Is the Supreme Leader Worried? If Yes, About What?

آیت الله خامنه ای

Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islāmic Republic of Iran, has recently issued an order directing the government, with full legislative support, to plan austerity measures for the country as a “matter of urgency.” Critical to note is that the order has come amid the negotiation that the government of president Rouhani has entered, for the past few months, with the 5+1 countries to settle their differences over the country’s suspicious nuclear activities. The negotiation has reached a preliminary agreement with both sides committed to implement their parts. The agreement has since produced some positive results. Such results were, amongst other things and not limited to, included the US releasing over $4 billion of the regime’s frozen money, relaxation, in some limited areas, of international and American sanctions particularly in the fields of oil and gas export, banking and sales of airplane parts. Iran in return implemented verifiably its commitments under the agreement. In light of these somewhat positive developments, one would wonder what made the Ayatollah to issue such order now.

At first glance, two answers come to mind with each, of course, supporting different purpose. One is that the Ayatollah is bluffing. Why? He tries to send a message out to the 5+1 purporting his and his regime readiness, or preparing itself, to walk away from the current agreement and/or not having a further final and long-lasting agreement with the West. He may do this for two reasons, at least I think. First to warn the West that should it make further demand, such as instigating the issue of human rights and/or democracy, he is ready to abandon the agreement. And secondly, repudiate the widely pervasive belief that he and his regime have been coerced, under immense pressure by the West and through sanctions, to the table. This fact nevertheless is something he can run but never be able to hide from. President Rouhani admitted publicly in his 100-days-in-office-report that he “has inherited an empty treasury.” That sounds right with reports suggesting Iran selling only a million barrels of oil per day, before the negotiation, down from more than two and half million a year before the election; and doesn’t see any money for it simply because of the sanctions. Although this was the real reason behind the Ayatollah, and his regime, caving in against the West and may well offer legs to the bluffing purpose, Ayatollah can live with it.

What Ayatollah and his cronies cannot tolerate, however, the second purpose of his message by issuing the order, is more demand from the West. Increasingly demanding and/or speaking on human rights and democracy for Iran has a totally different meaning for the people of Iran in one side and the Ayatollah on the other. For the people means moving on step closer to their fundamental human and democratic rights; and for the Ayatollah packing! That makes him nervous. Recently, and on different occasions, the US adds to his anxiety. The US State Department, both in statements and commenting here and there, speaks about human rights and conditions under which political prisoners are held in Iran. A recent particular occasion, the anniversary on which the leaders of the Green Movement were being put under house arrest; made him angry. He responded by saying “the US shows its animosity toward Iran and its people by referring to the “leaders of sedition”. This is the term he and his cronies use when referring to Mr Mousavi and Karobi the leaders of the Green Movement.

By his austerity order, I think, the Ayatollah was saying; leave me and the regime my cronies and I lead in Iran alone or we are ready to walk away and fight! This is more in line with the underlying problem based on which the nuclear dispute escalated in first place over a decade ago. That is the demand for respect of human rights and democracy leading to regime change in Iran. Whilst this may be a different way of imposing changes to the political system in Iran; for the Ayatollah has only one unpleasant meaning, an unfinished business the US pursues since the earlier years of the last decade. He was unhappy then as he appears now. The events that were unfolding around Iran at the time had made him extremely nervous. In one particular occasion in Mashhad, a city north of Iran, after the collapse of the Saddam’s regime in Iraq, he said “US is extremely rude”. He was responding to rumours at the time that president Bush had ordered him to pack and go! That put the Ayatollah and his cronies in a collision course with the US. A path from which the Ayatollah releases some stem today by way of ordering urgent austerity measures for the country.

Notwithstanding his stem, no one can take serious an old man with so many enemies in the world of Sunnis Islam; not to mention above 90% of Iran’s population. He is not even bluffing; he is kidding.

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Toughest migration challenge after the dissolution of the Malaysian Solution? Is it really?

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There was a report about a legal challenge launched against the detention of a few, ten in numbers, asylum seekers in Nauru, they are mainly Iranian and Sri Lankan nationals. The report says that lawyers from Australia, one a close friend of mine and the rest I know, have attacked the legality of the detention of these particular detainees on constitutional grounds. That is the Nauruan Constitution. Not having read the Nauruan Constitution, I need to take extra care in commenting about the matter here. Nevertheless, and without going to technical details of the Nauruan Constitution, I try to examine briefly this action and express my view. This, I am sure, has been done by the prominent lawyers involved before deciding whether to launch the challenge. They also had the advantage of examining any material facts with respect to the conditions and the circumstances under which the ten asylum seekers, the plaintiffs, were, and are, being detained.

