لماذا العراق؟….بقلم: أ. د. بثينة شعبان

2021-09-06

 أ. د. بثينة شعبان

منذ الاحتلال البريطاني للعراق خلال الحرب العالمية الأولى التي انتهت عام 1918 لم تتوقف المحاولات الغربية لاحتواء العراق وخاصة لفصله عن امتداده الطبيعي إلى بلاد الشام حيث التبادل التاريخي والمعرفي والاقتصادي كان معروفاً بين مملكة إيبلا وبلاد الرافدين. وتشهد الرقم التاريخية والتطور الزراعي على التفاعل والتكامل والانسجام الحضاري والحياتي بين سورية والعراق على مرّ التاريخ إلى أن بدأت بالسعي لإلحاق العراق بسياساتها وربطه بمعاهدات متعددة في عشرينيات وثلاثينيات القرن الماضي وصولاً إلى حلف بغداد عام 1955 والذي كان يضم بالإضافة إلى المملكة المتحدة كلاً من العراق وتركيا وإيران الشاه وباكستان.

لقد كان الهدف الأول لهذا الحلف هو محاولة وقف نفوذ الاتحاد السوفييتي الذي كان قد وطّد ووسّع علاقته في تلك الفترة مع سورية ومصر. ومع أن الولايات المتحدة هي صاحبة فكرة إنشاء هذا الحلف ووعدت بتقديم الدعم الاقتصادي والعسكري للأعضاء إلا أنها لم تشارك فيه بشكل مباشر وإنما وكّلت بريطانيا للقيام بذلك، ولكن العراق انسحب من الحلف بعد ثورة 14 تموز 1958 التي أطاحت بالنظام الملكي الهاشمي وأعلنت الجمهورية واستقلّ العراق لأول مرة من النفوذ البريطاني، وانتقل مركز الحلف بعد ذلك من بغداد إلى أنقرة، وأقام العراق علاقات دبلوماسية واقتصادية وعسكرية مع الاتحاد السوفييتي، وبذلك أخفق هذا الحلف في وقف توسع نفوذ الاتحاد السوفييتي الذي وطّد علاقاته مع الدول العربية في تلك الفترة. ومع اندلاع الثورة الإيرانية عام 1979 أطلقت رصاصة الرحمة على حلف بغداد الذي اعتُبر من أضعف الأحلاف التي نشأت خلال الحرب الباردة.

ولكن محاولات احتواء العراق لم تتوقف وأسوأ تجلياتها على مرّ العقود الماضية كان نشوب الحرب العراقية الإيرانية بعد انتصار الثورة الإيرانية وبذل الجهود المستمرّة والمستميتة لفصل العراق عن عمقه العربي السوري، ومنع حتى إقامة أي علاقة وتواصل بين هذين البلدين المنسجمين تاريخياً وديموغرافياً وجغرافياً وحضارياً لأن التكامل والتفاعل بين سورية والعراق سيؤسس من دون شك لبنة عربية متينة قد تشكل قاعدة ومنطلقاً للعلاقات العربية السليمة والمجزية لكلّ المنخرطين فيها، ولذلك فقد كانت الحدود العراقية السورية دوماً أحد الأهداف الغربية وقد حرصت الدول الاستعمارية الغربية على خلق كافة الحجج والذرائع والمؤامرات لإبقاء هذه الحدود مغلقة في فترات طويلة من تاريخ البلدين.

إذ رغم كل الدعم الذي قدمه الغرب للعصابات الإرهابية منذ 2011 في حربها على سورية ورغم انشغاله في حرب إرهابية تدميرية في الداخل السوري فإن نظر الغرب لم يحد عن هذه الحدود وسعى إلى ضمان بقاء الإرهاب قربها كي يمنع فتحها والتواصل الحقيقي بين الشعبين السوري والعراقي لأن هذا التواصل سيعود بالفائدة الجمّة على البلدين انتماءً وثقافة وعروبة وحضارة واقتصاداً وتكاملاً حقيقياً. ولا شك أن كل الذرائع للإبقاء على هذه الحدود مغلقة تتلخص بأهداف الإدارة الأميركية القديمة الجديدة والتي تريد أن يكون العراق قاعدة للدول المنضوية تحت لواء الغرب وسدّاً في وجه روسيا والصين وإيران وفي وجه دخول الصين خاصة إلى منطقة الشرق الأوسط ومنع قيام أي مسعى وحدوي بين البلدين.

الغرب يعتبر العراق بوابة لنفوذه في الشرق الأوسط، ولا شك أن العراق بعمقه الحضاري ومؤهلات شعبه وثرواته الظاهرة والباطنة يشكّل عمقاً وحدوياً عروبياً وأن فصله عن سورية وإلهاءه بتحالفات غير قابلة للحياة وأثبتت فشلها على مرّ التاريخ يظهران أهمية العراق الحقيقية وإدراك الغرب لهذه الأهمية ومحاولاته تجيير كل مقدرات العراق لصالحه ونهب ثرواته وإلهاء شعبه بالخلافات الطائفية. من هذا المنظور يمكن أن نفهم كل محاولات التدمير والتهميش والاحتلال والحصار والعقوبات للعراق وشعبه على مدى العقود الماضية، وأن كل ما أثير من تهم له من أسلحة دمار شامل إلى غيرها كانت غطاءً بائساً لتنفيذ تلك الأهداف.

ولكن وبعد قرن ونيّف من أساليب وطموحات وطروحات الغرب هذه أصبح من البدهي أن يدرك أصحاب الشأن حقيقة ما يقال ومجافاته للواقع والهدف المراد منه؛ إذ لم يعد مقبولاً اليوم أن يشعر البعض بسعادة غامرة لأن مسؤولاً غربياً قرر أن يحضر مؤتمراً في بغداد وكأنّ هذا الحضور يشكل منّة أو قيمة مضافة في حين يهدف إلى تحقيق ما عجزوا عن تحقيقه من قبل من التواطؤ ضد نسيج العراق العربي وتواصله مع أهله وجيرانه واختراع تحالفات له لا مستقبل لها ولا تسمن ولا تغني من جوع بل تتركه فريسة لمن يتشدّق بحضارة بغداد، في حين تحلّ قواه العسكرية الطاغية قوة غاشمة على أرض العراق الطاهرة؛ تحتل الأرض وتنهب الخيرات وتدعم الإرهاب وتغزو الأسواق بمنتجاتها العثمانية وتروّج للطائفية وترسل الإرهابيين من الإخوان المسلمين في بلد تاريخه العيش المشترك والغنى الحضاري والتمازج الثقافي.

السؤال الذي يشغل بالي دائماً: لماذا لا نثق نحن العرب بقيمة ما لدينا؟ ولماذا لا نعرف أحياناً أهمية ما لدينا حتى يتم تسليط الضوء عليه من قبل الخصوم والأعداء؛ فنسعى حينذاك جاهدين إلى الاحتفاظ به أو تحريره من عدوانهم دافعين أغلى الأثمان في سبيل ذلك؟
لماذا لا نقتنع أن التكالب الغربي على بلداننا ومؤامراتهم ضدنا والتحالفات التي خلقوها لتمزيق صفوفنا وبناء الحواجز بين شعوبنا تعني أن لدينا ما هو ثمين وما يريدون الحصول عليه أو تدميره إذا لم يتمكنوا من انتزاعه منا؟ لماذا نحتاج إلى اعتراف الآخرين بأن موقعنا الجغرافي وثرواتنا الطبيعية والبشرية وعمقنا الحضاري وعيشنا المشترك عبر التاريخ يشكلون قيمة استثنائية لا يمتلكها الآخرون ويتوجب علينا الحفاظ عليها والاعتزاز بها من دون الحاجة إلى من يعترف لنا بذلك ومن دون الحاجة إلى شهادة من الخصوم والأعداء التاريخيين الذين ما زالوا يحطون من قدر بلادنا إلى أن يستولوا على مقدراتنا ويدمروها.

فهل تحتاج بغداد التاريخ إلى محتل عثماني ومتواطئ غربي كي تعرف قيمتها ومكانتها؟ وهل كانوا ليأتوا إليها لولا إدراكهم العميق لهذه القيمة؟ وهل يجوز أن تمتثل لما يريدون علماً أنهم برهنوا للمرة الألف أنهم يريدون للعراق التبعية فقط والوقوف في وجه التنين القادم من الشرق وأن تكون بغداد والقاهرة وعمّان سنداً لهم في وجه هذا التنين؟ إلى متى ستبقى المرجعية الغربية تذرّ الرماد في العيون ويبقى المستعمر الغربي متمادياً في نشر أوهامه عبر الأجيال أنه الأذكى والأقوى والأعرف؟ متى سيشكل العرب مرجعيتهم الخاصة بهم والمنطلقة من تقديرهم لذاتهم وتاريخهم وإمكاناتهم الاستثنائية ويمضون في التحالفات التي يختارونها هم بإرادتهم الحرة ولصالح شعوبهم وبلدانهم من دون ضغوطات أو إملاءات أو تهديدات من أحد؟ متى يكون الرأي حراً لا يتحكم به سوى الشأن الوطني والمصلحة العربية العليا؟

Islamic Republic of Iran’s Presidential Election 1400

Islamic Republic of Iran’s Presidential Election 1400

June 03, 2021

by Mansoureh Tajik for the Saker Blog

The list of candidates for the 1400 Islamic Republic of Iran Presidential Election has shocked and surprised only those analysts and reporters whose investigative skills have been rendered dull perhaps by covidus lifeosis (abnormal life caused by covid) or by sourcepenia crediblerrhexis (ruptured credibility due to an abnormal reduction in the number of informed sources) or by some other malady of unknown etiology. Had the baffled and the bewildered had their fingers on the right non-digitized social and political pulses inside Iran, especially those of the past twelve years, it is likely they would not have found the list shocking.

As a general personal rule, I do not get into peripheral details of political factions, personalities, and transient political lather, froth, and intrigues peculiar to election times and their aftermaths with audiences either inside or outside Iran. I often use the opportunity, however, to remind people of the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, relevant bodies and laws with respect to a specific election, and the degree to which given organs, oversight bodies, hopefuls, and candidates follow or deviate from those laws based on proven and credible public sources and records. When the Saker kindly asked me to write about the rationale behind the most recent finalized list of presidential candidates, I thought I could do something similar for this blog.

I am going to briefly discuss with you what I would, more or less, present inside Iran when I am invited to talk and hope the discussion proves useful in making sense of what is happening right now and what to expect in the future. I will focus this essay on three key areas: 1) The role and conduct of the Guardian Council as a review & decision-making body with respect to elections and candidates based on the constitution of the Islamic Republic; 2) Overview of “Who is Who” in the Iranian political scene as various political groups, factions, and personalities emerge and how these personalities and groups treating the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran with their words and deeds; and 3) The importance of the outcome of this year’s election for the Iranians, the people of the region, and the Resistance using an important official document released by the Leader, Ayatullah Khamenei, on the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Republic in 1397 [2019], titled “Gaam_e Dovvom_e Enghlaab,” or The 2nd Phase of the Revolution.[1]

1. The Guardian Council and the Final List of Candidates for Presidential Election 1400

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran entrusts the Guardian Council with three major responsibilities: a) Oversight of all laws, legislations, and rules to make sure they are in accordance with the constitution AND fiqh according to Shi’a Islam; b) Interpretation of the Constitution where and when such interpretation is needed; and c) Oversight over all elections and their components including the qualifications and records of the applicants and their approval as candidates.[2] In a nutshell, the Council is obligated to use the tools and the authority given to it by law to guard and protect the Constitution and when an interpretation is needed, to make sure that interpretation is in accordance with Shi’a Islam fiqh.

As far as the presidential candidates are concerned, if someone openly and publicly expresses his rejection of the Constitution or its key components, for example, and there is solid proof of that, or if he acts in violation of key components of the Constitution and there is solid proof of that, or if he breaks the law and has a file in the legal system, then he should not expect to be approved as a candidate to run for the position of the president, which is the 2nd most important position in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is regardless of how popular that person may imagine himself to be. Should the person of that caliber be approved, then the Guardian Council must be held accountable for breach of duties. This is not some revolutionary idea or practice. It is a wise and reasonable expectation of a body with responsibilities of that nature in any system of governance anywhere in the world.

Related to the approved list, a key question we must ask is this: Does the Guardian Council apply its evaluation and assessment of the applicants in a fair and unbiased manner, or does it appear that some applicants are being treated as more equal than others?

To answer the above question, I explain the structure of the Council and we could take a look at a few records of their past decisions.

The Guardian Council consists of 12 members. Six members must be “faqih adil wa jame’ushumul,” or well-rounded, just and pious religious jurist with proven records in fiqh and in justice. These members are selected and appointed by Wali Faqih, or the Supreme Leader, in consultation with Majlis Khobregan Rahbari, or the Assembly of the Experts in Leadership which is an 88- member assembly directly elected by the people. The other six members must be just, pious, and knowledgeable legal experts with proven records in their expertise. These members are nominated by the head of the judiciary and approved by a majority vote by the members of Majlis Shoraye Islami, or the Iranian Parliament. So, six legal experts and six religious experts are responsible for safeguarding the laws of the Constitution and the laws of the Religion (Shi’a Islam).

Perhaps the nearest similar body to the Guardian Council in terms of function is the United States Supreme Court. Of course, I am using the term “similar function” extremely loosely here since the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Guardian Council is in charge of guarding and protecting a constitution that has defense of the oppressed in the world as one of its important principles and the US Supreme Court is in charge of guarding and protecting whatever it is guarding and protecting to ensure the Global Arrogance can continue to arrogate, aggress, and wreak havoc upon the defenseless.

At least 7 out of 12 votes are required for an applicant to be approved as a presidential candidate. Once the list is submitted and published by the Ministry of Interior, it is considered final. According to the law, however, the Supreme Leader can use what is called “Hokm_e Rahbari,” or the Leader’s Decree, to make a change to that list. In the past 40+ years, only once did this happen. During the 1384 [2005] presidential election, when the list was published, Ayatullah Khamenei sent a letter the Council and asked them to add two additional names to the list of candidates for that year’s election. The text of that letter is as follows:

“Ayatullay Jannati, the Secretary General of the Guardian Council,

With salaam and greetings. Thank you for the great efforts of the esteemed Council and the important task of determining the competencies of the presidential candidates for the 9th presidential election. With due observance of the law in this order, it is desirable for people with diverse political preferences to have the occasion as well as the opportunity for their great test in the election. Therefore, you should consider the announcement of the gentlemen, Dr. Mostafa Mueen and Engineer Mehralizadeh as candidates.

Wasalaam Alaykum.

Sayyed Ali Khamenei,

1384/3/2.”[3]

The phrase “great test” in the Leader’s statement carries with it a significant message. From the perspective of our responsibilities before God, these positions of power, regardless of the position and level, are tests through which the strength of our characters and purity of our beliefs get authenticated.

The two candidates added to the list by the Leader belonged to the reformist camp. The augmented list now reflected a more representative list of the most notable political factions of that time. Some analysts later speculated that this addition led to a split in votes for Hashemi Rafsanjani and an ultimate victory for Mahmoud Ahamadinejad who was supported by the principlist camp during that election. Their speculation was based on an assumption that those who voted for Mueen and Mehralizadeh (the reformist camp) would have voted for Rafsanjani (the technocrat liberal economy camp).

Perhaps a parallel to this phenomenon could be drawn with the 1992 US presidential election when Ross Perot entered the race as an independent candidate and that led to a split in votes for Bush Sr. and handed a victory to Bill Clinton.

I find the claims regarding a split in Rafsanjani’s vote unsubstantiated though. I think a widespread sense of “anyone but Rafsanjani” at that time was much stronger than what some of those analysts are willing to admit.

At any rate, in subsequent elections and since then, every time the Guardian Council released the final list, given personalities sent letters to the Leader and asked him to add specific people to the list. However, the Leader never intervened again. Those who sent letters to the Leader, I think, do not really “get” why the Leader used his Hokm_e Rahbari authority that once and why he is unlikely to use it unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Despite what foreign media and their echo chambers inside Iran propagate, I think the Guardian Council’s decision-making calculus has been ameliorated in favor of a more diversified and less conservative list in reviewing applications by the Council. I also think that one-time mandate by the Leader had something to do with this change. There has been a few names in the 1388 (2009), 1392 (2013), and 1396 (2017) list of candidates that should not have been there had the Council’s vetting been more by the letter of the law.

2. “Who is Who” in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Current Political Scene

If we use the Pareto principle and apply the general 80-20 rule to the socio-political scene in Iran and assume that 80% of the general voting population is influenced by the 20% political elites, then we could divvy up the 20% so-called elites into six somewhat loose categories based on what we see of the present political currents. I constructed the table below to give an overall sense of various groups and notable personalities in three areas of social, economic, and foreign policy stance. I based this categorization on what each group’s actual records show and not what they theoretically claim. The candidacy of the names in green was approved by the Guardian Council. The names that are crossed are known personalities that did not make it to the final list.

Each member of the Guardian Council casts its vote in writing and it is “Gheyre Alani”. That means, the Council members discuss each candidate’s application among themselves but cast a secret vote. So, none of the members knows who exactly voted “yes” or who voted “no” for a given application. In cases when an applicant did not make it to the list and he wants to know why, the Council reveals the content of the discussion to him and him only. However, if the applicant wishes for the discussion to be made public, then he must submit a written request to the Council and the specific discussions will be revealed. So far, I could not find any records of any candidates having submitted any such written request.

Since we do not have any credible report from the Council’s discussions, I will briefly review some of the publicly available records on two of the notable personalities who did not make the list. We examine potential reasons for why these two candidates did not earn at least 7 out of 12 votes. I would like to reiterate that these are my assessments and I have absolutely no access nor am I privy to the records of undisclosed discussions by the Guardian Council. The two applicants are Ali Larijani and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ali Larijani. He is a well-known figure in the Principlist camp and most recently served as the head of the Majlis Shoraye Islami, or the Parliament. His brother, Ayatullah Amoli Larijani, who was the head of the Judiciary is also one of the 12 members of the Guardian Council. It appears Ayatullah Larijani was not able to persuade enough other members of the Council in favor of his brother. After the final list had been released, Ayatullah Larijani made the following public statement:

“Since the beginning of my participation in the Guardian Council in 1380 [2001] nearly 20 years has passed. In all this time, I have defended the Guardian Council even during the years I was in the Judiciary. But I had never found the decision of the Council so much indefensible whether in approval or in lack of approval for qualifications. This chaos is to a large degree related to the interference by security organs through false reports that exert undue influence on the decision of the members of the Guardian Council.”[4]

Ugh. I find the fact that Ayatullah Larijani participated in the discussion and did not recuse himself due to conflict of interest disturbing. But let us assume he has reached a level of Taqwa that he can keep his bias on a tight leash and explore if his displeasure with fellow council members is warranted.

One factual, publicly available, and verifiable information is this: Fatemeh Ardeshir Larijani is Ali Larijani’s daughter, (Ayatullah Amoli Larijani’s niece). In 2010, she relocated to the United States and has been living and working there for the past 10 years. Whether she is a citizen, permanent resident, or on an H1 visa or what not is not an issue. It is also a fact that Ali Larijani, her father, the rejected candidate, has served as a key member of the Supreme Council on National Security, the head of the parliament, and in many other important high profile positions for decades. The relation between Fatemeh Larijani and her family and relatives is intact, quite close, and ongoing.

Here is another fact: Many times, Iran’s nuclear programs, generals, and scientists have been openly, publicly, and shamelessly sabotaged, threatened, and assassinated respectively under direct order from top officials in the United States of America. The role the United States played in bringing the Iranian society to a brink of collapse in 2009 is quite public and azharu mina-Shams (more evident than the sun).

This is where things get even worse: In certain instances, security breaches led to significant damages to critical infrastructures as well as to the assassination of key scientists and top commanders in Iran. Disturbingly, some of the intelligence leaks (let us suppose inadvertently) were traced to close family members of top ranking officials with access to classified information as discovered by members of the Intelligence Ministry.

Here is one of the core concerns: should the Guardian Council wait until leaks linked to this particular person and this particular candidate actually occur and another disaster to happen in order to take a stance and say enough is enough? If Larijanies and the likes of them want to be free to do as they wish as private citizens, then so be it. They must relinquish their sensitive positions and do as they wish according to the law. But if they aim to occupy extremely critical positions of authority and responsibility in the country, then they must know there are constraints for themselves and their family members. It is not just about them. It has something to do with life, death, security, and the fate of a nation. Why should a whole nation pay the price for the self-indulgences of a few families?

In 2018, some families of Americans who had been detained in Iran on espionage charges, wrote letters to Trump administration to deny US visas to the children of top-ranking officials in the Iranian government. An excerpt from an NBC report at the time reads:

“The families have provided the administration and several lawmakers with a list of Iranian nationals living in the U.S. alleged to be the children or relatives of senior Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani himself… The daughter of the powerful speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, is also on the list. She is a resident in internal medicine at an Ohio hospital, according to medical directories. The nephew of President Hassan Rouhani attended college in New York City and now works there, according to LinkedIn. The nephew’s father was the former top adviser to Rouhani, who stepped down after coming under fire from hardline opponents of the Iranian president.” [5]

Double ugh. It is not surprising that the Guardian Council did not place Ali Larijani on the final approved list for presidential candidates. It is surprising that the Council members grew a spine.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Among all post-war presidents of the Islamic Republic of Iran, from the construction era to present, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be viewed, without a doubt, as the most active and the most productive president in terms of construction, social justice programs, and public service during his 1st term of as the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. His excellent record of public service continued well into the 2nd year of his 2nd term. I do not believe any fair and unbiased person would deny this.

With respect to Iran’s foreign policy and anti-imperial and anti-Zionist stance as well, one can name very few politicians that demonstrated the same level of boldness and courage as him. For sure, he pulled no punches.

Half way through his second term and beyond his time as president, however, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s priorities, statements, and conduct changed. The areas in which he was the strongest dimmed and areas in which he had weaknesses became more prominent. I do not wish to go into details of the political games into which he was drawn and questionable conducts of some of his closest associates from whom he failed to distance himself and a combination of factors that resulted in his political fall. Whatever the condition of his environment and associates, ultimately, he was the one who made the choice and he was the one who presented his application for the position of president.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had an excellent team of hardworking and honest ministers working with him. Many of those excellent workers and ministers, however, have long distanced themselves from him and have expressed unwillingness to work with him again for various reasons. A domineering and overbearing quality to his relationship with those who worked with him seem to be among those reasons. An attitude of “either my way exactly as I say or highway,” with various ministers and organs in the executive branch, with members of Majlis, with the Judiciary, with the Leader, and with many others and of a clear disregard for the law is not exactly an appropriate attitude for a wise chief executive officer of a country, an Islamic Republic at that.

