Friday, February 28, 2003

Long Live the Truth, Long Live the Box of Sweets

On Wednesday night when I saw President Bush on TV sending this message to Saddam Hussein that 'the Game is over', and illustrated the military attack on Iraq on a military map, I felt terrified. I felt terrified because it is now twenty four years that I have been waiting for the day to see the Iraqi dictator wretched and desperate. I felt terrified because I have been hoping to see his fall, while now I am forced to align with him and say no to war. I am not an enemy of America, I am an enemy of Saddam and other dictators like him; why shouldn't I be happy that America is going to overthrow some bloodsucking regime? But I am scared, for I am living in a world that can play with me like a toy. I am scared that in this world or ours, despite the presence of freedom of speech and democracy, despite the communication revolution that has made it possible for everyone to have access to all the news, it is still possible to lie. I am afraid for I know America and Britain are not going there to disarm Saddam, they can conceal the truth.

September 22 is the last day of summer in Iran. On that day of 1981 in Tehran, while getting ready to send our kids to school, as the next day was the beginning of the school year in Iran, we suddenly heard a tremendous noise that made us jump up from our seats; very terrifying noises and a few minutes later the sound of siren from the radio was heard. Saddam had attacked Tehran and other cities of Iran, bombing the country with tens of his Russian and French fighters and we rushed to shelters. Holding their new school bags in their hands, the kids looked terrified. And this was the outbreak of an eight-year war that started by the will of Saddam who wanted to be called the sword of Islam and eat his breakfast in Baghdad and his lunch in Tehran - the capital of Majusan (literally Zoroastrians, but in general pagans). Eight years of war and demolition that Saddam and thoughtless leaders of Iran created left hundred thousands dead and brought about the destruction of eighteen districts of a large city that sometimes was bombarded several times a day. There were days in Tehran when weeping mothers and children received the dead bodies of hundreds brought back from the Fronts. It took us Iranians sometimes to believe that America was helping Saddam Hussein. We had to wait for years to hear the foreign minister of America saying empathetically, 'Saddam is dangerous for his neighbors.' We had to wait for years to see CIA report of this year finally mentioning that in the course of the war, Saddam's army bombarded Iranian border regions and Iraqi people sixteen times with chemical bombs. In those days when Iranians said the same, the American representative in UN did not approve it. America vetoed seven times the proclamation condemning the invasion of Iran by Iraq. Iraq chemical raids were never approved at that time. While even today there are still people in Iran dying after twenty years of pain and suffering due to the chemical bombs that Saddam dropped on the city of Halabcheh; and the news of their death does appear in the media.

Even before attacking Iran on that last day of summer, I hated Saddam. I had seen him thirty years ago in Baghdad when I had gone there for an interview with Iraqi Prime Minister Dr. Naef, an educated and civilized man, removed from his position a few months later and killed a year later by Saddam's agents. On that day in the prime minister's office of Iraq, an officer in khaki colored military uniform, slightly tall and very harsh entered the room and without paying any attention to the Prime Minister took our camera and opened it violently. His coarse hands were not familiar with small fine instruments such as cameras and in order to bring out the film, he broke the lid. He pulled out the film, tore it and threw the camera on the chair. There was a threatening rifle around his waist; he seemed much younger than the image broadcast these days from TV. On that day, the Iraqi driver who was taking me to Al-tahrir Square said, this butcher will kill everyone and will become king. You could see horror in his eyes, the same horror that has been overwhelming Iraqi people throughout the past thirty years. Even when they pour out into the streets for Saddam's birthday celebrations, dancing, I remember that driver and I know that while jubilating for him and hanging his huge pictures from the walls, they feel terrified. Why shouldn't I be delightful of his fall today?

I am not anti-American. My two children are Americans now and last year I was arrested for four months because of writing an article in which I supported the resumption of relations between Iran and America. I like Americans, but I am scared of lies and I am scared of living in a world where it is so easy to lie to people.

