And in non-census-related news…

A 20-year old letter allegedly written by Iranian “Green revolution” leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi to Iran’s then-president President Ali Khamenei is causing a lot of chatter within Tehran-watching circles this week. The letter was published on the website of the now-exiled past President of the Islamic Republic Abolhassan Banisadr and appears to expose a long-denied international assertion against the Iranian regime. The letter references the type of activity that suggests that Iran has participated in foreign terrorist attacks and has been fighting an aysymmetric proxy war against its enemies for quite some time now. Not that this is such a stunning revelation to anyone, but it is interesting nonetheless that internal government documents have come to light from within that acknowledges this.

Here is the letter, and I’ve reprinted a Google-translated excerpt below:

“After the plane is hijacked, we become aware of it. When the machine gun in a street opens in Lebanon and the sound turned it everywhere, we will know the case. After the discovery of explosives from our pilgrims in Jeddah, I’m aware of it. Unfortunately, and despite all the loss that the country has realized this move, yet like every time the operation can be called anytime the state occurs”

Our troops in Afghanistan are fighting an asymmetric battle against non-state actors in the south of that country. We’ve known for some time that factions within the Pakistan military have been sympathetic and supportive of Taliban fighters and we’ve known the same about Iran’s support as well. If the letter is valid, it helps the Iranian regime lose face over a lie it has laughably maintained among the international community. Though, such a “revelation” will come as a shock to no one. Iran for example provides billions of dollars in annual support to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

Facing mounting opposition from opposition forces, Ahmadinejad has taken a hard-line stance to bolster his support among hardliners within his base. This, of course, is underscored by the development of a nuclear program to assert Iran’s independence, defense and dominance over the region. However, a nuclear program, while couched in anti-Semitic and bellicose terms, is at minimum state-to-state posturing.

The release of the letter that internally confirms that the regime has long participated in state-sanctioned proxied asymmetric attacks against not only foreign soldiers but against civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon among other countries, may simply be yet another element for fodder for an opposition posturing against a hard-line regime losing favour at home. This further suggests to Iranians that their leadership has been occupied with tangential foreign issues while domestic strife rises and quality of life diminishes.

To that point, this is also about two rival political factions blaming each other for failures in Iran’s history as an Islamic republic. Washington’s Daily Beast picks up on this thread,

“This letter has historical significance now,” Banisadr told The Daily Beast in a telephone interview. “At the time of its initial publication it was significant, too, because it clearly stated that the Iranian regime was involved in terrorist activities abroad; that these actions were not sporadic, but that it was the Iranian government that was engaged in terrorist activities.”

Neither Khamenei nor President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has commented on the letter. But people in Iran speculate that the letter re-emerged at this moment because Mousavi was threatening to reveal secrets in connection with the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, having been accused by current Iranian authorities of losing the war. And some hope that Mousavi’s secrecy standoff with the government might cast light on another dark moment in Iran’s history–the mass executions of political prisoners in 1988, which reportedly cost the lives of thousands of people. Within Iran, the executions are a taboo subject. But last month, Mousavi alluded to them, suggesting that his cabinet was kept in the dark.

The Mousavi letter also seeks to establish the credentials of the opposition leader as someone who was in government and who was an insider to the regime’s history. This contrasts with Ahmadinejad, the former mayor of Tehran who had little to no experience.

Statements from the Prime Minister, the Liberal Party and the NDP on the situation in Iran

From Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada:

“The reaction of the Iranian authorities to the demonstrations in Iran is wholly unacceptable. The regime has chosen to use brute force and intimidation in responding to peaceful opposition regarding legitimate and serious allegations of electoral fraud.

“Basic human rights, including freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, are being ignored. Demonstrations have been banned and demonstrators beaten. Injured protestors have been arrested when they arrive at hospitals for treatment. Journalists have been prevented from covering protests and subjected to arbitrary detention and arrest. Foreign press credentials have been revoked.

“Canada calls on the Iranian authorities to immediately cease the use of violence against their own people, to release all political prisoners and journalists – including Canadians – who have been unjustly detained, to allow Iranian and foreign media to report freely on these historic events, and to conduct a full and transparent investigation into allegations of fraud in the presidential election. The voices of all Iranians must be heard. I have directed the Minister of Foreign Affairs to ensure that Canada’s views are conveyed to Iran’s top representative in Canada.”

“Canada continues to be a strong and consistent voice calling on the Iranian regime to fulfill all of its human rights obligations, both in law and in practice. For six consecutive years, Canada has led a resolution on the human rights situation in Iran at the United Nations General Assembly. Canada continues to support freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Iran and around the world.”

From Michael Ignatieff, leader of the Liberal Party:

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff today condemned the Government of Iran’s use of violence to stifle peaceful dissent by protesters calling for open and transparent democratic elections.

“We mourn each life lost as a result of the Government of Iran’s unjust actions, and share the anguish and outrage of Canadians of Iranian origin at the suppression of peaceful protest and the apparent denial of fully free and fair elections,” said Mr. Ignatieff.

Amid reports of death and injury inflicted by the Iranian government upon peaceful protesters, the Liberal Leader also encouraged the Canadian government to do all it can to help the injured at its embassy in Tehran.

“Canada should join other countries in keeping our embassy open for the humanitarian needs of the people of Iran.”

Despite the media blackout put in place by the Iranian government, reports emerging largely through online social media show images of bloodshed among protesters and clashes with government police forces.

“The Iranian government cannot hide the truth from their own citizens or from the rest of the world. By answering the call for open and transparent elections with a violent disregard for the rights of its citizens, the Iranian government has further alienated itself from the international community.”

“The Liberal Party of Canada strongly affirms the rights of Iranians and people everywhere to freely express themselves and associate with others, without threat to their life or liberty. We call on the Iranian government to cease the violence and continue to call for open and transparent elections.”

From Paul Dewar, NDP foreign affairs critic:

OTTAWA – New Democrat Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre) made the following statement regarding the situation in Iran in the House of Commons today:

“Mr. Speaker, New Democrats are extremely concerned about the situation in Iran.

Protestors are being crushed, the means of communications among Iranians have been restricted and political activists have been jailed. Yet, thousands of opposition supporters are standing their ground, defying a ban on protests, and requesting a new election. This is a critical moment not only for the people in Iran but around the world.

In the words of poet Sa’di,
“The children of Adam are limbs to each other
Having been created of one essence
When the calamity of time afflicts one limb
The other limbs cannot remain at rest”.

In that spirit, New Democrats stand in solidarity with the democratic aspirations of the people of Iran. We call for an end to hostilities against peaceful protests, an immediate release of political prisoners and a fair and transparent electoral process that respects the genuine will of the Iranian people.”