Muhammad Vahdati, the former head of the Center for Studies of the Ministry of Interior, has spoken at length about what may have happened. I would like to quote for you here excerpts from his statements that I found illuminating:

“Of course, those public service works were the product of a team work that was done by a system consisting of the administration, the ministers, the governors who themselves now, those very same hardworking ministers and governors, more than 90 percent of them have distanced themselves from Mr. Ahmadinejad’s current position. Now, here is the question, a person who was once an eyesore for the arrogant powers such as the US and Israel, why is he marked and regarded today as a prey and a beacon of hope for those very arrogant powers? And why do the enemies sense that they must invest in him and that he could deal such hard blows to the system that the US Americans themselves are incapable of doing?”[6]

What Dr. Vahdati is alluding to is a series of interviews with Ahmadinejad conducted by Western/Saudi-financed media outlets and aired by their lie factories regarding the war in Syria. About three months ago, in a televised interview with the Lebanese TV Channel, Al-Jadid[7], Ahmadinejad lumped together the Resistance fighters and Russia in Syria with the ISIS, Jubhatu-Nusrah, and other West-Zionist backed fighters. He said they must all leave Syria as none of them are helping the Syrian people. He also made other noteworthy remarks of similar nature that one could usually hear from Zionist-controlled media.

I seek refuge in God Himself when He seeks to test us.

Here, I would like to bring a bit more of Dr. Vahdati’s interview from the archive of the Ministry of Interior since it sheds some light not only regarding Ahmadinejad’s attitude and conduct but also on social and historical context that ushered him into the office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran about 15 years ago. He states:

“But the reasons for his [Ahmadinejad’s] fall: the first one is his pride. Pride knocks down a human being. It is one of those types of sins that God will punish in this very world. Even if he is a believer, even if he is a warrior of God fighting in the warfront. If one becomes afflicted with pride, God will very quickly pinch his ear. Who do you think Satan was? An angel very high up in God’s Presence. Who had worshiped God as much as Satan?! Several thousand years of worship. But its pride and arrogance caused it to be rejected and become Satan, the Outcast.”

“The 2nd reason, I think, is Mr. Ahmadinejad’s inaccurate analysis of the reasons for his victory during his first presidential term. This incorrect analysis of his own situation caused his pride to be further inflated. He had this thinking that he and he alone had made this wave. So, you do know that main Principlists and other conservative camps at that time sought after more famous people. Even the Isargaran camp that Mr. Ahmadinejad was part of its main council, that council, too, went after another candidate. Well, at that time, Mr. Ahmadinejad was not very well known. He had just recently become the Mayor of Tehran. Even that opportunity was provided to him by the Principlists. He claimed that the Principlist factions did not support him. He even claimed that the Leader’s office had suggested to him to remain in Tehran’s Mayoral Office since he had just become the Mayor of Tehran. He, therefore, claimed, “I myself created this wave therefore I do not need any support from the Priciplists.” But the truth is this: Mr. Ahmadinejad did not create that wave. He rode it. Even the Leader and the Revolutionary forces had done a lot to raise awareness in those years and unravel the enemy’s complex plot. In those days, there were even talks of silent dismantling of the government. Many people did a lot to reveal the true essence and aim of the so-called Reformist movement that was being superintended by the [US] Americans.”

“It was the efforts of all these people that once again brought to the fore the revolutionary dialogue and a need for skillful management of the society. In the very first achievement of that wave, you saw in the victory of Chamran’s Team in Tehran City Council elections. But before that, a very different dialogue had dominated the scene. The atmosphere at that time was such that whoever was the most extremist and the most bellicose against the system, he would get the most attention.”

“For example, someone would say the religion and power must be separated. Another would say we must run bullets through Imam’s thoughts. Another would say religion is not only the opium of the masses but it is also the opium of rulers. Yet another would say ‘are our people monkeys to emulate?’ Mr. Abbas Abdi, for instance, was saying, ‘we could do street demonstration against God.’ And things like this.”

“Okay then, it took a lot to change those sorts of dialogues. Mr. Ahmadinejad relied on this new wave of reviving the revolutionary dialogue and began riding that wave and claimed he was more revolutionary than others. It was because now that dialogue had gained currency. On the other side, the Principlists who had gained an opportunity, they provided that opportunity to Mr. Ahmadinejad in Tehran Mayoral Office. It was under these circumstances that Ahmadinejad was able to beat his rivals in that particular arena and use the opportunity as a springboard.”

“The third factor was his grab onto power and an emergence of a serious power-seeking spirit from within him. That means, Mr. Ahmadinejad was gradually afflicted with the very same problem against which he had gone to war. His main reason to oppose Mr. Hashemi [Rafsanjani] was Mr. Hashemi’s [Rafsanjani’s] affliction with power grab and exclusivism. For instance, those around Mr. Hashemi [Rafsanjani] during his second term had been saying they should do something so that Mr. Hashemi’s [Rafsanjani’s] presidency becomes a life-long position but the Leader vigorously opposed this and said it is against the constitution. Mr. Mohajerani who was at the time the president’s [Rafsanjani’s] legal advisor was saying, ‘We need to change the constitution, to reform it, so that he could become a president for at least one more term.’”

“So, what they did to remain in power was the establishment of the Kargozaran Sazandegi and the formation of a coalition with the Leftists who had by then become isolated. Eventually, we saw those with whom the public was dissatisfied because of hardships and widening of the gap between the rich and the poor. So, those people returned with a new slogan and kept their grip on power.”

“Mr. Khatami’s administration in fact revolved around the Kargozaran as its main axis. This was a left-over administration from Mr. Hashimi’s [Rafsanjani’s] presidency. Similarly, Mr. Ahmadinejad, in the final days of his first term and the beginning of his 2nd term, had reached the conclusion that in fact the only one who can save the country is him. He believed the reformers had no religion and the Principlists did not have what it takes. Consequently, his main preoccupation was what would happen after his 2nd term was up.”

“So, we remember that the first appointment he made in his second term, he made Mashaei as his first assistant secretary. The Leader privately wrote to him that that decision is neither a prudent decision for the country nor a wise decision for himself. But in order for him to push this decision on the system, he brought forth all he had. In doing so, he set fire on his entire political capital. From 11-day Sulking to abandoning his office to picking fights with Majlis.”

“It is not necessarily a bad thing for a political current to try to bring its most powerful people to the scene in order to remain in power but Mr. Ahamadinejad’s idea was not this. He had very capable ministers in his team like Mr. Lankarani, Mr. Nikzad, Mr. Babaee, and Mr. Fattah. However, he told them if they came forward for candidacy, he would publically announce that they were not with him and he would not support them. He viewed them as the ‘system’s people.’ He wanted to bring someone to power who was his person.”

“The other factor was that ideological deviation with which Mr. Ahmadinejad became afflicted. Or, we could say his presence in power caused that disease to manifest itself. And the role the ring around him played to worsen his situation cannot be denied. Gradually, this mentality was formed in Mr. Ahamadinejad that ‘following a Wali Faqih is for the time that we have no direct access to an Infallible Imam (AS). Today, we are directly connected to the Imam (AS) and we no longer need to accept the wilayat of this faqih.’”

“So, you see we are facing two Ahmadinejads: One is the Ahmadinejad belonging to the beginning of the 9th Administration and with those worldviews and the other is the Ahmadinejad in the 10th Administration fully deviating from the frame of mind he had started his first term and, in many places, he even became defiantly oppositional with the first one.”

If I were to summarize Ahmadinejad’s situation, I must say that had he been on the approved list of the 1400 presidential candidates released by the Guardian Council, it would have been quite shocking. It would have demonstrated the Council was not living up to the responsibility of guarding the Constitution.

Just to close the file on the 20% political elites and all their protests and grievances, I would like to re-post a segment of Imam Ali’s (AS) letter to Malik Ashtar about the elites in the society that I had quoted in one of my previous articles regarding Imamat and Wilayat:

“O, Malik! Your most favored tasks must consist of the ones that are the most balanced with the truth, the most encompassing in justice, and the most comprehensive in gaining the public’s gratitude. That is because the public’s anger makes the satisfaction of a few elites useless and the anger of a few elites become null and void when countered with the satisfaction of the public. At the time of great abundance and comfort, no one is more wasteful for a governor than the elites. At the time of hardship and challenges, no one is more useless than the elites. At the time of fairness, no one is less pleased than the elites. At the time of asking and wanting, no one is more persistent than the elites. At the time of generosity, no one is more ungrateful than the elites. At the time of refusing to cater, no one is more unforgiving than the elites. At the time of calamities, no one less patient than the elites. So, the pillar of religion, the crowd of Muslims, and the most ready to fight with the enemies are in fact the public. So, your attentions and your desires must be devoted to them.”[8]

3. Election 1400 and the 2nd Phase of the Revolution

As stated in the introduction, on the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1397 [2019], the Wali Faqih Ayatullah Khamenei released a declaration titled “Gaam_e Dovvom_e Enghlaab,” or The 2nd Phase of the Revolution directly addressing the Iranian Nation. The document is important in that it gives a concise and significant overview of the past 40 years and notable lessons, a general assessment of the present, and a clear map and direction for the future.

When the document was released two years ago, many people, organizations, and movements at all levels from local mosques to academic centers of higher education took it and said “Labbayk” (i.e. “we heard your call and we will do what we must”). Several of the candidates that submitted their application for the presidency actually stated they were doing so in order to have responded to the Leader’s call. Those interested could find the link to the entire document here. I would like to highlight segments that I think provide important cues to what is ahead in terms of the upcoming election, the qualities of the next president, and the areas where both the nation and the officials must focus.

The Ideals of the Revolution: In the introduction segment, the Leader states,

“From among all oppressed nations, very few nations undertake a revolution. And among those who rise up and have a revolution, even fewer are able to carry the work to its final phase. Except for changing the ruling system, few have been able to preserve their revolutionary ideals. With the great revolution of the Iranian nation, however, which is the most significant people-based revolution in modern era, it is the only revolution that went through a forty-year honorable period without betraying its ideals. It protected and preserved the authenticity and dignity of its slogans despite all sorts of seemingly irresistible temptations. Now, it has entered into the 2nd phase of building self, the society, and the civilization. Salutations from the bottom of my heart to this nation, to the generation that began the revolution, and to the generation that is ushering it into the grand global process of its 2nd Forty-Year.”

Therefore, the next president must not only believe in the Revolution’s ideals but help realize them for the nation inside and for the oppressed outside.

Balance and Justice in Foreign Policy: In another segment of the document, the Leader clarifies:

“The Islamic Revolution of the Iranian nation has been strong but kind and tolerant even when unjustly treated. It has never committed the excesses and deviations that brought dishonor to many other uprisings and movements in the world. In no challenge, not even with the [US] America and Sadam, did it ever fire the first shot but always and in all cases, after the enemy had attacked, it defended itself and of course executed the counter attack with force. This Revolution, from the start until today, has neither been ruthless and bloodthirsty nor cowardly and hesitant. It has stood up unambiguously and courageously against arrogant bullies and transgressors and has defended the unjustly treated and the oppressed. This revolutionary valor and affability, this truthfulness, transparency, and strength, and this global and regional domain of action on the side of the oppressed of the world, is an honor for Iran and the Iranians. May it always remain so.”

In addition, the next president must be wise and courageous at the same time. Neither should he be bellicose to pick fights nor fearful to face a challenge with strength. Being on the side of the oppressed of the world is given. Ayatullah Khamenei highlights 7 specific areas that require great attention and defines each area in a way they serve as a roadmap for those who are willing to take action. I will close the essay with a particularly uplifting segment for the region.

“Strong Iran of today, just like the beginning of the Revolution, is facing many challenges from the Arrogant Powers but with a meaningful difference. If the challenge [for Iran] in those days was to cut off the [US] America’s and foreign hands from the nation or to close the Zionist regime’s embassy in Tehran or to expose the Den of Spies [the term that refers to US embassy in Tehran], today, the challenge for the US with Iran’s presence at the borders surrounding the Zionist regime and dismantling the illegitimate influence and presence of the [US] America from West Asia, Islamic Republic’s defense of Palestinian fighters at the heart of the occupied territories, and defense of holy flag of Hizbullah and the Resistance in the entire region. If in those days, the West’s problem was preventing Iran from buying even the most primitive forms of arms for its defense, today, its challenge is to prevent the Iranian arms, military equipment, and drones reaching Hizbullah and the Resistance everywhere in the region. If in those days, the [US] America imagined it can overcome the Islamic System and the Iranian nation with the help of a few self-selling Iranian traitors, today, it is finding itself in need of a large coalition of tens of hostile yet impotent governments to fight Iran. Yet, it fails.”

References

[1] Sayyed Ali Khamenei, “Gaam_e Dovvom_e Enghlaab” [The 2nd Phase of the Revolution]. 1397/11/22 [Feb. 11, 2019]. Accessed online at: https://farsi.khamenei.ir/message-content?id=41673

[2] The Islamic Republic of Iran Guardian Council. “The Responsibilities and the Authority of the Council.” Accessed online at: https://www.shora-gc.ir/fa/guardian-council

[3] IRI Guardian Council News Site. “The 9th Election: Participation and Competition in Two Rounds.” News Code: 3152; Published on line on Khordad 21, 1392 [June 11, 2013]. Accessed online at: Shora-GC.ir

[4] Mehr News Agency, “Amoli Larijani’s Criticism of the results regarding approved candidates list.” Khordad 4th, 1400, @ 17:31. News Code: 5220521. Accessed online at: mehrnews.com/xVpkg

[5] Dan De Luce, NBC News. “Families of Americans held in Iran ask Trump to pull visas for kids of top Iran officials.” Dec. 3, 2018, @1:22pm. Accessed online at: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/families-americans-held-iran-ask-trump-pull-visas-kids-top-n942781

[6] The reasons for Ahmadinejad’s fall: Sedaye Enghelab, Number 237; Muhammad Vahdati

[7] Al-Jadid TV Channel, Lebanon. https://www.aparat.com/v/rUAwg

[8] Ahdnameh Malik Ashtar (Letter #53), Nahjul-Balaqhah. Edit Sayyed Razi. Trans. Hussain Ansarian. Page 292. Darul-Irfan Publishing.

Leader: Revolution of Imam Khomeini is stronger than ever

Imam Khamenei Marks Imam Khomeini’s 32nd Demise Anniversary: Islamic Revolution Stronger Than Ever

Source

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says Iran is stronger than ever as the country marks the 32nd anniversary of the passing away of its revolutionary founder Imam Khomeini.  

“I start the discussion from here that among the revolutionary systems and establishments that have been formed in the last one or two centuries, I do not know of any system that has been predicted as much as the Islamic Republic to collapse,” the Leader said Friday in a televised address. 

“From the first day of the revolution, the ill-wishers and those who could not digest and tolerate this great phenomenon, both inside and outside the country, said that the Islamic Republic would not last for another two months, six months or a year,” the Leader said.

“It was one or two years ago when the esteemed Americans said the same thing and a high-ranking American official stated that the Islamic Republic would not see its 40th anniversary. I do not remember so many predictions of decay and collapse to have been made about any other system,” he added.

Ayatollah Khamenei was apparently referring to former US national security advisor John Bolton’s infamous prediction while addressing a terrorist MKO convention in Paris in 2017.

At the conference Bolton said, “The outcome of the president’s policy review should be to determine that the Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1979 revolution will not last until its 40th birthday. And that’s why, before 2019, we here will celebrate in Tehran.”

“But, thank God, the revolution and the system of Imam Khomeini not only did not collapse and did not stop, but became stronger day by day,” Ayatollah Khamenei said Friday.

“It did not surrender, did not give up and rather showed its independence day by day. It achieved great success and overcame obstacles.”

The Leader said despite many successive political, security, economic obstacles created for Iran, “the Islamic Republic today is more developed than 40 years ago and is ahead in all respects by the grace of God.”

“The question arises, what is the secret of this permanence? Why did the Islamic Republic not face the fate of other revolutions in spite of all this hostility? Here I announce that the glorious and proud secret of this system is two words: the Republic and Islam. The existence created from these two words has every right to remain permanent, because it includes both people and Islam.”

Every year on the anniversary of the passing away, a commemoration ceremony is held at Imam Khomeini’s mausoleum in southern Tehran, with large crowds of mourners attending.

Like last year, authorities scrapped the ceremony and other events across the country this year to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Nevertheless, people in different cities attended local events by observing social distancing, to pay tribute to the late Imam.

Iranians pay tribute to late Imam Khomeini on 32nd anniversary of departure

Iranians pay tribute to late Imam Khomeini on 32nd anniversary of departureIranians are commemorating the 32nd anniversary of the passing away of Imam Khomeini, the revered founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Ayatollah Khamenei said Imam Khomeini’s outstanding initiative was that he created and introduced the idea of the Islamic Republic and then realized it.

“The great work of our esteemed Imam was to create this idea and theory of the Islamic Republic and to introduce it into the field of various political theories, in which there were various Eastern and Western political theories,” the Leader said, adding Imam Khomeini then took action and put his theory into practice.

“The Imam had many initiatives but the Islamic Republic is the most important initiative of the Imam,” the Leader said. “This is the same religious democracy that was recognized as the Islamic Republic.”

Addressing the youth, Ayatollah Khamenei said, “You, the youth, who have not experienced the pre-Revolution era, it is hard for you to feel that era.”

He recollected that people played no role at all in their destiny, especially during the dark tyranny of the Pahlavi dynasty.

“The Imam brought the people to the field with a leaping movement. The nation believed in itself and the Imam used the great capacity of the nation’s ability and will, and with his leadership and guidance, he was able to take it to a stage where he could do great things,” he added.

There was a time, the Leader continued, when the Islamic Republic was a sapling, and now it is a robust tree which cannot be uprooted by any storm.

Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Rouhollah Mousavi Khomeini, better known as Imam Khomeini, passed away on June 3, 1989 at the age of 87.

Plot to divide nation, eradicate religious democracy 

Ayatollah Khamenei called Iran’s religious democracy a “divine gift”, but warned of plots by the enemies to undermine it. 

“Thank God, after the departure of the Imam, the Iranian nation preserved this divine gift and this religious democracy,” he said. 

“The enemies of Iran, who made all kinds of efforts to separate the people and make them lose belief in religious democracy, had their plot thwarted and every time they tried a new way they faced the steel barrier of the Iranian people,” the Leader said.

“It is the same today. The enemies are lying in ambush to drive a wedge between the people and the Islamic system, but they are facing the steel barrier of the Iranian people. They plotted both security and intellectual invasion, all of which failed.”

Ayatollah Khamenei said there are some people inside Iran, who either knowingly or unknowingly repeat the claims of the enemies.  

“The idea that democracy does not go hand in hand with religion is also the claim of the enemies. Of course, some may say this out of negligence. They should know that this is the talk of the enemy and the enemy wants to eradicate Islam… It is a great mistake if we alienate democracy from Islamic thought and spirit.”


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

www.presstv.tv

Related Artiles

الديمقراطيّة الأميركيّة: الحقيقة والوهم! من غوايدو كراكاس إلى «غوايدو» واشنطن…

د. عدنان منصور

الولايات المتحدة الأميركية التي نصّبت نفسها لعقود، حاملة شعارات براقة، وآثرت باستمرار على ترويجها، وتسويقها لشعوب العالم، مدّعية حرصها الدائم و»غيرتها» الشديدة على التمسك بالمبادئ والقيم، وعلى نشر مفاهيم الديمقراطية في العالم، وتعزيز أسس الحرية وحقوق الإنسان، آخر من يحقّ لها الكلام بعد ما شاهده العالم من مهزلة «ديمقراطية» يوم أول امس جرت على أرضها.

لم تكن الولايات المتحدة يوماً، بأجهزتها العميقة داخل الدولة، الا نصيرة ومنقذة، وداعمة للأنظمة الدكتاتورية في العالم بأبشع صورها، وعدوة رئيسة لكل الانظمة الوطنية الديمقراطية الحرة التي جاءت بإرادة شعوبها، وكان ذنبها الكبير الذي لا يُغتفر، انها ترفض سياسة التبعية، والإذلال والتسلط، والسيطرة الأميركية عليها .

لم تحترم الولايات المتحدة ارادة الشعوب الحرة، التي قررت عدم السير في الفلك الأميركي، مصمّمة الحفاظ على قرارها الحر المستقلّ، حيث كانت واشنطن تلجأ الى معاقبة الأنظمة التي تعارض سياساتها، والإطاحة بها، من خلال تنفيذها للانقلابات، وتخطيط المؤامرات، وتحريك أجهزتها العسكرية والاستخباراتية. هكذا كان سلوك الولايات المتحدة على الدوام ضدّ الأنظمة الديمقراطية الوطنية في أميركا الوسطى وأميركا الجنوبية، وفي أفريقيا، وآسيا والعالم العربي. ليس من السهولة على العالم أن ينسى ما فعلته أجهزة المخابرات الأميركية CIA وقوات المارينز، من مؤامرات متنقلة أطاحت بالأنظمة الديمقراطية لتحلّ مكانها انظمة ديكتاتورية تكون في خدمة الولايات المتحدة وأهدافها، ومصالحها الاقتصادية والأمنية والاستراتيجية.

كان الحال مع سلفادور اللندي في تشيلي، مروراً بكوبا الثورة، ونيكاراغوا، والمكسيك، وبنما، وغانا نكروما، وإيران مصدّق، وإندونيسيا سوكارنو، وسيريلانكا باندرانيكا، وغيرها الكثير من الأنظمة الوطنية الديمقراطية التي أطاحت بها الولايات المتحدة خلال عقود سابقة حيث اللائحة تطول.

اليوم تطفو الديمقراطية الأميركية المزيفة على السطح. فالمنظومة العميقة داخل الدولة الأميركية، تفعل فعلها، وتثبت للملأ أنها ضدّ الديمقراطية وإرادة الشعب الأميركي الذي جاء ببايدن رئيساً للولايات المتحدة. هذه المنظومة التي تحرم الديمقراطية الحقيقية على الشعوب الحرة التي تختار زعماءها بإرادتها، والتي تعمل في ما بعد على تشويه العملية الديمقراطية والتشكيك فيها، ومن ثم التحضير للقيام بالإطاحة بها، تطبّق اليوم سلوكها المشين حتى في الداخل الأميركي رافضة قرار الشعب، معتبرة ان الانتخابات الرئاسية، يشوبها التزوير، والفساد والفوضى والتآمر، فقامت باقتحام الديمقراطية في عقر دارها، وهي التي جاءت برئيسها قبل أربع سنوات، والمنهزم اليوم عبر صناديق الاقتراع.

