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TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

Articles on Iran after 2005
Ahmadinejad and how the Islamic world became what it is today
What side is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on?
The birth of the China-Iran axis?
Long-live America
Why a deal with Iran is not good news
How the USA funds the dictatorships of Iran and China
Iran's need for nuclear weapons
Iran's not-so-secret terrorist plans
Why the USA should apologize to Iran
Death to Khameini
The USA kills 302 Iranian citizens
Iran's nuclear program
What has Iran done to America?
Iran's pro-democracy revolution
Iran's second revolution

    (December 2005) Ahmadinejad and how the Islamic world became what it is today. Iran's new president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad does not seem to miss an opportunity to provide Israel for an excuse to launch a preemptive strike (see
    What side is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on?).
    He has now started a campaign to expel the Jews from Israel. He claims that the Jews of Israel should be moved to Europe, because Israel was founded out of the Europeans' sense of guilt for the holocaust and Jewish persecutions in general. If it was a European mistake, why ask the Arabs to pay the price, he is asking.
    Needless to say, he does not mention that about half of Israel's population is made of Jews who were de facto expelled from Islamic countries (where should we send those Jews?), but that's a detail.
    The key point is the usual double standard of Islam: the Arabs occupy a large area that extends way beyond Arabia (from Morocco to Syria) and that was not the original land of their ancestors, but, according to Iran's president, Jews are not entitled to occupy a small area (that, by the way, was the original location of their ancestors).
    One may agree with Ahmadinejad that we should return the land to the descendants of the original owners to rectify the injustice of history,, but one then wonders why should the Arabs be entitled to keep Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.
    If the Jews are to be sent back to Europe, shouldn't the Arabs be sent back to Arabia? And, first and foremost, shouldn't Iran, the land of Zoroaster, be liberated from Islam and returned to its original culture?
    (Needless to say, most people today have long forgotten what was taken and what was given by their ancestors. Italians do not blow up French because Corsica is part of France, and Mexicans do not blow up USA citizens because California used to be Mexican. But clearly some Islamic leaders are still living in an ancient stone-age world).
    Ahmadinejad's logic is pathetic, but what is more pathetic is that hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide find his double standard perfectly reasonable: let's move the non-Muslims out of the land conquered by the Muslims, and leave the Muslims in all the lands that they conquered from non-Muslims.
    Personally, I think that Ahmadinejad's plan is inevitable. Money talks, and, thanks to the oil economy, money favors the Islamic world. Therefore it is just a matter of time before Israel is reconquered by Islam, and the Jews are expelled once more. What Ahmadinejad and the Arabs fail to understand, though, is that this will be yet another missed opportunity by the Islamic world: there are far more scientists and engineers among Jews than among Muslims, and some Jews are responsible for some of the greatest discoveries of the last century (from Relativity to the nuclear bomb). The European countries that Ahmadinejad thinks will be punished by having to relocate the Jews are actually the countries that will benefit from an injection of Jewish science and technology. Ahmadinejad, like all dumb Islamic fanatics, thinks in terms of land and population. The rest of the world thinks in terms of competitive advantage. Ahmadinejad's idea is not only amoral: it is also a prescription for five more centuries of Islamic decadence. The European countries will benefit greatly from Ahmadinejad's plan, while the Arabs of Palestine will return to the stone age.
    Compare the attitude of the western countries with the attitude of the Islamic countries: western countries do everything they can to attract the best brains in the world, while Islamic countries do everything they can to send away the best brains in the world. (Then, of course, Islamic countries blame their backwardness on western countries).
    If you wonder how in heaven did the Islamic world fall behind so badly over the last four/five centuries, all you have to do is read Ahmadinejad's speeches.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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    (November 2005) What side is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on? By calling for the destruction of Israel, the newly-elected president of Iran, Ahmadinejad, has just offered Israel an excuse for a preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. Now it is hard to see what will keep Israel for doing what it had long wanted to do but it had not done for fear of international repercussions. Now Israel's action would be totally justified: the president of Iran, by calling for the destruction of Israel, has de facto declared war on Israel. Thus Israel is entitled to strike.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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    (June 2005) The birth of the China-Iran axis? Since no international independent organization was allowed to monitor the Iranian elections, we may never know for sure if the conservative, anti-USA, cleric Mahmoud Ahmadinejad truly won the majority of votes in Iran's presidential elections. But most likely he did.
