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To Help The Iranian Opposition Or Not (Part 2)


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

“Mrs. Clinton, we want help!” writes well-known Iranian exiled satirist and opposition member Ebrahim Nabavi in reaction to last month's comments by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clinton said in an October 26 interview that it may have been a mistake for the opposition inside Iran to not have appealed for Western support in the 2009 state crackdown.

The top U.S. diplomat also suggested opposition members should openly seek U.S. support.

Amir Arjomand, the spokesman for Iran’s opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi, had said in reaction to Clinton’s remarks that in his view Iranians can achieve democracy without outside help.
In an open letter to Clinton published in the online “Rooz” daily, Nabavi expressed a very different view. He said Iranians do need help from the U.S. while adding that opposition members expressed their call for help loudly in some of the protests held two years ago against the disputed reelection of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad:
When there were talks of [possible] U.S. negotiations with Iran, people chanted in the streets: “Obama, either with them, or with us.” Those people who shouted in Iran -- and are now sitting in their homes while hating the Iranian dictatorship -- expected you to hear such loud voices. It was after those chants that the leaders of the Green Movement, [Mir Hossein Musavi] and [Mehdi Karrubi] ,said people are the real leaders of the movement. What were you supposed to hear that you didn’t? Many opportunities were lost only because you didn’t know whether you should listen to the people or to your Iranian advisers who kept saying Musavi and Karrubi are religious, as if in a country like Iran, Bill Gates should become president.
Nabavi calls on the U.S. to give the opposition movement political, financial, technical, technological, and media support and also help Iranian refugees while pressuring the Iranian government with “full force.” He says he expects to come under attack over his call to Washington for help.

In a separate piece posted on the portal Gooya, student activist Salman Sima, who participated in some of the 2009 opposition protests, has also said that Iranian opposition members need international support in their struggle for freedom and democracy in Iran.

Sima, who fled Iran about a year ago, published his piece in reaction to remarks made by Arjomand, who had described the independence of the Green Movement as its strength. Sima, who was arrested in the postelection crackdown, says he believes the Green opposition movement’s "need" for foreign help, does not go against the fact that it is a home-grown movement.

“Independence without freedom is meaningless. If South Korea is dependent on other governments and North Korea is independent, in [my view] it’s better for us to be South Korea rather than North Korea,“ Sima wrote. To reach democracy, he says, Iranians need the support of all of the world’s democracies.
Iranian authorities have often charged intellectuals and political activists with working with foreign governments and receiving “suitcases” full of money. They have failed to provide any evidence to prove the charges.

Some inside Iran said Clinton’s comments were an embarrassment to the hard-liners who have long claimed that the reformist camp and critics are backed by the West.
“Clinton’s remarks proved that we’ve never had any contact with Americans and we‘ve never sought their help,” an Isfahan-based reformist cleric wrote on Facebook.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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