Iran News ...


2/13/03

Iran's political soccer game: What's the score now?

By Ali Moayedian

A Persian proverb says: "That which is visible needs no telling." But the Iranian pollsters who conducted the poll on U.S.-Iran relations are either not aware of this proverb, or they have failed to understand it! So they came out and announced proudly to the world that their poll shows 70% of Iranians are for establishment of relations between Iran and United States! And this of course made the ruling clerics very angry and upset, and rightfully so too. These dear clerics, who have been hard at work trying to increase productivity and prevent waste, were suddenly faced with a very wasteful effort which if not countered harshly would have set a very bad example for others to follow. Considering that the pollsters had interviewed about 1000 people for about 30 minutes each, a total of 1000 man hours was spent on conducting the poll and perhaps another 1000 hours by the polling staff on preparation and report generation. And even worse, assuming 6 million people have spent 10 minutes each to read the report, a huge sum of 1 million man hours has been wasted on reading about the obvious! So it was only for the good of the country that the pollsters had to be taken off the streets and be put behind bars. This will hopefully protect the society from similar wasteful efforts that could slow down our rapid pace of modernization. And it will give these ignorant pollsters opportunity to reflect on their wasteful actions and to familiarize themselves with the true meanings of the Persian proverbs. One proverb that they are advised to pay very close attention to is the one that says: "The tongue talks at the head's cost!"

...

I actually had a chance to listen to Hossein Ghazian, one of the pollsters now in jail, at Stanford university in May 2000. He was one of the participants in a conference (IRAN in the NEW MILLENNIUM: Opportunities and Challenges) organized by American-Iranian Council. Here is what I wrote about him at the time:

[The last speaker was Hossein Ghazian, Journalist & Researcher of Ayandeh Group in Tehran. He was the one-man-panel of "Views from Tehran." I had heard the name of Ayandeh before. They are very well respected in Iran. This was a chance to hear them first hand. He presented his speech in Persian, and Dr. Afrasiabi of UC Berkeley had the tough task of translating it into English. This made it a little bit difficult to concentrate. But here is what I got from his speech. Ghazian first talked about the recent developments and mass closing of the newspapers, and he said this is not a cause for disappointment. As he put it, the other side just scored a goal, but they did that after taking few goals and that the game is not finished! Then he went into the foundations of the reform and democracy movement. He said several factors have resulted in weakening of the regime (hokoomat) in the last decade and in the shifting of the power to the people. Previously oil was the main source of income, and the regime had more power by virtue of it's control of oil and economy. With the decline of Iran's oil revenue and with the reliance of the people on other sources of income, the power of the regime has also shifted to the people. Among other factors, he mentioned the active participation of women in the society, and the shift of the population to a younger generation. I wish I had taken notes of this speech. Hopefully we will have access to the full text later. The point that Ghazian tried to get across was the shift of power to the people has a strong underlying foundation (and it's not due to some superficial things) and the reform and democracy movement will continue.]

I still remember how disappointed I and others were at the mass closing of newspapers at the time. And here was Ghazian, a man coming from the center of the storm, calmly comparing the political situation in Iran to a soccer game which was still in progress. His tone was that of a patient man and revealed the fact that he and others like him are in this for the long term and are prepared to take or to score many goals along the way. And since then other events have happened and many more goals have been scored by both sides. And now finally it has come to Ghazian himself to be shot into the net!

Ghazian and others involved in the poll are accused of spreading lies and giving information to foreigners. But if the judge was looking for the truth, all he had to do was ask the people in the court the same questions the accused pollsters had asked from the public. Or he could have sent his own pollsters out in the streets to do their own independent poll. But the fact is the court is not after the truth. The real problem is the U.S.-Iran relations has been taken hostage by certain groups in Iran to the point that now even talking about this subject has become a taboo! And those who dare to break the taboo are put in jail and labeled with this and that.

But let's go back to that proverb again: "That which is visible needs no telling." The majority of Iranians, both at home and abroad, want better relations between Iran and the United States. This is a known fact. What is more interesting is the fact that the main groups opposed to U.S.-Iran relations are the hardline ruling clerics, Iraq-based Mojahedin Khalq (MKO) and the Monarchists headed by U.S.-based Reza Pahlavi! These groups, supposedly sworn enemies, seem to have the following in common:

1) They are un-elected.

2) They claim leadership or guardianship of the Iranian people (MKO even has their own version of Iranian president!).

3) They can decide what's best for Iran and Iranians (that is anyone in their circle!)

So why oppose relations with U.S.? Could it be that all these groups see their demise (politically, economically or both) in establishments of this relationship?

What is evident is lack of relations with U.S. and the existence of sanctions have done great damage to Iran and Iranians. While Iran has survived the sanctions and will continue to do so, she has been deprived from prospering. Absence of American companies in Iran has meant lack of certain products (airplanes), paying higher prices for others, settling for lower quality, and missing out on big opportunities (oil pipeline). This has also barred the many successful Iranians living in U.S. from engaging with their motherland. For example, the pool of talent in Iran, coupled with the expertise and financial resources of Iranians involved in high technology area in U.S., could have given birth to Iran's version of Silicon Valley. But all those dreams have long been taken hostage too!

And now it's the turn of the pollsters to be taken hostage! They dared to say out loud what the Iranian nation has known for a long time. They expressed the banned wishes of the Iranian nation. But while I'm disappointed to see Hossein Ghazian in the net, I cannot forget his words: "The game is not over yet!"

... Payvand News - 2/13/03 ... --



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