    True: the candidates were carefully chosen by the ruling ayatollahs, so that no real alternative to the existing regime would be allowed. But it is likely that the Iranian voters (the few who cared to vote) truly chose this conservative cleric in the hope that he would at least deliver some economic (if not political) reforms. The fact that a conservative won is not any more undemocratic than the fact that a conservative, George W Bush, is president of the USA. What is alarming is the message that the Iranians are sending to the USA. They must have been aware that they were voting for someone who strongly opposes the USA. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was widely considered the favorite to win, promised to make peace with the USA: he lost. In that sense, this semi-democratic election may have been the biggest setback to the progress of democracy in the region, and all the more alarming since Iran borders on Iraq and can have an obvious influence on the future of the weak Iraqi democracy.
    Did the Iranian people truly vote against the USA-style democracy that they see growing across the border?
    If the people truly supported the hardline conservative, then western observers will need to completely rethink the political geography of that area. It was widely believed that Iranians were the most westernized of all people in the Middle East, the most eager to embrace the values of the West.
    One wonders how much the "nuclear" issue mattered to voters. Did they vote for a hardliner to teach the west a lesson about forbidding Iran to become a nuclear power?
    Perhaps Khameini's vision for Iran, a China-like state-controlled capitalist economy defended by a nuclear arsenal, is not to so hated by the Iranian voters.
    Iran's alliance with mainland China (its closest trading partner in strategic weapons and other key technologies) must now be taken seriously. Iran's leaders appear determined to confront the USA, not bend to their will, a tactic that will strengthen and will be strengthened by their alliance with mainland China. One can see a veritable China-Iran axis being formed in response to the USA's expansion in the Middle East. Iran looked surrounded by USA allies, but the alliance with mainland China makes Afghanistan (not Iran) the isolated country (neither Pakistan nor the former Soviet republics are really friends of Karzai).
    Beijing (mainland China) could now use Iran the same way that the USA uses Taiwan: as a natural air carrier in the middle of the enemy's sphere of influence. And the Iranian regime would receive from Beijing the same kind of protection that the Taiwanese democracy receives from the USA. It is not a coincidence that Iran decided to defy the West on the issue of nuclear energy: the only tool in the hands of the West is United Nations sanctions, but Beijing can veto any such initiative.
    Is it a coincidence that few countries (even in the Islamic world) warmly congratulated Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the way Beijing did?
    However, Ahmadinejad's victory could simply mean that the poor of Iran (the vast majority of the population) voted for "change" not in the ideological sense of the word but in the economic sense of the world. They may have viewed Rafsanjani as the defender of the rich, and Ahmadinejad as the defender of the poor. The masses (especially outside of Tehran) may have simply ignored the ideological factor. Poor people don't really care if you are a fascist or a communist, if you do business with the USA or Beijing: they want food and jobs. The reformists had mostly helped the rich get richer, and done little to alleviate the desperate conditions of the poor. Ahmadinejad was the only major candidate who ran on a populist platform of redistribution of the country's wealth. In a sense he is right-wing as far as religion goes, but left-wing as far as economics goes, an odd mixture of Franco (the old Spanish dictator) and Chavez (the populist president of Venezuela). Even so, the result has been to strengthen the hand of Khameini, and, indirectly, the influence of Beijing on the Middle East.
    Ahmadinejad's election is also the first piece of good news for the ever more isolated government of Syria. Iran is the only friend that Syria still has in the world. The more anti-USA the Iranian regime is, the bolder Syria might be in defying the USA.
    Economically, Europe stands to lose more than the USA. USA's sanctions against Iran mean that the USA economy depends very little on trade with Iran. But Europe has been a major trading partner, and now may suffer from the election of a president like Ahmadinejad who promised to favor Iranian companies over foreign companies. The Ahmadinejad government is certainly unlikely to help push the price of oil down (the price of oil being one of the causes for the European stagnation).
