Saturday, June 12, 2010

Iran: One year later

Tight security in Iran ahead of election anniversary

Page last updated at 09:24 GMT, Saturday, 12 June 2010 10:24 UK

Picture of protests on 18 June 2009 posted on Twitter by a  protester named as shadish173

Opposition protests followed last year's disputed elections

There is a huge security presence in Tehran and other Iranian cities, as the country marks the first anniversary of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election, witnesses say.

Opposition leaders have called off planned protests, saying they want to avoid the loss of innocent lives.

The government says Mr Ahmadinejad was re-elected by a landslide. It says the protests were just a Western plot.

So far there are no reports of any protests.

But opposition sources say their supporters did go out onto their roofs after dark on Friday night to chant Allahu Akbar (God is great), a gesture of defiance they began following Mr Ahmadinejad's re-election.

Sullen acquiescence

They came onto the streets in their millions a year ago. It was a spontaneous outburst of anger from huge numbers of Iranians who felt Mr Ahmadinejad had stolen the presidential election. (here)

Exiled Iranian activists on the election anniversary

Arash Bahmani Arash Bahmani

Like many Iranians, I was politically active both in the run-up to, and after the elections and a warrant was issued for my arrest.

I previously spent two weeks in jail in 2006 while I was being investigated under the charge of insulting the Supreme Leader. So I already had an open dossier at the Revolutionary Court.

My problem was not knowing who to trust to take me across the border

Arash Bahmani

One of my friends had already been arrested. And the judge at the Revolutionary Court said he had issued me an eight-year prison sentence, on the previous charges. So after conferring with friends, fleeing Iran was considered as one option. I lived in hiding for a while before deciding to escape.

More stories of exiles here.

This week, the UN voted to impose another round of sanctions against Iran:

UN votes for new sanctions on Iran over nuclear issue

President Obama said the new sanctions sent an "unmistakable message"

The UN Security Council has voted in favour of fresh sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.

The council voted 12 to two, with one abstention, in favour of a fourth round of sanctions, including tighter finance curbs and an expanded arms embargo.

US President Barack Obama said the sanctions were an unmistakable message on stopping the spread of nuclear arms.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the sanctions should be thrown in the dustbin like a "used handkerchief"....(here)

'Unmistakable message.' Uhuh, right! And of course Ahmadinejad is shaking in his boots. Not!

BHO is quoted in a BBC story on these sanctions:

Mr Obama accused Iran's leaders of "hiding behind outlandish rhetoric".

But he said the sanctions did "not close the door on diplomacy" and he urged Iran to "choose a different and better path".

Mr Ahmadinejad was quoted by Iran's Isna news agency as saying: "I gave one of the [world powers] a message that the resolutions you issue are like a used handkerchief which should be thrown in the dustbin. They are not capable of hurting Iranians."

'...outlandish rhetoric...' ! Go here to see what other world leaders are saying. As history has proven, UN sanctions rarely achieve their stated goal, and usually end up hurting the 'ordinary' people of the countries labouring under those UN sanctions. The National Review echoes what many already know:

The U.N.’s Iran Dead End

The latest round of U.N. sanctions against Iran will not stop that nation’s rulers from acquiring a nuclear arsenal. It could in fact help them acquire one. That is the likely outcome if President Obama does not revise his Iran policy.

The resolution, approved yesterday, achieved the following. Forty persons associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the fanatical entity that oversees Iran’s nuclear program and is a power base for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei, had been targeted by previous sanctions; they, and a new 41st, will now face a travel ban and asset freeze. U.N. member states will be required to inspect planes and ships going to or coming from Iran if they suspect that these vessels contain banned cargo (yet the resolution provides no authorization for the forcible boarding of such vessels). Iran will not be allowed to invest — in any country — in uranium mines, enrichment plants, or similar facilities. And there will be a ban on the sale of many types of weapons systems, including any ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear payload, to Iran.

This is all to the good, but it is a highly limited good. Most of the measures are little more than modest escalations of earlier sanctions resolutions, of which there have been three. These failed utterly to modify the Iranian state’s conduct; rather, the mullahs doubled down, ever adding to their number of centrifuges.[emphasis mine]

Go here for the rest of this column. Maybe Hillary Clinton should wag her finger harder.

From the New York Times comes this:

Beyond Iran Sanctions, Plans B, C, D and ...

WASHINGTON — No one in the Obama White House believes that, by themselves, the newest rounds of sanctions against Iran’s military-run businesses, its shipping lines and its financial institutions will force Tehran to halt its 20-year-long drive for a nuclear capability.

So what, exactly, does President Obama plan to do if, as everyone expects, these sanctions fail, just as the previous three did?

There is a Plan B — actually, a Plan B, C, and D — parts of which are already unfolding across the Persian Gulf. The administration does not talk about them much, at least publicly, but they include old-style military containment and an operation known informally at the C.I.A. as the Braindrain Project to lure away Iran’s nuclear talent. By all accounts, Mr. Obama has ramped up a Bush-era covert program to undermine Iran’s nuclear weapons infrastructure, and he has made quiet diplomatic use of Israel’s lurking threat to take military action if diplomacy and pressure fail.

But ask the designers and executors of these programs what they all add up to, and the answer inevitably boils down to “not enough.” (more here.)

Sounds all too familiar, doesn't it? Meanwhile, what of the people of Iran? As BHO and the UN focus on sanctions, the daily life of the Iranian citizens is eked out away from the media spotlight. From the Guardian in London, comes this:
Iran's tortured Green movement is down but not out. We can still help

Timothy Garton Ash

One harrowing year since the stolen election, the people of Iran need the world's attention to go beyond the nuclear issue

Do not forget Iran. Remember Neda. If there are green-clad protests in Tehran this weekend, to mark the first anniversary of the election that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole, they will doubtless again be crushed with casual brutality by the thugs of the basij militia, secret police and Revolutionary Guard. Imprisonment, torture, male rape and execution are the offerings these henchmen of the Islamic Republic bring to honour Allah, the compassionate, the merciful.

Faced with such violent repression, the Green movement is a long way down – but not out. Iran will never again be the country it was before the election of 12 June 2009. In the great demonstration three days later, one of the largest in recorded history, everything was changed, changed utterly. In the subsequent repression, a terrible beauty was born. The historical process may take years, but one day, as the economy worsens and discontent spreads to more sections of society, the movement will be back in force, though perhaps in a different form. Eventually, in Iran there will be statues of Neda Agha-Sultan, the young woman shot in one of the early mass demonstrations, and memorials to the martyrs of this struggle for freedom, as there are now memorials to the martyrs of the Iran-Iraq war. (much more here)

As always, it is up to every one of us to look behind the government leaders' public posturing before the world media.

Do not forget the people of Iran.

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