- Hope for a Cure in 2004?
Europe wants to help the Iranian people they should realise that the
present Islamic regime has done nothing but poison Persia and her
February 2004 will see the
next parliamentary elections in Iran. Already the municipal elections
that took place in February 2003 were significant for the Islamic
Republic, in which turnout hit rock bottom - in the capital city
Tehran, only 9% of eligible voters did so. This clearly indicates a
loss of faith in the Islamic regime and its potential for change, as
people have become increasingly frustrated with the reformists’
legacy of broken promises. A fierce struggle has broken out within the
reformist camp to prepare themselves for the 2004 parliamentary
elections, yet so far they have failed to produce any new ideas that
could inspire the electorate.
At the same time they look to their European allies for support, who
in recent years have helped them in any and every way one could
imagine. However, public opinion has soured against the Europeans as
well as against the reformists. If one wants to understand the
frustration and negative opinions of the Iranian public with respect
to the European Union - in particular Britain, Germany and France –
it suffices merely to stroll through the streets of Tehran and listen
to people’s complaints. We know that during the last 4 years the
European Union has tried everything possible to support the reformist
camp in Iran lead by Mohammad Khatami, trying to defuse the chaotic
political situation in Iran as well as in the international arena.
Nonetheless it has not produced any positive results. The public
scepticism is palpable.
I reflect back on British Foreign Minister Jack Straw’s numerous
visits to the Islamic Republic, as well as those by his foreign
counterparts, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin and German
Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. The latest and only constructive
support has been their efforts to defuse the problem that has arisen
from nuclear arms production in Iran and the enrichment of weapons
grade uranium. The general assumption in the west, particularly in
Europe, is that the reformists are a distinct breed from the
conservative camp. Yet it must be emphasised that the in Iran the
perception is quite the opposite, and that in the eyes of the people
there is no difference between the conservatives and reformists: both
camps have joined forces in order to prolong the life of Islamic
Republic and each camp has a vested interest in doing so.
At the same time the war in Iraq, led by the United States, has
created hope amongst the Iranian public. A hope that sooner or later,
once the Iraq issue has been resolved, the west will realise how
deeply and strongly the Iranian people wish for radical change in
Iran, and will therefore help those Iranians who are struggling to
restore democracy, freedom, and a secular regime in this ancient land.
Both the reformist and the conservative camps in Iran are fully aware
of this feeling and have thus set in motion new tactics in order to
distract public opinion at home and abroad. They are trying to
destabilise Iraq as much as they can with the help of radical Shiites,
by facilitating easy cross-border travel for international terrorists
in the hope that the US will pull out its forces from Iraq and thus
ease the pressure on Iran. The fact that there are troops in all the
surrounding Emirates in the South of the Persian Gulf, such as
Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar, and in Central Asia and Afghanistan has
given Iran’s Mullahs a fearful insecurity and a sense of being
trapped in a pincer. Therefore they are trying their utmost to
destabilise Iraq and Middle East, including their funding for the
radical Palestinian groups who help sabotage the Middle East peace
So what next?
In Iran the most
dynamic group are the young, who make up approximately 70% of the
country’s nearly 70 million population. The regime is fully aware of
this fact and has shown their anxiety through heavy-handed repression.
One example of such maltreatment was the tragic saga of the 1999
street protests, where hundreds of thousands of students took to the
streets in a peaceful show of defiance. Siavash Fakhravar, Ahmad
Batebi, Manuchehr and Akbar Mohammadi and many other students were
condemned to torture and imprisonment for their involvement in the
If the free world, and Europe in particular, want to help the Iranian
people restore their freedom then they should reassess their policies,
change their attitudes and realise that the present Islamic regime has
done nothing but poison Iran and its people.
Nicole Sadighi is a freelance
journalist and member of the "Student Movement Coordination
Committee for Democracy in Iran".