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THE URGENT NEED FOR A NEW LEADERSHIP IN IRAN

 

Of the best rulers, the people (only) know that they exist. The next best they love and praise. The next they fear, and the next they revile. When they do not command the people's faith, some will lose faith in them, and then they resort to oaths! But (of the best) when their task is accomplished, their work done, the people all remark, " We have done it ourselves." -  Lao Tzu

The time has now arrived for an immediate change in the leadership of Iran. Critical events both inside and outside of Iran make imperative the replacement of the current dictatorial and ineffective clerical regime. Every day we are made aware of domestic and external events directly related to Iran and for the most part the news casts a negative if not dangerous reflection on the course of the clerical regime's policies and dealings with these fast-breaking events. These events range from domestic disturbances and instability over deteriorating economic conditions and governmental suppression to state sponsored terrorism, nuclear armament, etc. Above all, these events are having a deleterious effect on the viability of the Iranian nation both in the present and for the future. Indeed, the unity of the nation is put at risk if change does not immediately take place.

1n all matters relating to the replacement of the regime, the highest priority as to decision-making and its subsequent courses of action must be given to the wishes and desires of the Iranian people. Without their support, moral and physical, there cannot be an effective, democratic, and credible leadership in Iran. On this fundamental premise of a new Iranian leadership.

Focus On Iran gives its full and unconditional support and will do whatever it can to bring the desires of the Iranian people to reality. In this issue we will endeavor to address the following questions and thoughts directly related to the compelling need for the change in leadership. Furthermore, Focus On Iran believes the ensuing discussions will serve as guidance and rationale for the right choices to be made by the Iranian people in their desire to bring about democracy and popular supported leadership in Iran. The questions and thoughts concerning the need for new leadership to be addressed include:

1. Why is a new leadership now necessary?

2. What are the desired personal, political, and ideological characteristics desired of the new leadership?

3. Where will the new leadership come from, and when will it occur?

4. How will the new leadership come to power?

5. Thoughts and commentary on the success or failure to bring about a change in the leadership.

THE NECESSITY OF A NEW LEADERSHIP

The necessity for a new leadership is directly related to continuous process, since the inception of the rule of the clerics in Tehran, of Iran's deteriorating condition at home and abroad. The conditions can be summarized as follows: the decay of popular support for the current government and its leadership; declining confidence of the international community towards the Iranian government and the attendant decline in Iran's international prestige and influence; failure of the leadership's ability in administrative control and command/control of its security requirements; a rapidly declining economic, financial and physical infrastructure with its related human distress and the failure to develop a plan for Iran's future in a global economy and a greater international environment of democratic practice and cooperation. The declining popular support of the current regime is evidenced by not only repression of the masses, but also among the clergy itself. Popular discontent in the cities is now frequent and accompanied by the loss of life, casualties, and imprisonment. These civil disturbances/riots have, since 1993, increasingly taken place throughout the country including Arak, Mashad, Shiraz, Qazvin, Zahedan, and Islamshahr. Most of the discontent is caused by economic distress and opposition to the repressive actions of the government. This discontent has reached the point of increasing defections to locations outside Iran of not only ordinary citizens but government officials as the recent defection of high intelligence officials and the most recent hijacking of an Iranian aircraft to Israel. More defections are to be expected as conditions inside Iran continue to deteriorate. What is perhaps even more significant evidence of the repressiveness of the Tehran regime is the increasing opposition of the clergy. Much of the clerical opposition stems from their opposing the political involvement and its secular nature in which the current clerical government leadership dominates. Secondly, the clerical opposition faults the clerical regime for its repression of basic civil rights and the pervasive corruption, especially in high governmental circles. Two grand ayatollahs, representing the highest level of the Shia clerical establishment, have been under house arrest for the past ten years, Grand Ayatollahs Ghomi in Mashad and Sadeq Ruhani in Ghom. Their arrest status has been protested to the governmental leadership by such notables as the former ambassador to the Vatican, Hojjatol-Islam Khosroshahi. Another important cleric, Hojjatol-Islam Rahbar, severely criticized the government for its failures in economic policy and its abuse of human rights. It should be further noted that since the advent of the present regime many of the lower clergy have criticized the repressive practices of the government and have as a result paid the price. Over a thousand are imprisoned and hundreds have been executed for active opposition to the government. The most significant factor bringing on unrest among the masses, and its attendant repression, is the worsening economic condition and the deteriorating service infrastructure. Inflation and shortages, the decay of the social status of women, declining standard of living and rampant unemployment, present a dreary picture of life in present-day Iran -- a condition which the government is incapable of correcting. Even though Iran's economic troubles have been immensely magnified by the recent war with Iraq, much of the economic distress since the end of the war, (1988) and the failure of sub sequential economic and material/infrastructure is due to the mishandling of the economy and financial interests of the nation. This is shown by its failure to
understand the dynamics of international finance as closely tied to good international relations. In other words, by casting itself as a "pariah state", Iran under the clerics, has cut itself off from important international banking centers, particularly those where the United States exerts great influence. Secondly, despite an inflow of oil revenues, albeit at a lower per barrel rate than in previous years, the government has failed to invest these resources wisely in the productive sector of the economy, opting to invest in less essential military and nuclear technologies among others. From the very visible and frequent civil disorders and reports of defectors, the government's failure to relieve the economic distress of the masses is reaching a critical stage and may well be the spark to ignite a new revolution. Aside from the Tehran regime's failure in its domestic programs as discussed above, its record in the international arena of foreign policy/foreign relations is equally abysmal and moreover, far more threatening to its own security, regional, and indeed world peace. Three trends and active engagements bear concern:

