In yet another failure of the Bush administration that will not go away, the Baluchestan-based Sunni terrorist group Jundallah launched a suicide attack in the city of Pishin this weekend, killing 57. Among the dead, fifteen members (several senior) of the Revolutionary Guard. With the group apparently timing its actions to exploit the crisis plaguing the country, both Mousavi and Karoubi came out and strongly condemned the act.
The Bush connection dates back to 2008, when veteran and well-connected New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh broke news of a clandestine Bush program that backed opposition groups inside Iran. In his piece, Hersh details how members of Congress secretly agreed to appropriate $400 million for the White House's pet-program. Among the groups that were armed was Jundallah.
As for the soft-power side of the policy, the Obama Administration has all but killed the Iran Democracy Fund project. The program, also started by neoconservatives in the Bush White House, aimed to topple the regime by financing Iranian NGOs. The program was more than a failure: not only did no group take the money, but it enabled Iranian authorities to accuse any Iranian NGO of having received funds from the United States. A pretext for arrest and censorship was handed to the Iranian government. Predictably, Iranian activists and dissidents have hailed the move while neoconservatives have opposed it.
The development also complicates negotiations. Just as the Islamic Republic and the United States (through its leadership of the P5+1) are on the verge of a breakthrough agreement on the nuclear front, the disasters of the previous administration come back to lower the United States' stature and bargaining position. Much like how Abu Ghraib somewhat silenced the U.S. when allegations of torture began coming out of Iran, the regime again has a trump card as negotiations with the United States are sure to expand. In fact, Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani has already said that the United States’ denial of backing the Jundullah is "unacceptable."
But domestically, whatever Western meddling that occurred during the Bush years is unlikely to have an effect on the public, and definitely not on the Green opposition. With IRIB's propaganda growing more ridiculous by the day, any rallying effect there may have previously come from the attacks towards the government is now likely extinguished. This may ultimately be the tale of the coup that cried wolf.
Absurd charges of "Western interference" have been being made since June. Showtrials achieved a new, Stalinesque low in the country's history. Men and Woman were raped, tortured and murdered alike. To have blamed these atrocities on foreign hands was the ultimate insult to the people, and one which will not soon be forgotten. Any charges of Western interference coming now -- however legitimate they may be -- are thus unlikely to elicit much support. In other words, there will be no rally around that proverbial flag.
Executed for treason, in the United States and Iran
17 hours ago