It would be useful, for the purpose of this post, to say that Naurua has been an independent state since 1968, with the population of little more than nine thousands people. She has its own constitution, Parliament and judicial branch of government. The highest legal authority for the Island is the High Court of Australia with the exemption of constitutional matters which will be heard by the Nauruan Supreme Court.

In this case thus, a constitutional challenge, the Nauruan Supreme Court is the highest legal authority to hear the case. That means the decision of the court on this matter would be final. From what the report and Mr George Newhouse, one of the four lawyers and a close friend of mine,  told us so far, the court is to hear that the detainees, the plaintiffs, have been held unlawfully in detention on the Island. The unlawfulness argument, I gathered, has two limbs. One would be the prolonged delay, since September 2012, in processing the plaintiffs’ claims for protection. The standards set by the United Nation High Commission for Refugees expects such claims to be finalized in four to six months. And as opposed to Australia’s immigration law, has been set by the High Court of Australia, which allows indefinite detention of unlawful non-citizen, one can only assume, by the legal challenge, Nuaruan law is yet to determine that issue.

The Nauruan Constitution, however, allows the detention of unlawfuls for the purpose of deportation, it goes without saying that the Nauruan government, the current challenge is against it and not the Australian government, presumably argues all kind of reasons for the delay in processing the plaintiff’s claims.

Nevertheless the action has also, the second limb, alleged that the aforementioned detainees, the plaintiffs, have been subjected to “inhumane and degrading” treatments. The key issue to note here is the fact that Asylum seekers are being held in immigration detention and not in a prison. The definition and the application of the twos are fundamentally different and critical in this case.  The treatments asylum seekers received while in detention can effectively change their status as well as the status of the place they have, are, been held in.

The difference is in the purpose and the authorities from which the detention is being authorized. The detention of an asylum seeker is carried out for the purpose of ascertaining his or her claim for protection. The asylum seeker is therefore not a prisoner and certainly not in prison. He or she is therefore not to be punished. Now if the conditions under which he or she is being held and/or the period a detainee stays in detention, indefinitely without any real prospect of being released, amount to punishment; it is when the nature of that detention may be of an “[A]rbitrary detention” which may accordingly constitute, in a sense, to an arbitrary arrest rendering it unlawful. Because freedom of movement is one of the fundamental rights a human being enjoys with court the only authority to deny that in certain, and vigorously tested, circumstances.

Detention of asylum seekers for the purpose of processing their claims for asylum does not surely fall under such circumstances. Simply because asylum seekers are not criminals, and have not committed any crime. Furthermore neither the Minister for immigration is a judge nor his or her Department a court.

The decision of the Nauruan Supreme Court may perhaps have more serious ramifications possibly for the Australian government as well – I doubt it however.

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Asylum Seekers’ bleeding hearts are not what they appear

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Since resumption of the office over six months ago, Tony Abbott and his government have declared war, direct effects of which felt inevitably by the customers, would be asylum seekers, of the trade, on people smugglers.

Asylum seekers, mostly from Iran whom are the main subject of this note here, have been sent to Nauru and Manus Island. Detaining unlawful non-citizen, the term Migration Act 1958 refers to those arrived or being onshore without a visa, has been authorized by the Act. The purpose of the power is for the Minister for immigration, his or her Department, to deport from Australia and/or give the unlawfuls the opportunity to make their status legal, lawful non-citizen, by applying and getting a visa if they are eligible. This detention however has never been an easy job with its implementation always surrounded with controversies.

It is hard to gauge that how much of the controversies, or concerns raised by different parts of the Australian society, is real. Because there are different players and games at play. While political rivals playing in their own field, business people playing in another with different goal to achieve. Political rivalry between the two big, Labor and Coalition, camps has always been there with minor parties and new comers trying to catch up. To this end, Australian politicians have been thought, or learnt, regardless of the government of the time, to attack the other side’s policies; no matter what. This is despite the fact that they might do the exact same thing when in power!