Americans attack Iraq to derive the price of their mistakes from Iraqi people. The great sin of Iraqi people whom Saddam wants to build a human wall of them against the attack of American forces is that they failed to fight Saddam all these years. This is the sin of many people of the world. But with all the armaments that Saddam Hussein bought from Russia, France and America with the oil's money, he was in deed powerful and terrifying. President Bush should prepare himself to respond to Iraqi people who are bound to ask him the same question. President Bush will not tell them that 'all these years we were waiting for September 11 when an Islamic fundamentalist like Bin Laden would attempt such a crazy venture.' Even if he says so, nobody will be satisfied with this answer. For among Islamic countries, many are closer to Bin Laden than Iraq. To verify their closeness it is not necessary for Collin Powel to forge evidences proving the brotherhood of the wolf and the fox.

I could be delightful to see Saddam Hussein broken down and old and desperate. I could not be terrified when I saw the US president,s man standing in front of cameras saying 'for the purpose of globalization, improvement of our economy, showing off our power to European Union, domination over the energy market in future, we were waiting for a miracle that happened on September 11 and now we have this responsibility weighing on our shoulders to send our military forces to the oil region of Persian Gulf. Accidentally, we have bought a box of sweets for Iraqi people and their neighbors on our way to there.'

If that happened, I couldn't then have any excuse to be scared, rather I would rejoice to see one less dictator in this world, and in the memory of all those days and nights that I spent in horror under Saddam's missiles in Tehran, I would shout, "Long live Bush, Long Live the Truth, Long Live the Box of Sweets."

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Solitary Cell: A tomb like place

I am not writing to reveal a hidden mystery, nor is enmity with anybody or any group, my intention. Revenge is a word that I have averted for many years now and today even the thought of it makes me tremble. So what is compelling me to tell about the story of the pain that its remembrance can produce only pain? The story that until now I have neither written or said a word about it
I am writing only with the hope that it might help to stop this train that has been riding on the long railroad of history and has been made to fall apart by many societies, but we Iranian are still riding on it.

I am writing with the intention to remind ourselves of the nature of power and make an invitation to abandon the idea of remaining in power for a few more days despite everything. And I am writing for the generations and individuals Iranian who brood over politics. I am writing so that they might prepare and vaccinate themselves against this kind of temptation , the temptation of putting the opposition into jails.

I am writing because last month when the I.P.C international pen club announced a universal day for imprisoned writers, I was sitting on a bench by the shore of the beautiful city of Eastbourn with seagulls crying and singing and soaring in the blue sky, making one to envy their freedom, when all of a sudden I remembered where I personally was last year at that time and suddenly I remembered that at that very moments several Iranian journalist were and still are in the same prison and . They have committed no greater sin than I, the sin of writing and saying things that the ruling power did not like. They are in solitary cells of Evin prison and are leaning against a wall with an empty wall only two steps ahead of them. When I remembered them, the sky of Eastbourn turned dark and seagulls fell silent and the house of my heart turned cloudy and the sea filled its eyes.

Now that I am envisioning those imprisoned writers and intellectuals sitting in their solitary cells leaning against their cold walls, believing that there is nobody thinking of them in the world, while there is, I write to share their agonizing loneliness in a way. I can't do anything else. I write to cry out loudly: do not consent to such a pain happening to any intellectual, the pain that is sometimes harder than death.

Evin prison is a familiar place for more than twenty writers who have been in the same cells in the past five years and hundreds of political activists and intellectuals experienced it under Shah's regime and in fact they were built for terorists. As one of those writers who has been in these cells on the account of writing a few articles, I do not believe that those who pass the verdict of solitary confinement are not aware of the depth of cruelty they show. I am writing with the hope that it might tap up on that delicate glass that every man has in his heart. Our great poet Sadii says that one who has no heart is like the impressions found on walls; impressions similar to those writings on the walls of the same prison that remind of the agonies of hundreds of men who had been there before us.

