Home     Writers     Op/Ed     Book Reviews     News     Bookstore     Photoshops     Submit     Search     Contact Us     Advertise  
  You are here: 





Why Roxana?
Thursday, 23 April 2009 20:40
by Dr. Triti Parsi

Tehran's sentencing of Roxana Saberi to eight years of prison for spying has shocked people inside and outside the country. At a time when President Barack Obama is seeking a dialogue with Tehran, what kind of a signal does Roxana's sentencing send, especially given that the trial failed to meet the basic standards set by international conventions to which Iran is party?

According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI), the Iranian authorities didn't even disclose the laws she allegedly violated, nor did they announce under what article of the law she was indicted.

Saberi, an Iranian-American journalist who has been living in Iran since 2003, was first arrested in January. She was accused of buying wine. The allegation was later changed to engaging in illegal activities by continuing to report after her press credentials were revoked in 2006. Then, during her closed-door trail on April 13, 2009, the authorities changed the charge once again. Now she was accused of spying for the US government.

As Hadi Ghaemi of ICHRI has pointed out, "to arrest Saberi for buying wine and suddenly uncover evidence a week before her trial that she was spying for the United States government lacks credibility."

So why is this happening to Saberi? Most analyst agree that she has become a pawn in the political games between the US and Iran, though the explanations for Tehran's actions differ.

One theory reads that both Saberi and Esha Momeni, another Iranian American who was arrested in 2008, will be used as leverage with the US in a future negotiation, possibly to exchange for two Iranian nationals taken by US forces in a 2007 raid of the Iranian consulate in Irbil, Iraq. Tehran maintains that the two Iranians are diplomats. The Bush administration said that they were Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps agents. (US forces arrested five Iranians - three of them have been released, but two of them remain in US custody.)

Some have speculated that the case is an effort by hardliners in the Iranian Judiciary who seek to undermine US-Iran negotiations. This would fit an old pattern in which Iranian hardliners often used their influence in the Judiciary or the Intelligence ministry to create roadblocks for any US-Iran diplomacy. President Ahmadinejad's public comments that Saberi should be given the opportunity to appeal her case, may support this theory. But it's election season in Iran and Ahmadinejad's comments may also be an effort to boost his popularity with the voters by seeking to eliminate roadblocks to improved US-Iran relations (US-Iran rapprochement enjoys strong support among the Iranian populace).

Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.

Alternatively, the Saberi arrest and sentencing may be an effort to sustain the elevated security environment in Iran. The Iranian authorities used tensions with the US, as well as the Bush administration's extensive threats of bombing Iran, to create a heightened security environment in the country to clamp down on internal dissent and deter human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists from challenging the government.

The Obama administration's outreach to Iran, and the President's extensive efforts to change the atmospherics between the two countries - particularly the signal that problems between the US and Iran cannot be resolved through threats and his consistent reference to the Islamic Republic - have largely deprived the Iranian government of the pretext of a perceived US threat.

Saberi's case may be an effort to retain elements of that atmosphere and signal the population that even though the US and Iran may have a dialogue soon, no one should think that regime's internal red lines can be questioned and challenged now. Though most human rights defenders agree that a US-Iran rapprochement will in the long run be very beneficial for the human rights situation in Iran (Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, favors talks on these grounds, for instance), there are signs that a lowering of US-Iran tensions may create a short-term backlash against pro-democracy and human rights forces in the country.

But the motivation of the Iranian authorities may also be of a completely different nature. Tehran has signaled that there is a general consensus among the many power factions in Iran that a dialogue with Washington should be pursued. One of the hesitations that exist, however, is whether President Obama has the ability to deliver and the resolve to stand up against the many forces in Washington - domestic and otherwise - that oppose a US-Iran rapprochement.

Entering into a diplomatic process that fails, many in Tehran fear, would strengthen the case for international sanctions against Iran - as well as potential military action. Just as much as Washington has its many legitimate concerns about Iran's sincerity and ability to come to an agreement with the US in spite of its anti-American ideology, Tehran has its concerns about Washington's - not just President Obama's - intentions and ability to come to terms with the Iranian government.

In his reaction to Obama's Norooz message, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, hinted of Iran's hesitations. Insisting that "Changes in words are not adequate," Khamenei asked: "I would like to say that I do not know who makes decisions for America, the president, the congress, behind the scene elements?"

Saberi's case may be aimed at testing President Obama and his resolve at the earliest possible stage. Will the president continue to push for a dialogue in spite of the backlash from anti-dialogue forces in Washington - and will he prevail?

