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Jewish World Review Nov. 13, 2002 / 8 Kislev, 5763

Michael Ledeen

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The Temperature Rises: We should liberate Iran first --- now | While the world obsesses on Iraq, Iran, the most-important country in the Middle East - and the keystone of the terror network - has once again been shaken by the rage of its people. On the one hand looms the terrible regime which, fearing that it may be brought down by the kind of national insurrection that the mullahs led against the shah 23 years ago, is lashing out in an increasingly incoherent wave of thuggery, torture, and public executions and amputations. On the other, those segments of the population able to organize are demonstrating their contempt for the regime, daring the security forces to do their worst.

And so, once again the University of Tehran - at several different campuses - was the scene of violent demonstrations, leading one of the country's leading elected representatives (Ahmad Pour Nejati, the head of the parliament's cultural committee) to say that the country is headed for an uncertain future, without so much as a parachute.

The demonstrations began on Saturday at 6:35 in the afternoon in Tehran. The pretext for the gathering was given by hundreds of cases of food poisoning, and the public revelation that students were being fed low-quality meat. Within an hour the security forces closed all streets leading to the university, and the students began singing the old Iranian national anthem - banned by the mullahs. At 9 o'clock, ten bus loads of security forces arrived on the scene, and the thugs tried to force the students back into the university buildings, but they were driven back, as the students chanted "Hashemi (Rafsanjani), Pinochet, Iran will not be a Chile," along with "(failed reformist president) Khatami, resign!" and "referendum, referendum."

When the security forces were driven back, the students lit bonfires with wood and tires, at which point the security forces fired gas grenades at the crowds. The fighting went on until 1:30 in the morning. Thirty-seven students were arrested.

The demonstrations resumed on Sunday, with nearly 2,000 students chanting against Rafsanjani and again demanding a referendum. Later in the day the body of one of their leaders - Ruhollah Ghoujani - was found under a bridge, with visible signs of terrible vengeance on it. He had been murdered by the goon squad from the Intelligence Ministry. The Faculty of Trade and Commerce was also shut down, as was the Fatemiah University in Qom, that was supposed to have been a model for the next generation of Iranian higher education. Yet another bad sign for the mullahcracy, as is the call for yet another demonstration on Tuesday, this one in the mosque at Tehran University. In yet another development, scores of women have demonstrated in Tabriz against the oppressive actions of the Basij, the regime's prize bullies.

Meanwhile, some of the braver members of parliament have decided to vote with their feet as well as their mouths. When university professor Hashem Aghajari was sentenced to death last week, it provoked considerable public condemnation, and on Sunday two MPs resigned in protest. Both were from the western regions, and one, Hossein Loqmanian, had first-hand experience with Islamic Justice, Iranian style, having himself earned the honor of becoming the first member of parliament to be thrown into prison since the 1979 revolution. Loqmanian represents Hamedan, which is where the court passed its outrageous sentence on Aghajari, condemning him for blasphemy even though some of the country's leading religious authorities had said the charges were baseless. And even the Parliament Speaker, Mehdi Karroubi, denounced the sentence and demanded it be reversed.

Both the regime and its opponents are rapidly reaching a point of no return, and the odds certainly favor the people. The mullahs are hopelessly outnumbered, and the forces of freedom in Iran are getting braver all the time. Late last week a commander from the Revolutionary Guards announced he would not order his men to fire on student demonstrators, and was immediately replaced, but this sort of thing can be contagious, as General Jaruselski and Slobodan Milosovic found to their doom. The mullahs are constantly firing and hiring new thugs to protect them against the wrath of the people, and the question is whether or not there is a sufficient supply of killers to forestall the end of this hated regime.

This is yet another test of the courage and coherence of American leaders. President Bush has been outstanding in endorsing the calls for freedom in Iran, as has Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. It would be nice if Secretary of State Powell added his own eloquence to the chorus, especially because many Iranians fear that the State Department is still trying to cut a deal with the mullahs.

