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What Does Iran's Green Movement Want From Obama?

Opposition protesters in TehranOpposition protesters in Tehran
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Opposition protesters in Tehran
Opposition protesters in Tehran
By Golnaz Esfandiari
Members of the Green movement opposed to Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad voiced a clear demand to U.S. President Barack Obama this week.

Thousands protesting in Tehran streets on the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Embassy takeover on November 4 called on Obama to choose sides with either the Iranian government, or their struggle against that government, which they don't consider legitimate.

Opposition members believe that Ahmadinejad was reelected as the result of massive vote-rigging in the June 12 presidential vote.

"Obama, Obama -- either with us, or with them!" chanted opposition members as they returned to the streets to protest. (Watch video)

Nuclear Deal

Amir, a Tehran-based journalist and supporter of the opposition, tells RFE/RL the chant is a reaction to what he describes as the United States' "overinclination" to strike a deal with the Iranian government over the ongoing nuclear crisis, while disregarding the opposition movement.

The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently offered Tehran a deal agreed to by the United States, Russia, and France that called for Iran to export its stockpile of low-enriched uranium abroad, where it could be refined into nuclear fuel that Iran could use for civilian purposes.

The deal, which Iran has rejected, was intended to quell Western concerns over the nature of Iran's nuclear-enrichment activities. But the international community's dealings with the Iranian government has left opposition members worried that their effort to expose the government as illegitimate is being undermined.

Amir, who requested anonymity due to concerns over his safety, says the opposition believes that the United States should be not be overeager to negotiate with the Iranian government, whose leverage might be weakened as a result of the political crisis it faces at home.

He warns that any "mistake" by the Obama administration, which has made a concerted effort to increase engagement with Iran, can undermine the United States' popularity among Iranians. "The United States has many supporters in Iran, more than any other country in the region." says the Tehran-based journalist.

Mostafa Khosravi, a member of the policy-making committee of the Graduates Association of Iran, says the United States and other Western countries have so far given them rather tepid support.

"Countries that consider themselves human rights defenders only react when their own citizens come under a great amount of pressure in Iran, or when their interests are being threatened," says Khosravi.

Khosravi, whose group has come under great pressure by the Iranian establishment, says the Green movement doesn't want its independence to be jeopardized by foreign interference. But he adds that it expects the West not to close its eyes on the serious human rights abuses that are taking place in Iran.

Violence Against Protesters

Witnesses and protesters who took part in the November 4 protests have told RFE/RL that security forces used excessive force against peaceful protesters. Amateur videos from the protest show security forces beating up protesters with batons and using tear gas against them.

The White House expressed concerned over the violence and said that it is monitoring the situation.

Members of the opposition movement, however, say that they want a stronger condemnation of the treatment against them.

Khosravi says if the international community does not take strong stances against the crackdown, the regime could use greater force against the opposition in the future.

Khosravi describes the November 4 crackdown as a “naked violence“ against protesters challenging the Islamic establishment.

He adds that it is likely that the establishment wanted the amateur videos to be distributed to create “an atmosphere of fear."

He says the Iranian establishment should be publicly pressed to respect human rights and those responsible for the clampdown should be publicly denounced.

Journalist Amir says negotiations with Iran should be transparent and human rights issue should be integrated into discussions with the Islamic Republic.

Iran's Nobel Peace Prize winner, Shirin Ebadi, expressed a similar view in a recent interview with RFE/RL.

"Talks with the government of Iran should not only focus on the nuclear issue; human-rights and democracy-related issues should also be discussed," Ebadi said.

Reformist journalist Serajedin Mirdamadi, who campaigned for opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi ahead of the contentious June election, tells Radio Farda that a deal with Tehran that is solely focused on the nuclear issue will not be a lasting one.

He says that the nuclear issue is “the most important issue” for the United States, but if the issue of human rights violations and democracy is not solved in Iran, then he believes that there won't be a stable and permanent solution to the crisis between the two countries.

Musavi and reformist cleric Mehdi Karrubi, who are seen as the leaders of the Green movement, have not publicly commented on the U.S. stance toward Iran and the opposition movement. But Musavi did say in his latest statement that, "if needed, foreign countries are ready to trade Iran's [Green] movement at the negotiation table with a clear conscience."

A commentary posted on "Rahesabz," one of the websites devoted to the Green opposition movement, says that while the movement pays no attention to the "repetitive slogans" of the Islamic establishment, it is also not ready to give a red carpet welcome to America either, "despite what Iranian leaders claim."

The commentary adds that the leaders of the Green movement are watching the U.S. actions carefully and assessing it based on their national interests.
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Azari from: Canada
November 06, 2009 22:30
The issue of outmost importance to the Iranian regim is self preservation. They are following the recommendations of Machiaveli. Machiavelli had said that those who succeed a leader who has founded a new political order will be safe as long as they follow his path. Making friends with the US and the West is equivalent to signing their own death warrent. so, there is no use in trying to offer them concessions. They will not accept it. To claim mistrust to the West is one means of adhearing to the policies of khomaini.

by: James Raider from: WA
November 06, 2009 23:29

IRAN IS HEADING FOR NUCLEAR ARMAMENT

When you have no will, and you have given up the leverage that Russia could have provided, “discussion” will now prove futile. Current strategy will allow Iran to continue apace the development of its nuclear weapons.

Obama gave up a powerful element when he backed off the Europe based missile shield without concessions from Putin.

http://pacificgatepost.blogspot.com/2009/09/obamas-blunder-on-iran.html

Additional sanctions will achieve nothing other than hurt Iranians who will “blame” the West.

by: RF from: NYC
November 07, 2009 02:10
Iranian people are in love with America, simply because they are against whatever Islamic Regime identifies itself with. Mullahs identity themselves as the arch enemy of American; therefore Iranian people tend to be the arch friend of America.

The Islamic regime has no future in Iran. They are surviving only because of support of Islamic Terrorists who assassinate Iranian opposition figures and Russian arms. The regime has no real base in Iran except a vast group of vigilantes who regime is subsidizing their lives with oil money.

President Obama’s flirtation with that despised regime has only one outcome and that is alienating the Iranian nation. They just don’t want to see any American administration empowering the Islamic Regime, American people don’t want to see that either.

by: mark from: IRAN
November 08, 2009 02:30
United States should cease all communication with the illegitimate Iranian government. They are not interested in dealing just wasting time. The Iranian leaders should be dealt with as criminals like the Serbian leaders and arrest warrants should be issued for them. US should aim about %20 of it's nuclear arsenal towards Iran and send the 6th fleet to the Persian gulf to join the 5th fleet. Reconnaissance flights and satellite should start to identify Iranian missile batteries on the Persian gulf shores to be taken out by carpet bombing B52s. Then you call the Supreme leader and tell him cruise missiles are pointed to his residence. Then you dare them to go ahead ...Obama be with the Iranian people, they need our help. Never should we be reaching out to the barbaric Islamic government. We need to stay with the people. And BTW we need to start snatching up Iranian intelligence officers overseas and exchange them with any Westerners they might be holding.

by: Beli from: New York
November 14, 2009 03:04
It is unbelievable how awful your website and thin and superficial your website is. Frankly the way you lighten up an exceedingly dense and heavy subject is embarrassing for you.

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