لقد أنجبت الولايات المتحدة من جملة من أنجبتهم، غوايدو في فنزويلا، وبينوشيه في تشيلي، وباتيستا في كوبا، وعائلة تروخيليو في جمهوريات الموز، وماركوس في الفلبين، والشاه محمد رضا بهلوي في إيران، وسوهارتو في اندونيسيا، وحسني الزعيم في سورية، بالإضافة الى عشرات الدمى في العالم العربي وبلدان العالم الأخرى.

ها هو غوايدو أميركا يطلّ برأسه في الداخل الأميركي هذه المرة، عبر قرصان الديمقراطية المزيفة ترامب، لينقض على النتيجة الرئاسية كما تنقض أجهزة الولايات المتحدة على نتائج الانتخابات التي تقول فيها الشعوب كلمتها الحقة، وتعبّر عن إرادتها الحرة، التي تتعارض مع سياسات الغطرسة الأميركية، وتدخلاتها ونفوذها وهيمنتها!! فالدولة التي يقول رئيسها وهو على سدة الرئاسة، إن انتخابات بلده مزيفة ومزوّرة، غير جديرة بأن تكون النموذج الذي يُحتذى به من قبل الشعوب الحرة، وبالتالي هي آخر من يحق لها بعد اليوم، ان تراقب وتتابع أيّ عملية انتخابية تجري في دولة من دول العالم، أو تحكم، أو تعطي شهادة «حسن سلوك» تقيم من خلالها مستوى شفافية الديمقراطية للدول التي ترفض بالشكل والأساس سياسة التسلط والتهديد والابتزاز الأميركي.

يوم السادس من كانون الثاني لعام 2021، لن يكون إلا وصمة سوداء على جبين الديمقراطية الأميركية التي ترنّحت أمام المشهد البشع عندما شاهدت شعوب العالم كله، جحافل «الجمهوريين» وهي تقتحم عقر دار الديمقراطية وتعبث بها، في مشهد قلّ أن نرى نظيره في العالم. فلو كان الذي حصل في الولايات المتحدة، جرى مثله في دولة من دول العالم لا ترضى عن سياستها وتوجهاتها واشنطن، لثارت ثائرتها، وأقامت الدنيا وأقعدتها، لتظهر للعالم بمظهر الغيور والحامي للديمقراطية وحرية الشعوب وحقوقها .

ما حصل في الولايات المتحدة أثلج ولا شكّ قلوب العديد من الشعوب الحرة المقهورة التي ذاقت الكثير من الظلم والمصائب والويلات والفوضى والحروب والدمار التي حلت بها، نتيجة السياسات التعسّفية المستبدة، التي مارستها الإدارة الأميركية بحقها، والتي كانت تبرّر أفعالها وتدخلاتها في شؤونها، بسبب «حرصها» البالغ

على احترام الديمقراطية، وحقوق الإنسان وتوفير الحرية لها.

لقد كشفت بوضوح منظومة الدولة العميقة التي أرادت أن تطيح بنتائج الانتخابات الرئاسية وتعيدها الى نقطة الصفر، الوجه المزيف للحياة السياسية الأميركية، التي تشوّهت وغابت عنها صدقيتها، وأوجدت شرخاً كبيراً داخل المجتمع الأميركي، حيث لا أحد يستطيع منذ الآن، معرفة متى وكيف سيلتئم الجرح العميق، بعد ان تزعزعت الثقة بـ «الديمقراطية» الأميركية، من قبل الداخل قبل الخارج.

*وزير الخارجية والمغتربين الأسبق

“The End of the War in Syria Will Come as Part of the Agreement Between Iran and China,” Says Iranian Foreign Policy Analyst

By Polina Aniftou and Steven Sahiounie

Global Research, November 19, 2020

As the US changes leadership, new opportunities for re-alignment may open up for the Middle East and the wider region.  To understand more fully the implications presented in conflicts ranging from the US-Iran tension, the Syrian war, and the role of Turkey and Israel in the destabilization of the region, Steven Sahiounie of MidEastDiscourse, reached out to Polina Aniftou, analyst of the Iranian foreign policy, in a wide-ranging interview.

***

Steven Sahiounie (SS):  Once President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20th, will there likely be found a solution to ease the tension between Iran and Washington, in your view?

Polina Aniftou (PA):  We have to be honest and accept that the tensions have a unilateral character from the US side, and the way the US, on behalf of Israel, try to involve Iran into a conflict, or a war, in the region, is not strategically wise. The US tried with the assassination of Major Soleimani, explosions in Tehran, sanctions, the explosion in Beirut, and the war in Armenia to involve Iran into a regional conflict that would be expanded into war and to attack Iranian militias and army forces outside Iran. The US treats Iran as they treat Egypt, Jordan, Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf, as states under colonization, and second-class citizens of the Middle East. The difference with Iran is that Iran has a long past and history of not asking for help and not accepting being treated as a weak state, and Iran has no interest to look to the West at this moment. Iran has influence in a region from Beirut to Kabul and the country is safe and secure. Economically, Iran has is self-sufficient with products and raw materials to survive with a good living standard for decades, and the US is aware of this. Given these facts, Biden will try to approach Iran for his benefit, to understand the objectives and the goals of Iran in order not to be humiliated in his foreign policy, unlike Trump. I strongly believe that Biden will start eliminating sanctions only when he realizes the weak position of Israel and Israel’s negative demographics and inefficiency which prevent it’s being a key-actor in the region. I would say that in the next 2-3 years we will see many changes and Iran will be liberated by the imposed sanctions, mainly due to the reaction of China after signing the 25-year agreement with Iran last summer, and China needs a strong Iran to secure the Silk Road from Beirut to Kashmir through its allies and Shia populations that are loyal to Imam Khamenei.

SS:  President Donald Trump broke with the nuclear deal that former President Obama had signed.  Do you see the former deal being renewed under the future Biden administration, or will Iran have some new conditions?

PA:  In a few months’ elections are coming to Iran and the new setup will be much closer to the army, Ayatollah’s opinion, and path of understanding. After the assassination of Soleimani, Ayatollah repeated a very important admonition to not trust the US, and he made relevant statements during the US elections recently. Iran has a philosophy in its foreign policy that if the enemy is threatening Iran, the enemy needs to take the steps to attack or to conquer Iran. Historically, this has never occurred, even Alexander the Great did not manage a foothold in Iran. Thus, as the US left the agreement from the Iranian side, the US dishonored themselves and cannot be trusted. The US did not pay the penalty to Iran for the unilateral withdrawal from the Nuclear Agreement. Iran has claims but will sit on the same table to listen and be present before the eyes of the international community, and not to be accused. Iran will never sit on the table if Biden is threatening, mistreating, and assaulting Iran and its political and diplomatic honesty. I doubt that the Nuclear Agreement will be fully executed or motivated by any of the parties, but Biden will eliminate sanctions, due to pressure by Russia and China, and will start monitoring the region by closely observing Israel, which has caused discrepancies and incompatibility with the US foreign policy.

SS:  In your view, if the relationship between Tehran and Washington were to be improved, could the tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran be eased?

PA:  The tensions between Iran and Riyadh may have been initiated by the US, but behind this diplomatic distance there is a deep ideological and theological gap that I fear cannot be bridged. The monarchies in the region worried about their future after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The values of the Islamic Revolution are against monarchy, oppression, and promote self-sufficiency, independence, and Muslim unity (Ummah). The way the Saudis face Shiism, the solitude of Shiism, the reactions against Prophet Succession, and the leadership that Iran claims for the creation of Ummah put Saudis in a difficult position as they are afraid of the systemic existence of their monarchies.  The fact that even today it takes at least 15 years for an Iranian, after the application to be granted a visa, to visit Mecca indicates the hostility of Saudis to Iran. The violence, the lack of respect for others, and human dignity in Saudi Arabia and the laws of Saudi Arabia, affect the relations between the two countries more than any involvement of a third power. How is possible, when in Iran there are so many Sayyed, that receive legitimacy and origin from the 12 Imams, that 11 of them were killed by the forefathers of the Saudis and the Caliphs, for Iranians to feel secure with Saudis? Though for Iranians it is not important, certainly it is essential for Saudis, that they have tortured the daughter of the Prophet for the leadership of Caliphs, from where the monarchies are founded.

SS:  The US sees the Israeli occupation as their main ally in the Middle East region. In your view, could the US keep ties with the Israeli occupation while establishing a relationship with Iran?

PA:  Iran is missing from the puzzle of the US and they cannot accept that they lost Iran. When the Islamic Revolution was at the door of the Shah, the US was afraid of a communist ‘red revolution’. The Shah did not believe that the clergies would support Imam Khomeini, and only Mossad and Israel understood that the Islamic Revolution was coming. This is important because in the 60s and 70s during the Arab-Israeli war, the US prepared the Periphery Doctrine, along with the founder of Israel, David Ben-Gurion. The objectives of the Doctrine was for Israel to be supported by two non-Arab, but Muslim countries, Turkey and Iran. It was during the time of making Iran a westernized society in the scheme of Turkey succeeded by Ataturk. Ataturk demolished all the links and ties of the Ottoman Empire with Islam and its eastern lands and introduced Turkey to the west, to westernize Turkey and control it via western legislators and education. It is similar to what Reza Shah tried to do by issuing a decree known as Kashf-e hijab banning all Islamic veils in 1935, which led to the massacre at the Goharshad Mosque in Mashhad in August 1935, and the White Revolution of 1963 by his son M. Reza, and introducing land reforms, education changes, and westernizing society. The Islamic Revolution stopped the Periphery Doctrine, something that the US cannot forgive Iran for, as this forced the US to be focused on the protection of Israel in the region and to invest in infrastructure and support of Turkey to become a regional power, as a Muslim country with imperial ambitions to protect Israel under the instructions of the US. I am sure that a government led by Mr. Rouhani could skip this detail between Israel and the US, but a new government that will be supported by Quds (Jerusalem) forces, cannot forget its invisible mission to end its task by liberating Quds.  The US will keep their ties with Israel, as Israel is a small, weak country, made by the US to keep Jews away from the west and for intervening in the region, thus Iran will discuss with the US to solve sanction issues, but not for accepting Israel and its ties with the US.

SS:  Iran has supported the fight against terrorism in Syria. Do you see Iran including the end to the war in Syria as part of their negotiations which may begin with the future Biden administration?

PA:  Iran never negotiates its positions in one table. Iran puts its demands in different baskets moving according to the reactions. The war in Syria will end as soon as Biden realizes that Israel will have implications and costs through this war, and the only way for that to happen is by enhancing the power of President Assad and by keeping Lebanon stable. Hezbollah will play a dramatic role in that and would need to take the initiation to empower Mr. Assad. But, the war in Syria will need to end to avoid re-mapping the region after the bad agreement in Armenia that got Turkey and Israel into the Caucasus, threatening the stability and peace. The end of the war in Syria will come as part of the agreement between Iran and China and will be imposed on the US, by annulling the plans of Ankara and Tel Aviv, that since the 60s have worked officially together with common grounds and targets in the regional policy. Iran will demand not only the end of the war, and the disarmament of terrorists, but also the terrorists to be convicted and to eave west Asia.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on Mideast Discourse.

Steven Sahiounie is an award-winning journalist. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Polina Aniftou and Steven Sahiounie, Global Research, 2020

Read More: “Israel’s Presence Near the Iranian Border Would Also Put Them in Direct Confrontation with Iran.” Dr. Javad Heirannia

Every Day is Ashura, Every Land is Karbala

Every Day is Ashura, Every Land is Karbala

August 03, 2020

by Mansoureh Tajik for the Saker Blog

As part of a very thoughtful email last month, the Saker wrote, “In your latest contribution you wrote ‘Every day is Ashura, Every land is Karbala’ twice.  Did you know that this is my absolute favorite Islamic saying?  I also believe that this belief is the real core of the strength of the Resistance in Lebanon, especially Hezbollah.” He was referring to the article (see here) in which I invoked the spirit of that phrase in relation to two case examples of injustice suffered by the people in North Casper, Wyoming, and the people in eastern North Carolina. These were two seemingly very unlikely candidates to be contextualized oddly in an expression that is very much known to be Shi’a Islam in essence.

The Saker also suggested mindfully that I write a short history about the phrase and explain its meaning for the readers of this blog in order to, as he put it, “make it possible for my readers to get a real insight into the Islamic ethos, especially the Shia ethos,” among other reasons. I was grateful about the suggestion and delighted to yield for several specific reasons. First, the phrase is one of the most cherished expressions for me as well and I would never tire of exploring and reflecting on it.

Second, the month of Muharram and its 10th day, the day of Ashura, are right around the corner (in a few weeks) and this essay could serve as a good introduction to this year’s Ashura as a lot of relevant and interesting events are happening all around us.

Third, this month is one full year since I began writing the monthly essays for the Saker’s blog and the article could serve as an appropriate one-year evaluation and reflection piece for me. It will also be a way to pay tribute to the Saker and his wonderful blog. What better way to show my appreciation for the opportunity he affords the global audience to take a mental path less traveled than to propose the most befitting Shi’a cue to the essence of what he actually does: With his digital pen as his weapon and his passion as its ink, he stands against global injustices and tyrant oppressors with extremely limited material resources. So, zero chance that I would not have agreed to write something on the subject!

In this essay, I hope to explore the literature and speeches of the some of the most influential contemporary thinkers and scholars who have interpreted this expression and employed it in a manner that has become a powerful Shi’a Muslim doctrine guiding an effective struggle against injustices and falsehoods in our modern era. A very brief segment about the history of Every Day is Ashura, Every Land is Karbala is presented first.

The History of the Expression and Its Role as a Doctrine

These two verses, کلّ یوم عاشورا، کلّ ارض کربلا [Every Day is Ashura, Every Land is Karbala], are among the most widely used expressions by many Shi’a Muslim sages, activists, and religious scholars in one form or another. Some scholars have traced it back to Imam Ja’afar Sadiq (Peace be upon him), the sixth Imam of Shi’a Twelvers, but no actual valid narration, or hadith, exists to corroborate that claim. A few others have attributed it to the contemporaries and students of that beloved Imam, but no solid evidence exists to support that assertion either.

According to the encyclopedia of Imam Hussain, Daneshnameh Imam Hussain, the phrase کلّ یوم عاشورا، کلّ ارض کربلا may be an adaptation of the verses from a poem by the 13th Century Egyptian poet, Muhammad bin Sa’id Busiri. In one of his long qasideh poems, he wrote, کلّ یوم و کلّ ارض لکربی فیهم کربلا و عاشورا , which is translated, “Every Day and Every Land, due to my grief and sadness for them, is Ashura and Karbala.”[1]

Regardless of its genesis, however, the expression has been referenced and interpreted by very well-known Shi’a Muslim scholars like Martyr Morteza Motahari and Ali Shariyati and it has been referenced and reflected upon by two prominent imams and leaders of the Iranian revolution and the Islamic Republic of Iran, Imam Khomeini and Imam Khamenei. In a very significant way, Imams Khomeini and Khamenei, who are also two of the most influential Shi’a Muslim leaders of the world in the 20th and the 21st centuries, have defined and put into practice this expression as a potent doctrine and in a decidedly pivotal and successful way. We will delve deeper into this since it could be quite illuminating and would provide a better understanding of the Shi’a Muslims, the Iranian Revolution, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s constitution, and Iran’s international politics and stance towards the world’s arrogant oppressors.

Furthermore, it sheds light on why the expression induces “panic attacks” among the most oppressive and corrupt-to-their-core entities, like the British regime, so much so that they invest significant resources on paid religious “scholars” to re-write history and offer utterly compromising interpretations of this expression.

During the early days of the Iranian revolution, Imam Khomeini explained in one of his speeches,[2]

“This expression, ‘Every Day is Ashura, Every Land is Karbala,’ is a really important expression but many misunderstand it. They think it means we should mourn and cry every day. But its true meaning is something quite different. What did Karbala do? What role did the land of Karbala play on the day of Ashura? A handful of people came to Karbala and stood up against the injustices of Yazid. They stood against a tyrant ruler and an emperor of their time. They sacrificed themselves and they got killed but they did not accept the injustice and defeated Yazid. Every place must be like this and every day must also be like this. Every day, our nation must reach this realization that today is Ashura and we must stand up against the injustice. And this very place is Karbala and we must make this place, right here, a Karbala. It is not restricted to one land. It is not restricted to one specific person. The story of Karbala is not restricted to a group of seventy some people and a land of Karbala. All lands must play this role. And all days must play the same role.” (Page 122)

In that speech, Imam Khomeini universalized the day of Ashura and the land of Karbala. He defined Ashura and Karbala in a way that a critical and decisive extrapolation from a specific time and place could be made to all times and all places. It reminded the Muslims in general and the Shi’a in particular about their ongoing responsibility and duty to stand up against falsehood and injustice, just like Imam Hussain, in all places and all the times.

A more direct reference was made on the occasion of the 17th of Shahriver event. The 17th of Shahrivar 1357 [1978] was the day when thousands peaceful and unarmed demonstrators were all allowed into then Jaleh Square [later renamed Shuhada/Martyrs Square] from every direction. Once the crowd filled the square, the major streets, alleys, and backstreets were blocked by the Shah’s military force. In a matter of just a few minutes the military rained a heavy fire on men, women, children, the young, and the old. A massive reaping and threshing of the crowd. “Rivers of blood” began flowing everywhere. It was the first time since the start of the uprising that the Pahlavi regime had opened fire on the masses. That day became known as the “Black Friday”.

In a powerful speech delivered on the occasion of the 17th of Shahrivar massacre in Shohada Square, Imam Khomeini made a clear and precise reference again to the Ashura and Karbala expression. In his speech,[3] he qualified the event as follows,

“The bitter memory of 17th of Shahrivar, ’57, and the bitter memories of the days of great hardship that were witnessed by the nation bore in them the sweet fruit of the toppling the palaces of tyranny and arrogance and replacing them with the flag of the republic of Islamic Justice. Is it not so that the instructive mandate of “Every day is Ashura and every land is Karbala” should serve as a paragon for the Islamic Ummah? A rising up of the masses in every day and in every land. Ashura was the rising up of the seekers of justice, few in number but fortified with their strong belief and love against tyrannical palace dwellers and arrogant predators. And the life lesson is that paragon must serve as a plan for life every day and in every place. The days that passed us by were the repeats of Ashura. And the squares, the streets, back streets, and the alleys in which the blood of the children of Islam were spilled, they were the repeats of Karbala. And in this paragon there is both a duty and a good news. It is a duty because the oppressed, even if few in number, have a responsibility, they have a duty to rise up, like the Master of Martyrs [Imam Hussain], against the arrogant powers who may have all sorts of equipment, armaments, and great Satanic power. They are charged with that duty. It is a good news since our martyrs are put in the same rank and file as the martyrs of Karbala. A good news that martyrdom is the key to victory. The 17th of Shahrivar is the repeat of Ashura. Shuhad Square is the repeat of Karbala. And our martyrs are reiterations of the martyrs of Karbala. Our enemies are reiterations of Yazid and his cronies. Karbala smashed the palace of injustice with blood and our Karbala destroyed the palace of Satanic rule. Now, it is time for us who are the inheritors of these bloods and those who have been left behind by these young martyrs not to become lethargic. We must strive to bring into fruition their sacrifice with our unwavering wills and hard fists. It is time for us to bury underneath the feet of the martyrs of goodness the remnants of that tyrant regime and the conspirators of injustice who are beholden to the East and to the West.” (Pages 445-446)

This speech was the most clear and definite way Imam Khomeini directly linked the events of the Iranian Revolution to the events of Ashura and Karbala. Another fine and noteworthy point that was raised in Imam Khomeini’s speech was this point: “the oppressed, even if they may be few in numbers, have a responsibility to rise up against the arrogant powers who may have all sorts of equipment, armaments, and great Satanic power.

The importance of this key point is appreciated only when people examine how a country like Iran which has neither the most “powerful military in the world” to be reassured, nor is she “the most powerful economy” in the world to buy her way in and out of trouble, nor the most populous nation in the world to have many lives to spare sees it necessary to defend the Palestinians, the Syrians, the Yemenis, the Iraqis, the Venezuelans, and all others in any way that she can.

It also explains how Iran mustered the willpower to take over the United States’ Spy Den masquerading as an embassy in Tehran (1979) and arrest and hold 52 spy agents for 444 days. It clarifies how Iran managed to fight an 8-year war alone (with the exception of Syrian help) with almost empty hands and under all sorts of sanctions with a regime (Saddam’s) that that the backing of all powerful governments of the world at that time (1980-1988). It lays bare the SS Bridgeton explosion (1987), the defeat of Israel and world powers in the 33-Day war by Hizbullah forces (2006), the capture of UK officers in Persian Gulf (2006), the capture of RQ-170 (2011), Syrian resistance (2011-present), Yemeni resistance (2015-present), the capture of US Sailors by Iran in 2016, RQ-4 Global Hawk capture (2019), ballistic missile attack on Ayn al-Asad (Lion’s Eye) Air Base (2020), sending oil tankers to Venezuela (2020), just to name a few examples.

The successor to Imam Khomeini, the current leader of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khamenei, too, has interpreted the expression with the same worldview. His most comprehensive explanation and the philosophy related to the phrase could be found in one of his books titled, Four Discourses: Clarification of the Circumstances, the Causes, and the Consequences of the Event of Ashura[4] Here, however, I will bring a short segment of one of his speeches in which he has a very concise and pointed reading:

“That they say, Every day is Ashura, Every Land is Karbala, it means the time passes by but the happenings in life as they pertain to humanity, the truths of the creation remain untouched. If in every era, humanity who has a role to play, if they play that role at the right time, exactly when they should play that role, then everything will be reformed. The nations will grow and achieve excellence. The humanity will grow.”[5]

When there is injustice, the role every human being must play to remove the injustice is now, not later. Not when it is convenient but when it is necessary and needed. Not just in places where it is politically correct and materially advantageous to do so but in all places that is right to do so. Not just when and where it costs us nothing but when and where it costs us all worldly things.

