From 9/11 to 11/13…Who Is the Axis of Evil?

APTOPIX France Paris Shootings

In the 1997 Presidential election, Mohammad Khatami, a reformist candidate, managed to dismiss all prior predictions and won a landslide of a 13-million-vote majority (nearly winning 70% of all votes cast).

His rising to power penned an important chapter in the Iranian political history. Tailoring a concept out of the name “Medina” (City of the Prophet), Khatami came up with the “civil society” as a derivative in the interior politics and later in the foreign policies, he took up a détente approach and embarked on the “dialog among civilizations” as means of enhancing Iran’s interaction with the world.

Khatami was the only post-1979 Iranian President who visited Germany, Italy and Austria at their governments’ invitation. What might come off as an achievement of his approach was the fact that it set the US Senate back from passing new sanctions against Iran, and it further removed the oil giants of Total, PETRONAS, and Gazprom from the DFAT list.

While the ties between Iran and the US headed toward détente destination, the morning of 9/11, four passenger airliners—which all departed from airports on the U.S. East Coast bound for California—were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists to be flown into buildings. Two of the planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, were crashed into the North and South towers, respectively, of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. The attacks left all passengers and a number of citizens inside the buildings dead.

Shortly hours after the tragedy, Mohammad Khatami, Iran’s then President, condemned the terrorist act and offered his sympathies with the people of the US. Iranian in crowds gathered in front of the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, lit candles and voiced their grief for the lives lost. In some parts of the Middle East, however, people were elated by the attack and even celebrated it.

Within the first few hours after the horror, Muslims and Arab countries were first to accuse. The US mindset went extremely hostile against Islam and esp. Arabs. George W. Bush accused Islam and Muslims and called 9/11 a revival of the Crusades. Therefore 8 countries and 20 organizations were listed as the nest and destination of terrorism, most of which being Muslim.

Six months after the 9/11 incident, on January 29, 2002 while the US had managed to launch a war in Afghanistan and topple the Taliban government within the body of an international alliance, in his annual speech at the US Congress, George W. Bush named Iran, along with North Korea and Iraq, as the “Axis of Evil”. In fact, his response to Khatami’s condolence and Iran’s readiness for fighting Taliban in Afghanistan was a refusal of cooperation.

The chief speechwriter of President Bush, David Frum who invented the term “Axis of Evil” would never imagine there might come a day when a group named the “Islamic State” rises to power and rules instead of Taliban in the Middle East, and Iran, which was called the “Axis of Evil”, be the country that prevented this group from setting foot on its soil.

Turning a blind eye on Khatami’s peaceful offer and turning back at his détente approach practically stifled the chance for cooperation between Iran and the US. It further gave life to a notion in the Iranian society that had the people believe no matter how genuinely they try to assist the US, the US shall still remain hostile.

Mohammad Khatami eventually left the office and his successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accomplished presidency. He used whatever in his power to challenge the US policies within his 8 years and trod as far as calling the 9/11 disaster a “tremendous lie”.

Now, it is 8 years after all the chaos, hostility and unfriendliness in Iran’s foreign policy, and Hassan Rouhani is trying once again to make the most of Khatami’s experience in order to promote a brand new landscape in the international community. He well knows that after bringing the nuclear project to fruition, he should improve Iran’s chances in the international arena and urge and convince European trade giants to head to his country so that its economy can finally be recession-free.

Yet, unfortunately, just as Rouhani’s visit to Europe and arriving in France and Italy is viewed to be vastly effective in enhancing the political and economic ties, the 11/13 evening of Paris is hit hard with numerous terrorist attacks that spread waves of horror throughout the city, and later, the ISIS takes responsibility of the biggest atrocity at the heart of Europe with honor.

Rouhani stepped off the plane and in addition to sympathizing with the victims and their families, dispatches his Foreign Minister to join the Syria Talks. Syria is nearly in the hands of the ISIS and many European countries are now hosting waves of refugees after bearing witness to the loss of lives and tragedies in it.

