July 6, 2005
More on the Iran / Austria diplomatic strain
[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]
Der Standard (Austria) reports more today on the odd Austria-Iran conflict. I should say it’s the odd Peter Pilz – Iran conflict, because as far as I can tell from the press, Pilz is the only elected or appointed member of any branch of the Austrian government that has asserted that there is an investigation into the Iranian president-elect. Believe me, I’m not saying I doubt him. Who could possibly be surprised if all this were true?
Let’s backtrack. What’s this all about?
In 1989 three Kurds were murdered in Vienna. Not just any Kurds: one of them was Abdul-Rahman Ghassemlou, the secretary general of the PDKI (Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan). During its investigation of the incident, Austrian authorities issued arrest warrants for members of the Iranian government. I believe that the Austrians concluded that the murderers traveled as diplomats.
Fast forward to the present: Peter Pilz is a Green Party member of the Austrian Parliament and is the party’s official spokesperson on security issues. He is also the author of “Mit Gott gegen alle: Amerikas Kampf um die Weltherrschaft” (“With God Against Everyone: Americas Struggle for World Domination”) . In my very first attempt at blogging, back in ’03, I mentioned this book. Pilz is a radical of sorts. It’s nice to see that his hatred of the United States does not cause him to turn a blind eye to acts committed by Muslims. Because let’s face it, many, many lefty america-hating folks do exactly that. Pilz may be particularly interested in this case because the PDKI is a socialist organization. (Anything I say about Pilz’s motives is pure speculation on my part.) Or perhaps he knew one or more of the victims. I don’t know — what I’m trying to say is that it’s not entirely clear to me why Peter Pilz is the one who is at the center of this, why he was the one who received important information about this case, etc.
On with the story… At his blog, Pilz says he turned over information from “Zeuge D.” (Witness D.) to the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz und Terrorismusbekämpfung (BVT, the federal office for protection of the constitution and the fight against terrorism). “Zeuge D.” is an Iranian exile living in Paris. His information alleges that the president-elect of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was a major player in the 1989 assassinations. If you read German, you can read quite an interesting account of the crime at Pilz’s site because he publishes what I guess is part of the official Austrian investigative reports.
Pilz’s main point is this: “Zeuge D.’s” statements show that he is very familiar with details of the crime that were not made public. Not only that, but he clears up precisely some of those questions which Austrian investigators left open for lack of information. He has filled-in the blanks, so to speak. One example: a witness (or witnesses) on the street that day said that a motorcycle somehow played a role in all this, although it seems clear that none of those who actually did the shooting was also the motorcyclist. In other words, the motorcyclist was perhaps some kind of back-up or stand-by.
The report at Der Standard’s website includes the following:
|Auch der iranische Botschafter in Österreich, Seyed Mohsen Nabavi, meldete sich zu Wort. Er bezeichnete die Vorwürfe als “Propaganda” aus “terroristischen und zionistischen Kreisen”. Im Justizministerium, wo die Causa als oberste Chefsache behandelt wird, hieß es, die Erhebungen der Staatsanwaltschaft beschränkten sich vorerst darauf, ob der vom Grünen-Sicherheitssprecher Peter Pilz zitierte Belastungszeuge überhaupt existiere. Von Ermittlungen gegen Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad im Zusammenhang mit den Kurdenmorden könne keine Rede sein.
Zeitungen und Fernsehen im Iran berichten weiter nicht über die neuen Anschuldigungen gegen Ahmadi-Nejad. Lediglich die konservative, dem Präsidenten nahe stehende Tageszeitung Keyhan schrieb über ungenannte österreichische Firmen, die gewarnt hätten, man dürfe die Beziehungen mit dem Iran nun nicht aufs Spiel setzen.
|The Iranian ambassador to Austria, Seyed Mohsen Nabavi, has also commented on this. He described the allegations as “propaganda” from “terrorist and <b>zionist</b> circles.” In the Austrian Justice Ministry, where the issue is being handled at the very highest levels, it is said that the state attorney’s inquiry is strictly limited to determining if the witness cited by Green Party security spokesperson Peter Pilz even exists: there is no investigation of Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad to speak of in connection with the murder of the Kurds.
Newspapers and television in Iran still have not reported the new allegations against Ahmadi-Nejad. Only the conservative newspaper Keyhan, which is supportive of the president, wrote that un-named Austrian companies had been warned of the consequences of putting relations with Iran at risk.
This, then, is certainly a great test of western resolve. Hopefully Austria would not simply try to sweep this under the rug, as Pilz himself fears. Now even a newspaper close to the Iranian president-elect is basically threatening Austria. Will Austria cower? That would be supremely humiliating.
- AP report at Jerusalem Post: “Evidence links Ahmadinejad to Vienna hit“
- The Kurdistan Bloggers Union covers this story.
- Kurdistanmedia.com biographical sketch of Abdul-Rahman Ghassemlou, the former secretary general of the PDKI and one of those murdered in Vienna.
- The PDKI (Canada), the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan