Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Grandmother in trouble -- Haleh Esfandiari

Juan Cole and others, including Amnesty, have started campaigns to pressure the Iranians to release a scholar who was arrested a couple of weeks ago in Iran. Haleh Esfandiari has since been held incommunicado in the Elin prison, a place not well-known for creature comforts.

She has now been charged. The charge, though serious, attempting to topple the present regime in Iran, on the face of it, sounds ridiculous -- Haleh is a 67 year old grandmother! She is accused of trying to develop network through which a "soft revolution" could be fomented in Iran.

Because of the, um, complicated relations between the US and Iran, one could wonder what is really going on here. Over at "Moon over Alabama", Bernhard dared pose the hard question, how do they know that she is in fact innocent. He has received a rather more varied and argumentative response in his comment section than usual.

Well, I suppose Cole and company don't know, they assume. In fact, I also assume, if nothing else, out of respect for Cole's integrity that this scholar is basically innocent of wrongdoing.

If nothing else, I have become skeptical of information from almost any official or gov't source.

There was a Big Terror Bust in Odense, Denmark last September and I immediately assumed that, at the least, it was overblown. Lo and behold, the crown witness was compromised earlier this month when it was revealed that, as an agent for the police, he had not only suggested making bombs but had scrounged the material for the explosives. I simply reasoned that Danish security was "jealous" of the Brit police and their "success" in unraveling terror plots in Great Britain.

The bottom line is that the observer learns to assume the accused innocent and that the charges, if not fiction, are overstated and that the reasons for arrests and arraignments are political and hidden agendas, for publicity and spin.

Haleh Esfandiari is director for the "Middle East Program" of the "Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars".

What is this "Woodrow Wilson Center"? I don't know.

I have absolutely no reason to suspect this center of anything. On the other hand, I do know that sovereign countries have experienced soft and not-so-soft revolutions and regime change with the help and/or encouragement of agencies of the US Gov't and that Iran was one of them in the 50's. I also know that, along with Syria and Venezuela, Iran is next on the list for regime change. More important, the Iranians know this also.

There are some odd twists to this story -- Haleh was in Iran last year to visit her 93 year old grandmother. On the way to the airport on December 30, her passport was stolen in a robbery (a robbery?!). When she went to get another passport and was "detained", interrogated for weeks, held in house arrest for four months, imprisoned two weeks ago and now charged.

My best guess is that she has been caught up in the "game" the US and Iran are playing and that neither part really gives a shit about what she may or may not have done.

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