The truth is that once the matter of Assad’s “stay or leave” as well as the divide among the countries that seek influence in Syria went in session over the past few years, the fact that Syria had become a nest for snakes and terrorists to mooch off of it was ignored and somehow neglected. The ISIS, on the other hand, could become the biggest global security threat by selling oil and gaining support from a number of countries.

This time, the people of Europe are no longer watching the Hollywood-like ISIS decapitations in on their TVs, but they are terrified to their bones, feeling the horror with every cell of their flesh. Once must ask now “who the Axis of Evil really is”. Do the US and European states intend to continue their previous scenario, overlook the roots of terrorism, and make the same mistake as George W. Bush did?


A Review on the Capturing of the US Embassy in Tehran

It was November 4, 1979 and Iran was amidst the boiling of a revolution to slash through the then monarchy. On that very day, a group of students who called themselves “Muslim Students, Followers of Imam’s Path” captured the US embassy in Tehran holding its diplomats hostages; an action conducted at the same time that Iran’s ousted Shah resided in the US after months of wandering state, which had raised anger among the students wanting to try the Shah shortly after the Revolution came to existence. That is how, in the upcoming years until now, November 4 is called the Student’s Day in Iran; a day which witnessed tidal waves of protests and a series of massacre by the Shah army and so, as an outlet of anger, the people who had suffered open fire for months took to capture the US embassy.

About the capturing, the Keyhan Newspaper wrote, “This Morning, a demonstrating group took part in a riot in universities protesting from Taleghani St. to the US embassy chanting anti-imperialistic slogans breaching into the building with the purpose of occupying the place. The incident took place at 11 A.M. and the number of capturers is rumored to be 25-30. The local police’s efforts are underway to work out the dispute.” The story led to a 3rd printing of the paper in less than 24 hours.

Keyhan further wrote, “At 12:15 A.M, a top-ranking authority from the Foreign Ministry informed the newspaper about the capturing of the US embassy by an anonymous group saying, ‘We were informed about the movement in the morning, and the PM, Army and Police have taken necessary measures through the embassy. Thus far, a number of protesters entered the basement of the building and some other have been scattered by tear gas shot from inside the embassy.’”

Later that day, at 4 P.M, releasing the Iranian visitors or embassy staff who were stuck inside the building at the time of the capturing began and the US diplomats were transferred to a different location with their eyes covered. In the meantime, one of the protesters left the embassy and told the press, “We occupied the US embassy to voice our agitation toward its policies. A group of students has staged a sitting here and it shall proceed until further notice.”

The agents responsible for such a move later claimed their reasons for capture to be the admission of the Shah by the US government, objection to the interim government, detection of the US spies and undercover agents, abrogation of conspiracies and domination of the US in Iran, displaying a psych-out to the US, avenging the plots of the 1953 coup, rejection of the US exclusive propagandistic approach toward and support of anti-revolutionary figures.

Shortly one day after the capturing, Mehdi Bazargan, Iran’s then interim PM, who had opposed the plan of the capturing earlier, tendered his resignation to Ayatollah Khomeini which was warmly welcomed by the capturers.

On the following days, the students accentuated at times to the press that the US embassy is a nest of snakes, conspiracies, espionage and anti-revolutionary plots, but underscored that the move is expected to take a limited period.

Two days later, while admiring the students’ measure, Ayatollah Khomeini stated, “The place our students have occupied is a master chamber for conspiracies and spying. The US expects to embrace the Shah there and establish a spying center here and our students sit and watch that?” After Imam Khomeini supported the move in his speech, the people ran large-scale demonstrations in support of the capturing, and later, Imam Khomeini announced that the women and black people of the embassy are free to go, but the key figures are yet to be decided upon.

The upcoming morning, the capturers provided the Imam with a list of 13 female and black hostages, and asked Imam’s son, the late Seyed Ahmad Khomeini, to visit the embassy for heightened security provisions and accompany the released hostages to the Foreign Ministry and later to Mehrabad Airport.