The other group of business people, however, whether in migration industry or other organisations which their business and/or funding is directly connected with the number of asylum seekers arriving in Australia, loudly heard on the issue. These people, not many of them even familiar with law and conventions related to the subject matter, acting as the bleeding hearts of refugees’ cause for totally different reasons. For example, I recently came across a few Iranian, Persian speakers, migration agents, who have been attacking Tony Abbott and his Immigration Minister, Hon Scott Morison, for their policies towards Illegal Maritime Arrivals (IMAs). Some of whom does not even have the experience necessary to act on refugee matters; but would like nevertheless to advertise themselves and send a wrong message to those innocent would be people smugglers’ customers offshore.

This latter group works closely with the former in raising all kind of allegations of mistreatment against the IMAs in hoping policies change by triggering Australia’s international obligations. But the reality of the situation is serious. It is a war against organised criminals. Criminals who have seen a market and opportunity to exploit and circumvent an important piece of international agreement, reached over 64 years, the main purpose of which was to save lives of those in serious danger. What we got on hand today, however, are unscrupulous criminals ferrying human beings, women, children, young and old, across countries onto leaky un-seaworthy boats and into the ocean bound for Australia. The critical fact of these journeys is that hundreds of these passengers have been, or will be potentially, killed at ocean. This is unacceptable. It must have been stopped long before at any costs. Regardless of who is playing what kind of politics over votes in Australia, this trade has to be stopped. The accusation and/or suggestion of mistreatment mainly comes from political rivals; business people; and some segments of the Australian society who innocently played into former’s games.

The trade of the IMAs is not about seeking asylum as defined and purposed by the United Nation Convention on the Status of Refugees some 64 years ago. It must be stopped. To this end, it appears Tony Abbott and his government are getting somewhere.

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سیاستهای دولت جدید استرالیا، پناهندگی و قاچاقچیان انسان

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دولت جدید استرالیا، به نخست وزیری آقای تونی ابوت، برای مقابله با قاچاقچیان انسان، سیاستهای سخت گیرانه ای را در پیش گرفته است. تاثیر مستقیم این سیاستها نتیجتا، سخت گیری و فشار بر مشتریان آن قاچاقچیان خواهد بود. این اجتناب ناپذیر است.

مشتریان این بازار خطرناک، متاسفانه، انسانهایی هستند با اطلاعات و یا مشاوره غلط، که اکثرا از طرف قاچاقچیان و یا عوامل آنان گمراه می شنوند.  در این بین اما، مشاوران امور مهاجرتی، مایگرشن ایجنت های فارسی و عرب زبان، هم آبی به آسیاب قاچاقچیان میریزند. این دسته هم دلایل قابل فهم خود را دارند! اینان اما اگر به اندازه قاچاقچی؛ در قربانی و یا نابود کردن زندگی انسانهای بی گناه و بی اطلاع مقصر نباشند، کمتر هم نیستند.

چند روز پیش در فیس بوک به مطلبی از یکی از این ایجنتهای مهاجرتی ایرانی-الاصل برخوردم. در آن مطلب، آقای ایجنت مهاجرتی به سیاستهای دولت آقای تونی ابوت در مورد افرادی که با قایق به استرالیا می آیند، با عنوان “غیر انسانی” بودن، حمله کرده بود. اقای ایجنتی، که بعد از تحقیق، معلوم شد که ظاهرا کمی بیش از 6 ماه است که به عنوان ایجنت مهاجرتی ثبت نام شده اند، چنان از مسائل پناهندگی صحبت می کرد و از دولت استرالیا ایراد می گرفت که مخاطب، در برخورد اول، فکر می کند که ایشان کوله باری از تجارب حقوقی و سیاسی را یدک می کشند. اینگونه افراد هستند که با بی تجربگی و عدم آگاهی کافی از ،پیچ و خم مسائل درگیر پناهندگی باعث گمراهی مردم، بخصوص در ایران می شوند. مردمی که گروه گروه در تله قاچاقچیان جنایتکار افتاده و تعداد زیادی از آنان، اعم از زن، بچه، پیر و جوان، جان خود را در اقیانوس از دست داده اند. وقتی که برای   مثال، جنازه کودک نوزاد را در اقیانوس پیدا نمی کنند؛ بیش از 300 نفر انسان، اکثرا زن و بچه؛ بدون اطلاع و شناخت از  اقیانوس و خطرات آن، را سوار بر قایق ماهیگیری فرسوده ای، با ظرفیت شاید 10 نفر خدمه، می کنند و 250 نفراز آنان جان   خود را از دست می دهند؛  و یا من باید در شب عید خبر مرگ در اقیانوس جوان 20 و اندی ساله را به خانواده ای بدهم، که سه سال در انتظار خبری از فرزند خود بوده اند؛ اینگونه ایجنتهای بی مسئولیت بدنبال آب ریختن به آسیاب قاچاقچی و خود باشند.