When they took us to solitary cells from different parts of Evin prison, at first we did not know we were six people dispersed on the two sides of a corridor. that if we knew, our pain and suffering and dread could have been perhaps less.

"Are you alone in this tomb?" I asked myself when the iron door of the cell was closed behind me. And I wondered, so where do these sounds come from, those unrecognizable vague sounds that were not familiar and were not easy to make out as I did not know the geometry of that place. When they were taking me there, my eyes were closed. All that I knew was I came out of a door and after going down a few steps I was driven to a cell, one by three meters that I did not know where it is until the iron door was closed behind me. A voice ordered me to remove the blinder. The cell was smaller than it could be believed. There is nothing in it to call the eyes and that is what makes the heart to overflow with awe. The walls seem closer to each other, more than that one may see in one's lifetime. The cell looks like a grave and perhaps that is why they are built in this way, to familiarize one to being buried alive.

The floor is of chalk and dust and a soldiers' blanket folded untidily is thrown in a corner and on the other side is a toilet of rusted metal. Its rusty surface discloses the deep reluctance to wash it. A bulky metal in a flat U shape that embraces the wall of one side is to warm up the place in winters and the wall of the other side is just a smooth, towering and empty surface. The ceiling is higher than usual, it is perhaps 4 meters in height and there is a 40 watts lamp hanging in the middle of it. The light is on throughout the day and night that makes sleeping difficult in the first few nights. On the top of the opposite wall, there is a small window under the ceiling whose glass has not been washed since the day of creation; it is so murky that light can hardly pass through it, and at most it can only disclose the brightness of the day and darkness of the night. The walls are all in white and if there is a trace of the old prisoners on them, it is neither visible nor legible under this faint light, unless after a few hours when the eyes get accustomed to that dimness. Further down on it, there are numerous scratches made by spoon, the only tool of prisoners, with each scratch and line symbolizing a day of life, marked quite orderly at first, but chaotic and disorderly as time has passed. Most have been abandoned after the thirtieth or thirty fifth line, as though after this period time has stopped altogether for the prisoner and its recording a senseless job.

Three sides of the cell are made of walls - or divar in Persian that in a way implies div (deva or devil) and in practice they are indeed like devils - and the fourth side of the iron door, the same door that led us to this bastion and when closed with a dry sound, it was as though we were trapped in a can -- and where was the can opener to open it -- with an outlet as big as two eyes high up and a narrower opening further down and through the former, the guard makes sure that you are alive and from the latter food and water are shoved in three times a day following a cry that informs the arrival of lunch or dinner.

The first discovery of prisoners is the size of that can; one can take three steps along its length and two steps along its width and on the third step one has to turn. One should walk, but with closed eyes that makes one goes dizzy due to this circular movement.

For an individual that writing is his life, when left without a pen and papers, the cell turns into a hell after a few minutes and the first desperate request of an imprisoned writer from the guard that is either Hajj Ali or Majdabadi is a pen and some sheets of paper. Hajj Ali is an old guard with twenty eight years of practice in this profession craving for his retirement and is a little bit kind. When you ask for pen and papers he says judge should give permission and he then recommends Koran or Mafatih-ol-Jenan. Not a bad idea, but the light is not enough particularly for a person with weak eyes and they take away your glasses and do not give them back without judge's permission, but if the request is first put to that lad Majdabadi, his response is a sarcastic laughter showing the two rows of his unwashed teeth through that opening in the iron door: 'What else…' and then there is the sound of his slippers dragged on the mosaics of the corridor. The opening is closed.

During this time one has to wear the prison uniform that is of a fabric as fine as that of the sleeping gown in gray color with printed scales, the symbol of juridical power in Islamic republic of Iran that for an imprisoned writer who knows very well that no scales and justice and fairness has sent him into that abyss, it is a double pain. And a pair of slippers that at night turns automatically to your pillow.