    For once, Iran's supreme leader, ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told the truth when he described Ahmadinejad's victory as a "profound humiliation" for the USA. Indeed it is, given the effort the USA has put into westernizing the region.
    (There is a third member to the axis: Venezuela, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter. Iran and Venezuela have very similar views within OPEC. Since he became president, and especially after the failed referendum against him, Chavez (Venezuela's president) has a strategy of trying to isolate the USA. Currently almost all Venezuelan oil is exported to the USA, but the Financial Times recently wrote: "A team of traders from Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the state-owned oil company, is to be trained in London by Iranian advisers in how to best place oil in Asian markets.")
    Suggested reading: Kenneth Pollack's "The Persian Puzzle" (2004).
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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    (February 2005)
    Long-live America. After the Iraqi elections, Iran's former president and front-runner for the forthcoming Iranian elections, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, granted a rare interview to a USA magazine, USA Today. That per se would have been a major event. But it was eclipsed by what Rafsanjani had to say: instead of the usual anti-American propaganda, he used a conciliatory to, basically, highlight that now the USA and Iran have interests in common. If he wins the elections and becomes again president of Iran, Rafsanjani is basically asking the USA for a chance to improve relations. He is also known as a businessman, a man who never approved of the ayatollah's anti-capitalistic programs. If the ayatollahs let him become president, they will indirectly signal that, no matter what the Quran says, maybe it is time to bring back some business to Iran. In fact, the ayatollahs have already signaled this desire in the past, increasing commercial relationships with Beijing (mainland China), Russia and the European Union. But now they may be faced with the usual reality: everybody else is a dwarf compared with the USA.
    At the same time, the events that followed September 11 have dramatically altered the scenario of the Middle East. To start with, Iran's number two and number three enemies are both gone: the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. Ironically, it was the USA (Iran's number one enemy) that removed them from power. Ironically, the USA-supported democratic governments of Afghanistan and Iraq are both likely to create a much more friendlier political and economic environment with Iran than their predecessors. Suddenly, Iran sees itself in a much better position thanks precisely because to the USA.
    The elections in Iraq have even returned Iraq to the Shiites, an event of historical significance (Mesopotamia had been shiites for centuries before the British created Iraq and gave it to a Sunni king). From the point of view of the ayatollahs, it is also highly significant that an ayatollah, Sistani, is now wielding power in Iraq, and that the new government will be a lot more "moral" than Saddam's.
    Qaddafi has changed side, allying himself with the USA and Britain. Qaddafi was Iran's best ally in the terrorist attacks of the 1980s (for example, the bomb on the Panam flight). He has now "repented", and abandoned his old friends in Tehran.
    The death of Arafat has opened the way to peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, and finally the USA seems to be committed to make it happen: two states living next to each other in peace. Iran's main reason to support terrorism would evaporate overnight. There is international pressure (not only American) for Syria to get out of Lebanon and abandon the Hezbollah guerrillas. They are the main Iranian-backed group in the world.
    These three events alone are enough to dramatically alter the ayatollah's perception of the USA: far from being the devil, the USA has made the Middle East a much friendlier place (at least for Iran). Why should Iran continue to have a hostile relationship towars the country that has made its life easier, and that also turns out to be the world's superpower?
    Thus it makes sense that Rafsanjani wants to seize the opportunity. If the Palestinians can make peace with Israel, why can't Iran make peace with the USA?
    Removing Saddam Hussein may yield an even better divident than the USA had originally anticipated.
    The ayatollahs became famous for the "Death to America" slogan: is it time to change it to "Long-live America"?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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    (November 2004)
    Why a deal with Iran is not good news. The European Union, acting on behalf of the USA (and with the implicit help of the threat of USA and/or Israeli military intervention), has worked out a deal with Iran which basically helps the Iranian regime in return for a promise to stop its nuclear program.
    This is the good old approach "you don't threaten me, I let you oppress your own people" that has failed over and over again. It failed with Hitler, it failed with Stalin, it failed with North Korea, it failed with the Taliban and it failed with Saddam Hussein. But we are ready to do it again, on exactly the same terms.
