Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The curious case of Shahram Amiri

Theories are rife and at the moment nobody knows what was behind the whole scenario. But against the backdrop of the Islamic regime coupled with the ever increasing social and political fault-lines in the country, it would not be a tremendous surprise to see many Iranians, given the chance, defect to safer, freer parts of the world and Shahram Amiri is most probably no exception. Brushing aside many of far fetched theories one can narrow it down to two or at best three scenarios.

The first scenario is one that the Islamic regime is desperately pushing for, which is that Amiri was in fact abducted, presumably to gain more intel on Iran’s nuclear ambitions and capabilities. While not easy to rule out as an an impossibility, this theory has plenty of loop holes that makes one think twice before committing to it.

Let us assume this were true and the Americans did capture and abduct Amiri in Saudi Arabia and brought him to the States under the strict supervision of CIA and FBI (according to the Islamic regime’s spokesmen). Any sane mind would immediately question how on earth this abductee under the nose of CIA and FBI operatives somehow get his hands on a computer and camera, find access to the internet and the time to send out his supposed S.O.S. video messages on youtube to Iran?

Even less plausible is to fathom how Amiri, single-handedly bested the security apparatus of the CIA and FBI, escaped their clutches, and somehow traveled to Washington DC from Arizona undetected and with no trouble! This simply defies all manner of logic and rationale and reads more like a fictional yarn spun by the likes of Ludlum or Le Carre. Except Amiri is hardly a Jason Bourne.

The second theory could be Amiri, willingly defected with the help of the Saudis and American agents in Saudi Arabia and was brought to the States, wherein he decided to continue his education in Tucson, Arizona. A fact that he attested to in his interview with ABC, a total contrast to the grainy youtube S.O.S. message. But the Islamic regime, as is their Modus Operandi, applied pressure or even threatened the lives of his family members in Iran to force him to change his mind and returning to Iran, and under the pretense of “abduction" besmear the U.S. government. This is extremely likely given the nature of the regime in Iran and their utter disregard for human life, be it Iranian or otherwise, when their benefit is involved. Threatening people’s families has precedence and is a frequent mode of pressure tactic employed by them. So the hapless Amiri has no recourse but to bend to the pressure and leave his studies and return. Personally, I believe this is the most probable scenario.

The third scenario may be a bit of a stretch, but then again, in the world of espionage and clandestine operations, anything is possible. Amiri, being a member of the notorious Revolutionary Guards Corps’ science division, was merely a plant who was supposed to seek defection primarily and after being relocated to the States, start this charade of being tortured and pleading for his escape and return to Iran, thus, supposedly, inflicting a wound to the US image in the world and perhaps gain a dubious public relations victory for the Islamic state!!

But which sane person would believe that? CIA and FBI threatened him to expose all the nuclear secrets or they are going to torture him by feeding him … well??
Comparing his photos in Iran, before his supposed “abduction”, and the obese fellow in recent videos, it seems he had not cooperated with his “apparent abductors” and they had no choice but to torture him with tons of cheese burger and milk-shake!! Do the latest photos show a tortured and distressed man in peril?

Amiri, before and after his "abduction"(!!)

Amiri’s tale will be spun by the regime’s spin doctors at the IRIB and they will bend reality to gain as much millage out of it as possible. But who will buy that, except the naïve, and the ill-informed minority who still get their news from the disgraceful IRIB. Yes, you may even see biased international networks like Al-Jazeera (always in service of the Islamic governments in the region, and hardly the people of those nations) or Russia’s R.T. (‘Russia Today’, who just love to paint a distorted image of the west, to hell with reality or authentication) have a field day about this too. But eventually, sanity and logic ought to prevail and all this hoopla will die down a death much like the other forgotten, insignificant attempts of the Islamic regime to gain political millage or hit at the west.

In the end, Amiri may or may not survive the episode as the regime has the horrific penchant of being ultimately vindictive and unforgiving, especially with the likes of Amiri who for all accounts, may have revealed many secrets pertaining to Iran's nuclear program.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ahmadinejad's presidency in peril?

Will Ahmadinejad finish his term? Will he even last the next 12 months may not be the first thing that comes to one's mind having seen the brutal crack down and the barbaric style of dealing with any manner of dissent, even the most civil. But it may not be as far fetched as some may have thought so.

A week ago, one of the members of the parliament, Mr. Palizdar, a notorious cleric, who was among the supporting cast in Ahmadinejad’s re-election campaign’s scenario and made ground breaking revelations accusing Ahmadinejad of creating false evidence and untrue claims of corruption against his rival candidates, Mr. Mousavi and Karroubi and their close supporters, made equally significant statements about his role and the smear campaign during Ahmadinejad's elections. The same tact was employed against Hashemi Rafsanjani and his ally, Nategh Nouri during Ahmadinejad’s first campaign for presidency.

Palizdar, a very close ally of Ahmadinejad at the time, was in fact, in charge of manufacturing the false accusations and defamation, who was promised a cabinet position in return. Having felt betrayed, he turns to the media to reveal the machinations behind the scenes.

Following these events, Ahmad Tavakoli, who is yet another conservative MP, brought up the matter of ‘impeachment of the president’ and in a statement declared with two third majority of the votes, the parliament can impeach Ahmadinejad for his blatant refusal to uphold the laws set by the lawmakers.

Based on the constitution, impeachment is possible. But in reality, and considering the deep turmoil the regime has been put through, post election and the ever increasing strain placed on various elements of regime, be it Khamenei’s factions or Ahmadinejad’s and IRGC’s, the key figures such as the supreme leader may try to step in and attempt to prevent the fractures getting deeper and may overtly or covertly order the halt to the proceedings.

But even if that comes to pass, what has happened is still ground breaking and may have prepared the ground work for an eventual dissociation of the two major factions, Khamenei’s and Ahmadinejad’s should matters become intolerable and there be a need for sacrifice. It is many pundits’ belief that with continuing pressures on the regime, there will come a time that Ahmadinejad will become a dead weight to Khamenei, and will have to be sacrificed for the greater good of the regime.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Lessons from Bazaar's strike

The latest bazaar strike in Tehran due to a proposed 30-70% hike in taxes, and the subsequent back down by the government to revert the rates to the previous years’ shows how weak and incapable the regime is when faced with a collective civil disobedience. Traditionally, bazaar has been wielding great power in Iranian politics, despite keeping a low profile and behind the scenes nature of this influence. And the Ahmadinejad’s latest miscalculations borne out of the rapidly depleting government revenues, and a budget deficit of over 40%,to increase the tax on merchants is yet another indication of how incompetent his advisors have been in devising paths to make up for the ever decreasing government coffers, a direct result of the sanctions.

The Ahmadinejad’s illegitimate government has been desperate in finding ways to lower the deficit and has been haphazardly aiming at various targets. Primarily, they had proposed lifting of the subsidies. But facing massive apprehension from the population, they have postponed the implementation of them. Then they targeted another source of tremendous wealth, which is the Azad Universities, affiliated with Ahmadinejad’s nemesis, Hashemi Rafsanjani. With weeks of threats and use of their plain-clothed militia to apply pressure, proving impotent, finally steps in the supreme leader to quell the simmering pressure cooker and effectively deny yet another route for replenishing the growing hole in the budget. And the Bazaar incident is just one more in a series of signals of Ahmadinejad’s utter desperation.

But what the freedom movement and activists can learn from this is when faced with a resolute, collective section of the society, it is the regime that stands in the vulnerable position. A lesson that can map the future plans of the movement as we move to the next phase of wide-spread strikes, civil disobedience in all forms, delays and refusal in payment of utility bills, …etc.