Another great Muslim Shi’a scholar, Martyr Morteza Motahhari, who was killed in 1358 [May 1979] by agents of a terrorist organization right after the victory of the revolution, expands on the phrase in this way,

“If we say the prophets are victorious, it does not mean a military victory. If we look at the battle between Hussain Ibn Ali (peace be upon him) with the army of Yazid and Ibn Ziyad from a military perspective, that means on the surface of things and how they appear, then Imam Hussain was defeated and they won. But if we look at the heart of the subject which relates to thoughts and beliefs, that is, Yazid’s establishment represented a movement that wished to destroy the true essence of the Islamic thought and Imam Hussain fought to revive that thought. In this case, we must examine if Imam Hussain reached his goal or not. Was he able to revive a given mindset in the world or not? We see that he could. It is one thousand three hundred years that this movement has gained a new victory every year. That is, every year Ashura is Ashura. And the meaning of Every Day is Ashura becomes this fact that every day, in the name of Imam Hussain, there is a fight against injustice and falsehood, and every day, truth and justice are revived. This is victory. What victory would be greater than this? Yazids and Ibn Ziads disappear but Hussains and Abbasses and Zaynabs remain. Of course, they remain as an idea not as a person. They remain as a guardian and the ruler of their society. Yes, those who are there die. But these who are here remain alive and eternal.”[6]

Martyr Motahhari appraises the expression in terms of its endurance over a millennium and several centuries not just as a worldview but as a lifestyle of choice. Another well-known Muslim Shi’a thinker and sociologist, Ali Shariati defines the phrase in a manner that links it to the school of Intizar, or the expectation of the coming of Imam Mahdi (peace be upon him) at the end of time in a simple but psycho-socially nuanced way:

“What does Every Day is Ashura, Every Land is Karbala mean? It is not that wherever we find, we recite the Ashura prayers! It is to expect. The philosophy of expecting means a philosophy that a justice-seeking intellectual thinker, no matter what the circumstances, is not afflicted with philosophical and historical hopelessness and despair. There are no peoples or groups like Shi’a and no school of thought like the Shi’a school of thought that would fight for thirteen, fourteen centuries; all their leaders are slaughtered; they are poisoned; they are put in jail; they are killed; all their movements are all crushed. But they never succumb to despair! Why and what factor has kept these believers still convinced, still believing, and still hopeful despite protracted periods of setbacks, hardships, and adversities,?! The belief in the inevitability of history based on the philosophy of expectation!

What does a human being with expectation mean? Look at it this way. If you are at home and expecting a guest, if it is an army unit expecting an inspector or a call for readiness or a call for war or the arrival of a commander, if it is a city expecting the arrival of a person of importance, if it is someone who is expecting the coming of guest or a friend, any sort of expectation that you examine, to expect means to be prepared and to be ready. It does not mean to be dormant and sluggish! To expect means to be ready, equipped, and responsible. Therefore, the philosophy of expectation is to believe in the inevitability of history and be reassured, in all circumstances, that standing up for justice and in retaliation for spilt innocent bloods must take place all the time. It is a battle that since the beginning of history has been moved from one hand to the other, from one Prophet of God to the other, from one Shi’a Imam to the other. This battle, generation after generation, is propounded and put before every single individual. And despite all desperate condition, this flag is decidedly victorious in the future.”[7]

Shariati points to a historical and unbreakable link among all Prophets of God, Imams, and true believers throughout all times and all places to the coming of Mahdi (peace be upon him). It is useful to open a parenthesis here and make an important note: this very idea that Shia Muslim Twelvers must always evaluate their time and place on a daily basis and see where they stand in terms of their opposition to injustices and at the same time take the necessary measures to rectify and reform in preparation for the coming of Imam Mahdi (peace by upon him) defines their Waiting and Expectation. This approach stands in stark contrast with notions of passive waiting for a savior or helping create chaos and mayhem to engineer an end of time, an approach that inevitably helps and enables corrupt oppressors of every time and every place. Close parenthesis.

In closing of this essay, I would like to include a video of Maddahi, or religious recital, about Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) by Maysam Moti’ei (here) in which he has woven together several key concepts (discussed in the article) in one neat lyrical package. Since the song does not have any English subtitles, I did a translation of the lyrics (below). والسلام.

The master and the leader is Hussain,

The sereneness in hearts is Husssain.

The whisper of his lovers and devotees,

Nothing but Ya Hussain, Ya Hussain.

Besides you, I have no thought or notion,

My kin, my belonging, my life and devotion.

To the somber recital of the killing field,

Like the pouring rain we weep.

Grieving and mourning you these nights,

Alongside the martyrs we weep.

Our tears the elegy of the Euphrates,

Our Imam “Qati’ul Abarat” killed for tears.

By our Molaa, the leader, we remain,

From Ashura is the zeal that we gain.

O Lovers! Bimsillah!

The path to Al-Quds is from Karbala!

In the battlefields, I shall never abandon Ali,

My Molaa, my Leader, Sayyed Ali.

Every Day is Ashura,

Every Land is Karbala.

O the heir to Hussain’s blood!

Mahdi, the son of Zahra, arrive!

The defender of the oppressed,

The proof from God, hasten and arrive!

References

[1] Muhammadi Rayshahri M., Daneshnameh Imam Hussain (Aleyhi-Salaam) According to Quran, Hadith, and History. Vol. 6, Page 89. Digital Copy, Available online at: http://lib.eshia.ir/27254/6/89

[2] Ruhullah Khomeini, Sahifeh-ye Noor, Vol. 10, Pages 122. Available online at: https://farsi.rouhollah.ir/library/sahifeh-imam-khomeini/vol/10/page/122

[3] Ruhullah Khomeini, Sahifeh-ye Noor, Vol. 9, Pages 445-446. Available online at:

https://farsi.rouhollah.ir/library/sahifeh-imam-khomeini/vol/9/page/445

[4] Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Four Discourses: Clarification of the Circumstances, the Causes, and the Consequences of the Event of Ashura. Digital Copy, Institute for Cultural Research in the Islamic Revolution, the Office of Preservation and Publication of Ayatullah Ali Khamenei’s Works, Enghlab Islami Publication, Tehran, Iran. Book ID#: 978-964-2951-55-0.

[5] Ayatollah Khamenei, Speech during the joint educational ceremony of the students in Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) University on Farvardin 26, 1388 (2009). Available online at: https://www.leader.ir/fa/speech/5172

[6] Martyr Morteza Mottahari, “The Battle of Truth and Falsehood.” Cultural and Scientific Foundation of Martyred Teacher Morteza Mottahari, Pages 40-41. Available online at: https://3danet.ir/morteza-motahhari-books-pdf/

[7] Ali Shariati, The Philosophy of History in Islam, Section 4. Available online at: http://www.shariati.com/farsi/tarikhdarislam/tarikhdarislam4.html

The Sword of Damocles Over Western Europe: Follow the Trail of Blood and Oil

The Sword of Damocles Over Western Europe: Follow the Trail of ...

Cynthia Chung June 3, 2020

In Part 1, we left off in our story at the SIS-CIA overthrow of Iran’s Nationalist leader Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953. At this point the Shah was able to return to Iran from Rome and British-backed Fazlollah Zahedi, who played a leading role in the coup, replaced Mosaddegh as Prime Minister of Iran.

Here we will resume our story.

An Introduction to the ‘Shah of Shahs’, ‘King of Kings’

One important thing to know about Mohammad Reza Shah was that he was no fan of British imperialism and was an advocate for Iran’s independence and industrial growth. That said, the Shah was a deeply flawed man who lacked the steadfastness to secure such a positive fate for Iran. After all, foreign-led coups had become quite common in Iran at that point.

He would become the Shah in 1941 at the age of 22, after the British forced his father Reza Shah into exile. By then, Persia had already experienced 70 years of British imperialism reducing its people to near destitution.

Mohammad Reza Shah had developed very good relations with the U.S. under President FDR, who at the behest of the Shah, formed the Iran Declaration which ended Iran’s foreign occupation by the British and the Soviets after WWII.

His father, Reza Shah came into power after the overthrow of Ahmad Shah in 1921, who was responsible for signing into law the infamous Anglo-Persian Agreement in 1919, which effectively turned Iran into a de facto protectorate run by British “advisors” and ensured the British Empire’s control of Iran’s oil.

Despite Reza Shah’s problems (Mosaddegh was sent into exile during his reign), he had made significant achievements for Iran. Among these included the development of transportation infrastructure, 15 000 miles of road by 1940 and the construction of the Trans-Iranian Railway which opened in 1938.

Mohammad Reza Shah wished to continue this vein of progress, however, he would first have to go through Britain and increasingly the U.S. in order to fulfill Iran’s vision for a better future.

In 1973, Mohammad Reza Shah thought he finally found his chance to turn Iran into the “world’s sixth industrial power” in just one generation…

OPEC and the European Monetary System vs the ‘Seven Sisters’

In 1960, OPEC was founded by five oil producing countries: Venezuela, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Kuwait in an attempt to influence and stabilise the market price of oil, which would in turn stabilise their nation’s economic return. The formation of OPEC marked a turning point toward national sovereignty over natural resources.

However, during this period OPEC did not have a strong voice in such affairs, the main reason being the “Seven Sisters” which controlled approximately 86% of the oil produced by OPEC countries. The “Seven Sisters” was the name for the seven transnational oil companies of the “Consortium of Iran” cartel which dominated the global petroleum industry, with British Petroleum owning 40% and Royal Dutch Shell 14%, giving Britain the lead at 54% ownership during this period.

After 1973, with the sudden rise of oil prices, the Shah began to see an opportunity for independent action.

The Shah saw the price increase as a way to pull his country out of backwardness. To the intense irritation of his sponsors, the Shah pledged to bring Iran into the ranks of the world’s top ten industrial nations by the year 2000.

The Shah understood that in order for this vision to become a reality, Iran could not just stay as a crude oil producer but needed to invest in a more stable future through industrial growth. And as it just so happened, France and West Germany were ready to make an offer.

In 1978, France and West Germany led the European community, with the exception of Great Britain, in the formation of the European Monetary System (EMS). The EMS was a response to the controlled disintegration that had been unleashed on the world economy after the fixed exchange rate became a floating exchange rate in 1971.

French foreign minister Jean Francois–Poncet had told a UN press conference, that it was his vision that the EMS eventually replace the IMF and World Bank as the center of world finance.

For those who are unaware of the devastation that the IMF and World Bank have wreaked upon the world, refer to John Perkins’ “Confession of an Economic Hit Man”… the situation is 10X worst today.

As early as 1977, France and West Germany had begun exploring the possibility of concretizing a deal with oil producing countries in which western Europe would supply high-technology exports, including nuclear technology, to the OPEC countries in exchange for long-term oil supply contracts at a stable price. In turn, OPEC countries would deposit their enormous financial surpluses into western European banks which could be used for further loans for development projects… obviously to the detriment of the IMF and World Bank hegemony.

The Carter Administration was not happy with this, sending Vice President Walter Mondale to France and West Germany to “inform” them that the U.S. would henceforth oppose the sale of nuclear energy technology to the Third World…and thus they should do so as well. West Germany’s nuclear deal with Brazil and France’s promise to sell nuclear technology to South Korea had already come under heavy attack.

In addition, the Shah had started a closer partnership with Iraq and Saudi Arabia cemented at OPEC meetings in 1977 and 1978. In a press conference in 1977 the Shah stated he would work for oil price stability. Together Saudi Arabia and Iran at the time produced nearly half of OPEC’s entire output.

If an Iran-Saudi-Iraq axis established a permanent working relationship with the EMS it would have assembled an unstoppable combination against the London world financial center.

Recall that France and West Germany had already ignored British calls to boycott Iranian oil in 1951 under Mosaddegh, and therefore, there was no indication that they were going to follow suit with Britain and the U.S. this time either.

As far as London and Washington were concerned, the Shah’s reign was over.

British Petroleum, BBC News and Amnesty International as Servants to the Crown

Were we to select a date for the beginning of the Iranian revolution it would be November 1976, the month that Amnesty International issued its report charging brutality and torture of political prisoners by the Shah of Iran.

Ironically, the SAVAK which was the secret police under the Shah from 1957 to 1979, was established and pretty much run by the SIS (aka MI6), CIA and the Israeli Mossad. This is a well-known fact, and yet, was treated as somehow irrelevant during Amnesty International’s pleas for a humanitarian intervention into Iran.

For those who haven’t already discovered Amnesty International’s true colors from their recent “work” in Syria… it should be known that they work for British Intelligence.

Gruesome accounts of electric shock torture and mutilation were printed in the London Times, the Washington Post and other respected press. Within a few months, President Carter launched his own “human rights” campaign. With this, the international humanitarian outcry got bigger and louder demanding the removal of the Shah.

The Shah was caught between a rock and a hard place, as he was known not to be strong on “security” matters and often left it entirely up to the management of others. Once Amnesty International sounded the war-cry, the Shah made the mistake of not only defending the undefendable SAVAK in the public arena but continued to trust them entirely. It would be his biggest mistake.

With the international foment intensifying, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) Persian language broadcasts into Iran fanned the flames of revolt.

During the entire year of 1978 the BBC stationed dozens of correspondents throughout the country in every remote town and village. BBC correspondents, often in the employ of the British secret service, worked as intelligence operatives for the revolution.

Each day the BBC would report in Iran gory accounts of alleged atrocities committed by the Iranian police, often without checking the veracity of the reports. It is now acknowledged that these news reports helped to fuel and even organise the political foment towards an Iranian revolution.

In 1978, British Petroleum (BP) was in the process of negotiating with the government of Iran the renewing of the 25 year contract made in 1953 after the Anglo-American coup against Mosaddegh. These negotiations collapsed in Oct 1978, at the height of the revolution. BP rejected the National Iranian Oil Company’s (NIOC) demands, refusing to buy a minimum quantity of barrels of Iranian oil but demanding nonetheless the exclusive right to buy that oil should it wish to in the future!

The Shah and NIOC rejected BP’s final offer. Had the Shah overcome the revolt, it appeared that Iran would have been free in its oil sales policy in 1979 – and would have been able to market its own oil to the state companies of France, Spain, Brazil and many other countries on a state-to-state basis.

In the American press hardly a single line was published about the Iranian fight with BP, the real humanitarian fight for Iranians.

The Sword of Damocles

The “Arc of Crisis” is a geopolitical theory focused on American/western politics in regards to the Muslim world. It was first concocted by British historian Bernard Lewis, who was regarded as the leading scholar in the world on oriental studies, especially of Islam, and its implications for today’s western politics.

Bernard Lewis was acting as an advisor to the U.S. State Department from 1977-1981. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the National Security Advisor, would announce the U.S.’ adoption of the “Arc of Crisis” theory by the American military and NATO in 1978.

It is widely acknowledged today, that the “Arc of Crisis” was primarily aimed at destabilising the USSR and Iran. This will be discussed further in Part 3 of this series.

Egypt and Israel were expected to act as the initiating countries for the expansion of NATO into the Middle East. Iran was to be the next link.

Iran’s revolution was perfectly timed with the launching of the “Arc of Crisis”, and NATO had its “humanitarian” cause for entering the scene.

However, the fight was not over in Iran.

On Jan 4th, 1979, the Shah named Shapour Bakhtiar, a respected member of the National Front as Prime Minister of Iran. Bakhtiar was held in high regard by not only the French but Iranian nationalists. As soon as his government was ratified, Bakhtiar began pushing through a series of major reform acts: he completely nationalised all British oil interests in Iran, put an end to the martial law, abolished the SAVAK, and pulled Iran out of the Central Treaty Organization, declaring that Iran would no longer be “the gendarme of the Gulf”.

Bakhtiar also announced that he would be removing Ardeshir Zahedi from his position as Iran’s Ambassador to the U.S.

An apple that did not fall far from the tree, Ardeshir is the son of Fazlollah Zahedi, the man who led the coup against Mosaddegh and replaced him as Prime Minister!

Ardeshir was suspected to have been misinforming the Shah about the events surrounding the Iranian revolution and it was typical that he spoke to Brzezinski in Washington from Teheran over the phone at least once a day, often twice a day, as part of his “job” as Ambassador to the U.S. during the peak of the Iranian revolution.

With tensions escalating to a maximum, the Shah agreed to transfer all power to Bakhtiar and left Iran on Jan 16th,1979 for a “long vacation” (aka exile), never to return.

However, despite Bakhtiar’s courageous actions, the damage was too far gone and the hyenas were circling round.

It is known that from Jan 7th to early Feb 1979, the No. 2 in the NATO chain of command, General Robert Huyser, was in Iran and was in frequent contact with Brzezinski during this period. It is thought that Huyser’s job was to avoid any coup attempts to disrupt the take-over by Khomeini’s revolutionary forces by largely misleading the Iranian generals with false intel and U.S. promises. Recently declassified documents on Huyser’s visit to Iran confirm these suspicions.

During the Shah’s “long vacation” his health quickly deteriorated. Unfortunately the Shah was never a good judge of character and kept a close dialogue with Henry Kissinger as to how to go about his health problems. By Oct 1979, the Shah was diagnosed with cancer and the decision was made to send him to the U.S. for medical treatment.

This decision was very much pushed for and supported by Brzezinski and Kissinger, despite almost every intelligence report indicating this would lead to a disastrous outcome.

In Nov 18th 1979, the New York Times reported:

‘The decision was made despite the fact that Mr. Carter and his senior policy advisers had known for months that to admit the Shah might endanger Americans at the embassy in Teheran. An aide reported that at one staff meeting Mr. Carter had asked, “When the Iranians take our people in Teheran hostage, what will you advise me then?” ‘

On Oct 22, 1979, the Shah arrived in New York to receive medical treatment. Twelve days later, the U.S. Embassy in Teheran was taken over and 52 American hostages would be held captive for 444 days!

With the taking of the hostages, the Carter Administration, as preplanned under the “Arc of Crisis”, set into motion its scenario for global crisis management.

The hostage crisis, a 100% predictable response to the U.S.’ decision to accept the Shah into America, was the external threat the Carter Administration needed to invoke the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, authorising the President to regulate international commerce after declaring a national emergency in response to an extraordinary threat

With this new authority, President Carter announced the freezing of all U.S.-Iranian financial assets, amounting to over $6 billion, including in branches of American banks abroad. Instantly, the world financial markets were thrown into a panic, and big dollar depositors in western Europe and the U.S., particularly the OPEC central banks, began to pull back from further commitments.

The Eurodollar market was paralyzed and most international lending halted until complex legal matters were sorted out.

However, the most serious consequence by far from the Carter Administration’s “emergency actions,” was in scaring other OPEC governments away from long-term lending precisely at a time when West Germany and France were seeking to attract deposits into the financial apparatus associated with the European Monetary System (EMS).

In addition, the Carter Administration’s insistent demands that western Europe and Japan invoke economic sanctions against Iran was like asking them to cut their own throats. Yet, the raised political tensions succeeded in breaking apart the economic alliances and the slow blood-letting of Europe commenced.

Within days of the taking of the hostages, the pretext was given for a vast expansion of U.S. military presence in the Middle East and the Indian Ocean.

Sound familiar?

The message was not lost on Europe. In a Nov 28, 1979 column in Le Figaro, Paul Marie de la Gorce,  who was in close dialogue with the French presidential palace, concluded that U.S. military and economic intervention into Iran would cause “more damages for Europe and Japan than for Iran.” And that those who advocate such solutions are “consciously or not inspired by the lessons given by Henry Kissinger.”

During the 444 day hostage crisis, a full-scale U.S. invasion was always looming overhead. Such an invasion was never about seizing the oil supply for the U.S., but rather to deny it to western Europe and Japan.

If the U.S. were to have seized the oil supply in Iran, the body blow to the western European economies would have knocked out the EMS. Thus, during the 444 day holding of American hostages, this threat was held over the head of Europe like the sword of Damocles.

It is sufficed to say that today’s ongoing sanctions against Iran cannot be understood in their full weight and international ramifications without this historical background.

IS IRAN ILL-ADVISED TO FINANCE ITS REGIONAL ALLIES WHILE UNDER SANCTIONS?

Posted on  by Elijah J Magnier

By Elijah J. Magnier:@ejmalrai

Many Iranians question the benefits of arming and financing Iran’s many allies in the Middle East while Iran is suffering the harshest ever US “maximum pressure”. Iran’s allies are spread over Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. Is Iranian support for these allies the main cause of the US’s aggressive attitude towards the Iranian people and their state, or there are other factors? What makes Iran finance these allies and strengthen them with the most advanced warfare equipment, and be ready to fight and die on their territory?

Since Iran’s “Islamic Revolution” prevailed in 1979 under the leadership of Imam Khomeini, the country has been heavily sanctioned, sanctions increasing with the advent of almost every new US President. In 1979, Iran had no allies but was surrounded by enemies.  Its regional neighbours joined western countries in supporting Saddam Hussein’s war (1980-1988) on the “Islamic Republic”. The US war on Iran has its origin in the fall of its proxy the Pahlavi Shah. It was disclosed how the CIA brought Pahlavi to power in an organised Coup d’état against the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohamad Musaddeq in 1953 in order to keep Iranian oil under US-UK control. Democracy has never been the real issue: western-provoked wars can be understood as motivated by self-interest and the quest for dominance. But attempts to overthrow regimes are always publicly justified by the West in the name of freedom and democracy.

In 1979, the US set a trap to drag the Soviets into invading Afghanistan by supporting the mujahedeen from whom al-Qaeda was born. This catastrophic result and similar destructive phenomena are habitually described as “unintended consequences” in order to rationalise the devastating costs of these savage interventions into other people’s lives and in world affairs. However, in 2001 the US fell back into exactly the same type of quagmire and invaded Afghanistan with tens of thousands of US troops. The US plan was to block the path of a possible return by Russia to Eurasia; to weaken the Russians and to encircle Iran with a chain of hostile elements; to bully all countries concerned into submission, particularly the oil-rich states, thus preventing any possible alliance with Russia and China. This is still the US objective in the Middle East. History has never been a good guide to powerful leaders and their administrations because they apparently consider themselves not subject to its lessons.

Iran found itself deprived of allies. With the consent of the Gulf states, notably Saudi Arabia, Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 to remove and subdue the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) led by Yasser Arafat, who had rejected King Fahd’s peace initiative. However, the “unintended consequences” of the invasion and the occupation of the first Arab capital by Israel (Beirut) offered Iran an excellent opportunity to respond to the demands of a group of Lebanese asking for help to stand against the Israeli aggressor. Imam Khomeini replied to his Lebanese visitors (who described the horror and the killing committed by the Israeli war machine): “al-kheir fima waqaa”, meaning “What has happened is a blessing”. His visitors did not understand the meaning of Khomeini’s words until many years later. 

Iran found in the Lebanese Shia fertile ground to plant seeds for its ideology. The ground was already prepared in 1978. Lebanese Islamist followers of Sayyed Mohamad Baqer al-Sadr were already receiving training in various Palestinian camps, including the Zabadani training boot camp (Syria), and had embraced the Palestinian cause. When Imam Khomeini took power in Iran, Sayyed Mohammad Baqer al-Sadr asked his followers in Iraq and Lebanon to declare loyalty to Imam Khomeini and “melt into him as he has melted into Islam” (which means “adopt Imam Khomeini as your Imam and Marja’ al-Taqleed”). Iran established great ideological compatibility with the Lebanese Shia, who had historically been considered second-class citizens in Lebanon. Their territories in the south of Lebanon were considered disposable and were put on offer to Israel by Lebanese leaders (Maronite President Emile Eddé suggested to detach South of Lebanon and offer it to Israel to reduce the number of Muslim Shia) , elites and governments.

The Iranian constitution (articles 2 and 3) stipulates that the Iranian government will support any group or country suffering from an oppressor. Its outlook fit perfectly with the oppressed Lebanese Shia. 