l) the current regime's pursuit of the "nuclear option";

2) the continued involvement in state-sponsored terrorism and fomenting instability in selected target states;

and

3) The pursuit of closer relations with Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

The recent $1 billion deal with Russia for an ostensible nuclear power plant in Bushehr, was a rash financial commitment in time of economic distress has evoked a trenchant response from the international community -namely that the expended uranium fuel of the power plant can, with available technology, be converted to weapons grade plutonium. Given the conditions prevailing in post soviet Russia, the abundance of rogue nuclear scientists in Iraq and elsewhere, obtaining the necessary reprocessing technology would not be a difficult task. Furthennore, it is known in the international intelligence community, that various agents, at the behest of the Iranian government have been "shopping" for an assortment of materials which can be utilized to assemble a nuclear reprocessing facility for weapons grade plutonium. It should be noted that this technique was employed by Iraq as it constructed its nuclear weapons facility in the late 1970s. As part of its "nuclear option", the present regime has been endeavoring to obtain nuclear weapons, notably from sources in the former Soviet Central Asian Republics. In fact, some reliable intelligence sources affirm that Iran has already obtained such a weapon, specifically, one 152 mm nuclear artillery round and one warhead. This search fits into the proposition that Iran's purchase of the upgraded Scud-C surface-to surface missile (SSM) and the longer range No-bong SSM from North Korea could be fitted with nuclear warheads. The technology for this "mating" can be obtained from the above mentioned nuclear-tipped artillery round. The ramifications of Iran's pursuit of a "nuclear option" poses a catastrophic threat to Iran itself, perhaps more immediately, than the threat to its regional neighbors. It is not unreasonable that Iran lays itself open to a pre-emptive strike at its nuclear facility if the nuclear threat is deemed to be a reality. The third foreign policy "radical" option, is the Mullahs continued promotion of terrorism in the Middle East, Western Europe, and indeed, the United States. The clerical regime's "fingerprints" have been traceable to terrorism in Egypt, Lebanon, and New York; murders of "enemies of the State" in Paris and other parts of Europe, and undermining and infiltration of governments in Sudan, Algeria, Turkey, and the newly independent Muslim states of the former Soviet Union. The hearings of the intelligence and other committees of the United States congress bear witness to Iran's extensive de-stabilizing activities throughout the world. Even if this litany of Iran's extra-legal and war-like activities proves factual and becomes a reality, the blame must be laid in the hands of the clerical leadership as due to their incompetence, foolhardiness, and ignorance of the realities of the international community. The current leadership's flirtation with Saddam Hussein for political and military support, like its other foreign policy ventures is both foolhardy and dangerous for Iran. A "Tehran-Baghdad Axis", if implemented, would threaten the power balance in the Persian Gulf region and ultimately the entire Middle East. The immediate threat to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia is obvious; the threat to overthrow the moderate regime in Jordan and the military threat to Israel with Scud-C and No-Dong SSMs is a reality as was seen with the Iraqi Scud attack on Israel during Desert Stom. The consequences for Iran in such a scenario is to bring the threat of increased American presence in the Persian Gulf and perhaps pre-emptive strikes against Iranian missile launch sites, if not other targets. Adhering to Iraq, another "pariah state' would only further isolate Iran from the world community it needs for economic recovery. It is hard to rationalize the Iranian leadership's -ftsttnntion with Sad-am Hussein, their erstwhile enemy. Perhaps the leadership feels it can manipulate Baghdad to accommodate its political and security needs or perhaps as it too was a "loser" in a recent war, it may feel that it with Saddam Hussein can achieve revenge or a revision of the past humiliation against the perceived enemy, the "Great Satan" whoever or wherever it may be. History has taught us to be wary of defeated nations seeking solace in alliances with the aim of rectifying perceived past injustices. We need only to study the post World War I European chronicle of tragic events to be wary of an Iranian-Iraqi "Axis". This again reaffirms the inadequacy and failure of the clerical leadership to deal with the outside world which it does not comprehend.

THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A NEW LEADERSHIP

Focus On Iran in a recent issue severely criticized the Peoples' Mojahedin Organization and its leadership because of the fact that it is not only cultist, absolutist and undemocratic, has a long history of terrorist activities which it still is very proud of, but is an avowed ally (if not a stooge) of Saddam Hussein. Focus On Iran has warned repeatedly of the futility and the dangers of replacing the current despotic regime with another similar or even worse. Once more, this warning must be repeated as reminder to all who believe in freedom and democracy. The new leadership must unequivocally manifest its belief in democracy and democratic principles, and show credible evidence of its commitment to the civil liberties and rights of the Iranian men and women. The first and most important characteristic of the new leadership is its choice and approval by the Iranian people. the new leadership, above all, must respond to the people's will through the democratic process of selection and election. The new leadership must be the guarantors of the people's liberties and justice under a rule of law. It must adhere to a constitution providing complete liberties of thought, speech, and religious freedom. In this way, the new leadership will establish among the people who they have committed themselves to serve and to ensure support and loyalty of the Iranian people. The new leadership must have the ability and knowledge and dedication to restructure Iran's foreign policy to re-establish the country's prestige and respect in the international community. The new leadership must disavow all linkages with this regime's foreign relations misadventures as noted above and above all, become a prime source for maintaining regional peace, reducing tensions through interstate mutual accords and desist from aligning Iran with such international "pariahs" as Iraq. The new leadership must be firmly committed to repairing its relations with the United States, not only as a matter of a correct and mutually beneficial foreign policy objective but once more re-establishing slid tradition" - of good relations between the Iranian and American people. Closely related to the above foreign policy characteristics, the new leadership must renounce its secretive "nuclear option". If, through objective, environmental/scientific and economic analysis the new leadership finds that nuclear power is feasible and will significantly improve Iran's economic condition and standard of living for the nation's people, then it should undertake a nuclear energy policy with the full cooperation and adherence to the provisions of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, and other international nuclear safe-guard treaties, agreements or provisions. Thus the new leadership will assure the region and the rest of the world of its peaceful intentions and resolve in nuclear matters.

WHEN AND WHERE WILL THE LEADERSHIP EMERGE FROM?

