Opinion guest column

A lasting and just solution for resolving the conflicts with the Iranian Regime

On March 14, 2012, I attended the CIS (Center for International Studies) sponsored book event by Trita Parsi at MIT [1]. I shall refrain from commenting on his book and instead refer those interested to the Jan. 23, 2012 Wall Street Journal article by Sohrab Ahmari titled “It Takes Two to Engage” [2]. However I would write about the question I wanted to ask from Abbas Maleki, the discussant at the event, but I couldn’t.

To comply with their Q/A format, I would have introduced myself, as a community member and alumni of MIT (MS, 85 and PhD, 92). I also received my BS from the Mechanical Engineering Department of Sharif University of Technology in Tehran which is incidentally the same department where Abbas Maleki proudly mentions in the first line of his resume [3] as the place where he has been doing his BS from 1975 to 1985.

Since 2009 fraudulent presidential election in Iran, there have been violent crackdowns by the regime against peaceful protesters and dissidents which has resulted in severe human rights violations including deaths of tens of people according to many reliable reports. Consequently last year, U.N. appointed Ahmad Shahid as its Special Reporter to investigate the human rights abuses at the hands of the Iranian regime after the 2009 election [4]. Unfortunately, Khamenei-Ahmadinejad regime neither allowed Ahmad Shahid to travel to Iran nor responded to any of his questions. Instead, Mohammad-Javad Larijani, regime’s so called “general secretary of high council for human rights” at the 19th UNHRC session in Geneva, denounced Ahmad Shahid and his report.

Any conscious human being can easily find the behavior of IRI (Islamic Republic of Iran) regime and its agents outrageous. However, in order to understand the depth of the tyranny in this regime and its relevance to Abbas Maleki, I would like to take you back to the summer of 1988 when following to a decree by Khomeini, thousands of political prisoners were massacred by summary executions [5, 6]. These facts are reported and confirmed by numerous reliable sources including Geoffrey Roberston QC [7, 8, 9].

Abbas Maleki’s resume states that he was a key figure at the Foreign Ministry of Iranian regime in 1988, the year when those massacres started. During the period of 1989 to 1997 that Abbas Maleki was the Deputy Foreign Minister; his ministry was either preventing or stonewalling international organizations which were trying to investigate those killings. These facts are reflected in annual reports of Reynaldo Galindo Pohl, U.N. Special Envoy to Iran from 1986 to 1995 [10, 11].

Abbas Maleki has continued helping the IRI regime to stay in power by holding key positions including acting as the adviser to Ali Khamenei, the current Supreme Leader of IRI regime [12]. Maleki should be held responsible for the crimes that IRI regime has committed against Iranian people and humanity throughout decades that he has collaborated with the regime at very high levels.

Abbas Malaki, while enjoying his fellowship at MIT CIS, has recorded a video at MIT dated Feb. 14, 2012 with an MIT CIS background [13]. In this video, aside from abusing MIT facilities to lobby for the IRI regime without expressing his true identity to the MIT community, he indicates that he travels back and forth to Iran freely. He ends his video by giving accounts of “life in Iran” as if nothing has ever happened and people are going about their lives as usual and then asks for ending the sanctions against Iran which is the biggest wish of the IRI regime. Despite being in touch with daily life in Iran, Abbas Malaki does not say anything about the recent events and obvious violations of the people in Iran by the regime. When renowned lawyers such as Nasrin Sotoodeh and Abolfath Soltani are imprisoned for defending their clients’ rights according to the laws of the IRI regime, one might imagine what this regime has done and is doing to the rest of its population.

A democratic and stable government can come to power in Iran sooner if the U.S. and its allies genuinely put Human Rights at the forefront of their short and long term dealings with the Iranian regime. A democratic Iran not only can bring peace and justice to its own people and stabilize the region but also can resolve international concerns about Iran including its nuclear issues.

Stephen Kinzer in his well-documented book titled All the Shah’s Men explains that the democratic government of Mosaddegh was overthrown by CIA because he had nationalized the Iranian oil. He concludes that restoring Shah to the throne and allowing him to impose a tyranny, ultimately sparked the Islamic Revolution of 1979 which has become the main headache of the U.S. and the world. The U.S. should not make another grand mistake by acting unjustly against the real interest of the Iranian people again, namely by limiting its negotiations with the Iranian regime to nuclear issues only.

After the 2009 fraudulent presidential elections, an unprecedented number of Iranian people came to the streets to claim their stolen votes while asking for human rights and democracy. Unfortunately, the Obama administration lost that exceptional opportunity for supporting the cause of the Iranian people who wanted to bring democracy to their country. President Obama instead chose to follow the advice of Iranian lobbyists like Trita Parsi and his NIAC organization and failed to support the peaceful Iranian protesters against the regime. Then Obama administration recognized the presidency of Ahmadinejad to appease the regime in his wishful thinking of not jeopardizing the nuclear negations with Iran. This was yet another classic mistake of the U.S. settling for little short term interests against the just, vital, and long lasting benefits of the U.S. and the world, let alone Iran.

