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Rumi - Quotes
 
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
― Rumi

  
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.”
― Rumi

 
“If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”
― Rumi

 
“The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was.
Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along.”
― Rumi

 
“What you seek is seeking you.”
― Rumi

 
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
― Rumi

 
“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.”
― Rumi

 
“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?”
― Rumi

 
“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.”
― Rumi

 
“Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free.”
― Rumi

 
“When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you're not here, I can't go to sleep.
Praise God for those two insomnias!
And the difference between them.”
― Rumi

 
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
― Rumi

 
“Ignore those that make you fearful and sad, that degrade you back towards disease and death.”
― Rumi
 
“Knock, And He'll open the door
Vanish, And He'll make you shine like the sun
Fall, And He'll raise you to the heavens
Become nothing, And He'll turn you into everything.”
― Rumi

 
“Forget safety.
Live where you fear to live. Destroy your
reputation. Be notorious.”
― Rumi

 
“My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there.”
― Rumi

 
“In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.”
― Rumi
 
    

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No Sanctions Relief until Ali Khamnei steps down
 
Iran policy is an acid test for U.S. President’s devotion to principle, as pro-democracy Iranians urge Obama for no sanctions relief until Khamenei is ousted
  
By Freydoon Khoie

President Obama and the American congress should be reminded that not only the Israelis, Saudis, Iraqis, Syrians, Bahrainis and Yemenis are wishing Khamenei’s regime will wither; far more importantly, 99% of the people of Iran are praying, hoping, demanding, fighting and working for an end to the loathed, despotic regime that has made life for the people of Iran worse than a hell on earth.

Any decisive action by President Obama and the U.S. congress that would help even remotely stabilize the rapidly sinking Khamenei regime would be considered a grand treachery and tantamount to back stabbing the long-suffering people of Iran. For too long we have sought to establish a secular political system, socio-economic justice, democracy, pluralism and maintain perfect peace and friendship with the international community. Relations with all our neighboring countries, including Palestine and Israel, must be strengthened while we resolve political and economic disputes through peaceful dialogue, civility and honor.

The good news in all this is that the ten years long U.S. led economic, political and diplomatic sanctions against the Khamnei’s regime have driven Iran’s economy to its knees and while the people have suffered tremendous pain, yet we have endured the agonies in the hope that sanctions would eventually break the back of the terrorist regime and bring about a fall of the regime and open the political space so that our pro-democracy forces are freed up to stand and start building a new secular political system based the principle of pluralism, free market and individual liberty and put an end to this 34 years of nightmare called Islamic republic dictatorship.

The vast majority of the people of Iran do not want an Islamist dictatorship regime. One in which they have no say on how our country’s social, economic and political issues are managed, while a few dozen mentally-deranged, fanatic, septuagenarian unelected Mullahs have the final say in the matter. By manipulating the power of government through sheer violence and brutality these tyrants are leading Iran towards further impoverishment, isolation, indignity, wars and destruction. To do so in the name of our beautiful, peace-loving and holy religion of Islam. We just cannot allow this to go any further and we must stop it at once and the sanctions have been the most effective tool.

The good news in all this is that the 10 years of U.S.-led economic, political and diplomatic sanctions against Khamenei’s regime has driven Iran’s economy to its knees; while the people have suffered tremendous pain, we have endured these awful agonies in the hope of that sanctions would eventually break the back of the terrorist regime and bring about its downfall. We would then be presented with a political space allowing our pro-democracy forces to be freed up to stand and start building a new secular political system based on the principle of pluralism, free market economics and individual liberties and put an end to this 34 year nightmare called the Islamic republic dictatorship.

To this end, we hope and pray that President Obama and the U.S. congress and will demonstrate their true commitment to the American idealism and American exceptionalism and encouraging the Europeans, Russians, Chinese and the Germans to stop negotiating with a universally acknowledged terrorist regime. That they tell the leaders of the regime that unless they respect the wishes of the people of Iran and allow free and fair elections, there will be no relief to sanctions. They need to add that the United States is morally and historically committed to the principles of democracy, human rights and free markets and that it will start openly support Iran’s pro-democracy movement and the Green movement for regime change, if Khamenei refuses to step down peacefully.

The pro-democracy people of Iran have been encouraged to see the Jewish American Adam Szubin, among the participants in the October 15-16 Iran sanctions talks with Khamenei’s regime in Geneva. Szubin administers most of Washington's sanctions against the Khamnei’s regime as the director of the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). His presence, and the agreement that he and other sanctions experts would have a follow-up meeting before the next round of negotiations on November 7, was a sign that the United States is willing to discuss easing sanctions if Tehran takes steps towards meaningful constitutional and political reforms as well as scaling back its nuclear program which the Pro-Democracy opposition leaders believe it is a bluff.

