Scenarios of the Past and Future for Iran: U.S. Options

Jul 30, 2009, 19:28 ET from Iran Policy Committee

WASHINGTON, July 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Thursday, 30 July 2009, the Iran Policy Committee (IPC) held a Congressional briefing for Members of Congress and their staffs, the press, and the general public to discuss 2009 election unrest in Iraq and the attack by Iraqi Security Forces on Iranian dissidents in Iraq.

According to IPC President and former member of the National Security Council Staff at the White House, Professor Raymond Tanter, "The main similarity between the 1979 Iranian Revolution and events of 2009 is that the people wanted and want regime change, respectively, not just an alteration in policies or personnel. The principal difference: In 1978, the Street brought down the Shah from within with some inadvertent political support from the United States; in 2009, it is less the Street and more lack of regime unity in face of a cycle of demonstrations and repression that could spell the end of clerical rule in Iran."

Prof. Tanter continued, "President Obama leaves the door open for direct talks with Tehran in face of its suppression of Iranian oppositionists. But now is not the time to engage the clerics, given their violent repression of the Iranian people. If President Obama extends a warm hand toward the clerical-military rulers after they assassinated protesting Iranians like Neda, he is likely to wind up with warm blood on his hands. Business as usual is unseemly in the face of cold-blooded murder."

Dr. Kenneth Katzman, Middle East specialist for the Congressional Research Service said, "[President of Iran] Ahmadinejad is very much off balance and his support base is evaporating rapidly. Former allies are deserting him and he is now in an open dispute with the Supreme Leader. He is going to likely have major difficulty obtaining Majlis [parliamentary] approval of a full cabinet. There is now a substantial and growing chance that he could be impeached by the Majlis or the Supreme Judicial Council, and that the Supreme Leader would ratify his removal as president."

Dr. Katzman continued, "A special election could provide reformists with another chance to prove their electoral strength, although it is likely that a moderate conservative such as Ali Larijani or Mohammad Baqr Qalibaf might run, and conceivably win. A new election would help Iran's regime overcome its current crisis of authority."

According to R. Bruce McColm, President of the Institute for Democratic Strategies, IPC Board of Directors, "Within a day after the election, the armed forces of Iran said they would not get involved in the domestic situation or be used against the demonstrators; but the head of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) openly backed Ahmadinejad -- something prohibited by law. Several IRGC commanders were arrested when demonstrations started because they refused to get involved in the repression. One leading commander was arrested for arranging a secret meeting with other officers."

McColm described the Iraqi police attack on Iranian dissident in Camp Ashraf, Iraq: "A four month siege by Iraqi Forces at the behest of Tehran is ending tragically. It was the Baghdad Brigade of 2,000 and the Iraqi police that invaded Ashraf. Seven dead, 400 injured at this hour, 85 disappeared, and the leadership of the main Iranian dissident organization arrested. Several people are in comas -- the wounded are being prevented from receiving medical attention. While the U.S. military medical facility is only minutes away, the Americans seem to be uninvolved."

McColm concluded that, "Because the United States military has played a monitoring role over the Iranian dissidents to ensure their security as 'protected persons,' Washington could be implicated in any war crimes or human rights violations that befall them as they are assaulted in their homes."

Regarding the plight of Iranian dissidents in Ashraf, Iraq, IPC President and former member of the National Security Council Staff at the White House, Professor Raymond Tanter told of his visit to Iraq in October 2008 to conduct interviews with Iraqis. Tanter reported that, "Both Sunni and Shiite Arab leaders said how they feared an assault by Iraqi Security Forces on the unarmed Iranian civilian Iranian dissidents in Iraq. Iraqis stated that if the people of Ashraf are harmed by Baghdad, it will be to serve the interests of Tehran."

Commenting on the "assurances" Baghdad would ensure the safety of the people of Ashraf, Steven Schneebaum, an attorney who represents Iranian Americans with family members in Ashraf, stated that, "Washington received assurances that Iraqis would not enter Ashraf with lethal force, but the Iraqis used such force entering Ashraf. Despite the statement of General Ray Odierno, Commander of Multi-National Force-Iraq that the Iraqis had used only 'non-lethal force' entering Ashraf, deaths and injuries are indications of lethal force."

Attorney Schneebaum concluded by stating that, "It is odd that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized the Iranian regime for mistreatment of Iranians demonstrating in opposition to the clerical regime in Tehran, but she failed to criticize Baghdad for using lethal force against Iranian dissidents in Iraq."

SOURCE Iran Policy Committee