Solidarity Iran

Solidarity Iran
June 16th, 2007  

Topic: Solidarity Iran

Solidarity Iran
By Kenneth R. Timmerman | June 15, 2007

June 14, 2007 – When you read these lines I will be in Paris, attending what promises to be a historic conference of Iranian opposition groups where they plan to announce a new initiative to support pro-democracy forces inside Iran.

They call themselves Solidarity Iran, a conscious reminder of the defiant labor movement inside Poland that helped bring about the end of the Cold War.

Solidarity’s leader, Lech Walesa, went on to become the first freely-elected president of liberated Poland. While the Solidarity Iran organizers do not plan to elect a single leader, they do anticipate the election this weekend of a representative council to represent the group in the months to come as it tours world capitals to build support for the freedom struggle inside Iran.

Why is this historic? Because for 28 years, the Iranian opposition has been fatally divided, unable to present a united front, unable to forge a vision of the future capable of taming the demons of the past.

Several attempts to create a similar, broad-based opposition movement have failed before. For 28 years, opposition leaders in exile have expended great zeal and energy fighting each other instead of fighting the regime. Some continue to do so today. As one skeptic told me recently, “it’s in our genes.”

Some of these leaders cling to hopeless notions they can bring back the Pahlavi dynasty, whose mismanagement and inept brutality helped bring about the 1979 revolution. (Jimmy Carter and the British did much of the political heavy lifting, while the Soviet Union and the PLO provided material support to pro-Khomeini terrorists who murdered former regime members and seized the US embassy).

Ironically, the monarch they would restore – Reza Pahlavi – has expressed little interest in becoming king, although he has said he would serve as a constitutional monarch, in the style of Juan Carlos of Spain, should the Iranian people chose such a government freely.

Others have more to fear from a united opposition front, because it will expose their own lack of legitimacy.

The Iranian political opposition is vibrant, eclectic, prideful, and disorganized. There are hundreds of one-man and one-women organizations floating around, from Los Angeles to Houston to Paris and Berlin, all claiming to represent the Iranian people. These good souls should put their shoulder to the plough, and if so talented, pen to paper and hand to wallet, to support the broad non-partisan goals of Solidarity Iran.

As the Iranian regime races toward nuclear weapons capability, there is little time to get this right, and a sense of urgency impels Solidarity Iran organizers. They know they don’t have another two or three years to build a mass movement. By that time, the regime will have become a nuclear weapons state, backed by Russia, China and North Korea, and the Western democracies will be lining up to pay their respects in exchange for “peace.”

But much work has already been done. Two preparatory conferences, on a much smaller scale, were held in Berlin in September 2005 and in London last June, to hammer out the basic principles on which democratic opposition organizations could agree.

“This initiative is unique and unprecedented in the Iranian political scene”, said Hossein Bagher Zadeh, a founder member of the initiative. “The Iranian political class is very fragmented, and activists have usually worked on party lines. Efforts to unify the opposition have always been aimed at creating exclusive clubs on ideological or political grounds.”

Solidarity Iran hopes to break through this morass through a set of organizing principles, set out in the Berlin Charter, “which puts establishing democracy and human rights as our ultimate objective and recognizes the inalienable right of the Iranian people to determine the form and particulars of the government system in a democratic manner,” he said.

The Berlin chart excludes “all forms of oligarchic rule,” whether by monarch, cult, or mullah, Bagher Zadeh added.

The U.S. government is following these latest efforts of Iranian pro-freedom activists with interest, both at the State Department and at the White House.

For 1995, the United States has refused to fund any Iranian opposition organizations, for fear of provoking Tehran and because the opposition was not united.


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