    We keep missing the fundamental issue. In a democracy, there are opposition parties and independent media that can denounce the regime if it fails to comply with the treaties it signed. We had American newspapers unveil scandals involving Nixon, Reagan and Clinton. We had former Bush collaborators publish books that criticize Bush. We have a constant barrage of anti-Bush criticism from the Democratic Party. But we don't have, and will not have, any criticism of the regime in totalitarian regimes such as Iran. Who in Iran is going to complain publicly if the ayatollahs violate this treaty?
    Both on moral and on political grounds, there should never be compromises with totalitarian regimes. It is wrong to abandon the Iranian people to the oppression of their regime. It is naive and dangerous to trust that the Iranian regime will comply with the treaties it signs.
    We had to fight wars such as WW2 and the Gulf Wars precisely because the West tried to appease totalitarian regimes that simply used the West's appeasament policies to get more and more dangerous.
    Any deal with a dictator is a bad deal. Period.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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    (October 2004)
    How the USA funds the dictatorships of Iran and China. As the voracious western and eastern economies send the price of oil to historic highs, the USA finds itself unable to stop a vicious loop.
    As oil prices increase, oil producers cash in. In particular, Iran is getting a lot of hard currency, a fact which has largely sterilized the pro-democracy movement (people with a fat belly don't want to risk their lives). And the ayatollahs have enough spare change to purchase arms from the international arms dealer and to fund a nuclear program with help from Beijing, one of the main purchasers of Iranian oil.
    Basically, the bidirectional loop works like this: the USA buys cheap goods from Beijing, which receives dollars and jobs from the USA; Beijing buys oil from Iran, which receives dollars and technology from Beijing; Iran buys weapons and pays dollars to the international arm dealers; Beijing is also left with some dollars, that it uses to purchase USA bonds and stocks; the international arm dealers are left with a lot of dollars, that they can use to support lobbies in Washington.
    Beijing is rapidly becoming the second economic power in the world. Its high-tech products can't sell in the USA, but are appealing to countries such as Iran. Beijing sells junk to the USA but strategic know-how to Iran.
    And Beijing uses the dollars to purchase USA bonds and stocks, i.e. to gain an ominous power to influence USA policies.
    THe USA is paying for both: USA workers lose their jobs while foreigners buy a larger share of the USA reconomy,.
    The last link is the scariest: international arms dealers are getting rich enough to afford lobbies in Washington with the purpose of influencing USA policy in the world. Americans are not only losing control of the ir jobs and companies: they are also losing control of their government.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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    (August 2004)
    Iran's need for nuclear weapons The USA has almost completely surrounded Iran: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq have all been "Americanized" to some extent after September 11. (From a strategic point of view, Osama Bin Laden has caused more damaged to the two Islamic regimes of the area than anyone else: the Taliban regime is gone, and the regime of the Ayatollahs in Iran has never been so isolated). Turkey and Armenia are both strong USA ally. USA soldiers are also based just across the strait ub the Arab emirates. It is difficult to blame the ayatollahs for feeling insecure these days.
    It is also a little unfair to expect that Iran would not nurture nuclear ambitions, given that it is situated in one of the most nuclear-ized areas of the world (India, Pakistan, Israel and Russia are all nuclear powers).
    If history repeats itself, Iran will not abandon its nuclear program unless a) the regime collapses or b) the USA forces it to. There is virtually no country in history that abandoned a rearmament program out of good will or just because of sanctions. The world has three options: live with a nuclear Iran (neither Israel nor probably the Arab neighbors will accept this idea), foster regime change (which these days cannot happen without foreign intervention) or take military action (which basically means either Israel or the USA bombs Iran).
    This crisis comes at an odd time. Iran is relatively rich, thanks to the booming oil prices: for the first time in many years, the Iranian middle class is actually doing quite well (and living quite decadent lives, by the standards of their Islamic leaders). The USA has removed the two regimes that Iran truly hated: the Taliban (Iran was the only country to have opposed militarily the Taliban, way before September 11) and Saddam Hussein (who invaded Iran in the 1980s). In fact, Iran helped the USA in both cases, albeit in a very discrete manner. And now Iran, the leading shiite country in the world, enjoys excellent relations with the new leader of Afghanistan (Karzai) and sees a time when Iraq will be ruled by a fellow Shiite (Shiites are the majority of Iraq's population). It sounds like an ideal time for making peace with the USA, which has made all of this possible. Instead, the Iranian leaders have chosen to build a nuclear weapon: from their point of view, the positive changes in Afghanistan and Iraq were not due to the USA, but they are signs of the will of Allah.