The Iranian IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) travelled to Lebanon and shipped their weapons via Syria to strengthen the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon, known later as Hezbollah, and defend their country from the occupier. It was, therefore, necessary to establish a strategic relationship with the Syrian President because most shipments arrived via Syria. 

The Iranian-Syrian relationship went through various ups and downs. It had reached its high point in the last years of President Hafez al-Assad’s rule when his son Bashar was responsible for the relationship with Lebanon and Hezbollah in particular. 

The destinies of Lebanon, Syria and Iran became linked. President Bashar al-Assad was struggling to keep his country out of the conflict when the US-occupied Iraq in 2003. The circle around Iran became tighter, and US forces occupied neighbouring Iraq. Even though getting rid of Saddam Hussein was a blessing for the Iranian regime, Saddam was so weak that he did not represent any real danger to Iran. The US embargo had weakened him, and he had no friends in the Gulf countries after his invasion of Kuwait and his bombing of Saudi Arabia.

The US prevented Iran from moving forward to support the Iraqi resistance to overthrow Saddam Hussein, instead of establishing its own control over Baghdad. The next US objective was Syria and Lebanon. Secretary of State Colin Powell warned President Assad that he was next on the list of presidents to be taken down if he continued offering support to Hamas and Hezbollah. The US declared itself an occupying power, and the Iraqi right to defend their country was acknowledged by the United Nations resolutions. Assad, like Iran and Saudi Arabia, supported the insurgency against the US occupation forces in Iraq. The Saudis rejected Shia-dominated governance over Iraq. The Iranians were next on the US list. So, Iran chose to fight the US on Iraqi ground, which was much less costly than fighting on Iranian ground. Strengthening Iraqi allies was, therefore, an essential component of Iranian national security and an important line of defence. 

In 2006, the Bush administration pushed an unprepared Israeli Prime Minister Olmert to agree to destroy Hezbollah and was expecting the war to be expanded to Syria. This was an opportunity to conquer Syria and cut the supply of Iranian arms. The US and its allies were aiming to close the circle around Iran by eliminating its strong ally in Lebanon. Hezbollah was an impediment to the US-Israeli project of bringing all the Arabs to the negotiating table, eliminating the Palestinian cause and its defenders, and weakening Iran as a prelude to overthrowing its government.

When Israel bombed and invaded Lebanon in 2006 with the goal of defeating Hezbollah, President Assad opened his warehouses and offered dozens of game-changing anti-tank missiles and anything Hezbollah needed to fight back, regardless of Israeli air force superiority. Assad became an essential partner in the successful defeat of Israel in Lebanon. The fall of Hezbollah would have had devastating consequences for Syria and Iran. Joining the destinies and alliances of the Lebanese-Syrian-Iraqi-Iranian front was necessary for the survival of each.

In 2011, the world declared war on Syria. It took President Assad two years before he realised the plot was both regional and international, aiming to create chaos in the Levant and to produce a failed state dominated by jihadists. The same ideological jihadists first planted in Afghanistan were expanding and offered a perfect tool for the US to destroy Iran and its allies. The regional and world intelligence services infiltrated the jihadists, and well understood their strengths and weaknesses. They were well suited to fighting the Iranian ideology and Iran’s ally. Wahhabi jihadism was perfect cancer to destroy Iran on many fronts.

Jihadists were growing in Iraq and expanding in Syria under the eyes of the US, as US intelligence sources themselves revealed. The Levant was the perfect and most desirable ancient place for jihadists to mushroom and expand. This was when President Assad asked his allies for support. Iran’s IRGC forces came to Damascus and the journey to liberate Syria started. Syria, like Iraq, offered a vital defence line to Iran. It was another platform to fight – on non-Iranian soil – an enemy that was about to migrate to Iran (had Syrian been defeated). An opportunity that Iran could not miss because of Syria’s strategic importance.

It took Russia until September 2015 to wake up and intervene in the Middle Eastern arena, in Syria in particular. All these years, the US was planning to leave no place for Russia to create alliances, preparing to vanquish Iran and its allies, the “Axis of the Resistance” standing against US hegemony in the Middle East. All Gulf countries succumbed to US power, and today they are hosting the largest US military bases in the region. The US had deployed tens of thousands of troops to these bases and through them enjoyed superior firepower to any country in the world. Still, Iran and the Levant (Syria and Lebanon) remained impervious to the US attempt at complete dominance.

Without Iran’s allies, all US military efforts would have been concentrated on Iran alone. The US would have moved from sanctions to military attack with little fear of the dire consequences. Today, the US needs to consider the now unquestioned fact that if Iran is attacked, its allies in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq will open hell for the US and its allies in the Middle East. Forty years of Iranian support for its allies have created a wall of protection around it and a bond whereby the allies join their fate to that of Iran. There are no allies in the world any country could count on to sacrifice their men more readily and stand for a common ideological motivation and shared objectives.  Iran is not only investing in its partners, but it is also investing in its own security and well-being. Iran is prepared to offer the same sacrifices provided by its allies to support them when needed. 

Many Lebanese and Iraqis fought in the Iraq-Iran war. Thousands of Iranian, Iraqi and Lebanese Hezbollah (and other allies) lost their lives in Syria protecting the well-being of the Syrian ally and preventing the country from falling into the jihadists’ hands.

Many Iranians and Lebanese were killed in Iraq to support the Iraqis against the terror of ISIS. Iranians and Lebanese Hezbollah are today in Yemen, supporting it against the Saudi-led genocidal massacres. Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah took the risk of supporting the Palestinians and their cause to free their land, to have their own state and the right to return home. No US allies anywhere in the world are ready to offer comparable solidarity to the US. Iran has created deep alliances whereas the US has failed to do so.

Iran openly attacked the US Ayn al-Assad military base following the unlawful assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani. No other country in the world has dared to attack the US face-to-face and inflict over a hundred casualties on US service members while continuing to challenge US hegemony. There was no need for Iran to ask its allies to act on its behalf. Iran and its partners on the battlefield are united against their enemies. The US wants Iran without missiles, without armed drones, and without access to intelligence warfare. These vital programs have proved crucial to protecting the country and preventing it from becoming vulnerable. If Iran did not have the allies it has today and the missiles it has manufactured, the US would already have retaliated without hesitation.

The war is far from over. Iran and its allies are still in the heart of the struggle, and the US and Israel are not sitting idly by. Solidarity between Iran and its allies is needed more than ever. The question of how much of its annual budget Iran is spending on its partners is less than relevant, though ordinary Iranians may complain and even challenge its benefits. The spirit of sacrifice that unites allies in mutual protection cannot be limited to monetary considerations. It is priceless.

Proofread by: Maurice Brasher and C.G.B

This article is translated free to many languages by volunteers so readers can enjoy the content. It shall not be masked by Paywall. I’d like to thank my followers and readers for the confidence and support. If you like it, please don’t feel embarrassed to contribute and help fund it for as little as 1 Euro. Your contribution, however small, will help ensure its continuity. Thank you.

Copyright © https://ejmagnier.com  2020

Reaffirming the Revolution: The Islamic Republic of Iran at 41

By Yuram Abdullah Weiler

Source

Qasem Soleimani in 2017 rally b3707

In number theory, 41 is a prime number meaning it is not divisible by any number except itself and one.  Similarly, the Islamic Revolution in Iran so far has been unique in its success and indivisible unity of purpose, despite numerous attempts at sabotage by external and internal actors.  At this prime age of 41, Iran is fully capable of charting an assertive leadership path to recapture the spirit and reaffirm the original goals of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, among which is the propagation of Islam to bring about social change for the welfare of all humanity.[2]

It is no minor accomplishment for the Islamic Republic of Iran to have maintained an independent geopolitical course for a period of forty one years in spite of the overwhelming diplomatic, economic and military pressure employed by the United States to force Tehran to cave in to the diktats of the Washington regime. Even before the erstwhile shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, had fled the country on January 17, 1979, U.S. air force general Robert E. “Dutch” Huyser had arrived on January 3rd on a mission to test the waters for a rerun of the August 1953 coup, which had originally placed the U.S.-backed dictator in power in the first place.[3]

With the victory of the Islamic Revolution on February 11, 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini (r) went on to found an Islamic Republic, whose constitution (Article 154) explicitly states that Iran “is concerned with the welfare of humanity as a whole and takes independence, liberty and sovereignty of justice and righteousness as the right of people in the world over.”  Imam Khomeini was very clear in his view that “Islam is revealed for mankind,” and, therefore, the revolution must be exported.[4] This concept, which raised fears of popular uprisings toppling the U.S.-abetted tyrants in the region and beyond, put the nascent Islamic Republic on a collision course with the Washington regime.  Among the despotic leaders shaken by Iran’s Islamic Revolution was the U.S.-supported Iraqi dictator, Saddam, who denounced Imam Khomeini and called upon Iranian Arabs to revolt.[5]

If external threats to the newly-established Islamic Republic weren’t enough, others arose internally. Massoumeh Ebtekar, who witnessed the revolution firsthand and is currently Vice President of Iran for Women and Family Affairs, recalled that “we were sure that foreign elements were actively involved in attempts to weaken and undermine the young republic.” To avert the suspected foreign plot to overthrow the Iranian government, a group of students, including now Vice President Ebtekar, decided to act, and on November 4, 1979 occupied the U.S. embassy in Tehran and detained the staff.[6]  U.S. president Jimmy Carter responded ten days later by freezing US $12 billion’s worth of Iran’s assets in the U.S., and later banned all trade with and travel to Iran.[7] Also affected were Iranian assets in U.S. banks in Britain, much of which were in Bank of America’s London branch.[8]  The following year on April 7, the U.S. cut diplomatic relations with Iran, and has never reinstated them.[9]  If Carter had not allowed the deposed shah entry to the U.S., the embassy takeover most likely would not have occurred.[10]

Another internal threat, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK), was openly unhappy over the constitution, which, according to them, did not address their demands.  After a humiliating defeat in the March and May 1980 parliamentary elections (no MeK candidates were elected),[11] the MeK became increasingly belligerent over their lack of position in the new government, directing their frustration ever more violently towards members of the Islamic Republic Party (IRP), which had won a decisive victory in the elections.  Despite the electoral defeat, the MeK openly backed Iran’s first president, Abolhassan Bani Sadr, however, following his removal from office for incompetency in June 1981, the MeK declared an armed struggle against the standing government. On June 28, 1981 and again on August 30, the MeK carried out terror bombing attacks against the IRP and government leaders.  In 1986, the MeK moved its operations to Iraq and aligned itself with Saddam, who backed the terrorist group until being ousted by the U.S. invasion in 2003. To date, the Washington regime views the MeK as a viable means by which to overthrow the legitimate government of Iran.[12]

Following the student takeover of the U.S. embassy, which was later shown to be a nerve center for CIA espionage in the region,[13] U.S. president Carter ordered a desperate mission on April 24, 1980 to invade Iran and free the hostages despite negotiations for their release still being in progress.[14] The so-called hostage crisis and the U.S. president’s failed interventionist response provided a perpetual pretext for Washington’s vehemently vindictive view against reestablishing any level of diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.  The 444-day crisis, according to sworn testimony by Israeli intelligence agent Ari Ben-Menashe, was a joint effort by the CIA and Mossad to delay the release of the 52 hostages and thereby ensure an electoral victory for Ronald Reagan in the 1980 U.S. presidential race.[15]

In the midst of the post-revolutionary struggle to establish a fully functioning Islamic government, Iraqi dictator Saddam, with U.S. blessing, attacked the fledgling Islamic Republic on September 22, 1980, imposing a costly 8-year-long war that consumed some 60 to 70 percent of Iran’s national budget, not to mention the suffering of the Iranian people and their sacrifices in defense of Iran and Islam.[16]  The economic impact of the war on Iran itself was enormous with estimated direct costs in the range of US $600 billion and total cost of US $1 trillion.[17]  In the course of this U.S.-supported war, chemical agents were used extensively for the first time since the First World War, resulting in the deaths of some 4,700 Iranians in a single attack.  The U.S. also provided Saddam with biological agents such as anthrax and E. coli.[18]

Howard Teicher, director of political-military affairs for the U.S. National Security Council from 1982 to 1987, in an affidavit stated, “CIA Director [William] Casey personally spearheaded the effort to ensure that Iraq had sufficient military weapons, ammunition and vehicles to avoid losing the Iran-Iraq war.” Teicher also testified that U.S. president Reagan had sent a secret message to Saddam advising him that “Iraq should step up its air war and bombing of Iran.”  Teicher’s sworn testimony provides strong evidence that the U.S. intent was for Saddam to bomb Iranian cities, thereby unavoidably targeting civilians.[19]

Saddam followed Reagan’s advice to the letter by launching eleven SCUD B missiles at Tehran on February 29, 1988.  Over the next two weeks, more than 100 of Saddam’s missiles rained down upon the cities of Tehran, Qom and Isfahan along with bombing raids conducted against a total of 37 Iranian cities. Earlier in October 1987 and again in April 1988, the U.S. as part of its overt but undeclared war against the Islamic Republic, attacked Iranian ships and oil platforms under expanded rules of engagement.[20]  As a result of Washington’s designation of the Persian Gulf as essentially a free-fire zone for Iranian targets, the commander of the USS Vincennes, William C. Rogers, fired two missiles (after twenty-three failed attempts)[21] at what he claimed was a military target but in fact was Iran Air Flight 655 carrying 290 civilian passengers from Bandar Abbas to Dubai.  For downing the civilian airliner and killing all on board, Rogers was awarded the Legion of Merit “for exceptionally meritorious service” for this appalling atrocity.[22]

Yet in spite of the near universal support given by the U.S. and its western minions to Saddam, the people of Iran rose up to defend their newly liberated land in what were termed “human wave attacks” in the western press. Giving their lives selflessly in the cause of defending Islam and Iran, these martyrs, whose numbers reached to half a million,[23] struck fear in the black heart of Saddam and presented a conundrum to the materialistic west.  Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Rahbar explains that martyrdom, while clearly understood in the Islamic world, “is incomprehensible and even pointless in materialist and atheistic cultures.”[24]

The incomprehensibility to most westerners of the spiritual basis of Iran’s Islamic Revolution leads to some interesting “anti-explanations.”  Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina Charles Kurzman wrote, “After the Iranian Revolution, those who had considered the upheaval unthinkable became preoccupied with understanding how they could have been so mistaken.” After pointing out the shortcomings of the various political, economic, cultural and other explanations, Kurzman notes, “The more I learned about the Iranian Revolution, the more theoretical anomalies I discovered.” Yet this author acknowledges that 55 percent of educated, middle-class Iranians and 71 percent of others he interviewed spoke of Islam as being involved in their decision to participate in the revolution.[25]

Apparently, for secular-leaning western scholars, Islam cannot be accepted as the basis for an explanation of a successful revolution. For example, even Iranian expatriate scholar Ervand Abrahamian blames the Islamic Revolution on “overwhelming pressures” in Iranian society due to the shah, who “was sitting on such a volcano, having alienated almost every sector of society.”[26]  Downplaying the role of Islam in Iran’s revolution, Iranian expatriate scholar Asef Bayat insists that there was a “strong secular tendency,” which peaked in the 1970s.  Bayat incredulously claims, “In Iran, an Islamic movement was in the making when it was interrupted by the Islamic revolution.”[27]  Other scholars date the origin of the Islamic movement in Iran to the tobacco crisis of 1890-1891, while Farhang Rejaee, a professor at the Carleton Centre for the Study of Islam in Ottawa, Canada, points to the assassination of Nasr al-Din Shah in 1896.[28]

The current Islamic movement in Iran had begun on the 15th of Khordad, 1342 (June 5, 1963), predating the Islamic Revolution by some 15 years.  In a June 1979 speech marking the anniversary of the 15th of Khordad uprising, Imam Khomeini specifically referred to the Islamic movement and its creation in the mosque network.  “Who are they that wish to divert our Islamic movement from Islam?” asked the Imam. “It was the mosques that created this revolution,” he emphasized, adding. “It was the mosques that brought this [Islamic] movement into being.”[29]  Likewise refuting the theories of the western and westernized scholars, Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Rahbar explains, “The secret of success of the Islamic Revolution of Iran also is naught but this: valuing the high ideals of Islam and of the Islamic humanities.”  As to the failure of other revolutions, he blames “want of a sufficient depth in its spiritual dimension.”  Finally, he affirms, “The revolutionary experience of Iran should indeed become a model for others to emulate.”[30]

By basing economics and social change on the solid foundation of Islam, Iran has achieved greater progress in many areas, such as reducing poverty, improving health care, eliminating illiteracy, increasing access to education and expanding opportunities for women, than had been the case during the shah’s regime.   As a result, despite the unending U.S. hostility against Iran through ruthless imposed wars, covert and overt aggressions, punitive economic sanctions and continuous diplomatic isolation, the Islamic Republic has managed to amass an impressive list of accomplishments.  U.S. economic sanctions have had the effect of causing Iran to seek self-sufficiency in a number of areas, including weaponry and other military hardware, food production, steel, paper and paper products, cement, heavy industrial machinery, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications equipment. In particular, the domestic production of armaments has helped to ensure the country’s independence and security, as has the highly developed military strategy of the “fast boat swarm” for naval defense in the Persian Gulf.[31]

Moreover, in the field of health care, Iran has made laudable strides, increasing life expectancy from 56 years in the 1970s to over 70, and reducing the infant mortality rate from 104 per 1,000 births to 25.[32]  The Islamic Republic has created, and continuously expanded, a system of hospitals and health clinics, concentrating on areas impacted by economic hardship.  The results have been sufficiently impressive for some universities and NGOs in the U.S. state of Mississippi to introduce Iranian-style health care into the impoverished areas of the Mississippi Delta region.[33] Rural areas also benefitted from the revolution in other ways besides access to health care.  By 2002, rural literacy had risen to 70 percent, each village had an average of two college graduates, and 99 percent of rural households had electricity. In 1976 only ten percent of the rural work force was employed in the industrial, construction and service sectors, whereas 51 percent was employed therein by 1996.[34] Land was redistributed among peasants, who formed numerous cooperatives, which assisted in raising prices for agricultural products.  Even the poorest of Iranians were able to have at least some level of access to modern consumer goods.[35]

“The biggest advances in the educational, professional and social standing of women in Iran’s history have come since the revolution,” wrote scholars Hillary Mann and Flynt Leverett.[36] After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, female literacy rates skyrocketed from 36 percent in 1976 to 74 percent in 1996, with urban women toping 82 percent.[37] Women were provided with the same educational opportunities as men, and were employed in both the public and private sectors.  Not only were women allowed to drive (unlike other “Islamic” countries), but also participated in political, commercial and civil activities, as well as in the security sector.  Health care in the Islamic Republic included women’s clinics, where progressive family planning and other services were available.[38]

“This united gathering which took place in Iran, and this great change which happened, must be taken as an example to be followed and never forgotten,” said Imam Khomeini (r) on 7th of Esfand 1359 (26 February 1981). [39] Despite that to date, no other Muslim-majority nation has yet to emulate successfully the revolutionary path taken by the valiant people of Iran, the paradigm remains as does the potential for Iran’s leadership to bring about a united Islamic Ummah.

Iran Marks 41st Anniversary of Islamic Revolution

February 1, 2020

Iranians have started the 10-Day Dawn celebrations to mark the 41st anniversary of the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, which overthrew the monarchy of the US-backed Pahlavi regime in Iran.

The nationwide ceremonies started at 9:33 a.m. local time (0603 GMT), the time when the late founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini returned to the Iranian capital on February 1, 1979 after a 15-year exile in Paris.

Every year, Iranians mark the anniversary of their Islamic Revolution from February 1 to 11, known as the Ten-Day Fajr ceremonies.

Imam Khomeini spent more than 14 years in exile, mostly in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf. He also spent some time in Turkey and France before his return to Iran.

Millions of people converged on the capital from across the country on the day of his return. His arrival gave considerable momentum to popular protests against the US-backed Pahlavi regime, which eventually led to its overthrow ten days later.

SourceMehr News Agency

Related Videos

Related Articles

Imam Khomeini had a rather practical turn of mind: Falk

TEHRAN – Forty-one years have passed since Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, upon failure to attract popular support, fled Iran forever

January 17, 2020 – 13:2

Over the past decades, despite being faced with threats, provocations, harsh sanctions, and even a variety of covert interventions, Iran has been more stable than ever- a fact even acknowledged by Professor Richard Falk as the former UN Special Rapporteur.

Falk, who came to Tehran as a member of an American delegation in 1979, has an interesting narrative of Bakhtiar’s desperation on the day of Shah-Escape. 

As Iran marks 41th anniversary of Islamic revolution, we asked Professor Falk to share his experience from this historical trip and the visit he later had with the founder of Islamic republic of Iran Ayatollah Khomeini. 

Richard Anderson Falk is an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. He is the author or co-author of 20 books and the editor or co-editor of another 20 volumes. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967.   

Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: Before Iran’s Islamic revolution, as a member of an American delegation, you had a visit to Iran. What were the objectives of that trip?

A: I was chair of a small committee in the United States with the name, “Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran,” which sponsored events with Iranian students and some prominent figures. It became active within university settings as the revolutionary movement gathered momentum in 1978.

The Committee had almost no funding, but had dedicated members, and achieved a certain visibility as there was so little attention being given to these historic developments in Iran unfolding as the months passed. The treatment of these issues in the mainstream media was not only mostly very pro-Shah but also quite uninformative, and even uniformed.

It was in this context that I received as chair of the Committee an invitation from Mehdi Bazargan to visit Iran in a delegation of three persons for a period of two weeks. The stated purpose of the visit was to convey to several Americans a better understanding of the revolution underway. I felt that it was important to accept this invitation precisely for the reasons given in the letter of invitation. Our objective, then, was to achieve this better understanding of the revolution movement in Iran, and do our best after returning to share the experience and our impressions as widely as possible, and this is what we did.

In this spirit I did my best to find two persons who would benefit from such a visit, possessed an open mind toward the challenge being posed to imperial rule in Iran, and had some access to media and influential audiences back in the United States. My first two choices both agreed to become members of the delegation along with myself. Ramsey Clark was my first choice. He had been prominent in government, having been Attorney General, was part of a well-known political family, and had previously been considered a possible candidate for the American presidency. Besides being extremely intelligence, Ramsey had a high profile that generated great media interest and had a reputation for telling unpleasant and inconvenient truths.

My second choice was Philip Luce, a prominent religious activist who achieved world fame by his public acts of opposition to the Vietnam War. He was a person of the highest integrity, and fearless in searching for the truth in controversial political settings.
The three of us made the trip without deep prior personal associations, but we got along very well throughout our time together in Iran, and subsequently. 

Q: How different was what you witnessed from the US media narratives of the Iranian revolution’s developments?

