June 30, 2009

Iran: this is no time for hesitation

Former prime minister of Spain José Maria Aznar in today’s Wall Street Journal: (thanks: Teresa Gomez)

If there hadn't been dissidents in the Soviet Union, the Communist regime never would have crumbled. And if the West hadn't been concerned about their fate, Soviet leaders would have ruthlessly done away with them. They didn't because the Kremlin feared the response of the Free World.
Just like the Soviet dissidents who resisted communism, those who dare to march through the streets of Tehran and stand up against the Islamic regime founded by the Ayatollah Khomeini 30 years ago represent the greatest hope for change in a country built on the repression of its people. At stake is nothing less than the legitimacy of a system incompatible with respect for individual rights.
This is no time for hesitation on the part of the West. If, as part of an attempt to reach an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, the leaders of democratic nations turn their backs on the dissidents they will be making a terrible mistake.
President Obama has said he refuses to "meddle" in Iran's internal affairs, but this is a poor excuse for passivity. If the international community is not able to stop, or at least set limits on, the repressive violence of the Islamic regime, the protesters will end up as so many have in the past -- in exile, in prison, or in the cemetery. And with them, all hope for change will be gone.
To be clear: Nobody in the circles of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei or Ahmadinejad is going to reward us for silence or inaction. On the contrary, failing to support the regime's critics will leave us with an emboldened Ahmadinejad, an atomic Iran, and dissidents that are disenchanted and critical of us. We cannot talk about freedom and democracy if we abandon our own principles.

Sudarsan Raghavan in last Sunday’s Washington Post: (via normblog)

As Iran's theocracy appears on the verge of silencing the biggest challenge to its authority since it was established in 1979, female activists in the region say they are inspired by the prominent role women are playing in the country's opposition movement. Many hope it will have a crossover effect on the struggle for women's rights in their own countries and help shatter Western perceptions of Middle Eastern women as subjugated in a male-dominated culture.
In a region that reveres men who die in battle, some of the major icons to emerge from the Iranian demonstrations have been women. Neda Agha Soltan, the music student whose bloody death on June 20 was videotaped and broadcast around the world, became an instant symbol of the opposition movement and sparked widespread outrage. Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi 's wife, Zahra Rahnavard, has also taken on a prominent role as she accompanied her husband on the campaign trail and more recently spoke out against an election result that the opposition says was fraudulent.
"This is our time, women's time," said Khoulod Al Fahed, a Saudi businesswoman and blogger. "It is the time for women to speak up and demand the rights that have been stolen from us in the name of religion and culture."

1 comment:

  1. Obama appears to be so intent on not doing it the 'Bush way', that he could end up being pushed back down the well again. He is also impeded by his magnanimous offer to Iran, all the more sweeping and casual being made before the fatal Iranian elections. His dialogue without preconditions, which naturally could be interpreted as 'anything goes' in Iran prior to such an august event, seems to be precisely the case.

    In GB poor old Gordon has got his own problems, and not enough clout in any case. David Miliband even less of the latter. There's always Sarko, Angela and Franco Frattini, but that's not enough. The Czech President of the EU said what should be said regarding the 'binding force of Europe', but with not enough conviction. He didn't say that anyway, that was my contribution from wishful thinking.

    Europe would be wrong to hang back and wait for a 'pigs may fly Obama lead'. The British Embassy in Iran has been violated. The UK is part of Europe. Europe has therefore been violated. Isn't this the time not just to make a show of words, but to show European solidarity and show it in a far more convincing way? What has Europe got to lose? As much as the Iranians if not more, if we continue to hang back.

    There's also the risk that the Iranian regime will engage its planet pulverising program whist we are still pondering. Ahmadinejad will then be praised and worshipped as the jhiadist leader hero of the world. His dream will at last be realised as he leads the forces of Allah carrying out the wish of the Prophet to impose pre-medieval Islam and the sharia like the black death.

    Who would ever have thought that in only six months one would start wondering if, regarding Iran, it wouldn't have been better if Bush were still up front in the USA? But no, that's not the sort of thing one should ever suggest. It's totally politically incorrect.