In addition to that blanket one finds a piece of plastic in the cell that at first one has no idea what its use might be, but soon realizes that it is supposed to be one's sofreh (table cloth), a tin spoon and a metallic glass and a disposable glass containing washing powder that I wasted on the first day on washing the sink and my plate without knowing that there would be no more of it until another two weeks. On the second day of imprisonment every prisoner cleverly realizes that he can keep the wrapping of the butter and he should keep it in order to have something to play and spend the endless time with. another amusement, the only luxury of the cell, is to drink water from the sink tap without knowing that it is coming from the prison well and is not suitable for drinking as it is a kind of heavy calcareous water that after drinking it for forty consecutive days will produce pain not only in my stone producing kidneys, but even in healthy kidneys and it is only if the pain gets unbearable and one goes to the prison sick bay for it, if one does, one would learn that he shouldn't drink from that water. In public cells of Evin, there is one drinkable water tap and the well water is only used for washing. All kinds of crèmes are used in prison as without them the skin would rupture due to extreme dryness after washing. As the Persian poet Nima says: "like the heart of lover in the absence of lover."

When you are left in that cell that is as big as human loneliness, you spend an hour standing and you stay alive only with the help of your ears that you fix on the vague outer sounds trying to discover the geometry of your surrounding with the help of them until your legs gradually start to ache and you have to sit down on that same blanket that soon has to be used both as a mattress and as a covering, the kindest creature of that bitter atmosphere despite its dirtiness and foul smell. But one does hear sounds, the sounds of one's surrounding. The sound of a school bell from afar…the sound of hymn singing in the school yard… the hubbub of the break times; and sometimes the sound of a car horn and the ambulance sirens, the sound of a loudspeaker that if you pay more attention you find that it spreads the news of the arrival of vegetables, egg plant and cucumber. And the continuous dragging sound of the guards' slippers in the corridor. And the deafening sound of a bell that fills the air a few times once every hour that until the time that you are taken for interrogation, you will not know that it gives the news of the arrival of a new prisoner. After hearing the sound of that bell a few times, you hear the voice of a woman in a somehow protesting tone: 'Yeeeess…

When they took me and four other writers to our solitary cells, nobody opened that iron door for fifteen days nor did anybody answer our knocks at that door. The food arrived from underneath of the door in disposable plates. After those fifteen days, we had all lost fifteen kilos. On the sixteenth day that we were finally allowed to have visitors and they brought in my clothes, it was quite obvious that they no longer fit and suit me.It is a blessing that there is no mirror unless after fifteen days of not taking a shower, with your beards grown and your complexion turned yellow due to the lack of light, not only you would be scared of yourself, but also nauseated.

And air, there is so little air in the cell and summers are worse and there is even less air. Inevitably one has to lie down and put one's head next to the iron door with only few centimeters away from the toilet so that a narrow current of cold air of the corridor where an air conditioner works noisily would creep into bringing a little bit of oxygen with itself.

On the second night, Ebrahim Nabavi satirist could no longer breathe and felt suffocated and the corridor appeared to be in a turmoil in the middle of the night. I reached the same situation on the thirtieth night and was taken to the sick bay where they put me under serum infusion.

And sound and sound, in that gloomy cell, it is only sound that enters it, enters a place where after sometimes eyes and tongue seem to be some useless organs. And at first I did not know what a great opportunity this very appeal to sound presents for those who like to persecute a prisoner. On the second night that ears were not still very familiar with the sounds and most of the sounds entered as strangers, the guards performed a play for two hours. The sound of footsteps walking and running, the sound of fallings and risings and panting. I still do not know whether that was the innovation and amusement of the authority responsible for the protection of Evin that Akbar Ganji referred to as butcher in his defense at court, or did he appear just at nights to amuse himself and then left for home or was it an order and an arrangement. Sometimes something fell as though there was a struggle going on and sometimes in the middle of night somebody cried Mr. Baghi… Mr. Baghi…meaning that they were taking Emadoldin Baghi. Where to? Could anybody see us that with every sound we looked like an animal wondering in a cage?

