|Southwest Asia News Digest
Khatami Calls for Referendum on Legitimacy of Elections
July 20 (EIRNS)Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has called for a national referendum on the legitimacy of the June 12 Presidential elections. His call was in support the June 17 sermon by another former President, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who criticized the government, while calling for unity and restoring the people's faith in the government. Lyndon LaRouche noted that Rafsanjani's sermon had involved the universal principles embodied in the Prophet Mohamad's teachings and political activity, and demonstrated that the fight in Iran involves such universal principles of natural law. Another observer pointed out that Rafsanjani's sermon also invoked the 1906 Iranian Constitutional Revolution.
Khatami, in a message on his website, wrote: "The only way out of the current situation is to hold a referendum. People should be asked whether they are happy with the current situation.... If the vast majority of people are happy with the current situation, we will accept it as well. As Rafsanjani said, public trust should be returned to the society.... We announced from the start that there are legal ways to bring back that trust, but our calls were ignored. I say again that the only solution is to consider people's votes and hold a legal referendum."
The New York Times reports that Rafsanjani traveled over the July 18-29 weekend to Mashhad to consult with other leading clerics in an apparent effort to gain support for his efforts.
A senior Middle East expert pointed to another significant aspect to Rafsanjani's sermon: In discussing the 1979 Revolution, he mentioned that Ayatollah Khomeini had named Mehdi Bazargan as his first prime minister, as the first step to closing down the Revolutionary Council, which had been established to prosecute the Revolution, and as the beginning of establishing a new Constitution based on Islamic republican principles.
This source said the significance is twofold.
First, Bazargan, a moderate Islamic thinker, was also an engineer, whom Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh had named to head the Iranian National Oil Company in 1951, after Mossadegh nationalized the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Two years later, Mossadegh was overthrown by a British-orchestrated and U.S.-backed coup. Therefore, Bazargan represented the link between Islamists and the National Front of Mossadegh, and thus, the continuity between the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the Constitutional Revolution of 1906.
That earlier revolution, in which Mossadegh was a participant, along with several mentors of Khomeini, established the first Majlis (parliament). As imperfect as it was, it included all principal sectors of societyincluding secular nationalists, merchants, Shi'a religious clerics, Bahi'as, Zoroastrians, and Christians. Since the founding of the Majlis in 1907, the British have never ceased their bloody attempts to crush it. The United States openly supported the Constitutional Revolution.
Second, according to this source, the naming of Bazargan as prime minister in 1979 was also an attempt to open the door to the United States. His administration was completely undermined by the taking of the hostages at the American Embassy. Bazargan resigned because he could not secure the release of the hostages.
U.S. Defense Official Warns Against Israeli Attack on Iran
July 2O (EIRNS)With Defense Secretary Robert Gates expected to make a visit to Israel on July 27, an unnamed "senior U.S. defense official" told the Jerusalem Post that an Israeli strike on Iran could be destabilizing and adversely affect U.S. interests.
"A unilateral third-party attack on Iran's nuclear program could have profoundly destabilizing consequences, and it wouldn't just affect the general level of stability in the region. It would affect Israel's security and it would affect our interests, and the safety of our forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere," the official said, when asked if the U.S. expected Israel to inform it of any decision to strike Iran. "It's a pretty big deal, and given the closeness of our relationship with Israel, I think we would hope that they would take those strategic calculations into account."
As for Iran's program, he said the United States and Israel have similar assessments, but that despite recent post-election events in Iran, "We don't see any evidence that there's been a political decision made to accelerate or decelerate" the nuclear program.
Regarding Syria, he said, "There is a change, in that Syria is increasingly willing to have a productive conversation with us," and "there's reason to be cautiously optimistic. I think the Syrians have expressed a genuine desire that I think raises the possibility that they may be open to fundamentally changing their relationship with us and reentering the Arab fold." The official called for restarting peace talks between Israel and Syria.