The US government did not give in to requests to return the ousted Shah of Iran, and in the following months, tried to free the hostages bringing many top officials at the table, including the Pope, but was turned down by Iran every time. The US was frustrated to work out the case through political solutions and so, decided to choose a military option and on April 25, 1980, sent 8 choppers and one aircraft to Iran; an attempt which went belly up due to a sand storm in Tabas Sahara, and the US suffered 9 lives for no good cause.

One year after the capturing, the case of releasing or holding the hostages went under the supervision of the parliament, and on November 2, 1980, the Emergency Committee put forward 4 conditions to solve the hostage case:

  • freeing Iran’s capital to the very last cent;
  • calling off the US claims in Iran;
  • guaranteeing the full stop of US political and military interference in Iran;
  • and returning the properties of the Shah.

Eventually, the four abovementioned conditions were passed and voiced to the government in addition to the executive stages of the plan. What the parliament really wanted was to have its conditions met, and were the US to accept them, the necessary measures would be taken and if not, the Judiciary was required to try the hostages as American spies.

The parliament passed the bill, and the students met with Ayatollah Khomeini. Coupled with confirming the bill, Imam Khomeini left the responsibility of keeping the hostages to the government. The government, too, appointed Behzad Nabavi, the then Executive Adviser to the PM, to pursue the case. Now, with harsh bans imposed on direct talks with the US, there needed to be a mediator between Iran and the US, and that was when Algeria assumed the role, and talks started off in a few days.

After months of non-stop talks and consultations, the negotiations reached a satisfactory phase and by offering two drafts about the legal and fiscal arguments with the US to the parliament, including returning the Shah’s properties, the government managed to hasten the talks which led to signing 3 documents better known as the Statement of Algeria. The statement stressed the full stop of US political and military interference in Iran, freeing Iran’s capital to the very last penny, lifting baselessly unreasonable US embargoes and returning the properties of the Shah.

After a while, and after days of unrelenting exhaustion, the two sides signed the Statement of Algeria and the US practically gave in to the terms, and more than 50 American hostages were freed after 444 days of captivity and were allowed to leave Iran on January 19, 1981.

The US version of the story, however, tells that in a backdoor deal, Iran consents to a delayed release of the hostages to pave the way for Regan’s victory against Carter in the 1980 election, and the US, in return, makes a commitment to facilitate Iran with military hardware. The latter part is of a much broader nature and takes a single paper all for its own.


Analyzing JCPOA in Iran in Different Directions

Following the nuclear deal with P5+1, President Hassan Rouhani made huge endeavor to bar the parliament from interfering with the JCPOA by analyzing it on the level of the Supreme National Security Council. His efforts went as far as he made a remark during a press conference, “What is now being exercised is in fact verifying what Iran accepted long ago. Some of you insist that you already accepted the NPT content before. But have you ever questioned if you had done it right? Every word we uttered in the talks was aimed at proving that those allegations and claims about misdoing the NPT content are nothing but misconception and to ensure our negotiating parties about the peaceful nature of our nuclear activities. So you see that everyone was arguing to make sure of what the former parliamentarians passed and turned into must-do laws, which was not essential, at all.” Rouhani further underlined, “Read what is inside of the JCPOA. It simply says that Iran is to realize the content voluntarily. Moreover, you see that none of the P5+1 countries have sent the agreement to their parliaments, and neither should we. To send it to the Parliament means that what has not been signed by the President and the FM up to this day should be signed now and then approved in the cabinet. That is regular imposition of obligation on us, and no country has done so. In other countries, neither does the President or the FM sign nor their cabinet approve of such bill. Why are we persisting in putting legal pressures on the Iranian nation while not necessary? This is the pressure we never need. The Article 125 obviously states what the President or his delegation is to sign. Basically, the JCPOA was penned in a way that the governments come in agreement with each other and then send the deal to the UN Security Council to pass.”