    And peace with the infidels is not the will of Allah.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (June 2004) Iran's not-so-secret terrorist plans Hassan Abbasi is an Iranian official whose title translates as "theoretician of the Revolutionary Guards Center for Doctrinaire Affairs of National Security Outside the Borders of Iran" (not a joke). His office is in Teheran, the capital of Iran. In mid June he publicly announced that Iran "will map 29 sensitive sites in the USA and provide the information to any international terrorist organization". The same gentleman also announced "We have a strategy for the destruction of Anglosaxon civilization".
    (Robert Baer, a former CIA operative in the Middle East, reveals in his book "See No Evil" that in july 1996 Osama Bin Laden met an Iranian intelligence officer in Afghanistan "hammer out a strategic relationship").
    So it is not completely surprising that employees of the Iranian mission to the United Nations were caught by USA police videotaping pictures of the Statue of Liberty, of the Brooklyn bridge, of Manhattan skyscrapers, and of the subway. They claimed to be only tourists, but one wonders why they didn't videotape anything but possible terrorist targets (no museums, parks, Chinatowm, Little Italy, etc).
    To complete the picture, remember that Iran has officially announced its intention to invest one billion dollars (this is a country where millions are on the edge of starvation) to develop long-range missiles that can hit western Europe and possibly the USA itself.
    Now, is there really an idiot out there who believes that Iran, a country floating above billions of barrels of oil, wants to build nuclear reactors only to produce electrical energy?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (October 2003) Why the USA should apologize to Iran. The truth has been published at the site of the National Security Archive. Finally, a USA government has admitted what everybody has known for decades: in 1953 the CIA engineered a coup to remove Iran's democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh. De facto, Iran was never democratic again. The shah of Iran (a cruel dictator guilty of a long list of human-rights violations) was eventually overthrown (despite USA support) by the Islamic revolution that brought to power the ayatollas and that turned Iran into a fierce enemy of the USA.
    While the regime of Iran remains a dictatorship (widely hated by its own people), there is no question that the USA should apologize to the Iranian people. It is about time that the USA learns to say the word "sorry".
    Recommended reading: Stephen Kinzer's All the Shah's Men (2003)
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  • (May 2003) Death to Khameini is what the students are shouting as they march in the streets of Teheran. Student demonstrations on June 10, and they have been getting bigger and bigger. They are indirectly helped by the USA: American satellites are broadcasting over the Iranian territory images of the demonstrations that are suppressed by the official Iranian tv.
    The situation in Iran is clearly ripe for major change. The democratically elected government of president Khatami has cooperated with the USA in its fight against Al Qaeda (Iran was the only country that opposed the Taliban government). Recently, Khatami and the Bush government had begun talks to reestablish diplomatic relationships. Unfortunately, ayatollah Khameini holds the real power in Iran (police, army, secret services), and Khameini still advocates an Islamic dictatorship. People are fed up with Khameini.
    How does it feel to be the most hated person in the country, Mr Khameini?
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  • (February 2003) The USA kills 302 Iranian citizens An Iranian plane crashed killing 302 people. The reason it crashed is simple: the USA and Europe maintain sanctions against Iran that forces Iran to fly old Soviet planes. The USA and Europe even refuse to sell Iran spare parts for the Boeing and Airbus planes that it purchased legally before the sanctions were imposed. The net result is a chain of air crashes that have killed a lot of innocent people.
    The sanctions against Iran are based on something that Iran did a long time ago, which was based on something that the USA did an even longer time ago. The USA sponsored and funded the dictatorship of the Shah, who was widely hated by the Iranian people. Eventually, the Iranian people staged a revolution and removed the Shah. Needless to say, the Iranian people vented their anger at the USA for supporting the Shah for so many years. Instead of apologizing, the USA reciprocated the hostility. The two countries have been sworn enemies ever since.
