The ghost of Khomeini.
More than 17 years after his death, the man who led the mullahs to
power in Iran, Khomeini, is still at the center of the post-revolution
debate that has divided Iranians to the point of inciting some to
violence against each other. Last week the debate over Khomeini's
decade in power reached a new flashpoint with the publication of the
secret recording of remarks made in 1988 by his closest aide, and
designated heir at the time, the late Hossein-Ali Montazeri. The audio
file was made public by Ahmad, Montazeri's surviving son, with the
claim that it had been recorded in August 1988 during a meeting between
his father and a delegation of mullahs sent to seek permission to carry
out thousands of summary executions within a couple of days. The
background to the fateful meeting was dramatic. Khomeini had just
accepted a cease-fire with Iraq, ending an eigh t-year war, without
achieving his declared aim of going to "Jerusalem via
Baghdad." The war had claimed over a million lives, at least
two-thirds of them Iranians, without the "Army of the Imam"
making a single inch of conquest. In fact, in August 1988 when Khomeini
announced his unconditional surrender, Saddam Hussein's troops
occupied a chunk of Iranian territory in Zaynal-Kosh, which was later
recovered by Iran when the Americans toppled the Iraqi despot. In other
words, Khomeini had ended up with egg on his face by prolonging a war at
the end of which five Iranian provinces were in ruins, thousands of
Iranian troops, mostly teenagers, were captured as war prisoners or were
missing in action, and the nation's economy was in meltdown mode
with nothing positive to show for the folly. The ayatollah must have
spent sleepless nights seeking a way to change the narrative of a
humiliating climb-down. As always, he came up with his favorite
solution: Killing large numbers of people to divert attention from the
failures of his inhuman regime. According to a study by Zaynab Mansouri,
at least 10 Iranians or Iraqis died for every single hour of
Khomeini's rule. We have already noted the lives claimed by the
senseless 8-year war. But Khomeini also killed thousands in the
notorious massacre of Kurds in Naqadeh and the slaughter of Turkmen in
Gonbad. He also killed thousands of demonstrators, including many women
and children, who defied his satanic rule in the streets. Having
practically abolished the rule of law in the country, Khomeini had set
up his Islamic Revolutionary Tribunals with a single mullah as judge,
often clerical students in their 20s, and with no legal representation
for the accused, no witnesses and no cross-examination of the evidence.
According to estimates by Amnesty International and other human rights
groups over 100,000 Iranians were executed during Khomeini's
10-year rule. This compares to 317 executions during the late
Shah's 37-year reign, according to a report established by late
Ayatollah Muhammad-Reza Mahdawi Kani who briefly served as
Khomeini's prime minister. In the audio file made public last week,
Montazeri opposed the executions. He warned that were the executions to
be carried out Khomeini would be remembered as "a
blood-sucker" (saffah) and that the revolution, indeed Islam
itself, would be harmed. To nail in his point, the heir-apparent even
wrote a letter to Khomeini begging him to be merciful. The "Supreme
Guide" who had promoted himself to the position of "Imam"
with the help of sycophants, reacted by ordering Montazeri to be
divested of all his positions, including that of successor, and put
under house arrest. Khomeini simply forgot that he had repeatedly called
Montazeri, who had been his student three decades earlier, "the
pupil of my eye" and "fruit of my life." Montazeri's
position at the time was not dictated by liberal sentiments on his part.
In fact, for nine years he had endorsed thousands of other illegal
executions. By 1988, however, he had become sore with Khomeini because
the ayatollah had ordered the execution of a brother of his son-in-law
Hadi Hashemi and the mass arrest of people close to him in the wake of
the Irangate scandal in 1985-87. The "secret" audio file does
not transform Montazeri into a choirboy. Nor does it sweeten the image
of those massacred by Khomeini. It does, however, highlight the
necessity for Iran to re-examine the blood-soaked Khomeini era in the
hope of embarking on a rational, calm and non-revanchist process of
de-Khomeinization. To be sure, Khomeini wasn't alone in his crimes.
Over the years, many commentators have speculated on who would be
Iran's Gorbachev, with former President Muhammad Khatami cast in
that role for a while and is now played by President Hassan Rouhani.
Others, looking to China's experience rather than that of the
Soviet Union, have tried to find the Iranian Deng Xiaoping with former
President Hashemi Rafsanjani trying to cast himself in that role.
However, before Iran can have either a Gorbachev or a Deng, it must
first find either a Khrushchev or a Chou En-lai. Without serious
de-Khomeinization, Iran would have no chance of achieving a reasonable
measure of political, economic and legal stability. De-Khomeinization
would not transform a bad regime into a good one, far from it. But it
might make it bearable for at least those within it.
Copyright: Arab News [c] 2016 All rights reserved. Provided by
SyndiGate Media Inc. ( Syndigate.info ).