Paris, 18 Jan. (IPS) At the start of his recent tour of Middle East and the Persian Gulf countries, President George W. Bush said he would “back all reformists and democratic forces from Syria to Lebanon, from Iraq to Iran”.Few days later, the Iranian leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenehei twisted Mr. Bush’s declaration, made it look like as he had proclaimed his backing only for Iranian reformists and in order to limit their already limited chances for the forthcoming Legislative elections, he said: “shame to all those, groups or persons, who are backed by the American President. They should ask themselves what they have done to merit the shameful support of the Americans”.
His statement was immediately followed by a massive campaign in the hard line media, by Friday preachers and personalities against the embattled reformists, urging them to “immediately proclaim their dissociation from Mr. Bush’s support and even to state publicly their anger against him”.
Only one man can rescue the embattled Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, from his growing domestic unpopularity: George Bush.
The tactic employed by the megalomaniac Khamenehei was obvious. To prevent the reformists from winning the elections, considering the abysmal fall and disgrace of his protégé, the fanatic President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that all opinion polls carried secretly by the government-controlled organisms have reached same conclusion: If elections are fair and not manipulated, the conservative will be crushed.
"Only one man can rescue the embattled Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, from his growing domestic unpopularity. That man is George Bush. Ahmadinejad faces elections in March and an increasingly disaffected clergy, but he feeds on Bush's antagonism. This week Bush has duly obliged. He has raced round the Middle East drumming up support for his Iranian foe", wrote Simon Jenkin in The Guardian on 16 January 2008.
As several reformists personalities and political parties hurried to declare their “total opposition” to Mr. Bush’s declaration and attacked the United States, Mr. Ahmad Zeydabadi, a talented and courageous Iranian journalist and commentator examined in the pro-reform internet newspaper “Roozonline” the notorious statement and criticized the Iranian reformists for their blind submissiveness and childish fear.
Bellow is the full text of Mr. Zeydabadi’s article as published in Farsi on 17 January 2008.
Mr. Bush and Iranian Reformists
By Ahmad Zeydabadi
President George Bush has announced his support for democratic and reformists from Damascus to Beirut, from Baghdad to Tehran.
This apparently simple and ordinary phrase has created a big headache for Iranian reformists, as their conservative rivals consider this phrase of Mr. Bush as their dependence and links to the United States. For this reason, the Iranian reformists, in order to defend themselves, have started to blame Mr. Bush and even presented his support as a plot to foment accusations against the reformists.
Ayatollah Mehdi Karroubi, leader of the National Confidance arty, criticised Mr. Bush for backing Iranian reformists.
This is while in the history of the United States, very few are presidents who have not proclaimed their support for democratic forces in the world, even if in practice, they have gone the other way. Bush’s words are not different from the claim of many authorities and officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran proclaiming their support for the freedom fighters and militants and Islamic resistance forces etc..
Now, if in other nations of the world groups and organizations that calls themselves freedom fighters or resistance, based on the fact that they had been supported by the Islamic Republic of Iran, are banned from participating in the affairs of their nation, it is clear what would happen. Logically, the same as the proclamation of support for freedom fighters and Islamic resistance forces in the world by Iran can not serve as a pretext to settle domestic fights and feuds, Mr. Bush’s support for democratic forces and reformists can not become a pretext to prevent them from entering election campaigning and rivalries.
This put aside, it is not clear what Mr. Bush means when he talks about reformists and democrats in Iran: Is it the Participation Front, the Organisation of the Islamic Revolution Mojahedins, the National Confidence Party, the Association of Militant Clergymen and tens of other parties and groups that are active under the name of reformist?
The past history of Mr. Bush does not show that by reformists in Iran he meant those known under this name, for the very simple reason that when he placed Iran in the Axe of Evil alongside of Iraq and North Korea, the regime was under the presidency of Mr. Mohammad Khatami, a known reformist.
Nevertheless, must one criticize Mr. Bush for his support of a general notion like reformists in the Middle East? From a fundamental view, one can not prevent the Head of a government from making a declaration that he considers logical and serving the interests of his country and tell him to shut up! It is clear that no head of government or State would declare his support for rogue elements, authoritarian regimes, terrorists, violent groups etc… On the contrary, he would like to be known as supporter of good causes and elements, like reformists, justice and democracy seekers!
In fact, if Iranian reformists had the slightest power and courage, they should have shouted loud and clear that we don’t care about what Mr. Bush has said.
Of course a man like Bush, when announcing his Middle East policy, would never state that he backs rogue elements, terrorist organizations, and despots, the same as no reasonable man would do. Therefore, Iranian reformists’ anger and dissatisfaction at Mr. Bush’s backing of reformists and democracy seekers means that they are of the opinion that he should have shut up his mouth, or if he wants to back someone or groups, he should direct his support for authoritarians, terrorists, violence, negative forces.
But the real problem is not Mr. Bush’s pronouncements. The real problem is that why in Syria, in Lebanon or Iraq, groups known as democrats or reformists have not been endangered or threatened because of Mr. Bush’s support, and no one tried to decipher the exact meaning of his words and finding meaning for it, create problems for groups or persons supposed to have come under the backing terms?
In other words, at a time Iranian reformists are in a situation that they have to carry the burden of the responsibility of declarations made by the leader of anther country; their conditions are very weak and fragile. In fact, if Iranian reformists had the slightest power and courage, they should have shouted loud and clear that we don’t care about what Mr. Bush has said. Every day hundreds of political figures in the world say whatever they like to say. Are we responsible for them too? ENDS ZEYDABADI REFORMISTS 18108
Editor's note: Translation of Mr. Zeydabadi's article and highlights are by IPS