The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. In this case, I’m not even certain the intentions are good. The NIAC blog reports that one of Congress’ most stalwart pro-Israel members, Howard Berman, and Mike Pence will propose a resolution to support the Iranian opposition:
According to CQ, the House will vote tomorrow on a bipartisan resolution expressing support for Iranian dissidents who have been demonstrating since the presidential election last week.
House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman (D-Calif.) joined with Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) on a resolution condemning the violence against the protesters, the suppression of communication technologies, and affirming “the universality of individual rights.”
This measure is almost guaranteed to pass–probably with an overwhelming number of votes–which will unfortunately put the Congress directly at odds with the White House in responding to the crisis in Iran. Up to now, the President has been very cautious not to be seen as choosing one side over the other in the election dispute, saying he doesn’t want the US to become the story inside Iran. But the Congress seems poised to speak out more vocally on the subject, choosing to come down squarely on the side of the dissidents.
The Iranian opposition doesn’t need our help. At least it doesn’t need this kind of “help.” This resolution is nothing but grandstanding. Berman in particular knows that such a move by Congress will serve actually to harm the reformist forces since within five minutes of passage the Iranian media will be trumpeting it as evidence of U.S. meddling in Iran’s internal affairs.
Moussavi’s movement is quite capable of maneuvering within the complex set of variables that now exist internally within Iran. What they DON’T need is external mischief making by alleged do-gooders who really care very little about Iranians or the reform movement.
Pres. Obama has handled the crisis perfectly thus far. His response has been pitch perfect. Don’t rock the boat, guys. Let the president BE the president. Let him conduct foreign policy just like the Constitution commissions him to do. Instead of a bunch of Congressional yahoos pretending that they know something about Iran, why don’t they pass a few bills the country really needs?
There is also speculation at NIAC blog about what role Hashemi Rafsanjani is playing. At this point the following is total speculation, but it is interesting speculation nonetheless:
I’ve been watching intently for any signs that Rafsanjani will tip his hand. As of this point, he’s been working largely behind the scenes. He reportedly called an emergency meeting of the Assembly of Experts yesterday, which (we can only speculate) might have been intended to raise questions about Khamenei’s fitness to remain as Supreme Leader. (The Assembly of Experts is in charge of naming Khamenei’s successor, and has some oversight responsibility for the Supreme Leader).
Though we’ve heard conflicting reports about him resigning from his very powerful government posts, he has yet to reveal his positions publicly. In my opinion, if Rafsanjani comes out of the woodwork and joins the demonstrations, the entire situation will be changed drastically.
If this news is correct, the hardliners understand the threat, and are trying to neutralize it.
NY Times’ The Lede also asks where Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been hiding these past few days. I find it interesting there have been no government-sponsored demonstrations to counter the reformist rallies that have populated Teheran every day this week. Could it be the president is on the defensive regarding his “victory?” Could it be there is a developing split between Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollah that has weakened the former?