The fantasy that only sounds can be the source of flight is unstrained during the first few nights. The voice of the singing women prisoners who do not heed the order and call and admonishment of a guard who loutishly tells them to shut up and continue to sing comes from the west side of the cells. The sad song of women who sing songs that are apparently some old tunes, two or three in number with a common place content, all of complain about misfortune and the desire to reach an impossible dream. "I wish to go to the seaside with you again… to here and there while you're holding my hand…Woe! If my hands are left alone again… Woe! If you come again and a clamor arises… And from above comes the sound of the cry of men, the cries of night, the sound of beseech. Who is calling God every night and puts all his strength in a cry that burst out of his heart that I imagine would scare birds to fly away from the branches of the trees of Evin's yard. And a pigeon or a cuckoo comes every night to sing its tune. And an imprisoned poet of the past has said, "A bird took flight from the depth of darkness! The night said light and resumed its sleep. A bird woed, spread its wings and gathered them! It didn't know the path of night and sat in darkness."

Spring belongs to silence, at least there is a human being that talks and hears through this near wall about the arrival of spring, about this heavy illusive silence, about this bitter darkness, grinding your teeth you say: "For which uncommitted sin?" But this is just an illusion. Then after a week or a month, the iron door turns on its heel and a voice orders you to put on the blinder and you set off and leave your vault with the same dragging slippers whose sound you hear in the corridor. There are three steps, a door, another door, and again another door and again another door, a key, a bell and finally air, air, air…What a blessing is the sky even when you don't see it and only feel it. "Remove your blinder after leaving the yard."

I wish I could tell those who are there at this very moment that when you go to interrogation, when you put your foot outside the yard of solitary cells of women, before getting into that old worn out car that if you are lucky enough it might break down and thus give you the chance to look at the trees, the autumn and the sky for a moment, and on reaching the door… I have discovered - if you look toward the north, toward the snow covered peaks of Alborz mountains that oversee Evin, next to that large iron door there is an angle that points to a curved mountain with a sole tree on its top. I wish I could dispatch this news to them somehow.

I had promised myself that if I survive, I go to see that tree on the first day of my release from a different angle, expressing my gratitude for those rare moments that by looking at that lonely tree, I forgot another lonely being that was me. During the three seasons that I looked at it from the same angle it did not always appear to have the same air and it changed color according to my imagination.

It is winter now and that tree is a tree more than any other time. Perhaps it is even clothed in a dress of snow. Nevertheless when I left Evin, I never kept my promise until a day while walking down the neighborhood of Darakeh, passing heedlessly through an alley that reaches Soadatabad situated next to Evin my eyes fell on the small familiar tower of solitary cells and I knew I was very near and my heart beats intensified because of imaging men who were at that very moment leaning against the wall. The same air is overruling me here in Eastbourn.

In the solitary confinement in I ran, the most important thing they do with you is to convey to you in any ways that they can that there is no one that you can appeal to, there is no regulation or law and when you fall into this abyss, all the paths are dead-ends except one and they do not show it to you easily. Do not look to find logic, there is no logic, nor is there an ear to hear your voice. The air is so heavy and illusive that sometimes you would even doubt your humanity and it takes time to tell yourself that you are a human being and no human being is worthy of such debility. And if you are not a man of power and politics, like me, this pain appears more inhuman and harder.

I can talk no more of those agonizing moments and if the situation in Iran were to find some order, I believe that our first vow should be to overthrow the tradition of making humans to suffer such a fate. It should be wiped out of the world. In one word, I should say that it is such a place that when some dear highly valued memory finds its way into your human heart, as it is inevitable and there is no way to stop it, you push away that memory bitterly and wrathfully thinking that this is no place for it; it doesn't deserve to sleep in a corner of such a ruined place.