The U.S. government has imposed many different sanctions on Khamenei’s regime under many different legal authorities - some by executive order, some by legislation - raising questions about what relief the president could provide without congressional approval. In addition to obvious measures such as lifting executive orders and using his waiver authority to bypass restrictions imposed by law, president Obama has other options should he find it necessary to offer timely sanctions relief in exchange for substantive compromises on both political front and the alleged nuclear issue.

The Ilsa Precedent

To better understand these options, it is useful to examine how the United States’ executive branch has provided sanctions relief to Khamenei’s regime in the past. The most important example concerns the 1996 Iran and Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA), which mandated that one or more of a menu of sanctions be imposed in the event of large foreign investments ($20 million or more) in Iran's oil and gas industry. The law also provided for presidential waivers, either for individual investment projects or for all investments from a given third country.

The Clinton administration was pressured not to impose ILSA sanctions in the face of strong European government objections; governments that do not really care what the terrorist regime is doing to the people of Iran, claiming that they were extraterritorial applications of U.S. law. This is because Europeans and Russians in general - and the British in particular - have no regard for the human rights violations in Iran and show no concern for Iranians’ civil liberties, being violated daily by Khamenei’s terrorist regime.

Sadly, President Clinton compromised and used his project waiver authority for the only project ever targeted under ILSA (the South Pars gas development initiative, designated in 1998). And although the administration was unwilling to make use of its country waiver for political reasons, it found another way to avoid sanctioning certain allies: in April 1997, Undersecretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs Stuart Eizenstat negotiated an agreement with European representatives under which Washington signaled that it would not impose any ILSA sanctions on European firms such as TOTAL of France and Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell. At a stroke it made it possible for these firms to do business with Khamenei’s terrorist regime - without any respect for the brutal human rights violations and disregard for civil liberties and political freedom of the people of Iran, rendering the regime wholly illegitimate party for any agreement.

Many in the U.S. Congress were displeased by this sidestep, viewing it as a blatant violation of American principles and ideals and a pledge not to enforce the law. In renewing ILSA in 2001 and passing subsequent laws that replaced it, Congress tried to ensure enforcement; but these efforts were in vain for years (until September 2010). Although Congress forced the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations to spend much time justifying their Iran policy - arguing that their successes, such as they were, would be jeopardized if ILSA's provisions were enforced - at the end of the day, the people of Iran were betrayed by both Presidents Clinton and Bush and sanctions were not applied to the extent that they were initially designed.

In a 2007 report, Congressional Research Service analyst Kenneth Katzman identified at least $11 billion worth of investments in Iran that were subject to ILSA, but penalties were never imposed. The State Department's Bureau of Economic Affairs continued to report to Congress every six months that it was investigating, but had not determined that any of these projects met the ILSA criteria. In many cases, administration officials correctly noted that press reports about investments are often inaccurate, though that hardly explained the failure to designate upon further investigation. Such practices, so common during the Clinton and Bush administrations, only changed under President Obama.

The Obama administration’s approach

The U.S. government's practice has long been to respect the discretion of investigators and prosecutors in prioritizing law enforcement. It is, therefore, a well-established norm that certain federal crimes are not prosecuted in the event of small-scale violations. For instance, U.S. attorneys typically set minimum thresholds for the prosecution of narcotics cases. President Obama has followed past practice in discussing this process of discretion and prioritization. As he told Rolling Stone in 2012 regarding marijuana laws, "I can't ask the Justice Department to say, 'Ignore completely a federal law that's on the books.' What I can say is, 'Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly priorities your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.'"

Indeed, Obama’s administration has made extensive use of the ‘prosecutorial-discretion’ argument in situations where Congress has not acted on proposed legislative changes. In June 2012, for example, after Congress repeatedly failed to pass the DREAM Act and other measures regarding the immigration status of individuals who came to the United States illegally as children, the administration stopped initiating deportation proceedings against some 800,000 immigrants who arrived in America before the age of sixteen and met other criteria. It took this action despite strong objections from many in Congress.

While the president may have to pay a heavy political price for not enforcing a given law, some in Congress might prefer that the White House bear that responsibility. In the case of Iran, such an approach could allow Washington to reach a human rights, political reform and nuclear accord without Congress having to vote on rescinding, even temporarily or conditionally, certain sanctions.