It is more difficult to ascertain the exact moment when the new leadership will take over the governing of the nation. It is comparatively easier to ascertain where the leadership will come from. Optimally, the change of leadership should occur now in a peaceful manner with minimal internal stress and disruption. The relatively peaceful manner by which the nations of Eastern Europe threw off the yoke of communism in 1989/90 would serve as a model. Hopefully, the current clerical leadership will realize its failures in governance and will step down, thus avoiding human suffering and physical harm to the nation. Focus On Iran believes that the critical time for change of leadership, whether by the questionable voluntary resignation or other means, will come as an unambiguous signal form the people. When conditions of repression or economic distress become so intolerable that it can no longer be borne by the people, they will rise and make their demands known. this is a fact of history, both in ancient and modern times. There is sufficient evidence that critical moment, if not already at hand, is rapidly approaching. All would-be leaders of a democratic era must be prepared to step in and assume the course of change. Indeed, they should now be preparing for that near-time eventuality. Finally, where and who decides the new leadership? The answer, simple and direct is form either inside or outside Iran and without equivocation, to be chosen and approved by the people of Iran. The will of the people must prevail in this matter. The Azadegan Foundation asserts that there is a reservoir of committed, dedicated, potential democratic leaders in Iran and within the exile community abroad. Furthermore, Azadegan will give its unequivocal support to that leadership which proves its worthiness by past, present, and future deeds.

HOW WILL THE NEW LEADERSHIP COME TO POWER?


As noted above, the transition to the new leadership must be done peacefully with minimal human and physical harm, preferably by a voluntary resignation of power and authority by the current clerical leadership. The only other path would be a forceful replacement. It would be of great value that potential new leaders draw up manifestos and other materials, by which the people can show their approval or disapproval and recommendations. Preparation for a provisional government with its proposed leadership should be put before the people. Provisions must be made whereby the people themselves may nominate their choices for leadership, at least as provisional leaders, until a permanent government structure is approved and put into operation. It is extremely important that the planning for the instruments of leadership transition must now begin, whether by individual potential leaders or by leadership collectives. Functioning networks among "liberation"" groups for coordination/cooperation among like-minded democratic leaders must be established as soon as possible. Lack of establishing such a coordinating network could prove extremely damaging to any successful, peaceful transition to democratic leadership and worst of all, could leave the Iranian people in confusion and disarray. Among the most important matters which must be agreed upon by the potential new leadership networks is the formulation of the means by which the people will express their desires and approval or disapproval. Secondly, the means and procedures for securing the approval and support of the Armed Forces, and for providing for the security of the nation during the critical time of transition. There are many more details which cannot be discussed at this time, but must be taken into account by the future leadership. As said so often, "the devil is in the detail" -- it is the details which now must be attended to. This is a most important factor by which any new leadership can show its worthiness and ability to lead/assume the new democratic leadership.

IMMEDIATE ACTION IS CRUCIAL


From all which has been said in this presentation, it should be obvious that failure will bring continued repression and economic misery to the people of Iran. Failure of new potential leaders to plan for a transition at the appropriate time could bring about a revolutionary 'blood bath', both destructive to human life and property. Moreover, without coordination among the 'liberation' groups, disputes and disarray, anarchic conditions could prevail among the potential leadership and their followers. This must be categorically avoided. If there is such a disarray, then the reinstitution of another despotic regime is in the offing. Failure in the foreign policy sector could sec further isolation of Iran in the world community as in the cases of North Korea and Libya. The continuation of the "nuclear option" could leave Iran open to pre-emptive strikes with its attendant loss of life, property and economic investment. Finally, failure to understand and implement a coherent foreign policy could bring the danger of the nation's regional dismemberment, Baluchestan, Azarbaijan. Khuzestan, Kurdestan etc., and dangerous hostile relations with its neighbors in former Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus, and Pakistan. Failure in dealing rationally in the world community, in the end, will result in the removal of all sources of financial, material, and technological assistance to Iran which it so desperately needs for the betterment of its people and the nation.

 



 

 

 

 


 

 






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