When writers are imprisoned, by the virtue of an inborn magic strength they turn into a Dostoyevsky or thousand other people who have fallen into abysses in the past centuries, but in the modern age of communication and information revolution one would think that the days of such treatments are over, while it is not.

Today that I am unable to enjoy the peaceful shore of Eastbourn and the sound of seagulls, it is because I can imagine all those writers now in prison sitting in the east corner of their solitary cells, leaning against the wall, ignorant of each other's presence staring at the traces of fists on the opposite wall that like a monster looks at them face to face and breath to breath.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Why Iranians don't take either side of U.S. vs Iraq war?

On September 11, 2001, I was in the central prison of Tehran when Twin Towers collapsed and the Great Event of the beginning of the 21st Century took place. Not only me whose sin was an insult to the Leader of Islamic Republic in one of my articles and writing articles willing the resumption of relationship with America, there were four other journalists sentenced for the same sin of writing similar articles. On the day after September 11, most of us and the majority of prisoners in the dreadful Evin prison, when in the small yard of the prison talked about the twenty two years when the occupation of American Embassy and Americans taken hostage in Tehran was the most important news of the whole world. The prisoners talked with dread about the collapse of Twin Towers and asked us whether Iranian extremists could have a role in that Event.

There was no reason for the dread that Iranians felt in those days, not because they did not have a role in that event, but because among Islamic nations, none were sympathizing as much as Iranians with those who lost their lives in that event. These days when America and Britain have once again dispatched their military forces to the Middle East and many of peace lovers of the world are protesting against American and British military attack at Iraq, what the young generation of Iran are mostly saying is that at least in this way Iraq and her neighbors will get rid of Sadam Hussein.

Not only my son who is studying in New York and who rushed to Manhattan an hour after the Event of Twin Towers to take a film, but the majority of the children of a generation of Iranians who climbed the walls of American Embassy in Tehran in 1980, such as Samira Makhmalbaf who made a short film on the event of September 11, have no enmity with Americans and in their view, America is not that Devil whose death should be demanded and whose flag burnt down.

Last year, when American and British military forces attacked Afghanistan, Iranian youths watched the humiliating defeat of the reactionary fundamentalism of Taliban and the flight of the heads of Alghaedeh jollily. For all these years, they have been involved in fighting fanaticism in schools, streets and sometimes in their homes. Taliban and Alghaedeh represented that dark image of Islam that had never been manifested in Iranian Shiitism, but signs of interest in it were seen in some of the extremist clergies and political groups.

A month after September 11, when despite the fundamentalists' protest, a group of Iranian youth dared to gather in one of the squares in the north region of Tehran where one finds many expensive boutiques and shops, holding candles in their hands and praying for the peace of the souls of the victims, B.B.C journalist in Tehran said, 'there is no longer any evidence for claiming the young generation of Iran to be the same as that of twenty three years ago who considered America as "Great Satan" in the same way as Americans are now compelled to see the differences between Iranians and Arabs of the Middle East and should take caution in using extremist terms against Iranians.

In the past twenty four days all the slogans and talks mentioned in the speeches of the ecclesiastics and authorities of Islamic Republic were the same and it was only a short time before Jack Straw's trip to Tehran in spring of 2002 when these slogans disappeared, and the huge anti-American paintings on the walls of Tehran were wiped out that the young generation of Iran who demands a better life similar to those of their American and European peers increased their pressure on the religious rulers. Now watching films and TV programs on satellite and exchanging the latest CDs of Western Pop music makes the main part of conversations of Iranian adolescents at schools and universities.

