November 15, 2005

A Third voice on Iranian Nuclear Issue

Parts of this Article has been published under the name of PROTECT THE ‎MIDDLE GROUND ON THE IRANIAN NUCLEAR ISSUE at The Christian ‎Science Monitor from the November 14, 2005 edition‎‏ ‏
To read the text,click here

‎ By Emadedin Baghi٭
Mahyar, the breadwinner and the eldest son of the family, voluntarily made ‎his way to the Iran-Iraq warfronts when he was only 17. After the war he died ‎in the streets of Tehran, where he came for the treatments of his injuries ‎caused by Saddam's chemical weapons, and his mother, who was waiting to ‎see him well again after four years, never found the chance to say goodbye to ‎him. Now, from time to time she travel 300 km from Rasht to Tehran to go to ‎the massive cemetery in the south of the city and talk to his son. For her and ‎others who lost their dear ones, for the war veterans, and for those who were ‎injured by chemicals, or confined to bed and wheelchairs, the 8 years' war did ‎not really end in August 1988. Even now the lives of those affected by ‎chemical bombs are being drastically lost.‎
In our visit to Rasht, my wife and I went to see this woman. It occurred to me ‎there that are we to do something to prevent yet another conflict, as we have ‎suffered so much that barely anyone wants to go through all those hardships ‎and agonies again.‎
I fully understand the worries of the west about Iran. They think that a regime ‎that has no mercy on its dissident citizens, would surely not sympathize with ‎any of its many opponents around the world once it has gained access to ‎nuclear bombs or WMD. For this very reason we have always called the ‎Iranian government to observe human rights and countenance the rights of its ‎opposition to win domestic and foreign trust and respect. However, at the ‎same time I do believe there is a will among global powers to make changes ‎to the world order and in this respect they are using human rights and ‎nuclear issues as an excuse to push forward towards their preordained ‎objectives, and the Iranian government is unintentionally bringing these ‎ambitions to fruition by violating human rights inside the country and ‎following inappropriate foreign policies.‎
One sees here an odd mincing of the words made by both sides to confuse the ‎public opinion. Iranian and American politicians are making a great ‎confusion and are trying to fish in troubled water. The US and the Europeans ‎accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapon and because of their general ‎distrust they want to nip this risk in the bud. There are two reasons for ‎reinforcing this scepticism; 1) Iran's secret activities for 18 years, and 2) the ‎ideological mottoes of the new government such as "the future is in the hand ‎of Islam and Islamic revolution", which conveys this meaning that if Iran ‎possesses nuclear weapons she would surely use them to diffuse its version of ‎Islam. Iran on the other hand insists on her right of having nuclear power and ‎technology, each of them is defining the nuclear issue in accordance with their ‎own interest. Iran must not enrich uranium because this would enable her to ‎become even closer to having bombs, claims the US, whereas Iran is ‎determined to enrich uranium saying that this is quite essential for having an ‎indigenous nuclear technology and being independent. ‎
The third voice here believes that they are talking about two different issues ‎under a single disguise; having nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and ‎having nuclear weapons are subjects which can be dealt with distinctly, when ‎it is clearly defined and universally supervised.‎
This confusion is jeopardizing peace and brings into sight the possibility of ‎another conflict. The question normally asked about this crisis is would the ‎US attack Iran and if so would there be any benefits in this war for Iran? I ‎believe that there is no clear conclusion to the first part of this question and ‎what has drawn a lot of attention and has caused lots of debates is whether ‎such a conflict would be useful for Iranians.‎
We believe that this problem can be solved within the country. Today in Iran ‎after more than hundred years of efforts for freedom and consciousness, there ‎is a high degree of political sensitivity and social consciousness, and at the ‎same time dispersed authority. Even if there was a single source of authority ‎there are influential figures, institutions; even traditional, non-governmental ‎religious institutes, students' unions and NGOs, with their own social power ‎capable of imposing pressure on the decision-makers. Even today in what ‎seems to be a uniform state, after the so-called reformist have been swept ‎aside, four ministers in the cabinet of the new fundamentalist president could ‎not get votes of confidence from the parliament dominated by conservatives. ‎One should not forget that the Iranian experience of democracy, with all its ‎ups and downs, has resulted in relative division of power and this is to ‎expand in future. Today an individual cannot impose his absolute and ‎outright power even if he wishes to do so. We have to distended this "cannot" ‎by enlarging civil society and civil institutes. Therefore we are ready at all ‎costs to endure all the hardships, imprisonment and deprivation to develop ‎our own democracy. Any military attacks or any economic sanctions would ‎ruin the insubstantial basis of democracy in Iran and make fundamentalist ‎terrorism more predominant; sense of humiliation is the main element of any ‎violence.‎
I am deeply concerned that once again we might have to go through the ‎experience of Iranian students storming US embassy in Tehran and hostage-‎taking crisis in November 1979. At that time the students saw this as an act of ‎protest, was not intended to take as long as 444 days, against US policy ‎towards Iran and giving shelter to the deposed Shah. But eventually both ‎sides were in a position that any negotiation and retraction was to mean to ‎accept political defeat. This led to a course of unintended events, Iran-Iraq ‎war and even toady's nuclear crisis can be regarded as the natural ‎consequences of those obstinate standpoints.‎
And now that both sides are expressing their position in loud voices, the third ‎voice that calls for dialogue, negotiation and peace is not heard and ‎sometimes suppressed. ‎
Both sides are in conflictual positions. Analysts in Iran believe that if they ‎retreat their position on nuclear issue the overall problem with the west ‎would not come to an end. The next issue to rise is Iran's standpoint in ‎Middle East peace process, and then would be the accusation of supporting ‎terrorism and subsequently the human rights issues. If we are to give grounds ‎bit by bit, why shouldn't we insist on the nuclear issue which is a matter of ‎national pride and where we could enjoy popular support? The ultimate goal ‎of the US and the West is to humiliate, discredit and remove us from power. ‎Why should we play their game? They believe in the past negotiations they ‎‎"have given pearls and got candies instead". ‎
On the other side the US and the West have come to the conclusion that Iran ‎intends to develop nuclear bombs therefore they have to stop it here. And in ‎between are the ordinary people who are going to suffer most. After 8 years ‎of bloody war with Iraq with more than 200,000 dead and many more injured ‎and disabled Iranians are against war. In order to preserve their culture and ‎civilization, they do not intend to get involved in yet another war. According ‎to article three of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights "every one has ‎the right to life", and considering the fact that we are living at the time when ‎this declaration is the dominant paradigm, Iranians have the right to ‎condemn war. They are against nuclear weapons but would like to have this ‎power for peaceful purposes.‎
Iran's foreign policy lacks two very important elements; first is the intention ‎to hold talks with the major side of this conflict, the US, and second is the ‎understanding of realities, changes and development at the global level. ‎Therefore as the first step the members of Iranian negotiating team ought to ‎be replaced with more realistic people who are well aware of modern global ‎developments, and secondly Iran has to start holding talks with the US.‎
The intention for supporting democracy in Iran ought to be carried out ‎through valuing civil society and not through any military actions or ‎economic sanctions. If required, Iranians could control their state. Reformists ‎and even traditionalist can isolate fundamentalists from within as they have ‎done so in many occasions. Mahyar's mother does not want to mourn over ‎her other children or witness their poverty and misery.‎

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