- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 13, 2000

So long as Iran remains an Islamist terrorist theocracy, President Clinton's efforts to conciliate Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the real ruler of this country, are doomed to failure. Remember how the ludicrous Iran-Contra-hostages deal by the Reagan administration with the ruling revolutionaries flopped and made this country look ridiculous. (It could have been scripted by the Marx Brothers, said The Economist at the time). And here we are two administrations and 12 years later still trying to do the impossible.

Iran's rulers are mortal enemies of Israel, a country which because of its de facto alliance with the United States they see as thwarting Iran's imperial ambitions in the Middle East. Therefore, the mullahs seek to frustrate, by terrorism if necessary, any attempt to establish an Arab-Israeli peace. No matter whether Syria's Hafez al-Assad changes his anti-Israel policy or not, Iran's position will not change.

While Iran may be fearful ultimately of U.S. military power it is currently far more fearful of what it regards as America's politico-cultural influence. The mullahs have tried to build a symbolic wall around the country to prevent any seepage of "Great Satan" influence into Iran's towns and villages.

For in a real sense Iran's primary target, as it is that of any dictatorship, the country's people, large sectors of whom are alienated from the regime. Somehow this widespread alienation among Iran's almost 65 million inhabitants seems to have escaped notice by the Clinton administration which persists in pursuing a policy of futile appeasement of Iran's rejectionist theocrats.

For example, the State Department recently placed the National Council of Resistance, an Iranian exile body which has been fighting ayatollism and which has received strong Congressional support, on a list of terrorist organizations. In so doing, Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk said that the department had acted on the recommendation of the Iranian government, one which the department has called a state sponsor of "terrorism."

Would you like me to go over that again? A government called Iran, which supports and finances terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, tells the State Department that an anti-Iranian exile organization is a terrorist group and the State Department agrees. Wait a minute. Is this the same Iranian government whose leader issued a "fatwa" against Salman Rushdie and which carried out assassinations of translators of Mr. Rushdie's novel, "Satanic Verses"? Yes, the very same, whose spiritual founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, in February 1989 broadcast to the world the following message which is still in effect; ask Mr. Rushdie:

"I inform the proud Muslim people of the world that the author of the 'Satanic Verses' book which is against Islam, the Prophet and the Koran, and all involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death."

A month ago, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution censuring Iran for its violations of human rights. The resolution expressed "grave concern [at] executions, cases of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as well as the failure to meet international standards in the administration of justice and the absence of due process of law." There have been some 45 previous condemnations of Iran by U.N. committees and forums for its human rights violations.

And today there is FBI evidence linking Iran to the June 25, 1996 truck bombing of the Khobar Towers military housing complex in Saudi Arabia in which 19 Americans were killed and another 400 injured.

The American record of relations with Iran is discouraging. During the Carter presidency, the Shah of Iran was a White House hero where he was wined and dined. In 1978, the CIA reported that Iran was "not in a revolutionary or even in a prerevolutionary stage." Two months later, the Shah was in exile and the ayatollahs had begun their tyrannical reign.

Today we see the State Department once more dreaming about the impossible reconciliation with ayatollism, this time via Iran's President Mohammed Khatami, who whatever his real feelings may be, is now allied with the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

Former Ambassador James E. Akins wrote in the Los Angeles Times in June 10, 1998:

"My enduring nightmare is that one of our major foreign policy blunders in the Middle East is about to be repeated in the same country. The United States supported the Shah long after it was clear to every objective observer that almost all Iranians had turned against him. It would be ironic and tragic if we were to open relations with the Iranian theocracy just as the Iranian people have concluded that it must go."

At a time when Iran is bursting with discontent about ayatollism, when repression of the Iranian people is worse than ever, when the regime has become, militarily, the most powerful country in the Persian Gulf, Mr. Akims' words of warning are surely more urgent today than they were 19 months ago.

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