The peak of anti-American hysteria occurred on September 4, 1980. Sixty eight thousand American military men had escaped Iran via an air bridge made hurriedly following Shah's flee from Iran. On that day, students who called themselves followers of Ayatolah Khomeini's path climbed up the walls of American embassy in Tehran and by occupying the embassy situated in the central part of Tehran, created one of the greatest news events of the closing two decades of the 20th Century. For 444 days, they kept 50 Americans as their prisoners and discharged them only when they managed to prevent the re-election of President Carter with their measure. This year on the anniversary day of that event, Abas Abdi, the leader of the students who occupied American embassy in Tehran was put in jail. His condemnation was preparation of a poll that showed that the majority of Iranians welcome the resumption of relationship with US.

After the victory of the Islamic revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, one of the most ardent enemies of the United States invited the leaders of anti-US guerrilla groups from all over the world to Tehran, and through an organization, headed by his son, gave them moral and material support. He was ayatollah Hossainali Montazeri who was later chosen as the deputy leader of the Islamic Republic.

Mohammad Montazeri, his son, together with Ayatollah Beheshti, the powerful anti-American revolutionary were killed in an act of terrorism and it is now years since the Ayatollah himself has been removed from his position and is under siege in his own home.

Abolhassan Banisadr, the first president of Islamic Republic elected in those hot days of hostage taking, giving his speech on the first anniversary day of occupation of American embassy on the Balcony of the occupied embassy for the crowd shouting 'Death to America" while the American hostages were fearfully listening to his speech in the corners of their cells never succeeded in completing the four years of his presidency. He too was removed from office and has been living in Paris as in exile since twenty one years ago.

The small left political groups and Iranian Communist Party who had been the greatest supporters of the students who occupied US embassy and prepared the first public protest against America and in favor of hostage taking were imprisoned group after group in subsequent liquidations and hundreds of them were executed.

One of the most popular organizations of this kind, Mojahedin Khalgh, settled in Iraq since twenty years ago assassinating the second president, the first head of legislative power, the second prime minister and a large group of MPs and clergies from all over the country, lost thousands of its members and supporters in the prisons of the county by the verdict of Mullahs. For taking refuge in Sadam, the first enemy of Iran, this group lost their popularity in the eyes of Iranians and has been enjoying the support of some members of American Congress in the recent years. Mojahedi Khalgh had also killed several American officers in the reign of the past regime and considered it as one of their magnum opus for years.

In the midst of the days when Americans were taken prisoners in their own embassy the war started with the attack of Iraq army at several Iranian airports and cities near the border. In the fourth anniversary of the War, the ecclesiastics submitted to a deal with American government for the purpose of buying military equipment needed for the war fronts whose uncovering as "Iran gate" made Ronald Regan's government to face the greatest crises of its term. In Iran, Mehdi Hashemi one of the intimate persons to Ayatollah Montazeri who disclosed the case was put in jail and executed later.

Last year, following the explosion of World Trade Centers in New York and the suicidal attack of the high-jacked passenger plane at Pentagon, American forces invaded Afghanistan and with the help of Iran reached their goal. The foreign minister of Iran was the first to congratulate Karzai's government in Kabul for the defeat of Taliban and foundation of the new state and Iranian government approved of allocation of a two hundred and fifty million dollars aid for renovation of Afghanistan. Last month, Hashemi Rafsanjani, the powerful man of Iran announced that without Iranian help, America and his allies could not accomplish such a victory in Afghanistan. Taliban who is a fundamentalist group manifested their enmity toward Shiite Iran from the first days that they seized power in Kabul and two years before the attack of American forces and their allies at Afghanistan, Iranian military forces arranged themselves along the eastern border for an attack at Taliban who had beheaded four Iranian diplomats. In those days, Western countries and particularly America showed no interest in an Iranian military attack at Taliban.

Among the great changes occurring in the relationship of Iran with the world, one was the fall of Soviet Union in the north of Iran, that was prophesized two years before it by Ayatollah Khomeini in a letter to Michael Gorbachov. In jubilation over the fall of the capital of the world communism, Iran was in the same front with America, for communism was the oldest enemy of Islam.