حال، این آقای ایجنت برای از رونق افتادن کارو کسب، و یا تبلیغ برای بیزینس نو پای خود، به سیاست دولت استرالیا حمله می کند و اشک تمساح می ریزد. ایجنت مهاجرتی که یک دوره فشرده 6 ماهه حقوق مهاجرتی را خوانده است و با سیستم ویزای استرالیا آشنا شده است (لازم به تذکر است که چنین افرادی، زن و یا مرد، آگاهی حقوقی کافی در این مورد بخصوص، پناهندگی   را ندارند). موضوع تقاضای پناهندگی و موفقیت کسب چنین حمایتی، که با صدور ویزای پناهندگی تکمیل می شود، آگاهی و تخصص های گوناگونی را می طلبد. این تخصص ها شامل، علاوه بر آشنایی با حقوق بین الملل، حقوق محلی و حقوق بشر، داشتن تجربه و حتی قدرت تحلیل سیاسی شرایط بین المللی و محلی دولت میزبان، اینجا استرالیا، نیز می شود. چرا که دعواهای سیاسی رقبای سیاسی در استرالیا، حزب کارگر و امروز لیبرال به نخست وزیری آقای ابوت، مستقیما بر سیاستهای مهاجرتی و بخصوص پناهندگی و قاچاق انسان تاثیر گذار هستند.

در هر حالت و بهر شکل، هدف قرار دادن بازار قاچاقچیان انسان تاثیر منفی مستقیم بر مشتریان این بازار، یعنی انسانهایی را دارد که به قصد رسیدن به استرالیا سوار بر قایقهای این قاچاقچیان می شوند و یا خواهند شد. این اجنتاب ناپذیر است. هرچه زودتر این واقعیت را درک کرده و بپذیریم، جان انسانهای بیشتری را نجات داده ایم.

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United States can destroy our military, said the Foreign Minister

Javad Zarif, the FM of the Islamic Republic, is under heavy criticism from a small number, he suggested, of MPs because of his remarks made about the military capabilities of the regime in Tehran. When he was speaking to a group of university students on the commemoration of the Iranian Student Day, he allegedly mocked the regime’s military. It’s been reported that when a student, apparently close to the conservative side of politics, questioned his government’s deal with the West over the regime’s nuclear dispute, he has responded by saying; “the US is not worried about our few tanks and guns, it can destroy our entire defense system with only one missile.” These comments have put him in hot-water since; the MPs have even called for his removal. I was shocked too – I must admit.

Not because his remarks were false. But simply because you don’t expect someone in that position to make such comments. Having said these, by directing those comments at certain audiences he might have had messages to send and/or political points to score. To that end, he basically had three different audiences. Domestically, he had his conservative political opponents and Iranian public in Iran while internationally, his messages targeted his government’s opponents at the 5+1 table.

His conservative opponents in Iran I am the least concerned as they are all on board the same ship–the Islamic Republic. This is despite a hard time the conservatives have been giving him and his newly elected president Rouhani since the beginning of the negotiation. None of them, however, is in a position to interpret the arrangement with the West fails. Damage to the ship is not an option! Therefore the FM knew he would be safe in making those sort of comments questioning the country’s military capabilities, that is mainly the Revolutionary Guards or better say the military arm of the Supreme Leader and his conservative cronies. The fact that he said it and his government still on track to see its Geneva agreement with the West is going through its first stage, 6 months, without serious ramifications, proves the fact that they know the ship is on the table!

This has somewhat turned the Iranian public as the main domestic audience Mr Zarif may have had in mind when uttered the words. He and his president Rouhani have always held the line that “having centrifuges spinning in our country is a good thing but our people’s and the country’s economy must be running too”, said President Rouhani.  Emphasis is added.  By this the conservatives, read the Ayatollah, realize the fact, introducing president Rouhani’s government and its policies is the corroborating evidence of their realization, that the Iranian public and their welfare is a decisive factor in the ship’s ability to sail; at least for now! That was why the Ayatollah and his conservatives’ camp didn’t go farther than those few MPs’ shouting for the removal of Mr Zarif. After all they are the real ones polling strings behind the scene.

