[Marxism] Le Monde:

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Feb 24 21:01:50 MST 2007

This item -- translated by the, for me, simply indispensable Prof. Mark
Jensen for the Snow-News list of United for Peace of Pierce County
(Washington State) is a reminder that while Rafsanjani is known in Iran as a
big crook, he is a vastly more experienced politician and maybe closer to
real popular opinion on some questions that Ahmadinejad. Or so it seems to

Yes, I was kind of enjoyed his getting beat in the last election, but I am
not sure that would be repeated today.
Fred Feldman

[Translation from Le Monde (Paris)] 

Near East 

By Marie-Claude Decamps 

Le Monde (Paris)
February 24, 2007 


TEHRAN -- A few days ago Iranian newspapers reproduced a BBC story according
to which the United States is preparing not only an attack on the country's
nuclear sites, but also on military bases. Since then, there's been nothing.

Publicly, no one is mentioning this possibility. On Fri., Feb. 23, the first
holiday since the delivery of the report, which for Iran was crushing, of
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the streets of Tehran, given
over to the craziness of weekend traffic, remained mute. There was not even
any outpouring after Friday prayer at the great mosque, the traditional site
of political diatribes in periods of crisis: neither burned American flages
nor a demonstration, as often happens. 

The main speaker, former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, kept his
head down. Concentrating on a critique of the poor management of the
economy, he added only a few sentences about "arrogant powers" who "fear the
vitality of Islam." Even as he called for dialogue to be resumed, he warned
the United States, which, "if it pursues its policies, will create new
problems for itself, the region, and the entire world." "Attack? The
Americans have neither the courage nor the capacity for it," said a young
soldier. An old man raised his cane toward the heavens: "Allah will destroy
them!" A mullah answered by shrugging his shoulders, and a young couple
refused to say anything. 

Could it be that this is a taboo subject? Almost, but in private, Iranians
are asking themselves questions. "To see foreigners in my store reassures
me, because they haven't been evacuated from a danger zone," a shopkeeper in
the bazaar confided. Another quietly admits to "not being able to keep from
looking upward when a plane flies over the city at low altitude." "We're
hostages, we, the Iranian people, of this extremist policy. The official
message is 'Don't think about anything, we're thinking for you and we're
ready,'" says Zarah, a student, with some bitterness. 

As the week began, when the American carrier strike group led by the
aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis joined the one led by the USS Dwight D.
Eisenhower in the Gulf, the television showed, one after the other, without
commentary, images of military maneuvers organized in the sixteen Iranian
provinces, dwelling on the 750 missiles and smart bombs that were fired to
repel a simulated air attack. 

Even to criticize not the substance but the manner in which the Iranian
nuclear matter has been handled is not without risk. For having done so, the
online newspaper Baztab (228,000 visitors a day in normal times), has been
"filtered" for the past eight days, though the site has nothing reformist
about it. "In the name of the realism that has saved the Islamic Republic
for twenty-eight years, we criticized President Ahmadinejad's rigid
positions on nuclear policy. Being obstinate solves nothing," said Fouad
Sadeghy, one of the founders of Baztab in 2002. And he went on to say that
in Iran, the élites are taking the possibility of an attack seriously. 

Baztab published articles explaining the nuclear stakes and lists of
"sensitive" sites. "Not to scare people, but to warn them just in case . .
." expains Mr. Sadeghi. The newspaper also told the story of a secret
meeting fifteen days ago between Mr. Rafsanjani and members of parliament.
Mr. Rafsanjani is supposed to have told them of a meeting between the
Supreme Leader of the Revolution (Ayatollah Khameini) and Mr. Ahmadinejad.
As the latter was saying, "There's no danger, they won't attack," the Leader
is supposed to have replied curtly: "No, this is serious." 

Other high officials have issued warnings, including two generals and a
group of grand ayatollahs, who are said to have sent a letter to the
government from the holy city of Qom. "Every day at Baztab we receive
thousands of e-mails," said Fouad Sadeghi. "A majority say that they don't
want Iran to find itself in a situation where it's confronting the rest of
the world. Some of them add that if the Europeans understand the situation,
they should make an effort to defuse it." 

Translated by Mark K. Jensen
Associate Professor of French
Department of Languages and Literatures
Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, WA 98447-0003

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