Reprinted from NewsMax.com
Iranian Opposition to Hold Paris Confab
Kenneth R. Timmerman
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
broad cross-section of Iranian political activists and organizations
plans to hold a loya jirga-style meeting in Paris to create a new
"coordinating council" that could become the face of tomorrow's Iran.
They are calling their movement
"Solidarity Iran." And just like the Solidarity movement in Poland
during the Soviet occupation, they are hoping to build broad popular
and international support for the struggle of Iranian labor unions,
women's groups, students' organizations, and ethnic minorities.
"Solidarity Iran aims to bring
together activists and organizations from across the political spectrum
to build a bridge between groups working outside Iran and those working
inside," Dr. Hossein Bagher Zadeh told NewsMax from London.
It took nearly two years of
intense and often frustrating political work before Zadeh and other
conference organizers got to this point.
During two earlier meetings in
Berlin and London, they hammered out a common platform acceptable to
Iranian opposition groups that range from supporters of the monarchy to
Marxists and to former members of the Islamic regime.
"Some groups can't accept the
new political realities that requires reaching across party lines, and
have said they will not come," said Zadeh. "But we are not closing the
The U.S. government shut down
its assistance to Iranian exile groups in 1995, after more than a
decade that was dominated by often vicious political squabbling.
When a "reformist" cleric,
Mohammad Khatami, was elected president of the Islamic Republic in
1997, the State Department was hoping it would mark the end of Iran's
radical days as the main supporter of Islamic terror around the world
and the return of Iran to normalcy.
Those dreams evaporated in July
1999, when Khatami ordered a brutal crackdown on student demonstrators
at Tehran University who were demanding more freedom. Several students
were thrown to their deaths from third-floor dormitory windows by
The creation of Solidarity Iran
is not the first time that Iranian opposition groups have come together
across party lines. But earlier attempts to create a broad-based
coalition, dating back to 1997, all failed when one party tried to
dominate the others. Others never quite reached critical mass.
"We're saying to everybody who
wants to come, ‘Check your politics at the door,'" one of the
organizers told NewsMax. "Keep your political identity and your
political philosophy, but stand together as we support the social and
professional movements inside Iran. Stand together before world public
Organizers in Holland, Britain,
France, Germany, and the United States who spoke to NewsMax on
background, say they expect more than two hundred delegates to the
invitation-only conference, which will be held from June 15-17.
Among the participants are
well-known leftist activists, such as Kambiz Roosta and Dr. Hassan
Massali, who opposed the former Shah and for years have been vilified
by the monarchist camp.
Sitting next to them will be
conservative former monarchists such as Dr. Shahin Fatemi, or Dr. Cyrus
Amouzegar, a former government minister under the shah.
Also at the table will be
Mohsen Sazegara, a confidant of ayatollah Khomeini who helped to found
the dreaded Revolutionary Guards but who broke with the regime in the
late 1980s and was jailed repeatedly and tortured because of his calls
"That is what Solidarity Iran is all about," one of the organizers said. "It's a new spirit of cooperation."
A broad range of tribal
associations have agreed to send representatives, and NewsMax has
learned that several representatives of trade union and women's groups
from inside Iran will also be coming to Paris. Their identities will be
kept secret for reasons of security.
"This is something we will be
following with interest," a White House official engaged in formulating
U.S. policy toward Iran told NewsMax. "If these are the leaders of Iran
tomorrow, clearly these are people we will want to get to know."
In a discreet nod in the
direction of the conference organizers, Reza Pahlavi, son of the former
Shah, appealed to European nations last week to support the struggle
for human rights and political freedom in Iran.
Writing in the French daily Le
Figaro, Pahlavi appealed to the Europeans to "engage in this third way,
the least costly and the most beneficial, to resolve the Iranian
crisis, which is the key to the regional crisis."
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