- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 29, 2004

No moderates in Iran

Presidential adviser Richard Perle sees no moderates in Iran, only a vast terrorist theocracy that brutalizes its people and crushes any hint of reform.

Mr. Perle, a member of President Bush’s Defense Advisory Board, called for a democratic Iran when he recently spoke to about 5,000 Iranian-Americans at a conference in Washington.

He rejected the Clinton administration policy of trying to find moderates in the Iranian government. Mr. Bush, by contrast, cited Iran as part of an “axis of evil.”

Mr. Perle said, “There are people here who believe the American policy in respect to Iran is to work with the moderates. But have any of you seen any moderates lately in the government of Iran? No. If there were moderates in the government of Iran, would the mullahs allow them to bring about reform? No.

“Every effort … at reform has been crushed. The newspapers with the slightest hint of reform have been shut down. The political personalities who advocated reform have been marginalized or sidelined or imprisoned. They are scorned as spies.”

Mr. Perle said power in Iran lies among a “handful of self-serving dictators” in religious robes.

“This is a regime that is without question the most single-minded in its devotion to the propagation of terror in today’s world,” he said. “It is a terrorist regime second to none.”

Mr. Perle, one of the leading neoconservative voices in Washington, was among about 30 speakers at the Iran Solidarity Evening, organized by dozens of Iranian-American groups from across the United States.

However, the National Council of Resistance in Iran — which considers itself an Iranian government in exile — was not among the sponsoring groups, although one of its leaders spoke to the conference in a videotaped message, one of the organizers said.

The Clinton administration, when it was trying to reopen relations with Iran, declared the council a terrorist organization. The council is the political arm of Mujahideen Khalq, or People’s Mujahideen, which also is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

Council President Maryam Rajavi urged Iranians to refuse to legitimatize parliamentary elections later this month and to press for a referendum on democracy.

“Once again, I reiterate [a call for] a boycott of the mullah’s election farce and the need for a referendum for change of the terrorist dictatorship regime,” she said.

Sen. Jim Talent, Missouri Republican, and Reps. Bob Filner, California Democrat; Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas Democrat; Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican; and Edolphus Towns, New York Democrat, sent messages supporting Iranian democracy.

Win Griffiths, a Labor Party member of the British Parliament, spoke by a satellite link from London and called for the removal of a ban on support for People’s Mujahideen. Mr. Griffiths represented 305 members of Parliament who have declared their support for the Mujahideen.

New at think tank

Kay King, a former deputy assistant secretary of state, has joined the United States Institute of Peace to work on congressional relations.

“We are delighted to add Ms. King, with her diverse strengths, to our team,” institute President Richard H. Solomon said. “Strengthening the institute’s relations with Congress and its outreach to the public are critical to our mission.”

Ms. King will serve as director of the new Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, which is designed to promote contacts with members of Congress.

Ms. King, who began her State Department career in the legislative-affairs bureau, is a former editor at Foreign Affairs magazine and served as a foreign- and defense-policy aide to Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected].

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