This, however, was not the first time that the JCPOA’s not being verified by the parliament discussed and on August 11, 2015, the Deputy FM, Abbas Araghchi mentioned the nuclear deal with P5+1, namely the JCPOA, need be passed as a bill by the parliament. A senior, top-level nuclear negotiator, Araghchi continued, “Although, in accordance with the Article 77, every international agreement and contract should be passed by the parliament, the JCPOA is a joint plan of action which is being implemented by the two parties voluntarily.” Araghchi further said that some think that legally, the JCPOA is to receive green lights from the parliament and some other believe otherwise. He also stressed that to inspect the deal through a political pair of glasses differs from that through a legal one and added, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is on the belief that for the purpose of preserving the national interests, it is safer if the parliament leaves the passing behind, for none of the P5+1 countries are having the deal passed by their parliaments.”

The trend of objections soared as high as the government’s Spokesman, Mohammad Bagher Nobakht stated at a press conference, “As what the MPs’ sought as conditions including reserving national interests and nuclear achievements have remained intact in the deal, then putting the JCPOA forward to the parliament is extra work and it only needs to be passed by the Supreme Security Council.” Later, the AEOI Chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, too, announced that the parliament’s work to investigate the deal is unnecessary.

Afterwards, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, at a meeting with the parliamentarians, clearly stated that it is of no prudence to leave the Parliament out of the decision making process regarding the JCPOA clarifying, “In terms of legal dimensions and what may come after, the related experts are in charge of issuing their comments. But in a general manner of speaking, I have told the president that it is not in our interest to not let our lawmakers review the deal, Parliament should not be sidelined on the nuclear deal issue … I am not saying lawmakers should ratify or reject the deal. It is up to them to decide.”

Therefore with the Supreme Leader voting to the analysis of the JCPOA by the Parliament, the President and his fellow ministers are to stop justifying their lack of interest in sending the agreement to lawmakers. Not recognizing the rank of the parliament and holding it back in international equations must not become a routine for administrations to follow up. It should not be as neglected as the volition for excluding decision-making processes becomes so easy to win. It cannot be ignored that given the new card the parliament is playing, President Rouhani will indubitably pen another scenario to resume the race.

Rouhani well knows that any change in the content of the JCPOA by the Iranian parliament can shoot every ongoing equation and the deal itself under an enormous question mark. That is why he must use his power in the parliament to devise a mechanism to keep the jurisdiction of the parliamentary vote within the limitation of a positive or negative comment, and to do so, the role of the senior lawmaker, the Speaker of Iran’s Parliament, Ali Larijani becomes much more highlighted than before.

Iran awaits the parliamentary election in just a few months and Ali Larijani has managed thus far to provide satisfactory support for the government, meaning his successful role in putting the JCPOA into play can gain the full support of the government and brings him the next chairmanship of the parliament. Not only that, but he can also revive the nuclear path in a beneficial way in favor of the government and decrease the level of interference the parliament can have, which is to be waited for a few more weeks.


A Vanquishing Battle between Rouhani’s and Ahmadinejad’s Nuclear Teams in Parliament

Even though the anti-JCPOA republicans failed in the Senate, the commission the Iranian parliament appointed to studying the JCPOA continues what it started. Yet unlike the non-stop coverage American media provided of the Congress debates, live or other, the IRIB delivered a delayed report with scenes occasionally trimmed. However, even such a procedure could not stop the commission from sinking into side issues and appearing attractive to the audiences.

Last week, the way Abbas Araghchi, the Deputy FM and a senior nuclear negotiator, was confronted in the commission was so surprisingly controversial that it ended with provoking the negotiator to react.

At a different point, the commission invited Ahmadinejad’s chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili and the then AEOI chief, Fereydoun Abbasi which added much to the wrangling. In his words, Saeed Jalili concluded that the JCPOA bears no special fruit for Iran and Iran has overlooked over 100 absolute rights it should have preserved. He also claimed in the recent agreement, the regime is obviously belittled and Iran has given in to abnormal terms. Jalili also went on to say Zarif’s team took the wheel while the other side was already in favor of lifting the sanctions and recognizing Iran’s right of enrichment.