No matter how stiff and far-reaching sanctions may be as embodied in U.S. law, they would have less bite if the administration stopped enforcing them. This is where the ‘stab-in-the-back’ of the people of Iran will come in to play. The pro-democracy forces in Iran have been fighting Khamenei’s terrorist regime for over 34 years - since the pro-democracy revolution of 1979 was hijacked by the Mullahs. The only country they could count on has been the United States because the popular knowledge is that the Europeans in general and the British and Russian establishments in particular, have been in bed with the Mullahs and have no intention nor interest in helping the people of Iran to get rid of this despotic regime.

For instance, the Obama administration could refuse to turn a blind eye by following the ILSA precedent, and not claim that it is unable to verify press reports that a particular country is purchasing Iranian oil. Or not to take a more subtle approach and ease up on its enforcement efforts. Implementing the many Iran sanctions has required much work to ferret out front companies, and the resources currently being committed represent a drastic increase from past years (e.g., a 2007 Government Accountability Office report criticized OFAC for opening more investigations and imposing more penalties on individuals found carrying Cuban cigars at U.S. airports than for violations of Iran sanctions). So the Obama administration should not scale back the resources devoted to enforcing these sanctions to make them more effective.

To be sure, major businesses have changed their internal procedures and norms to comply with sanctions rules over the past decade. Given the large fines imposed for past violations by European and British banks, such as Credit Suisse, UBS, HSBC, Standard Chartered and others, they may be hesitant to test U.S. laws against doing business with Khamnei’s regime even if the administration relaxes its enforcement efforts.

How would Iran’s pro-democracy movement react to sanctions relief?

There are two sets of answers to this question: firstly, the pro-democracy forces inside Iran and around the world prefer to see no compromises on the U.S.’s part until the regime is willing to actually release all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience and allow the opposition to openly organize and prepare for a free, open, and internationally observed national referendum.

Secondly, however, the regime would no doubt prefer formal legislative sanctions relief over de facto relief via non-enforcement. But regardless, dealing with the regime will not be sustainable because the people of Iran are not going to put up with this regime any longer and any government (including the U.S.) that sides with Khamenei’s terrorist regime is going to place itself on the wrong side of history in Iran.

Khamenei’s terrorist regime has years of experience in evading U.S. sanctions. Long after the ban on nearly all U.S. exports other than food and medicine, the regime’s importers were able to procure American goods without great difficulty through front companies and intermediaries in third countries. Based on this track record, the regime was confident that it could evade the new sanctions Congress enacted in 2011-2012. Ali Akbar Salehi, the regime’s foreign minister at the time, noted recently that senior officials waved off his warnings that the new restrictions would bite hard. What these officials may not have realized was that the tougher laws would be accompanied by much more vigorous enforcement.

Khamenei’s regime would obviously prefer full access to U.S. markets and the U.S. financial system, which could only be attained through formal lifting of all sanctions. But that will not happen even if a nuclear deal is reached, since many of the sanctions in question are at least partly based on the regime's blatant support for terrorists around the world and massive violations of human rights, brutal suppression of pro-democracy forces in Iran and establishing a de facto Stalinist police state. That is what President Obama should focus on.

Obama should do what is right for America

The extent to which President Obama can provide sanctions relief to Iran is largely a political question. He may find it advantageous - either for America’s reputation and credibility in the Muslim world and domestic political reasons or as a bargaining technique with Khamenei’s regime - to complain that his hands are tied by Congress. Although that argument would be true in terms of the law, it is definitely not true with regard to de facto sanctions relief. If the administration deems it necessary to erode sanctions in order to reach a deal with Khamenei that he agrees to step down and allow democratic and constitutional reforms, then reducing enforcement and eschewing action against the many new front companies the regime is constantly creating would be a useful tool.

Over 25 million, nationalist, pro-democracy, pro-western Iranians, young urban, computer savvy, boys and girls, are absolutely sick and tired of the mad Mullahs running Iran and repressing them under the false and perverted interpretation of Islam. These young nationalist Iranians are very much God-fearing and faithful Muslims, but open-minded and free from fanaticism and hostility to the Western way of life. They want a secular political system like Turkey, a civil society, free market economy and friendly relations with all the countries in the world, including the United States and Israel and Palestine and the Europeans so that they can start the process of reconstruction and reform and they truly count on American and European support - without which they will be driven to despair, anger and radicalism which will only lead to more violence and eventually a civil war.

The last decade of economic sanctions have driven Khamenei and his cohorts to their knees. This is no time for sanctions relief or respite without extricating ironclad guarantees that Khamenei will step down and allow a national referendum to decide the parameters of the next secular political system that all young Iranians are demanding.

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