A: The differences were spectacular. The US media conveyed very little understanding of the character of the movement in Iran, and was perplexed by its strength and outlook. At the time, the Shah’s government was a close ally of the United States in the midst of the Cold War, and Iran’s strategic location with respect to the Soviet Union made it very important to Washington to keep the Shah’s regime in control of the country. As well, the US Government, having played an important role by way of covert intervention in the 1953 coup that restored the Shah to the Peacock Throne, there was a particularly strong commitment made in Washington to doing whatever was necessary to defeat this nonviolent mass movement led by a then still rather obscure religious figure. It was deemed unthinkable within the United States government that such a seemingly primitive movement of the Iranian people could produce the collapse of the Iranian government that had mighty military and police capabilities at its disposal, possessed a political will to use lethal ammunition against unarmed demonstrators, and gained the geopolitical benefits of a ‘special relationship’ with the most powerful state in the world deeply invested in upholding its regional interests. In such a setting the media reflected the propaganda and ideological outlook of the government, and was not a source of independent and objective journalism.

It was in such an atmosphere that we hoped that we could bring some more informed and realistic commentary on the unfolding revolutionary process in Iran, including identifying its special character as neither left nor right, seemingly led by a religious leader who remained virtually unknown in the West. It was even unclear to us at the time of our visit whether Ayatollah Khomeini was the real leader or only a figurehead, a temporary phenomenon. We hoped to provide some insight into such questions, as well as to understand whether the new political realities in Iran would produce confrontation or normalization. Was the United States prepared, as it was not in 1953, to live with the politics of self-determination as it operated in Iran or would it seek once more to intervene on behalf of its geopolitical agenda? 

Indeed, we did have some effect on the quality of Western media coverage of the developments in Iran. Ramsey Clark and myself were invited to do many interviews and asked for to describe our impressions by mainstream TV channels and print outlets. As a result, at least until the hostage crisis, discussion of Iran Politics became more informed and some useful political debate emerged, at least for a while.  

Q: You met the then Prime Minister of Iran Shapour Bakhtiar on the same day when Mohammad Reza Pahlavi left Iran. What was Bakhtiar’s assessment of the developments including Shah’s departure?

A: We had the impression from our meeting that the Prime Minister was uncertain about the situation and his own personal fate. Of course, we met with Mr. Bakhtiar at a tense time, only a very few hours after the Shah was reported as having left the country. Bakhtiar had a reputation. of being hostile to intrusions of religion in the domain of politics, and had a personal identity strongly influenced by French culture along with its very dogmatic version of secularism. When we met, the city of Tehran was in a kind of frenzied mood, with cars blowing their horns in celebration, and posters of Khomeini appearing everywhere. We had trouble maneuvering through the traffic so as to keep our appointment.

We found Mr. Bakhtiar cautious and non-committal, and possibly intimidated, not by us, of course, but by the dozen or so others in the room who were never introduced, and wore the clothes associated with security personnel. We assumed that at least some of these anonymous individuals were from the SAVAK, and maybe explained partly why Bakhtiar seemed so uncomfortable. When we asked his help in arranging a visit to prisoners confined in Evin Prison, he seemed unable to answer until he received guidance from one of these advisers present in the room. After a short, whispered instruction, the Prime Minister told us that a visit could be arranged on the following day to the political prisoners, but that we would not be allowed to enter the part of the prison reserved for common criminals. After being at the prison, we felt that the political prisoners were treated well, seen as possibly of a future ruling elite, while the ordinary criminals held no interest for past or present, and lived in crowded cells often with no windows.

Overall, we were left with not much clarity about how Bakhtiar viewed the future of his caretaker government. We had no real opinion on whether what he was saying to us with the others in the room was what they wanted him to say, or expressed his real views, or maybe reflected some sort of compromise. Would he be soon replaced, and his own role challenged as unlawful, or even criminal? We had the impression of a frightened bureaucrat lacking in leadership potential. Maybe our impressions were distorted by the reality that our visit took place at such a tense and difficult moment, which turned out to be transformative for the country and its people. As a result these impressions of a sad and entrapped individual may leave too negative a picture.  

Q: What was the Central Intelligence Agency’s assessment of the Iranian revolution’s developments? Did CIA have a lucid exact assessment of the revolutionary forces and Iran’s future political system?

A: We had no contact with the CIA, but did meet with the American ambassador to Iran at the time, William Sullivan, who had a counterinsurgency background with a militarist reputation. He gave us a briefing that was much more illuminating as to Iranian developments than was our meeting with the Prime Minister. Sullivan acknowledged that the U.S. was caught off guard by both the character and the strength of the movement, and was struggling to keep up with events. He told us that the Embassy had previously constructed no less than 26 scenarios of political developments that might threaten the Shah’s leadership, but not one was concerned about a threat to the established order mounted by Islamically oriented opposition. The American preoccupation, reflecting Cold War priorities, limited its concerns to containing the Marxist and Soviet-oriented left, and the belief that to the extent there was a political side to Islam it was aligned with the West in its anti-Communist agenda as evident in the setting of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. 

Somewhat to our surprise, Sullivan spoke of his acute frustrations in dealing with the Carter presidency, especially with the National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who he claimed to be unwilling to accept the finality of the Shah’s loss of power or of the outcome of the revolutionary movement. Sullivan advocated coming to terms with the emerging new realities as representing America’s national interests, but he spoke very clearly of the resistance to this view at the White House. Sullivan partly attributed this stubbornness to the influence of the Iranian ambassador on. Brzezinski, a view later supported by State Department officials. 

Q: What were the issues discussed at a meeting you had in Neauphle-le Chateau with the late Islamic Republic’s founder Ayatollah Khomeini and how would you describe his personality?

A: We met for a long time, maybe three hours, and covered many issues. During the conversation, after some rather long introductions on our sides about our experience in. Iran, we listened and responded to concerns expressed by Ayatollah Khomeini. After that we posed a series of questions. I will mention here a few topics discussed that have a lasting interest. 

Ayatollah Khomeini’s first and understandable concern was whether the US Government would try to repeat the intervention of 1953 or live with the outcome of the revolution. Of course, we were not in a position to give a clear answer. We did think there was less disposition by the US to intervene than 25 years earlier, but we knew of the strategic importance attached to keeping Iran allied to the US in Cold War contexts and of the personal as well as ideological closeness between Carter and the Shah, especially after the Carter family spent New Year’s Eve in Tehran as the Shah’s guest in 1978, and Carter made his famous toast about the Shah being surrounded by the love of his people.

Ayatollah Khomeini was also concerned about whether the military contracts with the United States would be fulfilled now that there would be a change of government in Iran. This line of questioning gave us a sense that Ayatollah Khomeini had a rather practical turn of mind.
At the same time, he volunteered the view that he hoped that soon he would be able to resume his religious life, and explained taking up residence in Qom rather than Tehran seemed consistent with such an intention. Ayatollah Khomeini told us that he has reluctantly entered politics because in his words ‘there was a river of blood between the Shah and the people.’

When we asked for his hopes for the revolutionary government, this religious leader made clear that he viewed the revolution as an Islamic rather than an Iranian occurrence. He stressed this issue, but without any sectarian overtones. He did go on to say that he felt that the basic community for all people in the Islamic world was civilizational and religious, and not national and territorial. Ayatollah Khomeini explained in ways I subsequently heard from others, that territorial sovereign states built around national identity did not form a natural community in the Middle East the way it did in Europe.

Ayatollah Khomeini also made clear to us that he viewed the Saudi monarchy was as decadent and cruel as was the Shah, and deserved to face the same fate. He felt that dynastic rule had no legitimate role in Islamic societies.

We also asked about the fate of Jews and Bahais in the emergent Islamic Republic of Iran, aware of their close working relationships with the Shah’s governing structure. We found the response significant. He expressed the opinion that Judaism was ‘a genuine religion’ and if Jews do not get too involved in support for Israel, they would be fine in Iran. His words on this, as I recall them, were ‘it would be a tragedy for us if they left.’ He viewed Bahais differently because of their worship of a prophet after Mohammad, leading him to adopt the view that Bahais were members of ‘a sect’ and did not belong to ‘a true religion,’ and thus its adherents would not be welcome in the new Iran. Afterwards, I learned that Ayatollah Khomeini intervened to oppose and prevent genocidal moves being advocated in relation to the Bahai minority living in Iran, but I have no confirmation of this. 

Q: What was the last US Ambassador to Iran William Sullivan’s mission? He is known to be an anti-riot man. Did he give any intellectual help to Iran military or SAVAK (the secret police, domestic security and intelligence service in Iran during the reign of the Pahlavi)?

A: Of course, Sullivan never would tell us about his covert activities. He had the reputation of being ‘a counterinsurgency diplomat’ as he had served in Laos as an ambassador during the Vietnam War. It was at a time that the embassy was being used to take part in a Laotian internal war that included directing US bombing strikes against rebel forces.

With this knowledge, I was invited to testify in the U.S. Senate to oppose his confirmation. Unfortunately, my testimony did not prevent him from being confirmed as ambassador to Iran, although several senators at the time indicated to me privately their agreement with my testimony, but were unwilling to reject President Carter’s choice so early in his presidency. When in Iran I urged the meeting, and Ramsey Clark was skeptical at first, saying that he had had an unpleasant encounter with Sullivan some years earlier. I convinced Ramsey that the credibility of our trip would be compromised if we made no effort to get the viewpoint of the American Embassy. We did make an appointment, Sullivan’s first words as we entered were “I know Professor Falk thinks I am a war criminal..” Yet he welcomed us, and talked openly and at length about the situation and his efforts to get Washington to accept what had happened in Iran. In retrospect, I think he hoped we would be a vehicle for making his views more publicly known.

He made the point that there were no social forces ready to fight to keep the Shah in power. The business community, or national private sector, was alienated by the Shah’s reliance on international capital to fulfill his development plans. The armed forces were also not favorable enough to the throne to fight on its behalf, complaining that the Shah’s abiding fear of a coup mounted against him, created distrust of his own military commanders, and led him to frequently shuffle the leadership in the armed forces. This resulted in a low level of loyalty, and helps explain why the military watched the political transformation take place without showing any pronounced willingness to intervene, despite being nudged in an interventionary, especially in the context of a visit by an American NATO general at the height of the revolutionary ferment. The general was widely reported to be exploring whether it was plausible to encourage the Iranian military to defend the established order. 

We also asked about what would happen to the surviving leaders from the Shah’s government who had been accused of crimes against the Iranian people. Ayatollah Khomeini responded by saying that he expected that what he called ‘Nuremberg Trials’ would be held to hold accountable leading figures from the fallen government, and some from bureaucratic backgrounds, including SAVAK officials. We wondered why this plan was not later followed, and why those from the Shah’s regime accused were often executed after summary, secret trials. We knew some of those who had led the revolution had received support from the CIA during their period as students overseas or even when serving as mosque officials, which would be damaging and confusing to make public at a time of such uncertainty. It is important to remember that until the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Western intelligence assumed that the anti-Marxist approach of those of devout Islamic faith would make all religiously oriented personalities strong allies of Western anti-Communism, a view that persisted to some extent until after the Afghanistan resistance to Soviet intervention which was headed by Islamic forces, and was only decisively shattered by the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in the United States. 

Q: Why did the liberal–Islamist groups fail to secure the support of Ayatollah Khomeini at the end of the day?

A: It is difficult for an outsider like myself to comment on the internal politics in that revolutionary period. The situation in Iran was still fluid, and worries about a counterrevolutionary coup to bring the Shah back to his throne a second time were widespread. Added to this, the change in Iran came so quickly. Several secular personalities of liberal persuasion told us that ‘the revolution happened too quickly. We were not ready.’ 

Ayatollah Khomeini while still in Paris, seemed originally to believe that liberal Islamically oriented bureaucrats would be needed to run the government on a day to day basis. He may have envisioned a governing process relying on technical experts, especially to achieve good economic policies and results that he thought necessary to keep the support of the Iranian masses. Such expectations seem to be not entirely consistent with the vison of Islamic Government set forth in his published lectures, available to us in English, that were written while he was living as an exile in Iraq. His insistent theme in the lecture was that a government consistent with Islamic values could not be reliably established on democratic principles without being subject to unelected religious guidance as the source of highest authority.

We also were aware of several other explanations for this about face on the governing process. Some in Iran believed that Ayatollah Khomeini only discovered his political popularity after he returned to the country, and this made him believe he had a mandate to impose a system of government that reflected his ideas. Others offered the opinion that he became convinced by his entourage of advisors that the revolutionary spirit and agenda was being lost by the liberals, and hence were urging him to take direct and visible charge of the government. And finally, there arose the view that the liberals were given a chance, and their performance disappointed Ayatollah Khomeini, leading him to reenter politics and move to Tehran to lead the country. As far as I know, this story of transition from the Pahlavi Era to the Islamic Republic remains veiled in mystery.  Hopefully, before long the mystery will disappear with the appearance of more authoritative accounts of what transpired after the Ayatollah Khomeini returned to the country.

What we do know is that what was established in this transition period has survived for more than 40 years despite being faced with threats, provocations, harsh sanctions, and even a variety of covert interventions. Arguably, Iran has been as stable as any country in the region, and more stable than most. This is impressive, although it does not overcome some criticisms directed at violations of basic human rights of people in Iran.

Reza Pahlavi sells himself at a 98% discount to MBS’ propaganda channel

July 15, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog (cross-posted with PressTV by permission)

Reza Pahlavi sells himself at a 98% discount to MBS’ propaganda channel

(Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of “I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China”.)

Reza Pahlavi, the son of deposed Iranian king Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, is reportedly set to star in a TV program for UK-based media Iran International.

The Farsi-language channel is reportedly funded by Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad bin Salman, and exists to produce propaganda against modern Iran. It also exists as a mouthpiece for terrorists: Iran International gained infamy in Iran – but no condemnation nor penalty from UK media authorities – for broadcasting a gloating interview with the perpetrators of the 2018 Ahvaz terror attack, which killed 25 people and wounded 70 others.

Mohammad bin Salman reportedly conceived the idea that the camera just loves Reza Pahlavi – MBS likely believes the camera loves all monarchs, even “never were” monarchs like Pahlavi.

MBS and Iran International may have a tough time attracting an audience, mainly because the Iranian people are not at all interested in the obvious goal of the program: whitewashing the crimes and multiple treasons of the Pahlavi household. Pahlavi will find it very hard to reverse the widespread opinion in Iran that the Pahlavi family is a hollow puppet of foreign powers which have only ill-will towards the average Iranian person.

Pahlavi, showcasing the negotiation skills he proposes to return to Iran’s top office, agreed to do the show at just 2% of his original salary demand. Perhaps Pahlavi cut his rates because he finally realised that he was not only not an actual king, but simply the son of a king, and a long-deposed king at that.

Unfortunately for those who value truth in journalism, this royal-sized discount leaves more money in the budget of Iran International – anti-Iran terrorists surely appreciate Pahlavi’s agreement to take a pay cut.

However, the same report said that he put aside his royal pride after getting pressured by the intelligence services of an unnamed European country. That European country is, of course, Poland. I realise that I am unusual in this assertion – every other Iranian surely assumes that the unnamed country can only be the UK, because bribing Iranian (ex-) elite to work for the detriment of the Iranian democratic will is what they have done since the early 1800s.

The only other European country with the neo-imperialist inclination to get involved in this type of a situation is France. However, they have long-hosted the MKO terrorist group, proving that they back the other losing horse in this pathetic race to history’s glue factory.

The MKO took time out of planning their next assassination attempt and their friendly chats with John Bolton to let it be known to their supporters inside Saudi Arabia that giving Pahlavi a program would result in the MKO leaking damaging information in retaliation. The MKO does not want Pahlavi viewed as a possible leader of the opposition to Iran’s popularly-supported democracy.

Sometimes people have fallen so far behind in a race that they actually convince themselves they are winning, and this is the case here. Watching the MKO argue with Reza Pahlavi while the Saudis try to hold the two back reminds all of Iran of Moe trying to restrain Larry and Curly in the “Three Stooges” film shorts.

The reality-show car crash which is the Pahlavi family, the “more horrifying than any movie” MKO – Iranians view both with tabloid interest combined with the relief that our national nightmares with them are completely finished. No matter how much support the US, Israel, the UK, the Arab monarchs and the French give, and no matter how much whitewashing they can get from mainstream Western media like The New York Times and Politico, neither of these groups have any political support inside Iran.

Pahlavi’s program will treat us to him traveling around the world and meeting with “dissident movements”. It boggles the mind as to whom would welcome an association with the Son of the Deposed King of Kings? Any movement which supports the restoration of royalty is automatically a reactionary group. The liberal democracy supporters (either of the republican or constitutional monarchy variety) who would go on Pahlavi’s show are obviously pathetic, aristocratic opportunists. Certainly no supporters of socialist democracy nor Islamic democracy would appear at any price.

I assume then that Pahlavi will be confined to taking his viewers to the only two areas of the world where overpaid, under-democratic monarchs predominate – the autocratic monarchies in the Muslim world and the liberal democratic monarchies of Europe.

The incredibly amusing joke which is forever ready in the bush whenever one debates with one of the “restore the shah” rich Iranian exiles is this: In their mind and in their discourse they are picturing that Darius the Great will take over, but the reality is… it’s just Reza Pahlavi!

Pahlavi is not considered by Iranians to be an especially smart guy – his only “job” has been to make well-paid speeches against Iran. Nobody, apart from the Arab monarchies, believes that “living off your inheritance” is an actual job qualification you can put on your CV. Nobody, apart from the US, imagines that “TV show star” qualifies one to lead a country.

Who will watch Reza’s new show?

We can say this for certain – absolutely nobody under the age of 40: this is a show whose appeal is based entirely around the concept of nostalgia, and Iranian youth obviously have zero experience with the Pahlavi era. And because they have been schooled in modern political concepts, they also have as little tolerance for royalism as do youth in the republics of France, Algeria or the US.

Among the middle-aged, no Reformist or Principlist party supporter could possibly take the show seriously either. The elderly who could possibly tune in once aren’t shah restorationists either – they are simply old and curious to see how the figures of their younger days turned out.

And how has Reza Pahlavi turned out? He is not someone Iranians respect, and this is for very obvious reasons: Any non-Iranian could easily grasp why he is considered to be a shameless opportunist, and the fact that he would work with the Saudi monarchy is just the latest example of this character trait.

This perception was sealed in Iran long, long ago: we must remember that Reza Pahlavi works with the Americans, who ejected his very sick father out of a hospital and into Panama, and that is something which will earn him eternal disapproval in family-loving Iran. What kind of a son works with those whom effectively killed his own father?

I’m sure non-Iranians are a bit confused and wondering: “But didn’t Iranians dislike and democratically depose his father?”

Yes, they did.. but even if your father is as bad as Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, you still shouldn’t treat your father like that! Family comes first in Iran, and please trust me that I am not joking about this Iranian cultural trait.

So, it is true – Reza Pahlavi just can’t win with Iranians, no matter what he does. Not unless he can go back in time….

Western imperialists and Zionists obviously have their own selfish reasons to ignore the reality of his total political irrelevance, but it is unfortunate for his own redemption that Pahlavi himself does not appear to grasp this fact either.

The only way Reza Pahlavi could be half the patriot, leader and sincerely religious Shia he claims to be would be to follow the example someone like the last emperor of China, Pu Yi.

Revolutionary China reformed Pu Yi from a self-centred autocrat who considered himself divine into someone who tried to be a genuinely good person. He was not executed in 1949 – he served 10 years in jail, and then was given a regular job as a street sweeper and gardener. He regularly spoke out in support of the democratic choice of the Chinese people, and he sincerely seemed to realise that monarchy is antiquated, immoral and unwanted. What Pu Yi absolutely did not do was collaborate with the enemies of the Chinese people, and at a 98% discount.

But two percent of a phony job is better than 100% of socially-productive work to some people; some people work with the worst elements of society in vain attempts to steal glory, power and ease.

Such people are not wanted around, and especially not to lead. As long as Reza Pahlavi cannot reform himself, he will never allowed to reform even a post office in Iran’s most remote mountain village, and that is the implacable and universally-known will of the Iranian people.

The only thing you can say in favor of Reza Pahlavi is that he is probably more popular inside Iran than the MKO, who – in something which can obviously never be forgiven by the average Iranian – fought alongside Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War.

However, as a journalist I am compelled to point out that both of them combined truly do not have 2% support in Iran. When Politico’s reasonably-trained journalists address this issue of obvious journalistic interest, they can only pen obscuring lies like, “it’s impossible to gauge how widespread support for the royals truly is inside Iran”. Nonsense: 2% is a totally-accurate estimation and I doubt any Iranian would seriously dispute that figure – Politico just doesn’t want non-Iranians to know or believe the truth.

And what is 2%? If you examine the number of US write-in votes in their elections we truly find that the combined votes of Disney characters and American football head coaches equals this same figure. As a serious democratic option, Pahlavi and the MKO are as serious as Mickey Mouse to the average Iranian, and if a non-Iranian wants to take one thing from this column – that should be it.

The only type of people getting their popcorn ready to watch MBS’ and Iran International’s new “Reza Pahlavi Comedy Hour” are the rich Iranian exiles in the wealthy areas of Los Angeles and Washington DC. Or rather, they are telling their servants to get the popcorn ready.

The Pahlavi show is thus designed to allow this group to continue to live in their bubble, unburdened by the facts that they often fled their own country with ill-gotten gains, that they failed to support a popular democratic revolution which took decades of sacrifices to realise, that they are nostalgic for an era which is not anywhere as beloved as they would like it to be because the mass majority was oppressed, that they are not qualified to be the leaders of modern Iran, and that they viciously and treacherously support even more hot war, cold war, sanctions and death on their own compatriots, culture and likely members of their own extended families.

This ratings group I have just described may be incredibly wealthy and able to produce any type of nonsense they want on television, but they are very small. They are also old and will soon pass into history, along with the King of Kings, his son and all their monarchical allies who – those of us living in the modern world agree – are not divine in the slightest.

As it should be, royalty is cheap in 2019 – the Saudis got Pahlavi at a 98% discount.

Taking a Minute to Walk in Iran’s Shoes

Iran Feature photo

Feature photo | Mourners carry flag-draped caskets in a funeral procession for 150 soldiers whose remains were recently recovered. The soldiers were killed during the war with then-US-backed-Iraq in the 1980s, Tehran, Iran, June 27, 2019. Vahid Salemi | AP

If one can learn anything from the modern history of Iran, it’s that great powers will sell — and have sold — them out at a moment’s notice.