The third audience Mr Zarif had message to send to was the 5+1 countries. They received his message well. As recently as yesterday president Obama clearly expressed his utmost wish to avert war. He stated that he would veto any attempt by the US Congress to introduce new adverse measures against Iran. It is not that the US is not able to demolish the Islamic Republic’s military capabilities in a short period of time, but perhaps it is because any military option can’t be, and would not be, limited to a surgical strike. Who would be that silly to injure a snake and leave it in his house?! A house that one of its many rooms occupied by millions of young educated people. The White House and president Obama are on the right path, again at least for now! Because a military action would be a big thing; even though Mr Zarif may have been right in saying: “the US can destroy our entire Military Defense System with a single missile”. It must go all the way to ensure a regime change in Iran.

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حسن روحانی و خزانه خالی جمهوری اسلامی

آقای روحانی گزارش کاری خود را در 100  روز اول ریاست جمهوری اش داد. قول داده بود. از تمامی صحبت هایی که مطرح کرد، فقط قسمتی که گفت “خزانه کشور را خالی تحویلش دادن”، جالب بود. چرا؟ چون کلید تمامی کارهایی که این دولت، یا بهتر بگیم جمهوری اسلامی، انجام داده بر میگرده به همین “خزانه خالی”! تسلیم شدن بر سر مسئله هسته ای؛ روابط خارجی آرام و تنش زدایی منطقه ای و بین المللی که آقای ظریف دنبال میکنن؛ قولهایی که در مورد وضعیت  اجتماعی داخل ایران به مردم داده و از همه اینها مهمتر؛ اجازه رئیس جمهور شدنش. همه و همه بخاطر خزانه خالی بوده. خزانه خالی، همانطور که آقای روحانی گفته، مردمی رو که دولت پول نداشته حقوقشون رو بده تا نون زن و بچشون رو تامین کنند؛ خیلی خطرناک می کرد. اونم مردمی که از مردم تونس و یمن و لیبی و مصر و امروز سوریه یاد گرفتن که دوران دیکتاتوری بسر اومده. این خیلی خطرناک بود برای رژیم جمهوری اسلامی. به همین دلیل همون رژیمی که 4 سال پیش اونهمه کار بد کرده بود؛ امروز رفتارش تغییر می کنه. جمهوری اسلامی می دونست که به آخر راهی رسیده که باید انتخاب کنه؛ بین عدم توانایی فروش شاید یک بشکه نفت و ندیدن پولش که مساوی بود با مردم در خیابونها؛ و یا تسلیم. تسلیم رو انتخاب کرد. اما اینکه تشخیص بده که این راه برگشتی درش نیست، چیزیه که باید منتظر شد و دید.

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President Rouhani and an Empty Treasury

President Rouhani of Iran has delivered his report on his first 100 days in office. He had promised to do so when elected. His report reveals, more than anything else, the real reason behind the Islamic Republic caving in to demands by the 5+1 over their nuclear dispute. He said that he has inherited an empty treasury courtesy of his predecessor president Ahmadi Nejad. What he didn’t mention, however, was the fact that this situation would have become more terrifying for the regime in the near future had it continued annoying the West – the US – over its nuclear dispute. Both houses of the US  parliament are temporarily held, on request by the White House, onto imposing further sanctions against the regime. They have been discussing killer oil embargo which could paralyze fully the country’s ability to sell something called ‘oil’ and/or better say getting a $ for it. A recent report by the US State Department on the efficiency of current sanctions against the regime suggest that the Islamic regime is currently selling 1 million barrels of oil, without seeing $ for it,  per day dropped from 2.5 million per day over a year ago.

Comes with an empty treasury hungry Iranians on streets, the regime knew. That was the scariest thought for any politician and/or military person in Iran regardless of the number of stars on his shoulder or the size of his gun! They had no choice but to submit. They did in Geneva; with permission, of course, granted by the West to say whatever they like at home! The cost for the regime was huge. It was forced to abnegate almost every part of its nuclear activities it has been trying, very hard and for many years, to keep just to have a bargaining chip or better say a deterrence against any Western adventure. Would it be now a sitting duck? It has been since its biggest mistake of the 2009 election.

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