Democracy, Justice, Peace and Elimination of Discrimination in the Middle East
The Middle East has been trapped in a vicious cycle of corrupt dictatorial regimes, ethnic, religious and gender discriminations, military occupation, apartheid-like states, terrorism, and naked military aggressions. Given this background, military interventions by the United States and its allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen have brought these nations to the verge of social collapse, ethnic and religious wars, uncontrolled growth of Islamic terrorist groups, instability, and fragmentation many nations, causing death and injury of millions of innocent people, and creating a vast refugee problem. It is the powerful nations of the world and the region that are responsible for this carnage. Arms race and weapons of mass destruction are other problems with which the Middle East has been beset.
It was in such a background that Iran's nuclear program became an important problem. But, through the Vienna agreement of July 14, Western powers led by the United States have blocked Iran's paths to a nuclear weapon -- if Iran ever wanted it -- and have imposed severe restrictions and highly intrusive inspections on its nuclear program that are way beyond what the relevant international treaties call for.
If the true concern of Western nations were the possibility that Iran might produce a nuclear weapon, then, the Vienna agreement -- victory of diplomacy over war -- has blocked the possibility and, thus, every interested party should be happy and satisfied. But, if the true aim were regime change in Tehran by imposing the most crippling economic sanctions in history on the Iranian people, then, the Vienna agreement would not achieve it. Thus, the agreement, which guarantees that Iran will make peaceful use of nuclear energy, is completely defendable, opposed only by warmongers. If Congress rejects the agreement, the United States will be completely isolated in the world vis-à-vis the agreement.
The nuclear agreement with Iran should be supported because the Middle East is in dire need of peace and stability, so that its people can recover their right to live. There is no true life without security and peace, let alone economic development, democracy and respect for human rights. The Middle East must also be cleansed of discrimination, and Western double standards for treating its nations must be set aside.
A comprehensive package must be developed for the Middle East that guarantees the current national boundaries, collective security for all (not just for U.S. allies), establishment of an independent, contiguous and viable Palestinian state side by side with Israel along the 1967 borders, elimination of all weapons of mass destruction from the region, forming a unified front against terrorism (not with the usual double standards), and rejection of military intervention in any nation of the region by another country. The package should be backed by the United Nations Security Council in the framework of its Chapter 7. Any divisions of the region into "us" and "them" or "our allies" and "our adversaries" and application of double standards to the two groups will be doomed to failure. We cannot support a crime if it is committed by our allies, and condemned the same if it is done by our adversaries. Such double standards have led to Western silence about the gross violations of human rights by the Arab allies of the United States in the region, from Saudi Arabia, to Egypt , Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
The people of the Middle East long for and need civil rights and freedom. But, the catastrophic military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen have demonstrated that democracy is not born in the barrel of a gun, and military interventions never lead to transition to true democratic states. The pre-requisites for democracy must first exist, before the transition can begin.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is also a dictatorial regime that violates human rights of its citizens systematically. The educated Iranian society with 4.5 million university students, 60 percent of whom is female, ranking 22nd in the world in scientific production and seventh in nanoscience, a powerful social stratum of intellectuals, a large middle class and the democratic Green Movement is, more than any other Islamic nation in the region, ready to make the transition to democracy. But, the critics of and the opposition to the Islamic Republic are still repressed and jailed. Thus, the Iranian people's democratic movement is confronting a regime that both wants and does crack down on their movement, but the social developments in Iran are weakening the regime's power to oppress the people.
If the Islamic Republic claims that it is based on morality, justice and freedom, it must release all the political prisoners, particularly the elderly leaders of the Green Movement, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi (74 years old ) and his wife Dr. Zahra Rahnavard (70 years old), and former Speaker of the parliament Mehdi Karroubi(78 years old).
But, if the Islamic Republic is concerned only with its survival and consolidating its power, then, it should recognize that a system that does not enjoy political legitimacy and does not recognize the right of its opposition for free expression and peaceful activities, will survive and thrive only by earning legitimacy.
Since Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has written an open letter to the European and North American youth, urging them to ignore Islamophobia, and to read the Quran and learn about the humane and moral teachings of Prophet Muhammad so that no terrorist can present himself as a representative of Islam and Muslims, and if he wants the people to recognize that Islam's essence is wisdom, mercy, and liberty, not violence, repression, terrorism, and ignorance, he can demonstrate these by his own deeds through releasing all the political prisoners, democratization of Iran's political system, and elimination of all forms of ethnic, religious and gender discriminations.
Indeed, if the Islamic Republic of Iran claims that it enjoys popular support and the trust of the nation, it should not be terrified by the release of its political and conscience prisoners.
Akbar Ganji: Iranian dissident.
1- Prof. Charles Taylor , MaGill University
2- Prof. Noam Chomsky, MIT University.
3- Prof. Peter Singer , Princeton University.
4- Prof. Philip Pettit, Princeton University.
5- Prof. Richard Falk (Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University).
6- Prof. Hilary Putnam Harvard University.
7- Prof. Tim Scanlon , Harvard University.
8- Prof. Susanna Siegel, Harvard University.
9- Prof. Michael Rosen Harvard University
10- Prof. Deborah Anker (Harvard University, institutional affiliation for identification purposes only),
11- Prof. Axel Honneth , Columbia University.
12- Prof. Akeel Bilgrami , Columbia University.
13- Prof. Carol Rovane , Columbia University.
14- Prof. Lydia Goehr , Columbia University.
15- Prof. Zachary Lockman , NYU University.
16- Prof. Jeff Goodwin , NYU University.
17- Prof. Steven Lukes , NYU University.
18- Prof. Andrew Arato, New School University.
19- Prof. Nancy Fraser , New School University.
20- Prof. Joshua Cohen, Stanford University .
21- Prof. Nicholas Wolterstorff, Yale University.
22- Prof. Jose Casanova , Georgetown University.
23- Prof. Dipesh Chakrabarty , Chicago University.
24- Prof. Talal Asad, CUNY University.
25- Prof. Allen Wood, Indiana University.
26- Prof. Norman Birnbaum
27- Prof. Claus Offe , Hertie School Of Governance.
28- Prof. Steven Fish , Berkeley University.
29- Prof. David Held , Durham University.
30- Prof. Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'Im , Emory University.
31- Prof. Ilan Pappe , Exeter University.
32- Prof. Fred Dallmayr, ( University of Notre Dame).
33- Prof. Bernard Dickens , Toronto University.
34- Prof. Roger Crisp , Oxford University.
35- Prof. Jorge Contesse , Rutgers University.
36- Prof. Ross K. Baker, Rutgers University
37- Prof. Eric Davis Rutgers University.
38- Prof. Cécile Laborde, UCL University.
39- Prof. Avi Chomsky Salem State University.
40- Prof. Donna J. Haraway, University of California at Santa Cruz.
41- Prof. Jane Anna Gordon, University of Connecticut .
42- Prof. Nigel Gibson, Emerson College Boston, MA
43- Prof. Roy Licklider Rutgers University
44- Prof. Gisela Striker Harvard University