Home > Iran, Islam, terrorism, United States > What happens in Iran stays in Iran

What happens in Iran stays in Iran

We live in a complicated world, awash in a sea of information where topics swell and shrink according to immediate relevance like words in the computing cloud. Right now the two subjects du jour that top every list are a) everything JFK and b) the Iran nuclear talks. This may be as good a place as any to bring the two together.

Although the talks in Geneva, two weeks ago, regarding Iran’s nuclear program became a non-event ending on a stutter, bringing about another Netanyahu conniption, a sudden show of resolve from France’s pitiful government and an exchange of forced smiles between Kerry and the Iranian delegation, that door remains ajar. nooses 112113

The possibility of a deal when these talks resume rests on the fact that Iran has a new president, one that at least on the surface seems more palatable than his miserable predecessor. Also, Iran, on its knees economically, is ready to talk. The country’s oil exports have been slashed in half and remaining clients aren’t allowed to pay in cash but in manufactured goods, which in turn shuts down the industries that used to produce the same goods inside Iran. Given that present sanctions don’t allow financial transactions, the country’s banking institutions are in a coma. Inflation stands at 45 percent. I don’t know if Iran pursues or has pursued in earnest an actual nuclear weapon but at this point the Islamic Republic’s position is not tenable; either it gives in or it collapses.

Stateside, various players remain vague as to wishes and actions. A new round of sanctions discussed in the U.S. Senate has been put on hold until further talks, as a gesture of good will toward Iran. What we’re saying, basically, is that we don’t want to hear about Shiite fundamentalism, or the shameful and full-fledged Iranian support of Bashar Assad’s murderous regime, of the worse elements of Shiite insurgency in Iraq, of Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, about Iran’s general backing of terrorism, chaos and mayhem, its hyperactive killing machine and its spreading Islam as umma or global community, as long as inspectors can visit nuclear sites and make sure that the grade of uranium enrichment does not allow fabricating the bomb. Our one and only requirement of Iran in order to ease sanctions is to extract a promise, for what it’s worth, that it will not arm itself.

From what I hear, discussions behind closed doors involving directly the U.S. and Iran rather than the 5 + 1 countries supposed to be round the table (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) touched on the question of human rights. Since its inception, the Islamic Republic has killed about 17,000 people, according to concerned organizations. The actual figure may be much higher. Rouhani, the “moderate” new President, has named an equally “moderate” Cabinet, with the glaring exception to the ministry of justice of one Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, a sinister individual who, in various security and prosecution positions over the years has been personally responsible for thousands of executions. This nomination did not happen by chance. It sends the message that while Iran will abide (or pretend to abide) by international mores regarding its nuclear program, it will allow no interference with its internal operations. People will continue to be strung up, in twos and threes and more, the nearest construction crane. As a matter of fact, the pace of executions has picked up since Rouhani’s election, 88 in the very first weeks. (In the preceding year and a half, some 750 people were executed.) By comparison, during the Shah’s 37-year reign, about 350 people total were executed, including criminals such as drug dealers—this figure given by Paul Balta, journalist at the leftist Le Monde newspaper, no friend of the Shah’s. That is of course 350 too many for an opponent of capital punishment such as myself but the figure pales beside the crimes of the Islamic Republic.

Which brings us to JFK. Our 35th President who knew of the vocal groups of Iranian opponents in the States at the time and personally disliked the Shah wanted him to be more mindful of human rights. As a result, the Shah named my father, General Hassan Pakravan, known for his great humanity, as head of security or Savak. During his four-year tenure (1961-1965) in that position, the regime considerably softened its stand against dissenters, my father forbidding ill treatment of political prisoners and preventing executions from being carried out. His kindness extended to Khomeiny whom he saved from the Shah’s wrath and who returned the favor by having my father executed less than two months after his own triumphant return to Iran in 1979.

I have no idea about President Obama’s stance on human rights. Obviously, we no longer live in Kennedy times. Today, we act strictly on our best interests, no room for higher principles there. Even the fumbling and benighted Bush Administration thought it was waging war for democratic values. Never mind that the laughably naïve Bush was being played by the awful neo-cons and Dick Cheney who pursued, rather than ideals, the practical goal of enriching his buddies at Halliburton with its hugely profitable contracts for the military. What we have today is an Administration with enough problems of its own to bother about executions in Iran. Also, always politically correct, we will not talk about the Islamist threat to the world. Communism was horrendous but it was an atheist ideology and we applauded its fall. This is faith-based, therefore inherently respectable. The message to Rouhani is that he can restore Iran’s economy and maybe establish some kind of working relation with the U.S. and the rest of the world if he agrees to a nuclear deal. As for the price tag attached, closing the eyes to the plague spreading from the Islamic Republic to the world as well as to the human rights abuses inside the country is simpler than the alternative.

  1. Nancy Richard
    November 21, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    well written, no easy task in your position Saideh. Greetings from Kansas-fbber Nancy


  2. November 21, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    Must have been a very tough write. I always learn so much from you. Best wishes to you and yours from Laura in NYC.


  3. Jonathan Agronsky
    November 22, 2013 at 2:33 am

    You nail the murderous mullahs to the cross, fact by frightening fact. But the less dramatic outrage you describe–the shameful passivity of President Obama and other Western leaders in the face of their evil deeds–is almost more discouraging. I salute your courage for, as always, bluntly and eloquently telling it like it is.


  4. Melinda Barnhardt
    November 22, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    The U.S. has been sleeping with regard to the regime’s domestic and global behavior. Thank you for laying things out, fact after penetrating fact. As always, your counter argument is drastically needed.


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