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IRAN: Roxana Saberi speaks, aftershocks continue

Thin and pale, but nonetheless overjoyed, Roxana Saberi today made her first public appearance since her release from prison Monday after more than three months in detention. Saberi's apparently free to leave Iran for the U.S. But the after-effects of the Iranian American journalist's arrest and stunning release from prison will continue.

Saberi appeared before reporters in front of her north Tehran apartment building for no more than a minute or two, making a brief statement:. 

"I’m of course very happy to be free and with my parents again.and I want to thank all the people all over the world -- which I’m just finding out about, really -- who, whether they knew me or not, helped me and my family during this period. I don’t have any specific plans for the moment I just want to be with my parents and my friends and relax."

Her father, Reza Saberi, appeared alongside her. He said international pressure got his daughter released. He told reporters it was possible that she would begin working again, though first she'd have to recover from her long ordeal. He was careful with his words. 

The previous night, hours after Roxana's release, Reza Saberi appeared at a forum at a cultural center operated by the Austrian government. Instead of speaking about his daughter or his family's plight, he delivered a speech on the merits of Persian poetry, mysticism and Islam, much to the confusion of the swarm of reporters gathered.

Observers whispered that some kind of deal must have been struck behind the scenes. 

"Was Roxana a victim of politics?" a reporter asked Reza Saberi at today's impromptu news conference. 

He paused. 

"It’s possible," he said. 

Some analysts abroad speculated that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad secured Saberi's release to score points ahead of June 12 presidential elections. But his calls for the judiciary to review the case more likely were an effort at damage control meant to prevent him from losing potential supporters. 

Indeed, far from praising Ahmadinejad for helping secure Saberi's release, his rivals were sharpening the knives. 

"What is the point of the government making up a dossier about a woman and then botching up the dossier and having to release her?" conservative presidential candidate Mohsen Rezai asked an audience at Tehran's Sharif University. 

The crowd erupted with hearty applause and cheers.

-- Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran and Borzou Daragahi in Beirut
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Comment from another commentator at another site with relevance to these comments;
The hasbara brigade strikes again!
How Israel government coordinate web attacks on her adversaries.

After 30 years of dealing with the United States and Europe, the Iranian regime has mastered two qualities: How to achieve objectives by bullying and blackmail; and, how to recycle its political refuse and reuse it in the US.

There is not much new to comment on regarding three decades of blackmail. The history is speaks for itself: The US embassy hostage taking, a decade of hostage trading in Lebanon, kidnapping the Middle East peace process in the 1990s and finally, with the fall of Saddam Hussein and the weakening of Palestinian authority, using the regional stability as a bargain chip.

Mohammad Khatami's recent candidacy for presidency illustrates Mullahs masterful art in selling an archaic political system as an example of good governance and indigenous democracy. The United States has been so far one of the prime consumers of this Iranian "democratic" masquerade. In their endeavor to sell their mockery, the Mullahs have enjoyed the support of some American friends. Let's have a look at some comments by the Iran-experts:

Suzanne Maloney (Brookings Institution): "Iran has been a functioning democracy - albeit very limited - since the revolution in 1979. There have been something along the lines of 21 national elections in 22 years, and they have taken place even at times of great tension." (Brookings Institution, June 11, 2001)

Ray Takeyh (senior expert at CFR): "Iran's Islamic polity largely reflects fundamental features of democracy: free elections, separation of powers, freedom of assembly and a vibrant press." (MEPC October 2000)

Ambassador Robert H. Pelletreau: "There are many who find the Iranian electoral system imperfect, especially the vetting role of the Council of Guardians, but we should also recognize the elements of democracy which are present: choice among candidates, public debate over programs and positions, and the secret ballot." 1

In addition to legitimizing the Theocratic regime, these Iran experts have also tried to fuel a permanent hope that the Iranian power structure is experiencing a self-transformation to a more pragmatic regime that will eventually accommodate international norms. For these experts, whatever happens in Iran, there would be an emerging pragmatic leader ready to have a deal with the U.S! It suffices to be "expert" and discover these genuine leaders with hidden qualities.

After 15 years of presenting Rafsanjani as a moderate and Khatami as a reformist, it was Ahmadinejad's turn. Ray Takeyh found an original designation for Ahmadinejad and called him the "assertive nationalists."2 Gary Sick called him a prideful man with a sense of Iranian pride.3
When this pridful and assertive nationalist started to disgust the public opinion, it was time to find a new window of hope. It was Commander Ali Larijani's turn. Once again, the prize goes to Ray Takeyh who holds the record in discovering moderates in Tehran. In his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on September 19, 2006, Takeyh called Larijani the leader of new generation of realists in Tehran:
“Realists: One of the most important actors in Iran today is the powerful Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani. As the leader of a new generation of realists that evolved in the intelligence community in the 1990s, this cohort’s has predominant influence over the direction of Iran’s international relations.”

Then, Trita Parsi, the president of NIAC called Larijani a "former hawk-turned-relative pragmatist":4 This masterful art of recycling the former commanders of the Revolutionary Guards reached new summits of imagination when it was Tehran mayor Ghalibaf's turn. New York Times writer Alan Cowell called him an "authoritarian modernizer"!5

"Among the contenders in attendance this year is Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf, the 46-year-old mayor of Tehran who is being urged by some to run for the presidency of Iran next year as an “authoritarian modernizer.”

Maziar bahari went further and wrote in Newsweek about Ghalibaf's unheard qualities:6

"But where Ahmadinejad is confrontational and "showboaty," Ghalibaf is a pragmatist with a reputation for getting things done. The president spent much of his previous career as a junior bureaucrat, while the mayor's résumé lists one overachievement after another.

As top cop he won yet more fans. In 2003 he did something virtually unheard of: he quelled a student protest without bloodshed by holding talks with student leaders and ordering his men not to use batons or guns in dispersing the crowds."

Here we are. The Iranian regime's new spring electoral circus has been launched. No doubt, some American journalist will compete to have a front seat for the show in Tehran. Expect that they will do their best to recycle the Iranian regime's political refuse and sell it to the American public again.

If the world community had this attention to Zahra Kazemi, she would be probably alive now. Roxana, thank God for the world attention!


She is another victim of the dirty political game among the ruling dinosaurs of Tehran. There is absolutely no limit on how low the mad mullahs would get to save their power. She was able to get out because of the world wide attention to her case and the pressure on the government of Iran. But let’s not forget there are many others, like Sylvia Hartounian, who are hopelessly in Evin prison waiting for a miracle to happen.

When Roxana Saberi was arrested and tried I thought this will play out that she will be released. I become more convinced that should be released when the Iran kept her in the news. I think Iran is tiring to make the world that are reasonable people. There are some reasonable people in Iran to day but not those in charge of the government now.


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