supporters pursue the overthrow of the clerical regime and installation of an NCRI government, with her as leader, until free elections.

Mrs Rajavi's followers are so devoted that, in 2003, after she was detained for a fortnight by French police on suspicion of terrorism, two set fire to themselves and died. More damaging is the terrorist label slapped on the organisation's military wing by the US State Department in 1994, and subsequently by Britain, and the European Union, after deadly attacks by the group around the world.

Last week, visiting British members of the Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom said it was time for the Government, and the EU, to remove the "unjust tag". Mrs Rajavi says Western governments must end their "dangerous appeasement" of Iran's regime and recognise the worth of her group, the first to reveal Iran's secret uranium enrichment programme in 2002.

The mullahs appear to fear her. "They are afraid of freedom and democracy, and of women who stand up for their rights," she said.


Dealing with Iran

By Ramesh Sepehrrad

Outside view, United Press International

March 31, 2006

WASHINGTON- Last November, before Iraq's election, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad received permission from President Bush to open direct dialogue with Iran on the issue of security in Iraq. In an interview with the Newsweek magazine last year, Khalilzad said: "I've been authorized by the president to engage Iranians as I engaged them in Afghanistan directly." The talks never took place because Iran was confident that Iraqi elections in December of 2005 will swing in favor of Tehran's Islamic Republic hence no need to have talks with the "Great Satan." Three months later, on March 15, 2006, in a mullah-style choreographed setting, Iraqi Shiite leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, head of the pro-Tehran Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq said, "I demand the leadership in Iran to open a clear dialogue with America about Iraq." The day after, Ali Larijani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator and secretary of the country's Supreme National Security Council told reporters, "We agree to (talks with the United States)." So, how is it that such remarks come from Iran's top nuclear negotiator instead of Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki? Not to worry, Tehran's regime is not one to follow such formalities. After all, the un-elected Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, holds the last word on all domestic or foreign matters. Of course, Khamenei too sanctioned the talks on March 22, as long as the United States does not "bully" Iran. The same person who last September said "the failure of the United States in Lebanon and Iraq, and in its political confrontation with Iran" were all signs of "the enemy's front losing strength." So, why the sudden urge to hold talk with the "failing" United States? Because the Iranian regime is weakened due to ongoing protests at home, growing international pressure on its illegal nuclear development and the election results in Iraq which did not deliver the Shiite majority Tehran had sought. Since last December, Iran's civil society and non-governmental organizations such as women, union workers, bus drivers, teachers, students, workers and even non-violent Sufis have launched street protests, mass strikes, demonstrations and sit-ins.

For example, the women's rally that took place on 2006 International Women's Day had a clear message. In a phone interview with reporters, Mehri Amiri, a women's rights activist, conveyed the message of March 8th rally that the only solution is change of regime in Iran. Protesters called the regime "illegitimate" and "enemy of Iranian people." Calling for isolation of the regime, Amiri explained, "Our only demand from world community is to isolate this regime and recognize our voice for change." The indigenous and popular call for democratic change is an irreversible pattern that is far too familiar for the Iranian leadership and those who recall the years leading to 1979 anti-monarchic revolution.

Second, Iran's nuclear file has been referred to the U.N. Security Council and is awaiting formal Council's action. Whether a non-binding statement or a binding resolution is issues by the Council, Tehran's Islamic Republic fears the mounting international consensus on its nuclear drive. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said the administration had concluded "the best way" to deal with the nuclear program is at the U.N. Security Council. He is correct. While Burns did not flatly reject Larijani's overture to hold talks, he said "we have made the calculation ... it is better to try to isolate the Iranian government" and that effort has caught Tehran's attention.

Although there is still the diplomatic maneuvering with Russia and China, Secretary Rice has stressed Washington "won't tolerate stall tactics" on Iran and is "confident" the United States and its allies will reach agreement on how to pressure Iran to abandon sensitive nuclear activities.

Third, the political development in Iraq since the December 15th election has not been in Tehran's favor. Iraq's political balance has not tipped in favor of Shiite alliance with close ties to Tehran. As explained by Maryam Rajavi, the leader of Iran's main opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran: "Regime's efforts to gain control over Iraq and to establish a puppet Islamic Republic in that country by influencing the parliamentary elections failed."

In an interview with the New York Times last week, Larijani acknowledged that Iran prefers the presence of a strong Shiite dominated government that would be receptive to Iranian influence. On March 17th, Larijani qualified Tehran's goal for the talks and said, "We are prepared to give our hand. But the condition is that the United States should respect the vote of the people." In recent days, many prominent Iraqi politicians and leaders, including Sunnis, Kurds and Shiites, have expressed concern over the proposed talks, its scope and possible links to Iran's nuclear file. Rightfully so, Iraqis are worried about their own interests and are fully aware that Tehran's Islamic Republic has no other interest in mind except its own.

Tehran is using Iraq to derail focus on its nuclear file at the UNSC. By supplying arms, funds and trainings to insurgents and other terror networks, Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corp is controlling the levers of violence in Iraq. Early this month, U.S.-Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld referred to the notorious role of the Qods (Jerusalem) Force, the extraterritorial branch of the IRGC, in Iraq.

Given all this, one wonders how such talks can be in the interest of Iraqi or the Iranian people and the United States. The Iranian regime cannot be given any breathing room either on its nuclear file or its dangerous role in Iraq. If arming insurgents and terrorism in Iraq is indeed a concern, and it is, then holding talks will not resolve it just as talks on the nuclear issue for the past three years did not resolve anything. Isolation and cutting all ties/talks is the only way to bring Tehran to its knees. The United States must stay the course of policy of isolation. And for the sake of peace and stability in the region, UNSC must move swiftly on smart-sanctions against Tehran's regime.


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Volume 23, April 15, 2006

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