While the Canadian International Council is set to sponsor an Ottawa event on May 5th, entitled, "Iran in Context: Global and Regional Implications" ostensibly to focus on "political and security issues," the event has drawn a strong protest letter that includes signatories from a broad multicultural spectrum of the Iranian community in Canada who request cancelling the event.
The petition expresses concern about several speakers on the conference panel, deeming them to be Iranian regime apologists who would present the Iranian government as a "pragmatic and rational entity," in which diplomacy and dialogue could offer solutions. One of those speakers is Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a lobby that advocates the lifting of trade and economic sanctions against Iran. Kenneth R. Timmerman -- Executive Director for the Foundation of Democracy in Iran, and nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize along with John Bolton for his work on Iran -- once described Parsi as "The Mullahs' Voice" and the "unofficial spokesman in Washington who can talk circles around their official ambassadors."
Parsi's lobby, the NIAC was also featured unfavorably in the Washington Times as violating Federal lobbying rules in its quest for Iranian advocacy. Before he founded the NIAC, Parsi had launched another group: "Iranians for International Cooperation"(IIC). Although Parsi is publicly critical of the Iranian regime, his group listed as top priorities the "safeguard Iran's and Iranian interests, the removal of U.S. economic and political sanctions against Iran, and the commencement of an Iran-U.S. dialogue."
With the Western predilection for dialogue as an effective tool for mediation and change, the history of such endeavours with Iran should cast doubt on the viability of such efforts. Talks between Iran, Britain, Germany and France, for example, began in 2003 and ended in failure. They were intended to ensure that Iran would not develop nuclear weapons. In 2004, an agreement was finally signed between Iran, France, Germany, the U.K. — with support from the European Union — in which Iran agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment activities. Yet Iran reneged on the agreement, asserting its "sovereign right to enrich uranium." Further negotiations and warnings from Western allies that Iran was in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty proved futile, as did ambiguous threats from European nations about punitive action from the UN Security Council.
Although sponsors of the conference are the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service; and the declared aim of the conference is to try better to understand the decision-making process of the Iranian regime in the hope of facilitating reform through policy options; and that it has drawn together a panel of "experts on Iran" from Canada, the U.S., Europe and the Middle East, a Wall Street Journal Report has asserted, about dialogue with Iran, that "public opinion throughout the region will conclude that the United States has at last surrendered to the reality of Iranian rule. The damage to America's regional, if not global influence, could prove irreversible."
Had Iran cooperated with the world community, it would have begun its journey toward a semblance of reform, but instead it remains a rogue nation with a regime that upholds its proxies Hamas and Hizbullah by financial support and training, and with the goal of obliterating Israel.
Recently Reza Cyrus Pahlavi — the older son of the late Shah of Iran, Mohammead Reza Pahlavi — called on 'foreign' countries to stop dialoguing with Iran and instead support those who try to effect change in leadership. Pahlavi even suggested that given the brutality of the Iranian Regime, that some members of the Iranian military may not stand with the regime to the end, beckoning that now was the time for the people of Iran to be emboldened for change as seen in Tunisia and Egypt. Not far from Canada's collective memory looms the story of Canadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi who was detained and arrested by Iranian officials in 2003 for taking pictures of a student protest outside a prison in Tehran. While in custody, she was brutally beaten, tortured and raped. She died from her injuries, a savagery the Iranian authorities initially tried to cover up.
The Canadian International Council conference's intention to engage Iran bears serious implications. In the absence of strict mandates -- which Iran has already rebuffed with its unbending resolve in the face of sanctions — promoting dialogue with Iran amounts to a legitimization of this brutal regime, along with its accomplices, Hizbullah and Hamas.
There is also the lunacy of the mystical menace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to contend with; in 2005 he gave $17 million to the shrine of the 12th Imam who he apparently believes will appear before the next U.S. Presidential election. Ahmadinejad has also stated that the main mission of the Islamic revolution is to pave the way for the coming of the 12th Imam, a messianic event that according to Shi'a Islam is to be preceded by apocalyptic conditions; a sobering thought given his uranium enrichment program and his outspoken wish to "wipe" Israel off the face of the map.
The letter of petition opposing the Canadian conference stated wisely: "You should refrain from appeasing the Islamic government by all means possible, and certainly should not host those who seek to facilitate and buy time for the regime to develop its nuclear weapons' program using the rhetoric and guise of democracy and hiding behind the flag of human rights."