Monday, June 29, 2009
The events in Iran give me a great deal of heartache. That is not because I think Ahmadinejad had the elections rigged. Western reporters, including many from the BBC and American media who have been there and are familiar with Iran, seem to agree that there could have been voting irregularities but that the outcome of the election was unlikely changed.
Mousavi has won the hearts of the educated and the middle class, but those are not the only people that vote in Iran. Rural and poor Iranians as well as the millions of the Iran-Iraq war veterans and their families still remember what Ahmadinejad had done for them and he has their loyalty. And as someone who lived in a poor third world country for many decades I know that freedom of expression and democracy is more important than the air we breath for many of us, but for many others it take a back seat to having bread on the table for the children.
My heartache comes from that deep yearning to see Ahmadinejad vanish. He may be the poor man’s hero in rural Iran, but the growing stature of Iran in the world and the potential of the Iranian people is not only an Iranian matter. It is a matter of importance for all the Middle East, Arabs, and Muslims and for the whole world. Iran’s role in the world needs someone better that Ahmadinejad to be the face of Iran.
Another cause of the heartache is how the opposition protests were handled. It is one thing for the Iranian supreme leaders to state that there was no significant fraud, but it is another thing to behave as if the protestors are inherently evil and that protest in itself is an act against the nation.
The recent idiotic calls by an arrogant member of the supreme clergy to ‘harshly and cruelly’ punish protestors, and threatening their leader with execution go only to show how morally corrupt and bankrupt people in power can be. That is true even when their ideology is religion-based. People like those in power in Tehran today are further proof why clergy and religion fail to be the basis for governance of political entities.
Perceiving dissent as wrong and unpatriotic delegitimizes any government and any society no matter how ‘honest’ the election process is. Respecting dissent is the hallmark of a democracy. It supersedes - in my mind - fair elections. It tells of the health of the conscience of the nation. And it is a predictor of future trends. When it is present, the society is heading towards democracy sooner or later. Losing respect for dissidents is a prelude to full-fledged dictatorship: military, theocratic, or plutocratic no matter how fair the election that brought that government is.
How the current events will eventually play out in Iran is a matter for Iranians to resolve. But my hope and prayers are for those who seek freedom; not only for themselves (and only until they grab power) but for those who are willing to shed their blood to guarantee freedom and justice for all - even their own ideological opponents.
But Iran is not the only source of my heartache. For those who follow world media it is clear that most of the world is emotionally behind Iranian opposition symbolized by Mousavi. But it is amusing seeing how the Israeli and right wing American media outlets are going gaga over Iranian opposition. For the first two weeks after the elections, Haaretz, the Israeli daily newspaper, looked like it was a local Iranian news paper. There were days when nearly two thirds of the main webpage items were about Iran. Similar coverage could be seen on Fox news and some right wing web sites.
And it is not only the amount of coverage that worthy of notice. It is the tone: loving, caring, deeply concerned about the ‘people’. Even our congress had an urgent vote in support of the opposition by the kind majority (over 99%) that is only granted for unconditional pro-Israel support bills.
But, wait. Was that a pro Iranian dissidents vote or a hidden vote for pro-Israel interests? Its sponsors were Howard Berman and Mike Pence, some of the ‘most stalwart pro-Israel members’ according to the progressive Jewish blogger and journalist Richard Silverstein. Soon to follow was the screechy noise of Paul Wolfowitz, Krauthammer and other neocons trying to move the Iranian ‘regime change’ to the front burner. That is the kind of regime change that we, Americans, have been trying in the Middle East just to generate more income for our weapons industry, and to make Israel’s life more enjoyable by creating a cozy neighborhood for it at the expense of American life style, the blood of American youth and the health of the American economy.
Three days ago, a member of the war-mongering and neocons hornet-nest called American Enterprise Institute was on NPR’s Talk of the Nation informing us that if we do not go all the way behind Iranian opposition ‘we’ [i.e., Obama’s administration] ‘will be giving Democracy a bad name’!!!!!! Even McCain (remember that guy?) is rearing his head again trying to revive the long lost dream expressed in his famous ‘Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran’ with an attempt to coerce Obama into a more aggressive stance against Iran.
The ‘love fest’ that Israeli and right wing American media and institutions suddenly have for the ‘people of Iran’ is not surprising. It is predictable and along the same line of the former Darfour love fest, Kurdish people love fest, and even the early Iraq wartime Shi’a love fest. While undeniable legitimate causes existed in those situations, the intention of the love fests was far from altruistic as it claimed to be.
Israel and its representatives in the US used the Darfur atrocities very well for their public relations campaign and we all still remember the media theme of ‘Arab Muslim Sudanese versus the African blacks’. At present some of the Darfur leaders are in and out of Israel using Jerusalem as a stage to launch some of their PR campaigns.
The Israeli sympathy for the ‘aspiration of independence of the Kurds’ is even more pervasive that what they did in Darfur with military expertise and weapon deals between Kurds and Israel. A couple of months ago on Al-Jazeera, an Iraqi Kurdish leader looked like a mumbling incoherent idiot when he was asked to explain the nature of the ‘cooperation’ between Iraqi Kurds and Israel – enough said. For Israel, a foothold in the murky waters of Kurdistan could be a triple strike with a planted destabilizing element in Iraq, Iran and Turkey simultaneously. I do not think this will play out the way Israel wants, but they will not stop trying.
I believe the Iranian opposition is not opportunistic, and not as easy to manipulate or fool as some of the Darfur rebel leaders or even some of the Iraqi Kurdish leadership. One exception could be the few Iranians who still yearn for the days of aristocracy rule of the former Shah Reza Pahlavi, a ruthless dictator and a staunch supporter of Israel. Other than that, I doubt any Iranian opposition leaders would be sending thank you notes to Israel, McCain or Wolfowitz.
But for Israel and the US neocons, the chance to stir the pot and murk the waters with some public relations gains against the generic Islamic threat seem too good to let go.
I know where I stand, and where true democracy lovers stand on the fight in Iran. I know how valuable are the lives lost and the blood shed. I can feel in heartache and see tears in the eyes of the friends of the Iranian people.
But the crocodile tears in the eyes of Israel and the neocons, and their fake sympathy are unlikely to fool many in Iran. They know as much as I know that the words these fake friends utter are lip service to ulterior goals.
As we say in Arabic about such words "كلمة حق يراد بها باطل" or my rendition of that in English “the words may be righteous, but the intentions are not”.