61mjZGKbAAL._UL1500_

Iran has seen its fair share of the damage imperialism has inflicted on the world — joint Russian and British control over Iran during the Qajar era, then the killing of one fifth of the Iranian population between 1917-19 (as documented in Barry Rubin’s The Middle East: A Guide to Politics, Economics, Society and Culture, p. 508) from famine brought on by the confiscating of foodstuff by occupying British forces that had violated Iran’s neutrality in World War I. This was followed in WWII by a coup that ousted Reza Shah, the then-king of Iran, also at a time when Iran had declared neutrality, in a British coup that put his son Mohammad Reza Shah on the throne of the kingdom. We need not mention the joint American-British coup, in which hundreds were killed, that toppled the popular Mosaddegh government because of its nationalization of the Iranian oil industry (which would have damaged American and British interests in Iranian oil).

The only time Iran saw an actual democratic movement succeed in giving power to the people that foreign powers were not able to abort was with the Islamic Revolution of 1979; and, even after that, the AmericansEuropeans, and even Arab countries of the Persian Gulf aided Saddam Hussein in a war he instigated against Iran — providing him with arms and chemical weapons, as well as intelligence.



A lesson in wariness

Taking these historical events (and many more instances) into account, it is no wonder that Iranians would be very wary of any moves made by the United States and other global powers, namely those with a colonial track record. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or Iran Nuclear Deal) could have very well marked a paradigm shift in relations with Iran, but instead, the Europeans did not abide by their commitments, and the Americans just up-and-left the agreement as soon as Trump got around to Iran. Not only that but, instead of abiding by their commitments, they’re trying to milk even more out of the deal — promising they’ll abide by their commitments if Iran offers more to an already done deal. What this means is they are being asked to add concessions in their ballistic missile program, much to the benefit of Arab Persian Gulf monarchies that are on a trend of increased militarization.

Trump's War On Iran. (Image: Carlos Latuff For MintPress News)

Credit | Carlos Latuff

Which brings us to the region’s latest round of tensions.

Given the already-stated facts, one has to understand, first and foremost, that Iran is dealing with a number of countries that have a history of falsifying facts, not standing by their agreements, and going into war in order to secure their own economic interests at the expense of other peoples. One must not forget the Indian famine in WWII, caused by food being exported from India to Britain, killing more than 20 million Indians, in reference to which Churchill said: “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits.”

Living in such a flammable neighborhood — where the United States and its allies recently occupied its neighbors to the east and west and built military bases — and with such historical baggage, it’s not far-fetched that Iran, being the region’s most stable country, would rather rely on deterrence and defensive capabilities to secure itself than give concessions that could damage its security to powers that can hardly be trusted to keep their own word, as their own history suggests.

 

A wise decision

Iran made a wise decision in its downing of the RQ-4 drone. Usually, the shooting down of military surveillance drones does not lead to military escalation, though it does lead to an increase in tension. By doing so, Tehran was successful in warning any aggressor — be it the United States or any other country, for that matter — that it is not willing to compromise on matters of security or national pride (though the U.S. claims the drone was flying above international waters — 8000 miles away from U.S. soil — the debris has since been recovered by Iranian authorities in Iranian waters).

Iran US Drone

An Iranian general looks at debris from a U.S. military drone shot down by Iran’s air defense system, June 21, 2019. Meghdad Madadi | Tasnim via AP

The wisdom of this decision is that Iran delivered the intended message without causing any escalation — which doubtless would have been the outcome if it had downed a manned military plane that was also in its sites in the vicinity of the drone. It was a message that Trump had clearly received, and for which he expressed appreciation to Iranian authorities (although why he would bother to thank Iran if it was attacking a plane flying over “international waters” as he said is truly baffling).

In addition to that — although it had the legal right to shoot down the drone for flying over its airspace, which extends to 12 nautical miles from its borders — Iran also has the right to demand identification from any aircraft flying close to its territory. For more perspective, U.S. Air Defense Identification Zones extend 200 miles from the U.S. border and, as testified to by a former U.S. Air Force navigator, any unidentified drone flying that close to the U.S. border would most likely be shot down. The shooting down of this unidentified drone, even supposing the U.S.’s version of events were true, is perfectly warranted on Iran’s part, and does not allow the U.S. any measure of retaliation in “self-defense,” because no lives were lost in its downing.

Moreover, Iran clearly showed other countries what it was able to achieve independently through its reliance on its own capabilities. It downed the world’s leading military power’s aircraft for infringing on its airspace, and did so without hesitation because it sees itself as truly “sovereign.” Although the U.S. may threaten Iran with its military might and its presence in the region, Iran’s ballistic missile program has allowed it to turn that very strength into a weakness by having American bases, and 25,000 American troops, within targeting range.

A war with Iran would devastate the region. A war with Iran, Hezbollah, the Popular Mobilization Forces, and Ansarullah is in the interest of no one, and God only knows what other surprises Iran might have in store for conspiring Arab monarchies. The smart move would be to repair the JCPOA in order to avoid further escalation in the region.

Karim Sharara is a Lebanese PhD student who’s lived in Tehran since 2013 studying political science at the University of Tehran with a focus on Iranian affairs. 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

America Tries to Solve Everything With Money! Will Fail at Bribing the Entire World!

Iran got Reagan elected in 1980 – will they get Trump fired in 2020?

June 26, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog (cross-posted by permission with Press TV)

Iran got Reagan elected in 1980 – will they get Trump fired in 2020?

Jimmy Carter’s foolish and feckless opposition to the Iranian Islamic Revolution was perhaps the single-most important reason he was not re-elected in 1980. Nearly 40 years later, Donald Trump is on the brink of allowing Iran to decide yet another US presidential election.

The Pahlavi dynasty was popularly overthrown in February 1979, just as monarchy was deposed in Russia’s “February Revolution” in 1917. Carter’s decision to harbor the royal criminal/US puppet Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was the main spark behind Iran’s incredible occupation of the US embassy in November 1979. That was the “real” Iranian Islamic Revolution, because ending monarchy is a rather common historical occurrence (but certainly not common enough in the Muslim and Western worlds). Iran’s historical pathway thus parallels the “real revolution” in 1917 Russia, which actually occurred later that year and is known as the “October Revolution”: the near-bloodless acceptance of the mantle of leadership by the Bolshevik Party. That also created a system which was wholly unique (revolutionary), and which went beyond the mere ending of monarchy.

Let’s remember why the occupation of the US embassy was so very “incredible” – a similar long-term, popularly-supported occupation seems unthinkable today… and yet Honduras – victimized by a coup orchestrated by Hillary Clinton in 2009 – set fire to the entrance of their US embassy in late May. That incident was hushed up by the Western Mainstream Media, of course, but it was impossible to cover-up the 444-day embassy occupation. It was such a face-losing event for Carter and his team of Iranophobes that the anti-imperialist event was the primary cause of Ronald Reagan’s election.

Reagan proved to be no friend to Iran – even though they helped him get a job – because Iranophobia, Islamophobia, and neo-imperialist doctrines reach across decades in Washington, far outstretching any one- or two-term president. Indeed, this constant policy of opposition to Muslim Democracy is why it is foolish to talk of “Trump pulling out of the JCPOA” – rather, it was “Washington” which broke the law unilaterally… again.

Trump’s belligerence, missteps and fascistic stances now have him looking a lot like Carter.

With their claim of having made an “aborted attack” against Iran last week, the US now has one less card to play – a “near attack” can only be followed a “real attack”, lest Washington look like the weak boy who falsely cried wolf. With their sanctions this week on Leader Ali Khamenei, they also now have one less person who will agree to sit at the card table.

The democratic structures of modern Iranian democracy are not complex but they are two things: unique (revolutionary) and totally under-reported in the West. Because there are checks and balances in Iranian democracy, the post (the branch, really) of the Supreme Leader must agree to major diplomatic talks proposed by legislative or executive branch politicians. Alienate the post of the Leader with laughable sanctions and he certainly laughs last at you: you will never negotiate anything serious with Iran.

But Washington has not alienated just one branch of Iran’s government recently: also sanctioning the Revolutionary Guards, upcoming sanctions on a foreign minister (Iran’s Mohammad Javad Zarif) who had done all he could to further peace and diplomacy for years, an “aborted attack”, illegal drone incursions getting shot down by Iran, $0 in oil sales – and that is just the past two months! Combined with the illegal reneging on the JCPOA, pushing European signatories to essentially renege as well and sanctions on other countries simply for buying an Iranian carpet (which the world desperately needs more of), and it’s clear that the US has alienated all of Iran.

That is not hyperbole from an Iranian commentator on Iranian state media: even The New York Times reported this same widespread sentiment in a (rare non-Iranophobic) article titled, “Iran Greets Latest U.S. Sanctions With Mockery”. They reported, in a surprisingly honest fashion: “An Iranian calling himself K. Jafari wrote in a widely circulated tweet: ‘The only people left to sanction are me, my dad and our neighbor’s kid. The foreign ministry should share Trump’s phone number so we can call him and give him our names.’”

Therefore, Iranian officials recently saying that the path of diplomacy is now permanently closed is not reflecting just one key politician in Iran, but the apparent democratic majority of Iran. Unlike the US or Europe, Iranian policies actually reflect the democratic majority.

Washington has made suspending diplomatic efforts with the US seemingly a democratic necessity for top Iranian politicians, and that could make Trump a one-term president.

The closure of diplomatic talks necessarily implies war – logically, if you reject the former you are only left with the latter. However, all-out war is impossible: Iran refuses it, and after 40 years of good governance, massive redistribution of oil wealth and vast defensive preparations, Iran is impossible to invade and also has scores of millions of willing defenders.

Two adversaries who will never meet toe-to-toe on the field of battle are necessarily limited to skirmishes around it – in places like the Strait of Hormuz. Such skirmishes – which will be regrettable, deadly and solely the fault of Western antagonism – could occur for the next (roughly) 444 days until the US 2020 elections, and will only drive up the price of oil.

That threatens the US economy, and – because the US “recovery” has been limited merely to the creation of new asset bubbles in the stock market, real estate, and other markets frequented by the wealthy – voters could choose to punish Trump by electing a Democrat in 2020.

Iranian politicians will once again play a huge role in an American election: the Principlist Party appears content to watch the JCPOA fail if it helps them retake Parliament in Iran’s May 2020 vote. However, due to Western duplicity, I don’t see what the Principlists could possibly do to get Europe and the US to start honoring their word? On the other side of the aisle, what choice will Reformists have but to also become more anti-US – indeed, Washington is the primary reason for Iran’s economic and diplomatic woes during their watch! Thus, Iranian politicians – after years of attempting détente with the US – appear poised to abandon it until at least May 2020.

So: more lost face for the US as Iran prevails yet again in very limited military skirmishes, more economic pain for the US caused by oil market instability which they provoked, and Iranian domestic politics which are united behind encouraging a change in US leadership.

It’s looking like a repeat of 1980, but with only one hostage – Trump.

Someone in Trump’s circle of fools needs to tell him: even if anti-Iran lobbies are devoted to pushing them no matter how badly they affect the average American, policies aimed at sparking Venezuela-like civil turmoil are doomed to immediate failure in Iran, and will certainly provoke consequences which US voters will remember at election time.

If Trump is foolishly intent on antagonizing Iran even further, I’d advise him to stop until at least 2021 – he can only lose big league (or “bigly”) to use a Trumpian phrase. Or rather, his policies towards Iran can only continue to lose.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of “I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China”.

The Saker interviews Aram Mirzaei on Iran

The Saker

June 13, 2019

The Saker interviews Aram Mirzaei on Iran

[This interview was made for the Unz Review]

Introduction by the Saker:

For a while now we have been lucky enough to have a wonderful Iranian member of the Saker community writing analyses for the Saker Blog: Aram Mirzaei has brought a wealth of expertise and priceless insights into Iran and everything Iran-related. Clearly, after the DPRK, Syria and Venezuela – Iran is now the target of Trump’s ignorant hubris and threats and it is therefore extremely important to debunk of AngloZionist propaganda about Iran and its role and actions in the Middle-East. This interview with Aram Mirzaei is just the first step of a major effort by the Saker community to report more often about Iran. Expect much more in the near future. In the meantime, I will let Aram introduce himself and then reply to my questions.

The Saker

——-

My name is Aram Mirzaei, I’m 30 years old and live somewhere in Europe. Originally, I hail from western Iran, a place that is deeply rooted in my heart. Ever since my teenage years, I’ve had a passion for history and politics, a trait I inherited from my mother who was an Iranian revolutionary. Naturally, this passion made me choose to study political science all the way up to my Master’s degree. Having supported my country against foreign threats my entire adult life, I became an activist for the Resistance Axis when the Syrian War broke out in 2011 and have combined my passion for writing and politics, to contribute to the propaganda fight that runs in parallel with the fighting on the ground. Thus, I have endulged myself in anything related to Iran, in an effort to have a complete understanding of the land that I was born in and where my forefathers once dwelled in. Aside from these interests, I also love philosophy, sociology, religion, football (soccer) and trading, with a specific focus on crypto currencies.

The Saker: Please explain what an “Islamic Republic” is and how it is different from any other republic? What makes the Iranian political system unique? How democratic (vs theocratic) is it? Do you consider Iran to be a democratic country (in the sense that the will of the people is the highest, sovereign, authority)?

Aram Mirzaei: These are very relevant questions as this issue is something most outsiders have a hard time understanding. Growing up in the West, I myself had a hard time understanding this system until I read Imam Khomeini’s manifesto: Islamic Governance – rule of the jurisprudence.  Here, Khomeini offers a very unique viewpoint and insight into his ideas of a modern Islamic form of government. Khomeini views the Western democratic system as a foreign way of governance, not suited for Muslim countries, while he also correctly identifies the deep flaws within the contemporary Islamic forms of governance, that they are outdated monarchies prone to corruption and decadence.

Simply put, Khomeini offers a compromise between Western Democracy and Islamic Sharia law. To understand this form of government, one must understand the background of Shia Islamic scholarship and the theological debate regarding Islamic government. As many already know, modern Twelver Shia faith rest on the pillar of the Occultation, the belief that the messianic figure, also known as Mahdi, who in Shia theology is the last (Twelfth) infallible male descendant (Imam) of the prophet Mohammad, was born but disappeared, and will one day return and fill the world with justice and peace. In this time of post-Occultation the theory of Velayat-e Faqih (Rule of the Jurisprudence), holds that Islam shall give a Faqih (Islamic jurist) custodianship over the people, in the absence of the Hidden Imam.

The doctrine of Velayat-e Faqih has been an issue that has divided the Shia Islamic scholars between the ideas of a so called Limited Guardianship and an Absolute Guardianship of the jurisprudence. Traditionally, Limited Guardianship has been the dominant interpretation where Mujtahids (Islamic scholars) have left secular power to the monarchs while the Ulema’s (clerical class) role has been limited to non-litigious affairs. This interpretation holds that the Ulema should only assume an advisory role to the monarch who is responsible for the task of protecting the country. For centuries, especially during the time of the Safavid Shahs, Iran was ruled this way, with the Ulema assuming an advisory role in the royal court of the Shahs. Only during the Pahlavi dynasty of the 20th century did this begin to change as Reza Shah Pahlavi, initiated radical secular changes to the Iranian society as a whole.

The idea of Absolute Guardianship hails from the belief that collective affairs fall under the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist. Before Khomeini, there had been a few scholars arguing for Absolute Guardianship, yet none of them gained the amount of influence as Khomeini did. He presented the concept as necessary to protect and preserve Islam during the Occultation of the Imam. According to Khomeini, a society should be governed by those who are the most knowledgeable about Islamic law, this is his main argument in what an Islamic Government actually is. In his manifesto, Khomeini argues that monarchy is un-Islamic. In a true Islamic state, those holding government posts should have knowledge of Sharia, as well as having intelligence and administrative ability. Thus the monarchy becomes redundant in such a governing system, paving the way for a Republic to take its place instead. Specifically Khomeini argued that the un-Islamic government “though it may be made up of elected representatives does not truly belong to the people” in the case of Muslim countries.

Where Shia Mujtahids have tended to remain outside the active political sphere, Khomeini argues that leading Mujtahids also have inherited the Prophet’s political authority by explicating several ahadiths of the Shia Imams. An example is his analysis of a saying attributed to the first Imam, Ali who in addressing a judge said:

The seat you are occupying is filled by someone who is a prophet, the legatee of a prophet, or else a sinful wretch.”

Khomeini reasons that the term judges must refer to trained fuqaha (jurists) as they are “by definition learned in matters pertaining to the function of judge” , and since trained jurists are neither sinful wretches nor prophets, by process of elimination “we deduce from the tradition quoted above that the fuqaha are the legatees.” He explains that legatees of the prophet have the same power to command Muslims as the Prophet Muhammad and (in Shia belief) the Imams. Thus, the saying, `The seat you are occupying is filled by someone who is a prophet, the legatee of a prophet, or else a sinful wretch,` demonstrates that Islamic jurists have the power to rule Muslims.

According to the constitution of Iran, an Islamic republic is defined as a state ruled by the Fuqaha. In accordance with Qur’an and on the basis of two principles of the trusteeship and the permanent Imamate (bloodline of the Prophet), it is counted as a function of the jurists. Also it is explained that only the jurists that are upright, pious and committed experts on Islam are entitled to rule . Also those who are informed of the demands of the times and known as God-fearing, brave and qualified for leadership. In addition they must hold the religious office of Marja (the highest rank in the Shia clerical establishment) and be permitted to deliver independent judgments on general principles (fatwas). The Marja has only the right to rule the Islamic Republic for as long as the Twelfth and final Imam remains in Occultation.

In this sense, the Islamic Republic of Iran is unique in comparison to other so called “Islamic Republics” such as Pakistan and Afghanistan as they are governed by secular constitutions and are only Islamic Republics by name rather than in practice.
In both theory and practice, the Velayat-e Faqih differs radically from any other form of government, both Western and Eastern models.

Whether or not this system can be considered “democratic” is really a subjective matter. I personally dont like the contemporary opinions on what constitutes a democracy as they are very much formed and dictated by Western ideas and standards. The generally accepted tools of measurement on democracy in the world follow liberal democratic criteria formulated by liberal thinkers and scholars. This narrows down countries into liberal democracies, so called true democracies and non-liberal democracies, also known as “flawed democracies” in their world view.

As I mentioned earlier, the Islamic Republic is a compromise between Western democracy and Islamic theocracy, which makes it hard to compare to the western notion on what constitutes a democracy, and since there aren’t any other Islamic Republics to compare it to, it makes it even more difficult to measure how democratic it is. But let’s begin by stating the obvious, the Islamic Republic is a republic, which means that the state belongs to the people and not a ruler. The Supreme Leader, or Rahbar Enghelab (Revolutionary Leader) is not a monarch and the title is not hereditary.

Lawmakers are directly elected by the people, as is the President as well. The Iranian elections are considered not “free and fair” by western standards due to the vetting process by the unelected Guardian council, but this is where the theocratic nature of the Islamic Republic becomes prevalent, as the vetting process is important for the elimination of anti-Islamic elements in the government. Another point of confusion is the role of the Supreme Leader, a role that many outsiders have misunderstood. The truth is that while the President rules the government and politics of the country, the Supreme Leader’s role is one of oversight. Think of the Supreme Leader as the U.S Supreme Court, where the Supreme Leader has a duty to uphold the Islamic Republic’s core values, much like the Supreme Court in the U.S upholds the constitution.

The Supreme Leader is chosen by the elected institution called the Assembly of Experts, which is tasked with overseeing the performance and activities of the Supreme Leader. The Assembly of Experts also has the power to impeach a Supreme Leader if needed, thus not even the Supreme Leader is untouchable. The Supreme Leader in turn then elects the members of the Guardian Council who are responsible for the vetting I mentioned above. So you can see that the Islamic Republic is a system filled with checks and balances between elected and unelected institutions.

The Saker: Wikipedia (hardly a trustworthy source) has this picture of the Iranian government structure: 

 

Is it correct?

Aram Mirzaei: I would say that this depiction of the Iranian government structure is not exactly inaccurate, but it also fails to offer a comprehensive picture of the checks and balance system that plays a huge part in Iranian politics. This depiction focuses a lot on who is elected and who is not, instead of focusing on the different branches of government and their roles. Let me explain: The Supreme Leader as mentioned above is a superintendent, who oversees the Executive and Judiciary branch, while he also acts as commander of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic. The Supreme Leader in turn is appointed by the directly elected Assembly of Experts which is made up of 88 Mujtahids, and as I mentioned before, the Assembly of Experts has the power to remove him if necessary.

The Parliament and the President are directly elected by the people. While the President chooses his cabinet, the Parliament is responsible with electing 6 out of 12 members of the powerful Guardian Council, these 6 members are nominated by the Head of the Judiciary, who in turn is appointed by the Supreme Leader. These 6 members are non-clerical jurists while the other 6 members appointed by the Supreme Leader are faqihs.

The Guardian Council, acts as an upper consultative assembly. It is charged with interpreting the Constitution of the Islamic Republic, supervising elections of, and approving of candidates to, the Assembly of Experts, the President and the Parliament. Any laws made by the parliament must be approved by the Guardian Council.

The Expediency council is an advisory assembly set up in 1988 to act as an intermediary between the Parliament and Guardian Council whenever conflicts occur. It is directly appointed by the Supreme Leader.

The Saker: The western media always loves to think in terms of “hardliners” and “liberals” in each country they don’t control. To what degree are these categories applicable to Iran?

Aram Mirzaei: The terms as you say, is a way for the Western media to simplify the different categories of political movements in Iran. I would rather say that a better way of dividing the political spectrum in Iran is to say that there are Reformists and Conservatives. While the term “conservative” is difficult to apply on Iranian society, the existence of a conservative movement, or as they prefer to be called, Principalists, is a reality. The Iranian political spectrum can somewhat loosely be defined as a division between the Islamic left (Reformists) and the Islamic right (Principalists).

The Iranian Principalist bloc of today emerged as a response to the rising power of the reformist movement, headed by known figures such as former Iranian President and cleric Mohammad Khatami and to some extent former President Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the richest people in the country.   Iranian principalism however dates further back in history. It roots back to the early 20th century with the constitutional revolution, which demonstrated the power of the clerical class as the Qajar dynasty was disposed by Reza Khan (later Reza Shah Pahlavi), a man who clashed many times with the clergy.  The Shah had initiated a set of reforms aimed at modernizing the country. Along with this modernization effort the Women’s Awakening movement gained strength. This movement sought the elimination of the traditional Iranian chador from Iranian society. This movement was backed by the Shah who sought inspiration from western clothing for his society. The religious establishment were fiercely opposed to this and organized protests against obligatory Western dressing in Mashhad, resulting in the Shah ordering his soldiers to shoot at the crowds protesting.