To achieve a stable, reliable, and democratic government in Iran, the U.S. must make human rights and democracy the main pillars of its policy towards Iran. Even if the West can resolve its nuclear conflicts with Iran, they should continue the current sanctions against the IRI regime and use those as an effective tool for forcing the regime to genuinely allow the Iranian people to benefit from the universal norms of human rights so they can establish a democratic government in their country and bring peace and prosperity to the region.

Aside from the governments, every individual and/or organization can play an important positive or negative role in the process of achieving democracy in Iran. People such as Larry King and even Charlie Rose decided to invite Ahmadinejad to boost their program ratings without being able to effectively questioning him about his government’s vast violations of human rights while Ahmadinejad used their outlets to spread his lies. But worse is to see that academic institutions such as MIT CIS give position and venue to individuals like Abbas Maleki who should be prosecuted for his key roles in IRI regime and his current support of it. And the worst is to learn that Jim Walsh of CIS is so proud of his dealing with IRI regime that he plans to give a talk at MIT under the title of “My 5 Dinners with Ahmadinejad”. Such appeasements make the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad regime to have more illusions thus sadly prolonging the suffering of the Iranian people. This tyrannical regime will fall sooner if it and its agents do not receive such political supports from outside.

Ali Talebinejad received his MS in ’85 and his PhD in ’92.


[1] MIT CIS Starr Forum: “A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran.”Speaker: Trita Parsi (book author); Abbas Maleki (discussant), Stephen Kinzer (moderator), March 14, 2012

[2] “It Takes Two to Engage”, by Sohrab Ahmari, Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2012

[3] CV of Abbas Maleki posted on KAS

[4] “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran”, by Ahmad Shahid, United Nations, March 6, 2012

[5] Khomeini’s Decree Ordering the Execution of Political Prisoners in 1988

[6] Khomeini fatwa ‘led to killing of 30,000 in Iran, The Telegraph, February 4, 2001

[7] “The UN must try Iran’s 1988 murderers: (The mass murderers of 1988 now hold power in Tehran. The world must make them face justice)”, by Geoffrey Robertson QC, Guardian, June 7, 2010

[8] “The Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran, 1988, Report of an Inquiry”,
Geoffrey Robertson QC, Boroumand Foundation, April 18, 2011

[9] “Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice”,
Geoffrey Robertson, 2006, The New Press, ISBN: 1-59558-071-9

[10] “A History of United Nations Special Representatives and Rapporteurs in Iran”

[11] “Report on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran”, by UN Special Representative of the Commission, Reynaldo Galindo Pohl, January16, 1995.

[12] “Abbas Maleki’s resume for Caspian Studies”

[13] “Abbas Maleki on improving Iran-U.S. relations”, MITvideo, February 14, 2012

Andrew Farrell about 12 years ago

So, I will start by admitting that my depth of knowledge extends really only to reading some books on Iranian history, (including Kinzer's, which needs to be made into a movie starring Aaron Eckhart), paying attention to various international news sources, and conversing with a couple acquaintances from Iran.

The impression I had gotten was that the best thing our government could do to help the protesters is to appear to have no involvement whatsoever. To help them overtly (or worse, covertly such that we are caught) would make the protesters appear to be traitors. This is not to say we are powerless; we have influence on other powers such as India or Turkey whose hands are not so tainted.

Tohid Azizi almost 12 years ago

I'm deeply impressed by this nice resolution!

Using the author opinion, to solve any problem in the world, we can go through this path:

1- Silence and strangle any alternative voice. Never let media to talk to anybody but our adherents, and never try to listen or understand others.

2- Anybody who was, is, or intend to be in contact with any government that we don't like, should be fired from US universities immediately.

3- Any country that doesn't comply with US policy, should put on sanction. Either it make them to comply, or it kill them by hunger, and the world become a better place!

Anonymous almost 12 years ago

The above piece shows how far secular Iranians will like to strangle Iranian Muslims to be just like them. Rarely believers of Islam, they called upon economic sanction to subjugate Iranian Muslims and forced Iranian Muslims to tiptoe to the prescription sought by the author and his ilk. How could the author spoke about "fraudulent elections" without lying when public opinion collected by Americans showed otherwise: http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/feb10/IranElection_Feb10_rpt.pdf

Does the author really want to repeat the lies a million times so that the lies could become the talking point of the day?

The author also called upon America politicians to teach Iranians about human rights? Was the author sleeping before and since 9/11? How many human right abuses had these "preachers of human rights" committed? Didn't this nation just jailed a man last week in Boston for his thought? So, where does the author get the courage to demand American politicians to teach Iranian Muslims about human rights? The moment all those Americans who supported the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were punished for "crimes against humanity", then they can talk about other countries.

Finally, when the regime fell, what kind of regime would substitute it? Iranian Muslims would do everything in their power to resist secular Iranians:read page 16 of the poll.