In the fall of Taliban too, Iranians jubilated and now when they see their old enemy Sadam Hussein under the pressure exerted by the West, there is no reason to hide their contentment, but despite all these common interests, the leaders of Islamic Republic prefer to present America as the great enemy of Islam in their daily slogans. They have their own reasons for that, they can not rule without an enemy, but Iranian youths do not need any enemies.

In the past twenty four years, American governments too have not given up their antagonistic attitude toward the religious government of Iran. Last year, President Bush called Iran as one of the members of the evil axis and recently whether Iranian ex-queen, or Gugush, the most popular Iranian singer who just recently managed to leave the country and go on the scene again had difficulty in obtaining American visa. Abas Kiarostami, the well known Iranian director when wanted to go to US on the invitation of New York Universtity to receive a prize for his well received film confronted a No from American consul in Paris. Many anti-government Iranians with American and British and Swedish passports in their pockets had to wait for hours in American airports to be fingerprinted merely because their place of birth had been an Iranian city.

Last month, in a pre-planned attack, thousands of Iranians were detained by Federal Police with some being deported from the county. Reports show that the detainees were mistreated, but when it was decided to do the same with American journalists in Tehran, that is to have them fingerprinted, Iranian journalists seriously protested against such a measure. Most of these journalists are those who wrote ardent articles twenty two years ago when American embassy was occupied, praising the decision of the students who occupied the embassy, but now in harmony with the rest of people, they are demanding the government to start negotiations with America.

One of the protesting Iranian journalists who has settled in America for some times now calls the rule of Mullahs reactionary and backward in his New-Yorkian notes and believes that the religious government has really fooled Iranians. Majid Majidi has recently written a fiction story in his New-Yorkian notes with the subject of the leader of Islamic Republic being tried in the International Court of Laheh; defending his case, the leader says that he had been against many of the extremist measures, but had been afraid of expressing it.

Iran American relationships that started about hundred years ago has had no fruit except pain for Iranians, but they still hold alive the memory of Basckervil, the American teacher of American school in Tabriz at the beginning of 20th century who joined Iranian constitutionalists, while after CIA's coup against Mosadegh's state in 1953, many Iranians were executed in the prisons on the charge of protest against America.

In recent years the opposite has been the case, that is those who are now imprisoned are those whose charge is their favorable position toward the resumption of relationship with America, with me in the bottom of their list bearing three months of imprisonment for writing an article in which I suggested that we should negotiate with Americans and obtain our assets blocked in American banks.

I wrote in an article that nearly throughout the 20th century and during the reign of the last monarchy, Iranians were busy making love in the dark with Americans bringing them no fruit except loss and now it is about a quarter of a century that they are busy showing enmity toward Americans in the dark. Hasn't yet the time come for the two countries to negotiate under the light? It seems that the fall of Sadam Hussein and the foundation of a pro-American regime in Iraq, with Karzai's government ruling Afghanistan under the protection of American forces, will compel Iranian government to surrender to Iranians' will. Particularly because the recently freed governments in the north of Iran have invited American and European companies for extraction of their oil and gas resources and Iran can not continue with her anti-American slogans in the midst of all these friends of America.

Despite all this history of ups and downs, Chris Paten who will go to Tehran in two weeks as the foreign commissary of European Union to talk over the subject of continuation of trade relationships between Iran and Europe will see that more than being interested in any kind of antagonism against America, Iranian people are busy in their struggle against the extremists, with some of them thinking like Ben Ladin and some coming from the land where Sadam is and are members of Iraqui party Aldaveh that opposes the reformist movement in Iran. Even though many Iranians know that American and British military forces are now gathered in the western borders of Iran, their main apprehension is lest the war of these forces with Sadam Hussein would make some sparks to fall on the straw houses of Iranians. Nevertheless, in Iran nobody is against the war with Iraq, even if it is over the issue of oil.