I have long argued that it would be better to liberate Iran before Iraq, and events may soon give us that opportunity. Let's hope our national-security team recognizes how wonderful an opportunity it is, and therefore gives the Iranian freedom fighters the assistance they so richly deserve.

Faster, please. Opportunity is knocking at our door.

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JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of, most recently, The War Against the Terror Masters. Comment by clicking here.


11/05/02: End of the Road: Iran's Mohammed Khatami, on his way out
10/29/02: The Angleton Dialogues, Contnued: What George Tenet doesn’t know
10/24/02: The Iranian Comedy Hour: In the U.S., the silence continues
10/16/02: Sniper, Saboteur, or Sleeper? Channeling James Jesus Angleton
10/01/02: The real foe
09/27/02: The Iranian String Quartet: The mullahs get increasingly nervous
09/25/02: The Dubya Doctrine
09/23/02: Intelligence? What intelligence?
09/12/02: America's revenge: To turn tyrannies into democracies
09/10/02: Iran & Afghanistan & Us: We'll have to deal with the mullahcracy, sooner or later
09/04/02: Iran, according to the Times: All the nonsense that's fit to print
08/21/02: Life and death of Abu Nidal tells us a great deal about our enemies
08/08/02: Can You Keep a Secret?: The media silence on Iran
08/06/02: Fantasy Reporting: The latest disinformation from the Washington Post
08/02/02: Propping Up the Terror Masters: Europe's Solana on tour
07/16/02: Bush vs. the Mullahs: Getting on the side of the Iranian freedom fighters
07/12/02: The State Department Goes Mute: It's official: State has no message
07/09/02: History being made, but the West appears clueless
06/05/02: Is George Tenet endangering peace in Israel?
06/03/02: Ridiculous, even for a journalist
05/20/02: So how come nobody's been fired yet?
05/14/02: Open doors for thugs
04/20/02: Iran on the Brink … and the U.S. does nothing
04/16/02: It’s the war, stupid … someone remind Colin Powell
04/08/02: Gulled: In the Middle East, Arafat doesn't matter
04/02/02: Faster, Please: The war falters
03/26/02: The Revolution Continues: What's brewing in Iran
03/18/02: Iran simmers still: Where's the press?
03/05/02: We can't lose any more ground in Iran
02/14/02: The Great Iranian Hoax
02/12/02: Unnoticed Bombshell: Key information in a new book
01/31/02: The truth behind the Powell play
01/29/02: My past with "Johnny Jihad's" lawyer
01/21/02: It's Munich, all over again
01/08/02: What's the Holdup?: It's time for the next battles in the war against terrorism
12/11/01: We must be imperious, ruthless, and relentless
12/06/01: Remembering my family friend, Walt Disney
11/28/01: The Barbara Olson Bomb: Understanding the war
11/13/01: How We're Doing: The Angleton Files, IV
11/06/01: A great revolutionary war is coming
10/25/01: How to talk to a terrorist
10/23/01: Creative Reporting: Learning to appreciate press briefings
10/19/01: Not the Emmys: A Beltway award presentation
10/15/01: Rediscovering American character
10/11/01: Somehow, I've missed Arafat's praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism
10/04/01: What do we not know?
09/28/01: Machiavelli On Our War: Some advice for our leaders
09/25/01: No Room for the U.N.: Keeping Annan & co. out of the picture
09/21/01: Creative destruction
09/14/01: Who Killed Barbara Olson?
08/22/01: How Israel will win this war
08/15/01: Bracing for war
08/09/01: More Dithering Democrats
08/02/01: Delirious Dems
07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
07/17/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit
07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
05/30/01: Anybody out there afraid of the Republicans?
05/09/01: The bad guys to the rescue
05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
03/27/01: Fighting AIDS in Africa is a losing proposition
03/14/01: Big Bird, Oscar, and other threats
03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
03/06/01: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/01: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/01: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/01: Ashcroft the Jew
01/11/01: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush

© 2001, Michael Ledeen