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Hossein Khomeini, a "high-profile" Iranian or a "prankster" with a deadly agenda?

10/29/03 By Ali Moayedian

The neo-cons, who are reportedly on the hot seat due to the Iraq situation, have finally something to celebrate about. They are showcasing their "big catch" in various circles in the U.S. trying to pomp up their deflated wheels of regime change! And the big catch is not Saddam or Bin Ladin. It's rather the grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini who has suddenly appeared out of the blues to advocate regime change in Iran by way of American invasion! Now that Afghanistan and Iraq have been "liberated," it must naturally be Iran's turn to enjoy the fruits of "liberation!"

Hossein Khomeini recently departed Iran and arrived in Iraq to announce his support for the American invasion/"liberation" of Iraq. And naturally he immediately became the center of attention, specially among the neo-cons! On the surface, Hossein Khomeini's demands of separation of religion and government and establishment of freedom and democracy in Iran sit well with most Iranians. But when he starts advocating invasion of Iran by American troops to reach his goals, most Iranians part with him. And this actually raises serious questions about Mr. Khomeini's intentions and motives.

The first time Hossein Khomeini made news was in the early years of revolution. He was reported to have fallen out of favor with his grandfather Ayatollah Khomeini because of his sympathies for Mojahedin Khalgh Organization (MKO). He hasn't been heard from ever since! In fact it's surprising that in the last ten years when many others, including clerics, have been openly expressing their opposition to the Islamic Republic's policies, Hossein Khomeini has been so silent! What has been the reason for this silence? And now what is the reason behind his sudden appearance in politics again, and of all the places in Iraq? Was he perhaps "awakened" from his hibernation by the sound of bombs falling on Iraqi cities? And did he suddenly realize that the saviors of the Iranian nation are just a short walk next door and need to be invited in? Or is it perhaps the old sympathies that have come knocking on Hossein Khomeini's door?

There are comical tragedies shaping all around us! MKO, an organization erected to fight "American Imperialism," is now surrounded by American troops in Iraq and their very existence is in the hands of Americans. They are literally begging the Americans for their survival! Mr. Hossein Khomeini, whose grandfather Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in a revolution that drove the Americans out of Iran, is now advocating invasion of Iran, by the very same Americans! And the neo-cons, the staunchly anti-Islam crowd, have suddenly found their strongest ally in no other than the grandson of the very same Khomeini who was supposedly the root cause of the problems in the region! One has to wonder what's next?

So what really has prompted Hossein Khomeini's trip to Iraq and now to US? And why has Iran kept silent about him? One day in early 1990, Hashemi Rafsanjani, then president of Iran, called the White House and asked to talk to President George Bush. White House got all excited about the call and setup the caller to talk to the President for half an hour, only to find out later that the caller was a prankster, an "ingenious" Iranian trying to have a little fun at the White House's expense! (Talking to Iran: Phone's Ringing. Wonder Who's on the Line?) This was a big embarrassment for the White House staff and they declared that from then on they would only talk to Iranians through official channels. But this also revealed something very important too, and that was the eagerness of the Americans to talk to the Iranian officials. Could we possibly have a similar story here? The neo-cons are so eager to showcase a high-profile Iranian going with their agenda of regime change that they may have fallen for the first prank caller who has arrived from Iran to declare that he is representing the Iranian people and that they want change, the neo-con's way! Now if I were in place of the Iranian government, I would wait for the neo-cons to fall all the way before revealing that Hossein Khomeini is just a "prankster". As there is no record of Hossein Khomeini having been active in Iranian politics and dissident movement, the only thing "high-profile" about him seems to be his last name!

But unlike the Rafsanjani prankster who was having a little fun, Hossein Khomeini has an agenda, a deadly one for that matter! One has to ponder who would be the beneficiary of a US invasion of Iran? Even Shah's son Reza Pahlavi, who seems to have aspirations for reviving the monarchy in Iran, is very careful to not step over the line when asking for US support. So far Mr. Pahlavi has refused to call for US military intervention in Iran. Unlike Hossein Khomeini, Mr. Pahlavi is a well-known personality and enjoys a good amount of support from Iranians and at the same time he has very close connections to the Americans and specially the neo-cons camp. Either Reza Pahlavi truly believes that democracy and change should shape from within Iran, or he thinks advocating US invasion of Iran is politically too costly as most Iranians are very sensitive to this issue. In the case of Hossein Khomeini, however, the situation is very different. He doesn't enjoy any name-recognition and/or support among Iranians, and because of that he doesn't have anything to lose. In fact he has everything to gain! He has climbed from a "nobody" in Iran's politics to a "high-profile" Iranian who is being shuttled by the neo-cons from one center to the next to speak on behalf of the Iranian nation! And he is being interviewed left and right by the press and his profile is being pumped up with every passing day!

Now if a US invasion of Iran was to take place, as is Hossein Khomeini's wishes, the biggest beneficiary wouldn't be the Iranian nation. One only has to look at Afghanistan and Iraq to see the fruits of "liberation." Even if we were to agree with those who see liberation coming out of this death and destruction, we also have to agree that if alternatives for peaceful transformation are available, they should be adopted and pursued first and foremost. Unless of course there is a hidden agenda that can only be served with the violent alternative of US invasion of Iran. Considering Hossein Khomeini's past loyalties to MKO, and considering that MKO's survival is hanging by a thread, what would a US invasion of Iran bring? Will it bring an alliance between MKO and US? It may or may not, but it will certainly be beneficial to MKO and relieve the current pressure on them and perhaps even grant them another life!

Regardless, the timing of Hossein Khomeini's arrival couldn't have been worse! As the US is stuck in the quagmire of Afghanistan and Iraq, all further regime changes and "liberations" have been put on hold! Before the Iraq invasion, the neo-cons were highly pumped up and the word out of their circles was "who is next?" with Iran and Syria mentioned as the most likely candidates. However, as expectations for a quick victory in Iraq have faded, and as the casualties have mounted, Bush's trust in neo-cons has turned to doubts (and maybe even anger) instead. The honeymoon is over, and the questions are surfacing as to who is responsible for the dirty dishes, etc! The neo-cons will use Hossein Khomeini to the fullest extent to validate their theories of regime change and to "prove" that the people (that is "Hossein Khomeini") are eagerly asking for it! But that's as far as they can go with it. If Iraq proved tough for US to conquer, and we are talking about a country that had been devastated through the first Persian Gulf war followed by years of sanctions and bombardment, how is Iran going to turn out? This is one conflict US military and a wizened President Bush would not want to get involved in!

Colin Powell is finally moving to the forefront, and there are positive signs emerging that US is moderating its unilateralist stance. There are even signs of possible Iran-US talks and rapprochement, as Iran is actually able and willing to play a very constructive role in Iraq, something that US urgently needs! This perhaps gives the neo-cons even more reasons to loudly sing the tunes of war and regime change. And to that tune Hossein Khomeini is dancing! Who is being had? The neo-cons? Certainly not the Iranian people!

And finally, the Nobel Peace prize was just awarded to Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian woman activist. That's more bad news for Hossein Khomeini and the neo-cons! In awarding the prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said: "It is fundamental to her (Shirin Ebadi's) view that the supreme political power in a community must be built on democratic elections. She favors enlightenment and dialogue as the best path to changing attitudes and resolving conflict." And in her first press conference Shirin Ebadi stated: "The fight for human rights is conducted in Iran by the Iranian people and we are against any foreign intervention in Iran."

The fact is there is a peaceful path for change available in Iran. This is recognized by both the Iranians and outsiders. Awarding the Nobel prize to Ms. Ebadi reinforces this recognition and validates it. This is the path that most Iranian activists, including Shirin Ebadi, have chosen. These activists are planting the roots of democracy and human rights in Iran, and they believe that their years of hard work and sufferings will finally bear fruit. And yet there are others, like Hossein Khomeini, who look to outsiders for quick fixes. And even if were to believe that these people are sincere and don't have any hidden agendas, we have to ask them why are they attempting to reach the sought destination in one night? And how can they truly defy the "no pain no gain" rule?!

About the author:
Ali Moayedian is an Iranian-American residing in San Francisco Bay Area.

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