These potential explanations for Tehran's actions may not be mutually exclusive. Similarly, none of them may be valid either - outside speculation about Tehran's motives may once more be off the mark. But mindful of the Iranian Judiciary's handling of the case, the least credible explanation is that Saberi is a spy.
More from this author:
Iran, the Inflatable Bogey (4189 Hits)
by Dr. Trita Parsi Benjamin Netanyahu would like Americans and Israelis to believe that it’s 1938 all over again: Iran, he tells us, is...
By only focusing on most extreme, radical notions coming out of Tehran, we let radicals win (4067 Hits)
by Dr. Trita Parsi Iran’s firebrand President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad received the worst possible welcome in New York, yet he managed to...
The Iranian Challenge (3755 Hits)
by Dr. Trita Parsi Iran will be the top foreign policy challenge for the United States in the coming years. The Bush Administration's policy...
Is Iran NIE a Blessing in Disguise for Israel? (4481 Hits)
by Dr. Trita Parsi The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate's assertion that Iran currently does not have a nuclear weapons programme has caused...
The Case for Talking to Tehran (4158 Hits)
by Dr. Trita Parsi Israel is in state of strategic paralysis. Its longstanding policy on Iran — depict Tehran as a global threat, pressure...
Related Articles:
Letter to Editor - The most credible explanation is Espionage! Response to: Why Roxana? (2534 Hits)
by Zahir Ebrahim April 23, 2009, How does one tell where a native informant stops and a patsy starts? It is easy to tell when one does...

Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Comments (2)add comment

Project Humanbeingsfirst.org said:

The most credible explanation is that of Espionage!
How does one tell where a native informant stops and a patsy starts?

It is easy to tell when one does not bring the perspectives of history to bear on current affairs, when one analyzes motivations and geopolitics without bringing to bear the agendas of the hectoring hegemons.

In response to this summary statement by Dr. Parsi to his article "Why Roxana?": "But mindful of the Iranian Judiciary's handling of the case, the least credible explanation is that Saberi is a spy.", I would like to humbly reproduce below my letter to editor emailed to the UK Observer the moment their story appeared on April 18, 2009. I doubt if they will print it. To me, the most credible explanation is the prima facie one, that of Espionage!

The modern history of Iran is replete with the subversion by the Western hegemons. I am surprised Dr. Parsi omitted all of that while making his speculations above - from the CIA's disposal of Mossadeg in 1953 and the installation of the Shah to the terrorism of Jundallah inflicted upon the beleagured Iranian peoples today - is one long chain of subversion. Even the Westerners' own presses now replay it. For instance, see Bill Moyers "The Secret Government (CIA Overthrow of Mossadeq)" : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaGCJmCAJ40

I would ammend my last sentence in my letter reproduced below appropriately for my comment to Dr. Parsi's article by rephrasing it as follows: "Except perhaps the UK Observer and Dr. Trita Parsi."


Letter to Editor – Iran jails US journalist Roxana Saberi as spy

April 18, 2009, 10:30 PM PST

In ref. to the article in the Sunday Observer “Iran jails US journalist Roxana Saberi as spy”, the charge by Iran of espionage is not unbelievable. The following passages are excerpted from the memoirs of the Director of Pakistan's ISI. In his 1996 book “Profiles of Intelligence”, Brig. Tirmazi stated:

' - As soon as the PNA movement gathered momentum, a large number of foreigners, particularly Americans descended on Pakistan in the garb of freelance journalists, reporters, observers, and photographers to cover the events. These men and women loaded with cameras, tape recorders and money seemed to have done their home-work well and were also being fed locally by invisible sources. They all seemed to know the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of every one who was any one in politics. It would be interesting to note that, (thanks to our days of slavery, we still have not overcome the 'white skin' phobia) most of our politicians were not only always available to these manipulators but would actually feel elated on getting a call from them and would pour out whatever they had in their minds. Every day, we in the ISI received a flood of telegrams that these journalists would send home and it was surprising to know who all they were speaking to and what information and political analysis they received.

- All that was being sent out by these so-called foreign journalists, who were actually CIA operators, was being beamed back on Pakistan as psychological warfare and propaganda aimed at building up a scenario of ZAB's fall.

- A number of diplomats were not only actively involved but also directed the operations against ZAB. Jan M. Gibney, Political Officer, US Consulate General, Lahore, duly assisted by a couple of Pakistanis, was extremely active and would frequently visit a number of politicians. It was Gibney who had telephoned and conveyed to Howard B. Schaffer, Chief of Political Affairs, US Embassy, Islamabad, that notorious sentence, "The party is over. Merchandise has gone." ZAB had retorted by saying, "Party is not yet over. Elephant has long ears......" '

This is the reality of superpower espionage, covert-warfare ( http://tinyurl.com/67mf59 ), and all know it. Except perhaps the UK Observer.

Thank you.

Zahir Ebrahim

United States of America.

April 24, 2009 | url
Votes: +1

Ray Errol Fox said:

Free Roxana
Thank you for your concise, astute comments regarding the Roxana Saberi situation, made all the more worthy by their calm, sound reasoning. I'm a little more wrought-up about the matter. I was a journalist in Iran many years ago and know how easily--and unwittingly--one can stray from the line of government-accepted conduct. Roxana's effort to buy a bottle of wine strikes me as one of those inadvertent, costly errors. Moreover, I believe if she were a man, her "offense" would have been viewed differently. As it is, Roxana's a young woman facing terrifying conditions, and we must help her. Her fiance, Kurdish-Iranian filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi, has written an emotional open letter to her which I've posted at www.sonofthecucumberking.com under "Free Roxana." I've also included information easily enabling people to make their voices heard. Please use it to write to the Iranian government and let them know we care. My thanks to all in advance.
April 25, 2009 | url
Votes: +1

Write comment
smaller | bigger



Top 123