Monday, December 26, 2005

The Duties of a Commander

While the chief of police confirmed that no connections had been made on last week’s attack on a presidential guard, Gholam Hossein Elham, the government spokesman said in a news conference that an armed man had been killed in a gun battle with a group of men, leading to the capture of a number of them.

Elham said that a group of Passdaran Revolutionary guards whose mission had been completed were on their way to the southern port of Chahbar outside the Persian Gulf when they were attacked by armed men. The police chief, Ahmad Moghadam, contradicted Elham’s version of events when he claimed that the aim of the armed men was definitely not the president. According to him, the armed men were robbers who intended to rob innocent travelers. “It just so happened that three of the passengers were members of the Passdaran Revolutionary Guards Corps who were on their way to Saravan for the preparations of the president’s trip there.”

What is striking about the news and interview is the calm and accepting manner in which the chief of police talks of the absence of security and safety in the country. It is as if he was saying: “I was relieved when I learned that the bandits were not aiming for the president,” as if targeting other citizens is acceptable because they “regularly” do this! By downplaying their importance, it is as if he had absolutely no responsibility to provide safety to the citizens of this country.

Had the safety of the public and the security of the country been important to the chief, who is said to be a very close personal aide to the president, he should have called the attack a “politically motivated” one, because bandits cannot freely and simply wait in ambush and attack travelers, as they used to in Western films. The chief’s words however, imply that when he learned that the attack was not related to the president’s trip, it did not matter that the attackers fled the scene, and that the roads continue to be hazardous to travelers. It really does not matter, in his eyes that the very same outlaws will continue to harass and kill others around the country.

My recommendation to the police chiefs and law enforcement officials is to replace their deadly verbal attacks on the US, Israel and Europe with carrying out their sworn duties to ensure the safety and security of the homeland. Anyway, how do they expect to frighten those they intend outside the country when they cannot upset the criminals inside it?

The other issue that is startling is the conflicting versions of the same event between two high offices of the country, namely the president’s office and the police chief. This inconsistency and disarray is widespread among different agencies these days and in fact has been the norm in the extensive government bureaucracy during the past few months. A few examples will suffice to make the point. Just a few days ago the director of the Social Insurance Organization was removed from his post, and then reinstated the next day. The leader of Iran’s Majlis (Parliament) faced yet another, his third humiliated, during his third trip abroad, when he visited the Russian Duma. The president appears to have not trust or faith in his own government and the government machinery at large, in the words of the Majlis deputy from Malayer, when he promotes the idea of the Imam Reza Charity Foundation to parallel the work of many government agencies.

It appears that “normal” has lost its meaning, and harmful events are growingly treated as routine.