Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Iranian Rebels And Regime Change

The Fall of Communism gave the world an enormous amount of valuable information about how to bring down a totalitarian regime. Can we use that information to bring down the theocracy in Iran? Some Iranian dissidents are attempting to do so. The article below reports on a conference intended to create a "Solidarity Iran" movement modeled on the Polish Solidarity movement.

I wish them the best, but if they are to have a good chance of succeeding, we need to apply the other ingredient that led to success against the Soviet Union: military pressure from without, which gave the Soviet regime the sense that it was losing and would lose in any military confrontation, so that it could no longer defend its Eastern European empire by brute force.

So far, our failure to confront Iran directly means that the Iranian leaders still have the sense that the world is going their way (to borrow a phrase from a former KGB officer recalling the Soviet glory days of the 1970s) and that American power is not to be feared. The result is that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad currently feels no constraints preventing him from crushing internal dissent in Iran.

"Iranian Dissidents Gather to Discuss Regime Change," Claudia Rosett, New York Sun, June 18 Regime change for Iran may be a dead letter in the loftiest councils of world affairs, but as a prime goal, it is very much alive in the plans of some 200 exiled Iranian dissidents who gathered here in a basement conference hall these past three days to launch a movement they are calling "Solidarity Iran."

Inspired by the Polish Solidarity union movement that helped bring down communist rule in the 1980s, the aim of this new Solidarity is to give a more coherent shape and identity to the diverse and often fractious Iranian dissident diaspora. Brought together by about half a dozen organizers of various political stripes, the participants are seeking to devise more and better-coordinated ways of boosting efforts by people within Iran itself to replace the country's terrorist-sponsoring and brutal Islamic regime with secular, democratic rule….

The organizing document for the conference declares: "We consider the system of Islamic Republic incorrigible and we think that the establishment of democracy in Iran is conditional upon the abolishment of that regime."…

The assembly included leftists, monarchists, ethnic minorities, former student leaders and former adherents of the Islamic regime. There were plenty of women; some wore skirts. There was not a veil in sight….

Unlike the leaders of the original Polish Solidarity, most of those launching Solidarity Iran are forced to operate from outside the country….

Most of those at the Paris gathering are opposed to military action to remove the Islamic regime. But not all. One attendee, Faramarz Bakhtiar, who left Iran in 1998 and now lives in Germany, says "We cannot free Iran like Ukraine happened, or Poland." Mr. Bakhtiar, whose uncle (later assassinated) was prime minister under the Shah, says the "the only way that these mullahs will go away is by military," and suggests combining such non-violent activities as those proposed by Solidarity Iran with the bombing of such places inside Iran as terrorist training camps and the nuclear facilities at Natanz. In broken English he delivers a clear message: "When mullah is plus atom, the whole humanity is in danger."

No comments: