Iran is the Future

BRAZIL - JUNE 21:  Iran fans cheer during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group F match between Argentina and Iran at Estadio Mineirao on June 21, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 491933191
BRAZIL – JUNE 21, 2014: Iran fans cheer during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group F match between Argentina and Iran at Estadio Mineirao 

This is a comment I posted on a Guardian article reporting on King Salman’s decision not to attend the GCC meeting with Obama at Camp David. It sum’s up what I think are the real motivators behind the Persian Gulf countries, and Israel’s, fear of the Iran nuclear deal:

How exactly does a deal to LIMIT Iran’s (peaceful) nuclear programme harm the GCC? Iran isn’t the one bombing it’s neighbour and covertly waging a war against Iraq and Syria. The only aid Iran has given the Houthis is financial, as well as negotiating food imports into the country, and a new airline linking Sanaa to Tehran. The Houthis, like everyone else, are fighting with American-made weapons. By the way, I just read that Yemen is on its way to becoming the worst man-made crisis of the 21st century, due to the blockade making it impossible to get fuel and food (90% of Yemen’s food is imported).

I think the real problem for these despots is what will happen to their economies once sanctions are lifted. 90% of KSA’s income is through oil sales, and it’s population are unskilled and uneducated. Iran’s population is the opposite, and they actually manufacture things, such as cars. Though it’s not reported in the Western press, delegations from all over Europe have been visiting Tehran to sign trade deals in recent months. In fact, there was even a US delegation there yesterday.

Without the sanctions, Iran has the ability to become an economic powerhouse. In fact it is also about to start building hundreds of new hotels to keep up with its blossoming tourist industry. All this strikes fear into the heart of Salman, Netanyahu, Tom Cotton, and the rest.

One further point is, how will lessening restrictions in Iran’s energy sector affect the price of oil? The market is currently flooded with Saudi oil, what happens when it’s also flooded with Iranian oil?

It can’t be emphasised enough how much potential there is for Iran. If you read Fars News or Press TV there are almost daily articles reporting on economic delegations from Poland, visits to Tehran by French car manufacturers, meetings between Iranian ministers and Swiss ministers, and so on. The power they exert is very much in the Chinese tradition, ie. investing in infrastructure rather than selling weapons and dropping bombs, as the American’s and the Saudi’s do.

I probably wouldn’t have started this blog if it wasn’t for the sudden interest I found in Iran last year. Having researched women’s rights in the Middle East, I couldn’t believe that the country so demonised for its human rights abuses was Iran, whose women seem so fiercely independent, and not Saudi Arabia, which goes to extraordinary lengths to keep their women segregated from men, and whose  women must cloak themselves in black tents, while the Persians put Western women’s dress sense to shame. I actually started trying to copy some of the looks I found, which can be seen in my post: Iranian Street Style.

While human rights in KSA are regressing – they have just fired their first female minister – human rights in Iran are making slow but welcome progress – they have just appointed their first female ambassador to represent them abroad. Iran is the future, while the Americans and their Gulf cronies are on a sinking ship.

Feigning Ignorance: Operation Ajax

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Last month, David Cameron held a ‘historic’ meeting with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the United Nations general assembly in New York; the first such engagement to take place between the two nations since before the Islamic Revolution in 1979. It was reported that Cameron had requested the meeting, and was going to use the opportunity to attempt to convince Rouhani to give up his support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

It seems like he did not get what he was looking for, as he went on to criticise Iran only hours later – stating in his speech to the general assembly:

“Iran should also be given the chance to show it can be part of the solution, not part of the problem. We have severe disagreements. Iran’s support for terrorist organisations, its nuclear programme, its treatment of its people. All these need to change.

Iran’s leaders could help in defeating the threat from Isil. They could help secure a more stable, inclusive Iraq, and a more stable and inclusive Syria. And if they are prepared to do this, then we should welcome their engagement.”

These statements are deeply humiliating, and obviously utterly hypocritical; in fact all of these points could equally be applied – if not more than equally – to the UK government. Unlike Iran, we actually have a nuclear weapons programme, and have been funding terrorist organisations in Syria for years now, not to mention our unwavering support for Israel. Our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq (both share borders with Iran) have caused devastating instability and violence for these countries, as well as having knock on effects on the region as a whole. Unlike the UK, Iran is actually in the Middle East, and therefore it is they who should be dictating to us how we participate in their affairs. This made me think, does Cameron actually know about Britain’s past ‘meddling’ in Iran, which is responsible for our untrustworthy reputation there? This seems unlikely; it’s difficult to understand how he could make such arrogant statements if he held some basic knowledge of recent Iranian history.