The chief of the analysts’ team in the nuclear talks, Hamid Baeidinejad reacted to the claims of Ahmadinejad’s chief negotiator and rejected his words about the other side consenting to call off sanctions and give Iran the right to enrich uranium prior to the 2013 Presidential election underlining, “In past rounds, the two sides had not even managed to achieve a pre-negotiation phase, let alone full negotiation now.”

Saeed Jalili claimed the nuclear talks were coming to fruition, whereas the former US nuclear negotiator, Robert J. Einhorn told an Iranian magazine that in most of the times Saeed Jalili was talking, they learned a great deal about Iran’s history and his priorities, but much less progress was made in the real subject. But that did not end the story and will probably not be. The JCPOA commission talks have become opportunities for confrontations and disclosures of the untold yet. Recently, the AEOI chief now and Ahmadinejad’s FM, Ali Akbar Salehi took part in the discussions of the commission to answer a series of related questions, although most of his time was spent on replying to Jalili and Abbasi’s claims. Salehi rejected Jalili’s statement about what Iran earned in the Vienna agreement is not sufficient and underscored, “The ideal scenario would be that we had 20% enrichment right with Arak’s heavy water being there, and they would have apologized to us and lifted the sanctions!”

In response to Jalili’s claim on having won the enrichment right in his times, Salehi said, “If it was so, you would have signed the document and finished up the whole thing.” He further pointed to the assumption that “One day, someone may be brave enough to restore the Arak reactor to its original state and take his family to go live there! Then what? Is that bravery? They want to endanger the lives of 80 million people just to prove to others that they are brave! Safety in nuclear programs differ from that in car manufacturing!”

On Jalili’s statement about the other side having recognized Iran’s right of enrichment earlier, Salehi clarified, “They did not come to terms with Iran’s enrichment right in Almaty or Istanbul, at all. There is no document to certify that claim. If they believe P5+1 had consented to Iran’s right of enrichment, then please give us the documents. The only thing P5+1 mentioned was to recognize the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programs, which was conditional.”

The discussions proceeded and criticisms against the performance of the JCPOA commission heated up, and a Reformist lawmaker, Masoud Pezeshkian added to them saying, “A number of the members are putting their personal preferences and tastes before justice and fairness and that contradicts the impartial manner we sought. A number of my colleagues asked Mr. Salehi a few questions which they didn’t allow him to respond to, whereas when Mr. Jalili was present, he was the only one who spoke and they all listened to and approved of him. My understanding is that many have already concluded about the ongoing discussion and these sessions are aimed at collecting the needed data for a final vote.”

Stressing Jalili’s statement about the JCPOA overlooking 100 rights of Iran, Pezeshkian added, “We only pursued two rights which we obtained. First an international warrant for our nuclear activities, and second keeping the heavy water which is preserved.”

As days pass by, with the Iranian FM, Mohammad Javad Zarif and the Minister of Defense, more hectic days are predicted to be witnessed, for the parliamentary election is arriving any days now, and the perusal of the JCPOA has become a heated topic and every party is trying to score a ball in that area to its own advantage. The Conservatives do not like the deal to become implemented and see it a threat to the regime and Rouhani’s proponents want to step closer to the West once it is executed in full.


رئیس بخش فرهنگی سفارت ژاپن: مردم ژاپن به تاریخ عظیم ایران علاقه دارند

رئیس بخش فرهنگی سفارت ژاپن در گفتگو با آوا دیپلماتیک، معتقد است تحریم های وضع شده علیه ایران منجر به دور شدن دو کشور از یکدیگر شده است.گنکی فوجی، اولین فعالیت دیپلماتیک در دستگاه دیپلماسی ژاپن، با حضور در تهران آغاز کرده است، وی که متولد شهر کاناگاوا در نزدیکی توکیو است در زمان حضور در ایران، کمتر از سی سال سن داشت و از جمله جوانترین دیپلمات های خارجی در ایران محسوب می شود.