London, (RoozOnline) A person who feels threatened is naturally suspicious of everything and everyone. Because of this, every move is a potential danger – yielding a defensive reaction.
To avoid loosing his touch with reality, such a person must have iron nerves and a sharp eye, so that he can separate what is threatening from what is not. Otherwise, his reactions would only make the situation worse and more dangerous.
Who knows, perhaps the United States has in fact drawn up plans to overthrow the regime.
The reality is that the Islamic Republic feels threatened by the outside world. Particularly, it believes that the United States of America is devising undercover conspiracies to manipulate internal social dissent to topple the regime.
Such a viewpoint makes the country’s political and security agencies suspicious of any political or professional action, or any protest whatsoever, and catapults them to confront such events
It is not clear what kind of specific changes the United States is pursuing inside Iran, but a look at media reports from the United States and Europe shows that the feeling of Iranian officials is not unfounded and without basis. Who knows, perhaps the United States has in fact drawn up plans to overthrow the regime.
This presents a very awkward situation for dissidents of the Islamic Republic who are pursing peaceful change, and who shy away from overthrowing the regime. They have to endure all kinds of pressure.
Currently, some factions in the government view all dissidents and critics as parts of America’s secret plan for a “velvet revolution” in Iran (a term denoting non-violent change of the type that took place in some Eastern European countries). Unfortunately, a significant part of the security and intelligence apparatus shares this view.
It is not clear to me whether the government’s behavior toward peaceful activists is a reaction to the threat from the United States, or just an excuse to further limit the little breathing space that the government’s critics have.
For example, the measures to prevent the Nehzate Azadi (Iran Liberation Movement) from commemorating its anniversary was clearly nothing more than a gathering of political figures with the usual speeches and talks. This event cannot be viewed as a threat from the US because neither the leaders of the movement nor the Americans have shown any interest in each other for such cooperation. But the government’s disruption of the event does show its intolerance of simple and peaceful protests. Should outside pressures on Iran increase, I would not be surprised if this tolerance reaches zero levels.
What must be done under the current conditions? Should peaceful activists abandon their limited political and cultural work until tensions between the United States and Iran are resolved? Or should they use all of their ability to resist the pressures of the government, regardless of the costs that would follow?
I do not think that either of these options would be suitable for Iran’s situation today. Hence one must look for a third way – if there is one!
If factions in the government confront peaceful activists not because of security fears, but because of political bias and the desire to have absolute power, then no one can stop them from continuing on the path that they have embarked on.
In my opinion, there is nothing wrong if peaceful activists clearly explain to the government that they are neither after toppling it nor are they cooperating with foreigners, but are merely pursuing the rights recognized by divine, natural, international and domestic laws.
If the government’s recent arrest of peaceful activists emanates from a fear of America’s plans, such an explanation can help decrease tensions and a complete suffocation of the breathing space.
If, however, factions in the government confront peaceful activists not because of security fears, but because of political bias and the desire to have absolute power, then no one can stop them from continuing on the path that they have embarked on.
Suppressing peaceful activists has no result other than placing the Iranian government at the helm of human rights violators in the world and helping mobilize civil and intellectual groups on the international stage against the government, thus paving the way for any kind of confrontation that the United States or its allies choose to pursue with Iran.
Thus, it is in the regime’s interest to control some of its radical internal factions and institute a tolerant relationship between itself and its peaceful opponents. Such a strategy not only does not threaten the regime’s survival, but also reduces foreign threats. ENDS ZEYDABADI 2607
Editor’s note: The above article was posted by the London-based Iranian internet newspaper Rooz on 31 May 2007.
Highlights are by IPS