Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Inside Iran…The Government with Hostages | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Currently a lot of mystery surrounds the ruling elite’s struggle in Iran. The news stories are contradictory and lack accuracy, especially with regards to what comes out of the Supreme Guide’s media. However, what is certain is that the crisis is still ongoing and deepening and the proof is in the battle that surrounds government formation.

It is apparent in Iran today that the Supreme Guide’s regime is now governing and running the country through a policy of hostage taking – especially in how it deals with the reformists. Since the Islamic revolution, Iran became infamous for cleverly exploiting the issue of hostages in all of its battles with foreign parties since it held hostages at the US embassy in Tehran for 444 days. Iran has followed this course of action for a long time passing through all crises in foreign policy. Through this policy, Iran embarks on opening channels of communication behind closed doors in order to engage in dialogue and negotiation with the West, the US in particular. If a researcher were to investigate this topic he would find that 5 to 10 years do not pass without there being a case of foreign hostages being held in Iran, or by a group affiliated to Tehran.

Today, the Supreme Guide himself followed in the same footsteps with regards to the reformists who contested the results of the last presidential elections in Iran and with regards to those protesting the detention of citizens and the arrests of prominent reformist leaders such as Mohammad Ali-Abtahi and others who appeared in the theatrical trials. Part of the battle today in Iran is about the release of the prisoners and this is an issue that is now, internally pressuring Hashemi Rafsanjani, which might explain the most recent speech he delivered about listening to the advice of the Supreme Guide, and not [necessarily] following it, like the Supreme Guide’s media reported.

Therefore, the reformists had to remain calm and tone down their statements and writings, as they are clearly being subjected to blackmail in Tehran; if they talk then they will further extend the suffering of the detainees, and if they remain silent then the regime will consider that a victory for itself. Meanwhile, some reformist sources are saying that the battle is still not over and that the concern now is to free the detainees who are being held in prisons, never mind protecting the reformists who fled Iran, as some sources indicated that some reformists fled to Turkey out of fear for their safety and the safety of their children.

So today we are watching the regime in Iran playing the hostage card in a brazen manner in order to muzzle its opponents on the inside, especially with regards to issues that are sensitive to Iranian public opinion, such as the rape of some prisoners and the burial of bodies of other detainees who had been tortured in prison. It is also playing the hostage card to pressure reformist leaders who were affected by the images of their colleagues who had been arrested less than 40 days ago, such as the images of Sayyed Mohammad Ali-Abtahi on trial.

Therefore, today we are not only witnessing a dictatorship but also a regime that governs the state and the nation by taking them hostage. The proof of this is that the regime in Tehran is in a real and difficult crisis, in spite of how much it tries to show otherwise. The lesson from all of this is that everyday we are learning more and more about the ideology and method that governs a large and neighboring country such as Iran. As a result, this helps us understand the nature of whoever in our region wants to be an ally or an aide to Iran!