    In reality, Iran has been one of the most responsible countries in the Middle East and recently has been a silent ally of the USA in more than one way. Iran was the only country to actively fight the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, way before the American public learned that such a regime existed. Had Americans sided with Iran against the Taliban, today the World Trade Center would still be standing. Iran was also the only country actively fighting drug trafficking, and still is one of the few countries that routinely seizes large amounts of drugs. Iran is really doing what the USA only preaches: drug traffickers are sent to jail or executed, and anyone caught using drugs will regret it forever. Most of the illegal activities occur along the border with Pakistan,a USA ally which has never done 1/10th of what Iran does to curb drug trafficking and terrorism. Iran helped the USA in the war against terrorism: in fact, Iran has arrested and handed over to the West some 500 Al Qaeda operatives that were hiding in Iran or were transiting through Iran. No other country has contributed so much to the war against Al Qaeda. Iran was invaded by Saddam Hussein (way before Americans learned of the existence of Saddam Hussein), an invasion that cost about one million lives. The Iranian people hate Saddam Hussein more than any other leader in the world. Iran would be the ideal ally and partner in the removal of Saddam Hussein.
    The USA has only itself to blame for the hostility of Iran, and it is not missing any opportunity to justify that hostility.
    302 people died in an air crash because of USA sanctions that don't make any sense any way you look at them.
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  • (March 2002) Iran's nuclear program dates back to the years of the shah, who purchased nuclear technology from the USA in 1973, reportedly to develop nuclear power plants for civilian use. India helped train Iranian scientists. In 1976 Iraq purchased the Osirak nuclear reactor from France, a fact that altered the balance of the Middle East. In 1979 the Iranian revolution ended with the proclamation of Ayatollah Khomeini as the supreme leader of Iran. Khomeini considered nuclear weapons as anti-Islamic and stopped all research. He was more interested in funding and arming Islamic fundamentalist movements wherever they operated (those movements had been so far largely marginalized by the Arab regimes). Furthermore, Khomeini, loathing the Soviet Union as much as America, pledged to keep Iran non-aligned. In 1979 the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, a non-aligned country, thereby alarming Khomeini that Iran could be next. In 1980 Iraq invaded Iran (the beginning of Iran's bloodiest war in century) and forced Khomeini to reconsider: Iran restarted its nuclear program. In september 1980 Iran bombed the Osirak facility to prevent Iraq from developing a nuclear bomb, but the facility continued to operate. In june 1981 the Israelis bombed the same facility, and completely destroyed it. In march 1984 Iraq signed a secret treaty with the Soviet Union for jointly developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. In 1988 the war ended (with no winner), but Iran had learned a lesson: it was completely isolated and likely to lose the next one. Khomeini died in 1989, but his successor Khameini had no hesitation: the Iranian nuclear program restarted. The Gulf war of 1991 reinforced Iran's determination to pursue the nuclear bomb for two reasons: 1. United Nations inspections revealed that Iraq had been much closer to achieving a nuclear bomb than anyone believed; 2. the war proved how devastating USA intervention could be (Iran had implicitly always assumed that the only threat to its sovereignity was a land invasion, either from the Soviet Union or from the USA, but the USA airforce destroyed the mighty Iraqi army in a few weeks before a single American soldier Iran allowed international inspectors, who found no evidence of a nuclear program underway. In january 1995 Iran signed a contract with Russia to build a nuclear reactor at Bushehr for civilian use. Iran claimed that it needed the nuclear energy for civilian use, but it is difficult to justify the need for nuclear energy in a country that has such an abundance of oil. Israel informed the international community that Iran had acquired or stolen weapons-grade nuclear material from Kazakstan, and that Iran was conducting undetected research at several different locations. (Iran probably spread out its nuclear research to avoid the fate of the Osirak reactor, and Israel probably went public because it could not solve the problem alone). In may 1997 a reformer, Khatami, became president after a landslide victory in the national elections.