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For those who don’t know: in 1953 the UK and United States orchestrated the overthrow of the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran,  Mohammad Mossadegh, and installed the Shah of Iran as an absolute monarch. Mossadegh’s election was a symbol of the deep discontent within Persian society of Britain’s exploitation of Iranian resources: the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP) was profiting from the country’s oil and denying any of the profits its people, and in 1951 Mossadegh – with almost full parliamentary support – voted to nationalise the company’s assets and expel the Brits from Iran. Following this, the UK government sought to convince the Americans to assist them in conducting a coup, eventually succeeding with the election of Eisenhower, who was convinced by the CIA that Mossadegh was a Communist threat. As a condition for their participation in reinstating the AIOC, Britain had to end its monopoly over Iran’s oil and allow room for several American petroleum companies. The BBC was a key propaganda tool of the operation, as its BBC Persia service (funded by the Foreign Office) was directed to ‘destroy Persian confidence in the present policy of the Persian government’. The Shah ruled with an iron fist and large US support from 1953 until 1979, when he was deposed by the Islamic Revolution led by the philosopher Ayatollah Khomeini.

‘Operation Ajax’ is a large reason why Tehran is today being run by mullahs, and their anti-Western stance is due to America’s propping up of the Shah’s authoritarian regime. While Obama has admitted his country’s role in the coup – the CIA recently released previously classified documents regarding its role – after doing some brief research, it appears that the UK government has not been as publicly self-reflective.

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In 2005 the Foreign Office refused to release documents under the Freedom of Information Act pertaining to the UK’s involvement, and the Foreign Secretary at the time – Jack Straw – denied the BBC’s request for an interview on the subject. A year later however, Straw revealed that the first time he met conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian’s first words to him were about the coup. In 2006, prime minister Tony Blair admitted during an interview with Jon Snow on Channel 4 that he had never even heard of Mohammad Mossadegh. Then in 2009, he made the following statements to Fareed Zakaria on CNN:

ZAKARIA: The supreme leader singled out Britain for special condemnation, interfering with Iranian affairs. Why do you think that is? Is the British embassy in Iran — I mean, you were in effect running it for 10 years, running the whole British government — do you fund espionage activities? Do you do things that — why are the Iranians so focused on you guys?

BLAIR: This is nonsense. I mean, they know it’s nonsense. I guess they’ve got to choose somebody to go after, so they choose us.
And, you know, I have been very clear, obviously, in the statements that I’ve made, both as prime minister and afterwards, that nuclear weapons capability of Iran is the red line, and that Iran should stop exporting terrorism, destabilizing people within the region. I mean, I think that’s pretty obvious to say.

And let me make one thing very clear. For us in Britain, we greatly value Iran as a country, its people as a people, its civilization, which is an ancient and proud civilization, as indeed just that.

But the fact is that there are elements within the Iranian system that do cause genuine instability, and worse, around the Middle East. And what we hope very much, whatever happens over these next weeks in Iran, is that over the time to come that we can have a relationship with Iran in which they are trying to be helpful and constructive and conciliatory.

Our Middle East ‘peace envoy’ peddling the “they hate us for our freedoms” rhetoric in 2013:

Whether Cameron is also genuinely ignorant about this matter is unclear; there is perhaps a sense of embarrassment that Eisenhower was essentially duped into approving this operation on Britain’s behalf – this factor was a later source of anger for Washington.

What is evident is that for any meaningful attempt at peace in the Middle East to be achieved, our leaders must be willing to accept and admit our role in its destabilisation, rather than continue with the current hypocritical and self-righteous attitude. As the spokeswoman (Marzieh Afkham) for Iran’s foreign minister said following Cameron’s speech:

“The speech by the British prime minister at the UN general assembly shows the perpetuation of the egocentric attitude of a government which has a history of [causing] trouble in our region.”

Sources:

GPS: Tony Blair on Iran
http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2009/06/28/gps.tony.blair.iran.cnn?iref=videosearch

1953 Iranian coup d’état
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Iranian_coup_d’état

The Mossadegh Project
http://www.mohammadmossadegh.com/

Rouhani criticizes Cameron’s anti-Iran remarks
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/380488.html

Iranian Street Style

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Last year Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – having already threatened the Iranian people with military action over the country’s uranium enrichment programme – sought to appeal to them directly via an interview on BBC Persia. However the end result was not the desired national dialogue on Iran’s nuclear capabilities, or the existential threat these posed to the Jewish state, but derision over Netanyahu’s uneducated view of Iranian society – particularly by its ever-growing liberal youth demographic.

The Israeli politicians words would likely carry more weight with the outside world if they were in any way based in reality, but comments like:

“I think if the Iranian people had freedom, they would wear jeans, listen to Western music, and have free elections”

only serve to show that all his statements on the Islamic Republic should be taken with a pinch of salt. Contrary to popular assumptions, Persian women are not forced to dress head-to-toe in black cloth. While the law dictates that they must cover their hair, Iranian women are among the most stylish in the world, and are constantly finding new ways to push the boundaries of the state’s oppressive dress codes. These include the current leggings craze, which have caused outrage in Iran’s parliament, and would be considered an immodest outfit choice by many women in the UK.

Here are some images of Iranian street style, more of which can be found on the Tehran Times

‘Iran Parliament Up in Arms Over Leggings’:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-28034232

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