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Khatami: Is He Back?

By Mehdi Amini


Back in 2001, when Khatami was in his second term as the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, I wrote a piece in, titled "Slowly but surely", on why I voted for him.  As expected it was criticized by some and approved by others.  In that article, I posed a question that asked "Are we better off now compared to four years ago or not? "


The next presidential election is to take place June of 2009 and there is rumor in the Iranian political scene that Khatami may try a comeback. Before I ask my question I want to put everyone at ease. I WILL VOTE FOR HIM AGAIN SHOULD HE DECIDE TO RUN!  Not that it matters to me if he wins or not, since I am sitting in conformity outside Iran, but rather for those living in Iran who have to deal with Ahmadinejad day in and day out!


So I will pose the same question again seven years later in a different form. "Are those living in Iran better off now compared to four years ago or not? "  To answer this question you do not have to be a rocket scientist but you do have to be fair minded.


To be fair, just do a little comparison of today and when Khatami's time in office. Today when a newspaper closes down, no new one pops up after it.  In today's Iran any critical views even by those close to Ahmadinejad are dealt with harshest manner!  In today's Iran women are sent to jail for wanting equal rights.  In today's Iran no more criticizing the President. Let alone Veliate Faghih.  In today's Iran, many people who visit Iran, they meet the intelligence apparatus before they could meet their family. 


By no means does it mean that Khatami's era was ideal to what I envision for Iran.  My ideal situation is when we have a secular republic vs. an Islamic Republic; where every man, women and child, irrespective of their thinking, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation are treated equal.  Where ones human rights are respected no matter who you are!  Where critics of the state are not forced to escape Iran into the arms of the Iranian Government counterparts in the United States! Where trade unionists are not imprisoned for what they joined together!  Where death penalty is not an acceptable punishment! 


Where people wanting to participate in the elections do not have to go through a vetting process!  Where ......!


The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the most repressive regimes in the world but it is the Iranian people who must deal with it.  And one thing that I hope my critics will agree with me is that it must go!  But the question is how and in what manner.


Another point that I think my critics may agree with me is that no one else can dictate to us what kind of a government we want and no one else can bring democracy for us.  Again I hope that's the same sentiment my critics have.


What may differentiate me with my critics is on how the IR must go?  As I stated before and repeat now, I do not believe in revolution but a "Refolution."


Iran has a very dynamic and sophisticated society that even the smartest political scientist cannot say what will happen in a few years...the Iranian People have learned through the years how to oppose this government and how to deal with it.  But I am very confident that eventually they will take things into their own hands and hopefully for better and hopefully peacefully!   As I stated before, I rather see a change that is gradual but deeply rooted.  It may never happen in my life time but so be it!


Irrespective of what I wish or want, which does not make an impact on what happens inside Iran,  next question is what do we do outside Iran?


The fact of the matter is that Bush's Presidency is about to come to an end and one thing we are not certain is, will he launch an attack on Iran before he leaves office.  Or will Israel attack Iran or not?  No matter what your ideas are about the future of Iran, whether a monarchist dreaming that Reza Pahlavi takes over his dad reign or a secularist republican as I am, you do not wish to see a nation destroyed. Because that's exactly what will happen to Iran if they decide to bomb it!   It may very well be the end of Iran as we know it! 


So at this critical juncture, what can unite the Iranians abroad is its opposition to a possible attack on Iran.  This does not mean that you put aside your opposition to the Islamic Republic of Iran or even side with them, but rather you are siding with the Iranian People who will be the main victims of such an event.


Opposing the war does not mean that you cannot criticize the Islamic Republics policies toward its citizens. We must pressure Iran on its human rights policies.


The condition in the Middle East is fragile enough. Having another war in the region not only will impact Iran, but the region and the world.

... Payvand News - 08/08/08 ... --

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