    Rand report on "The Military and Iranian Society"
    Center for Nonproliferation report on Iran's nuclear facilities
    A report by the Federation of American Scientists
    An article from the Middle East Review of Intl Affairs
    July 2000 Unclassified Report to Congress
    See a timeline of the Middle East

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (February 2000) What has Iran done to America?. America still considers Iran a rogue state, but the facts are at least arguable. In 1978 the Iranian people revolted against a US-sponsored dictator and then humilated and expelled America from the territory. America wanted that on itself by protecting for such a long time a cruel man. Then Iran became a democracy, although a very limited democracy, in which the muslim priests control how much freedom can be distributed to the public. There are no doubts, though, that elections have always been free. So much so that the current president is a "reformer", elected by the majority of the people against the will of the priests.
    Iran was the first country to be attacked by Iraq (in 1980). While it was obvious that Iraq qas the aggressor and Iran the victim, America helped Iraq. Americans forgot this detail, but they (and their allies France and Britain) provided Saddam Hussein with arms and intelligence to fight Iran. Iraq used chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers. America never condemned that.
    While America has accused Iran of sponsoring terrorism, Arab terrorists seem to obey Syria not Iran. The men who blew up the Pan Am flight over Scotland were from Lybia, not Iran. On the other hand, a US warship blew up a civilian airliner full of Iranian pilgrims traveling to Saudi Arabia, and all passengers died: no American has ever been indicted for that crime. That is the only criminal act in the history between the two countries since the Iranian revolution, and it was Americans who killed Iranians, not the other way around. (America did belatedly apologize).
    Today, Iran is the victim of terrorism from the People's Mujahedeen, which operates mainly from inside Iraq. In 1997 the United States classified them as a terrorist organization. Therefore there is no arguing that Iran is the victim of terrorism, not a sponsor of terrorism. The country that is sponsoring that terrorism is Iraq. The United States patrols the skies of Iraq, but, surprise, it has never acted against this terrorist organization.
    By all accounts, one of the worst regimes in the world is the Taleban's regime in Afghanistan. The Taleban were trained and financed by the United States to fight against the Soviet Union, then they eventually took over most of the countries. They have imposed Islamic law over pretty much every aspect of daily life (there is no other place in the world where women are treated so badly). The Taleban even protect Osama bin Laden, America's most wanted terrorist. Iran strongly opposes the Taleban, while the United States has only spoken words and never severed ties withe them.
    While America has often promised to fight drugs but never done much about it (if you consider that United States citizens consume more than 50% of all hard drugs in the world), Iran is fighting drug traffickers and drug consumers After the United States helped them fight the Soviet Union, the Afghanis have become the world's top producer of opium and heroin. While very few American soldiers have died in the war to drugs, Iran has lost about 2,500 over the last 15 years. Over the last few years Iran alone confiscated 90% of all opium confiscated worldwide and 10% of all heroin confiscated worldwide (Iran accounts for less than 1% of the world's population). Iran, unlike America, routinely sends drug consumers to jail for long period of times. In Iran it would be unthinkable that a cocaine consumer such as George W Bush runs for president: he would probably still be in jail. It is ironically that both Iran and Texas believe in the death penalty, but, while George W Bush routinely kills minority people who are guilty of being poor, the Iranians like to kill people like him, spoiled kids who did drugs because they had the money to buy them.
    Iran is not the dictatorship that most Americans believe. Ask any America who is the dictator of Iran and they will start realizing that maybe there is no dictatorship there. Iran is a democracy: the president Khatami has been elected by the people, the Parliament has been elected by the people. So much so that both the presidency and the Parliament are now in the hands of the "reformers", who oppose Islamic fundamentalism. It is hard to imagine the communists to win the elections in the United States: that is pretty much what happened in Iran in the 2000 elections, i.e. politicians who oppose the regime got the majority of votes. (Votes were counted by an organism that reports to Ayatollah Khameini, the leading anti-reform priest, but there have been no reports of rigging and Khameini was adamant in reporting that his enemies had won the elections). Therefore Iran is a much more democratic place than, say, Kuwait or Egypt, to mention two close allies of the United States, and certainly a much more peaceful and responsible member of the United Nations than, say, Israel.
    Last but not least, can anyone name one American citizen who has been harmed by Iran over the last 22 years?
    Summing up all of the above, Iran comes out as a model country and America has a country that (at best) has made several bad judgement mistakes. At worst, America has caused all of Iran's tragedies, plus a few others in neighboring countries.
