Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Sounds like a neocon?

But the fact is that the present Iranian regime, unpopular at home and, in the words of Mohammad Mohsen Sazegara, a respected political dissident condemned to one year of imprisonment for "activities against the sacred Islamic Republic", has lost all ideological, political, popular, revolutionary and theological legitimacy, is vehemently afraid of the emergence of a democratic Iraq on its troubled borders, and for this reason is using all the strings at its disposal to pull.

Hussein Baqerzadeh, an Iranian human rights activist based in England, comments: "If successful, the American intervention in Iraq would make them even more popular with the bulk of Iranian people, mostly the young generation aspiring for freedom, democracy and secularism, making them more ready for the repetition of the Iraqi scenario for Iran. That explains the fears of the Iranian ayatollahs and why they are fanning violence, bloodshed and chaos in Iraq, doing their best to make the country a quagmire for the United States."

It isn't. And Safa Haeri of the Asia Times knows more about what is being said in Iran than most neocons - at least the ones that I've heard from. Who is this guy?

Safa Haeri is director of the Paris-based Iran Press Service. A former correspondent for Iranian Television and a founder member of staff of the independent Tehran daily Ayendegan, he is a regular contributor on Middle East affairs for France's L'Express magazine.

He's very aware of the Iranian media:

PARIS - As confrontations between Iraqis opposed to the US-led coalition forces in Iraq continue unabated and spread, the Islamic Republic of Iran is watching the situation with both joy and fear, as expressed by Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the regime's second-in-command after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Talking to worshippers during the Friday prayers in Tehran, the former Iranian president said that the presence of the US in Iraq was a matter of both "opportunity and threat, for this wounded qool, or giant, blessed with all the huge possibilities it possesses, can take very dangerous actions that would cost itself and others direly, but if it is taught a lessen here, neither the United States nor any other superpower would ever think of engaging in military adventures by occupying other nations."

Commenting on the situation in neighboring Iraq, which many describe as President George W Bush's Vietnam, or "Iraq's third war" or "a new intifada in Iraq", the official Iranian news agency IRNA wrote:

"One year after the fall of Saddam Hussein, bewildered Iraqi people are watching American soldiers dressed in astronaut gears and equipped with the latest war technologies roaming in the streets, with this simple question, why have the Americans not been able to satisfy their most basic daily needs, such as electricity, running water, telephone lines and, above all, restore security? Baghdad's international airport is still closed to international traffic, and the Baghdad-Amman highway, Iraq's only lifeline to the outside world, is now controlled by thieves and bandits."

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