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  • (July 1999) Iran's pro-democracy revolution. The moderate president Mohammad Khatami was elected amid fanfare (he got 67% of the popular vote in 1997) and each election has shown overwhelming popular support for the "reformers", but he has achieved little in the way of democratic reforms. The power is still in the hands of the old, fundamentalist clergy, led by ruthless Ayatollah Khameini. Students have been rioting for months, following timid protests by progressive intellectuals. Vigilantes allied with the clergy have killed several of those intellectuals and have recently joined the police in repressing the riots. Khatami is clearly sympathizing with the students, but the armed forces (i.e., general Lotfian) report to the ayatollah, not to the president. And so do the media (television and radio), the secret services and even the judges. The 1978 revolution against the U.S.-sponsored regime of the Shah yielded a 20-year regime of terror. It will take more than a few student riots to resume that revolution.
    The one dissident cleric who could have steered Iran towards a more democratic course, ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, once a favorite to succeed Khomeini, has been under house arrest for 10 years, and very few people have been allowed even just to visit him. So is Khatami's main ally, Teheran's mayor Gholam-Hossein Karbaschi.
    Former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, the one who lost to Khatami and a moderate himself, is trying to position himself as a compromise solution: he is opposed to radical reform, but also distances himself from the ultraconservative Khameini. The clerics side with him because he is the only conservative candidate who can at least master 30% of the votes.
    The good news is the bad news: Iran's economy has never truly improved since the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88 and Iran's fast-growing population of 70 million people demands more and more jobs. With inflation at 20% and unemployment at 15% Iran is in much worse conditions than it was when Khomeini seized power. Even worse, corruption is rampant again. So the only difference with the old times of the shah is that today's Iran is formally the most religious country in the world. Sooner or later, this will backfire against the religious leaders, just like the old economic mismanagement of the shah backfired against him.
    (Addition of Nov 1999). Abdullah Nouri, a prominent support of reforms, has become a national martyr and may have turned the tide against the system. He is on trial (basically for treason, based on what he published on his newspaper, "Khordad") but, instead of apologizing and repenting as customary, he has turned the trial into a satire of the system that is trying him. He has exposed not only the hypochrisy but also the failure of the current regime. He has dared talk about the murders of dissidents and accuse the anti-American stance of causing the economic crisis. He has made the system look foolish to the ordinary Iranian.
    The religious leaders have already been widely discredited by the population, at least in big cities. Nothing could be more ironic than the cleric-organized demonstrations against the United States: people dressed in blue jeans, drinking coca cola and with rock and roll t-shirts parade down the main streets shouting death to America... The son of the man who commanded the 1979 kidnap of the American hostages recently fled Iran and applied for U.S. political asylum. Prosperous Iranians send their children to American universities. Khameini is not fighting a war against America: he is fighting a war for his own survival.
    (Addition of Dec 2000). Ayatollah Mohajerani, the revered minister of culture, was forced to resign by Ayatollah Khameini. Mohajerani had been the main force behind the revival of the free press and of the arts.
  • (April 1998) Iran's second revolution . When (May 1997) Muhammad Khatami won the national election with more than 70% of the popular vote, Iran basically started a second revolution, this time towards (and not against) the West. Unlike the first one, though, this one is likely to drag for years before anything tangible happens. Khatami's good will is balanced by Ali Khameini's unfledging hatred for the United States, and, unfortunately, no psychologist is likely to change Khameini's mind: Khameini and his Allah have no interest in showing the Iranian people how rich and free the western societies are, therefore they will not. Most religious leaders would not inform their compatriots, had they the power to do so. Iran's only hope to get rid of these psychos (an involuntary consequence of a revolution that was otherwise grounded in legitimate issues) is that Khatami can manouvre the priests out of power. The arrest of Khatami's main ally (April 1998), Teheran's mayor Gholam-Hossein Karbaschi, on charges of corruption, obviously does not bode well. It shows the strong hand of Mahammed Yazdi, leader of both the judiciary and the fascists wing of Parliament, and of Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, the sinister parliamentary speaker whom Khatami defeated in the 1997's elections.
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