The policies of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the son and successor of Reza Shah Pahlavi, further sowed division between the clergy and the royal court. The young Shah’s role in the 1953 coup against the democratically elected Prime Minister Dr Mohammad Mossadeq, the failed “white revolution” which only served to further accelerate his unpopularity. Once more the clergy assumed the position of anti-imperialists in the Iranian political spectrum, arguing that the Shah was a dictator put in place by a non-Muslim Western power, the United States. As witnessed several times before, the clergy and the powerful merchant class, the Bazariis played a crucial role in forming the Iranian political landscape, this was also the case in 1979 when the clergy and the merchants came together to overthrow the monarchy.

The Islamic revolution in Iran brought about a total change to the political landscape of Iran as Iranian politics was now contained within an Islamic framework, free from foreign meddling, imperialism and dependency.  This is the platform which the modern Principalist movement still use in their political campaigns.

Principalism focuses on broad conservative principles: loyalty to Islam and the Revolution, obedience to the Supreme Leader, and devotion to the principle of Velayat-e Faqih.

This set of principles implicitly endorses the status quo and the current power structure. It is also a response to the reformist parties’ emphasis on change: free elections, freedom of the press and assembly and individual rights, and, implicitly, curbs on the almost unlimited power of the Supreme Leader, and limits on the authority of the Guardian Council to disqualify candidates for elective office.

The Principalists include dozens of small cliques and political organizations each centred around a limited number of politicians, activists, clerics, and members of parliament and state institutions.

The conservatism of these groups varies too. They fall generally into four categories:

  • Traditional conservatives may stand firm on social issues, such as Islamic dress for women and bans on gender mixing. But they are more open to possible reconciliation with centrist reformers, albeit with many caveats.
  • Another group of new conservatives cares less about social issues, but they are closely aligned with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) military-security nexus whose influence has grown markedly in recent years.
  • A third conservative wing is closely allied to the bazaar merchants, importers, and shopkeepers.
  • A fourth branch, championed by former Ahmadinejad supporters, is populist in temperament and intent.

In their drive for unity, almost all the conservative politicians now label themselves “Osul-garayan”, or “Principalists.”

The reformist era of Iran is generally accepted to have occurred between the years 1997-2005, during President Khatami’s two terms in office.

Khatami and his allies were the remnants of the Islamic left faction, hardliners who from 1979 to 1989 were the driving force behind many of the Islamic Republic’s signature policies. Domestically this included violently eliminating the political opposition to the Islamic Republic, enforcing strict Islamic morality through revolutionary committees and nationalizing Iran’s economy. They were behind the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran and were instrumental to the founding of Hezbollah in Lebanon. In the first decade of the newly found Islamic Republic they had been strongly backed by the Vali-e Faqih or Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and governed through the Executive under then Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi (1981-1989).

Between 1988 to 1991, with the end Iran-Iraq War, the fall of the Soviet Union and the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, political stabilization of the state through social change, the Islamic left’s fortunes rapidly declined. Firstly the end of the war put an end to the state of emergency under which the Islamic left exercised their influence. Secondly, the collapse of the Soviet Union delegitimized the statist economy which had been used to govern the Iranian economy in the first decade of the Islamic Republic. Thirdly, the passing of Ayatollah Khomeini, the staunch backer of the Islamic left was a huge blow to their political power.

Their rivals, the Islamic right faction, capitalized on this by selecting their own Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the new Supreme Leader and Rafsanjani as president, eliminating the Premiership from the constitution, veto-ing Islamic left election candidates through the Guardian Council, purging them from unelected state institutions, and more. Having been eliminated from the system, the Islamic left entered a period of retreat in which it reassessed its place in the Islamic Republic. They emerged from this process “reformed”, the namesake of their faction.

After having lost their standing in the Islamic Republic’s powerful non-elected institutions, the newly formed Reformists under Mohammad Khatami regained political power by appealing to Iran’s restless segments of society yearning for change, and channel popular frustration through elected institutions.

In an interview with the Rah-e No newspaper in 1998, Reformist theoretician Saeed Hajjarian characterized this strategy for achieving their goals as “pressure from below, negotiations from above.” The barren political landscape in Iran during the 1997 presidential election, including the lackluster Islamic right candidate Nateq Nouri, and the tacit support of Rafsanjani who by this time had distanced himself from Khamenei and the Islamic right, resulted in a landslide victory for Khatami.

The initial shock of Khatami’s electoral victory did not faze the Islamic right who rallied under the banner of “preserving the principles of the revolution”, thus rebranding themselves as the Principalists.

The reformists won the Majlis elections of 2000, and Khatami was re-elected in 2001, the Principalists however were able to effectively block them through institutional obstructionism. In the 2004 Majlis elections, many prominent Reformist politicians were deemed unfit to stand for office by the powerful Guardian Council, an appointed and constitutionally-mandated 12-member council that wields considerable power and influence in the Islamic Republic. This strategy crippled the pillars of Reformist theoretician Hajjarians strategy of “negotiating from above”, by excluding them from political institutions.

While the first incarnation of Hajjarian’s “pressure from below, negotiations from above” had failed, it was reinvented by the 2009 election campaign and its aftermath. By conducting an electrifying electoral campaign and using social media, Reformists would use the deep discontent that had built up during Ahmadinejad’s four years in office among certain segments of the population, and bring “pressure from below” by mobilizing this group onto the streets.

This gave Reformists a new weapon to wield against Principalists in case of perceived electoral irregularities, using popular pressure to overturn the election results, elect Mousavi as president and thus restore their ability to “negotiate from above”.

On June 12th, they used this weapon when the election results were announced in favor of the incumbent Ahmadinejad. While there were no actual evidence that proves electoral fraud, the widespread perception among certain segments of the Iranian population took to the streets en masse. This was made possible through the heavy use of social media by the Reformists. The Green movement, once more gave birth to Hajjarians “pressure from below, negotiations from above”.

It did however not take long until the “pressure from below” resulted in severe consequences for the Reformists as their movement most resembles the color revolutions of former Soviet bloc countries such as Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. In color revolutions one faction within a regime creates “pressure from below” by mobilizing popular energy and channelling it into “negotiating from above” and improves its own position in the regime, usually in the context of allegations of electoral fraud. While this strategy was successful up to a point in the semi-authoritarian former Soviet bloc, in Iran the Principalist faction and IRGC rapidly mobilized to crush the uprising. Through the act of applying popular pressure on the IRI, the Reformists had crossed a ‘red-line’ and from this point were effectively purged from the system, once again destroying their ability to “negotiate from above”.

The Saker: It is often said that the IRGC and the Basij are the Iranian “hardliners”.  Is that true?  What is their real political influence?

Aram Mirzaei: Well, it is true that the IRGC and the Basij are connected to the so called “hardliners” or rather the conservative bloc. This is because The Pasdaran was from its inception an ideologically driven force that recruited heavily from the faithful supporters of the revolution’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In Iran, it is known even today that the most devout and faithful supporters of the Islamic Republic are those that join the IRGC and the Basij volunteer forces. Furthermore, most of the conservative bloc’s candidates for parliament and the presidency are former IRGC members and veterans of the Iran-Iraq war. As the veteran commander of the IRGC once said: “Unlike the army […] the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps is in charge of safeguarding the revolution and its gains […]. we in the Revolutionary Guards give primary importance to the ideological and political dimensions more than the military ones.

For a deeper insight into the IRGC, I would recommend you read my extensive article on the IRGC and the Basij here.

The Saker: In the West, the IRGC and, especially, the Quds force are considered as evil “terrorists”.  How are they seen in Iran?

Aram Mirzaei: It really depends on who you’re asking. There are those that would answer that the IRGC are the saviours of the Islamic Republic, especially considering their role in defending the country against Saddam Hussein’s invasion in 1980. On the other hand, there are also those who despise the IRGC and the Basij due to their staunch loyalty to the Islamic Republic and their efforts to eradicate deviant elements of the daily political life. After all, the Islamic Republic made great efforts during the 1980’s to eliminate all opposing movements aiming at establishing alternative systems in Iran, such as communists, liberals and separatists. Needless to say, the IRGC and the Basij are very unpopular among most Iranian ex-pats and Sunni minorities such as Kurds and Baluchis, as both of these ethnic groups have relatively large separatist sentiments among their populations.

The Saker: what are the various political forces/currents/movements in Iran today?  Can you please list them, the main people who represent these forces, and what they political views/goals are?

Aram Mirzaei: As mentioned above, the current divide in the Iranian political spectrum is between the Reformists and the Principalists. There are however a lot of fringe movements both inside and outside the country, with different goals and views. These range from islamists, to separatists, to monarchists and “liberals”.

I’ve written before about the different separatist groups in Iran and their foreign backers. Mostly these can be found among the Sunni minorities of Western and Eastern Iran, but also among the Arab minority in Khuzestan who are fuelled and backed by the Gulf states in their anti-Iranian campaigns.

Furthermore, there are terrorist groups such as the so called “People’s Mujahideen” (MEK), lead by Maryam Rajavi, the wife of the late Massoud Rajavi. The MEK is said to be driven by some mix of Islamic and Socialist ideology, something that they themselves deny. The U.S government claims that their ideology is a mix of Marxism, Islamism and feminism, but no one can really know for sure. What however can be said for certain is that the MEK’s main aim is to overthrow the Islamic Republic, despite having helped overthrowing the U.S backed Pahlavi regime and ever since the early days of the revolution. They have ever since changed many of their stances in pursuit of ideological opportunism, such examples include the shift in their anti-Zionist position to becoming “allies of Israel”.

Since the Revolution, the MEK has also engaged in a lot of terrorist attacks, having killed an estimated 16 000 Iranians over the years. Key figures of the Islamic Republic have also been targeted such as Army Commander Ali Sayad Shirazi, Asadollah Lajevardi, director of Iran’s prison system, former President Mohammad-Ali Rajaei, former Prime Minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar and former Chief of Justice Mohammad Beheshti. In 1981, they failed to assassinate Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei but left him permanently disfigured, losing use of his right arm. Recent assassinations include targeting Iranian Nuclear scientists at the behest of Zionist orders.

Ever since their failed invasion of Iran in 1988, the MEK has remained in exile in Iraq and nowadays in Albania where they continue to operate against the Islamic Republic.

Other fringe groups are also the Communists, which used to be the second largest movement during the revolution after the Islamists. The Communists had a lot of members and mobilized themselves during the early days of the revolution, offering an alternative to the Islamic Republic. I don’t think I need to explain what the Communists were seeking to establish, but they failed mainly due to their own shortcomings rather than the animosity they faced from the Islamists. Yes, it is true that the Islamic Republic went to lengths to eradicate these Communist movements, but their greatest enemy was their own division where the largest parties split into several splinter factions due to internal disagreement between Maoists and Stalinists. The Communists were mostly destroyed after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, along with most other Communist movements across the world and remain today a very small group of ex-pats who pose little to no threat to the Islamic Republic.

Lastly, there are the Monarchists. They mostly went into exile during the revolution, opting to pack up their wealth and moving to the U.S along with the Royal family. They continue to support the so called “heir” to the throne, Reza Cyrus Pahlavi, the son of the late Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to re-establish the monarchy, albeit with some minor “changes” to it. In their own words, they aim to establish a constitutional monarchy where the Shah is supposed to remain only a figurehead much like the European monarchies. Ironically, this is the same promise his father made to Iran before reneging on his promises and ruling the country with an iron fist. The Monarchists often align themselves with the MEK in their attempts to discredit the Islamic Republic, and often jump at any chance to do so. Just take a quick look at Twitter if you don’t believe me!

The Saker: Islam can come in very conservative and in very progressive “modes”.  It seems to me that thinkers like Ali Shariati or even Sayyid Qutb would represent a more progressive version of Islam, especially in social, economic and political terms.  Is this correct?  Who are the main thinkers, besides Ayatollah Khomeini, who influenced the Islamic Revolution and who are the most influential thinkers in Iran today?

Aram Mirzaei: I would argue that Shariati was a Socialist Muslim thinker who tried to blend Shiism with a revolutionary fervour. He referred to his ideas as Red Shiism in contrast to what he perceived as black Shiism, the same kind that was prevalent during the Safavid Shahs and the Qajar dynasty. Black Shiism in this sense can be compared to the Limited Guardianship of the Jurisprudence as explained above. Shariati played a much larger role in the Islamic Revolution and the formation of the Islamic Republic than he is credited for. He suggested that the role of government was to guide society in the best possible manner rather than manage it in the best possible way. He believed that the most learned members of the Ulema should play a leadership role in guiding society because they best understand how to administer an Islamic value system based on the teachings of the Prophets of God and the 12 Shia Twelver Imams. He also argued that the role of the Ulema was to guide society in accordance with Islamic values to advance human beings towards reaching their highest potential—not to provide the hedonistic desires of individuals as in the West.

At the same time Shariati was very critical of the contemporary Ulema and defended the Marxists. “Our mosques, the revolutionary left and our preachers,” he declared, “work for the benefit of the deprived people and against the lavish and lush… Our clerics who teach jurisprudence and issue fatwas are right-wingers, capitalist, and conservative; simply our fiqh is at the service of capitalism.” Despite this criticism of the Ulema, even today, many in the Islamic Republic, such as Khamenei praise Shariati for his influences.

Another main influencer of the Islamic Revolution was the late Ayatollah Beheshti who served as Chief of Justice before his assassination in 1981. Beheshti was known to be the second in command of the Revolution, after Ayatollah Khomeini, and had it not been for his early death, he would most likely have been the one who succeeded him as Supreme Leader. Beheshti is also known to have been a mentor figure for several prominent politicians in the Islamic Republic, such as current President Hassan Rouhani, former President Mohammad Khatami, Ali Akbar Velayati, Mohammad Javad Larijani, Ali Fallahian, and Mostafa Pourmohammadi. Following the Revolution, he was part of the original Council of Revolution and played an important role in the formation of the Islamic Republic’s economy, promoting cooperative companies known as Ta’avoni. Instead of competition, in Ta’avoni companies there is no mediation between producer and consumer. He also asserted that in such as companies, rights belong to humans rather than stocks.

The Saker: Tehran is the political capital of Iran.  Qom is often considered the spiritual capital of Iran.  Is that so?  If so, how much influence/power does Qom have as compared to Tehran?

Aram Mirzaei: Yes, this is true, but one must also remember that the Mujtahids, both the ones in the Assembly of Experts and the ones in the Guardian Council, including the office of Supreme Leader are all educated in Qom. Thus Qom holds a significant influence over Tehran’s policies. One should not see these two cities as rivals as Qom mostly provides Tehran religious legitimacy. In this sense Qom holds a lot of power over Tehran as a centre of religious learning, offering guidance to Tehran’s policies. This was however not always the case as Qom stood as a major rival to Tehran during the pre-revolutionary times. Ayatollah Khomeini for example led his opposition to the Monarchy from Qom where his seminars played a major role in mobilizing the Ulema to unite under his banner.

The Saker: Which are the officially “protected” religions of Iran and what is their status today?  Would you say that these religions enjoy all the freedoms they need?  What is the state’s view of these non-Islamic religions?

Aram Mirzaei: Iran is home to many different religions and faiths, all of which have a long history in Iran. Iran is home to almost 300 000 Armenian Christians of the Armenian Apostolic Church and 20 000 Assyrian Christians, some 10 000 Jews and some 60 000 Zoroastrians.

The officially recognized religions in Iran, aside from Islam of course, include Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism. These religious minorities are protected by law and constitution, thus they are also entitled to hold parliamentary seats and have the right to exercise their faiths. Two seats are reserved for Christians in parliament, the largest minority faith, while Jews and Zoroastrians are allocated one seat each.

Christianity in Iran dates back to the early years of the faith, pre-dating Islam. During the era of the two great Persian Empires, Armenia used to be an important part of Iran, as such it has always been a minority religion relative to the majority state religions (Zoroastrianism before the Islamic conquest, Sunni Islam in the Middle Ages and Shia Islam in modern times), though it had a much larger representation in the past than it does today. Currently there are at least 600 churches in the country, mostly found in northwestern Iran and the Tehran region.

Jews have lived in Iran since the ancient times of the Persian Empires, and used to number about 50 000 citizens in Iran, many of which have today emigrated to Israel. Still some 10 000 Jews remain in Iran today and enjoy the same freedoms as Christians and Zoroastrians do. Ayatollah Khomeini even met with the Jewish community upon his return from exile in Paris, when heads of the community arranged to meet him in Qom. At one point he said:

“In the holy Quran, Moses, salutations upon him and all his kin, has been mentioned more than any other prophet. Prophet Moses was a mere shepherd when he stood up to the might of pharaoh and destroyed him. Moses, the Speaker-to-Allah, represented pharaoh’s slaves, the downtrodden, the mostazafeen (oppressed) of his time.”

At the end of the discussion Khomeini declared, “We recognize our Jews as separate from those godless, bloodsucking Zionists” and issued a fatwa decreeing that the Jews were to be protected.

Zoroastrianism is the native religion of Iran and was the state religion of the two Persian Empires long before Islam was introduced. Even today, Zoroastrianism plays an important part in modern Iranian culture, as can be seen with the continued celebrations of the Iranian new year Nowruz. Low birth rates have affected the Zoroastrian community in Iran as their numbers have been on the decline for some time now. In 2013, they did however make headlines when Sepanta Niknam was elected to the city council of Yazd (a major stronghold of the Zoroastrian community) and became the first Zoroastrian councillor in Iran.

The Saker: is there a big generational gap in Iran, especially in terms of politics?  How would you compare the views/goals/beliefs of young Iranians vs the older generation?

Aram Mirzaei: There is a debate today on whether or not there is a big generational gap in Iran. I would definitely argue that there is, as the difference between the older, revolutionary generation and the modern youth in Iran is pretty prevalent. Let us not forget that the Revolutionary generation grew up in much harsher conditions, in a very backward Iran that lacked infrastructure, education and many of the freedoms that the younger generation enjoy today. Furthermore, they never experienced the eight year long war with Iraq, thus they don’t remember the sacrifices that the Revolutionary generation had to make in order to save this country. Another point that should be made is the introduction of modern technologies in Iran. This has given the younger generation access to Western culture and influences, something that is much more of a threat to the Islamic Republic’s survival than any U.S threat of military action in my opinion. Ayatollah Khamenei often speaks about what he calls cultural warfare, or rather poisoning of the mind. I tend to agree with his analysis as many young people in Iran today have taken much of the decadent Western influences at heart and yearn for the Western lifestyle, something that I have witnessed myself whenever I’ve returned back to Iran. Comparing the Revolutionary generation, where politics played a major role in everyone’s lives, with the post-revolutionary generation who remains rather apolitical and care much less about the political lives of their parents, I can clearly see a pattern where passive Western values have gained a foothold in the minds of the younger generation. Whenever I’m in Iran, I often notice that the older generation often partake in political discussions whereas the younger generations prefer to occupy themselves with trivial matters.

The state does recognize this and for this reason it has done its utmost to counter this terrible influence, hence why social media outlets such as Youtube and Facebook are from time to time banned in Iran. This lack of interests in politics has also dumbed down the youth in Iran who often fail to see that the suffering economy and hardships in the country are mostly to be blamed on U.S sanctions and economic terrorism by the Zionist Empire. Rather many tend to believe in the MEK’s Twitter lies that all of Iran’s money is going to fighting “freedom loving rebels” in Syria and “terrorizing the peaceful nation of Israel”, hence why the rioters and protesters earlier this year directed a lot of their chants against Syria and Palestine in an effort to vent their frustration towards rising prices on commodity and fuel instead of actually seeing the correlation between Washington’s reintroduction of sanctions and the failing economy of the Islamic Republic.

 

Iranians Mark 30th Anniversary of Imam Khomeini’s Passing Away

By Staff, Agencies

Iranians and devotees in other countries are marking 30 years since the departure of Imam Rouhollah Khomeini, the admired founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Mourners from all walks of life are expected to converge on Imam Khomeini’s Mausoleum in southern Tehran on Tuesday to pay homage to the architect of the Islamic Revolution and renew allegiance to the ideals of the 1979 Revolution.

Also on the occasion, Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei is due to deliver a speech at the event at a time between 17:30 and 20:00 Beirut time.

Some 50 foreign correspondents and 300 Iranian reporters will be covering the event.

Grand Ayatollah Imam Rouhollah Mousavi Khomeini passed away on June 3, 1989 at the age of 87.

He contributed many years of his life to standing up to the US-backed Pahlavi dynasty, and eventually paved the way for its downfall in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

During the pre-Revolution era, Imam Khomeini spent more than 15 years in exile for his opposition to the last monarch, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, mostly for his association with Western imperialists.

He was not allowed to return to Iran during Pahlavi’s reign, and only came back home on February 1, 1979 after the monarch finally gave into angry popular demonstrations and fled the country. The tyrannical Pahlavi regime fully collapsed 10 days later on February 11.

The mourning ceremonies precede the anniversary of demonstrations of June 5, 1963, which is remembered in Iran as a prelude to the victory of the Islamic Revolution.

Prior to the Revolution, Imam Khomeni was arrested in 1963 after he made a historic speech in the holy city of Qom, where he lambasted the “capitulation law” granting immunity to Americans on Iranian soil.

Later that year, people took to the streets to protest the political leader’s arrest. Taken by surprise by the massive public demonstrations of support, the Pahlavi regime’s forces launched a bloody crackdown on people to quell the protests.

Related News

Foreign backed terrorism in Iran: Part two – US/Israeli backed insurgency and separatism in western Iran

April 18, 2019

By Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blog

Foreign backed terrorism in Iran: Part two – US/Israeli backed insurgency and separatism in western Iran

In the previous article, we examined the prevalence of US/Israeli backed terrorism in eastern Iran where Baluchi Salafists have received arms and funding from the CIA and Mossad. In this second part of the article series we will examine the US/Israeli support for terrorists and separatists in western Iran among the Kurdish ethnic group.

The Kurdish situation in western Iran

The Kurdish question in Iran is a long running one that stretches back to the WWII era. While Kurdish revolts occurred already during the 1920s these were not motivated out of nationalist sentiment but rather out of tribal opposition to the monarchy’s attempts to centralize the state of Iran. The Qajar dynasty and later the Pahlavi dynasty attempted to consolidate power around Tehran in a time when the Iranian nation was fragmented into areas of tribal and ethnic influence. Simko Shikak was one of the powerful Kurdish chieftains that with Ottoman backing led the first revolt in 1918, against the Qajar dynasty, as the Ottoman’s were fierce rivals of the severely weakened Iranian state, attempted to gain influence over western Iran. Another reason for the Ottoman involvement was motivated by the slaughter of the large Iranian Armenian population in the West Azerbaijan province of Iran. But it was not only the Ottomans that backed these separatist tribal ambitions as Tehran repeatedly called out British influence and support for the tribal rebellions. The British role was mainly motivated by their desire to remove the Qajar dynasty from power and install a new Shah that they could more easily control, thus also triumphing over the Russian Empire in the struggle for influence over Iran.

British intervention in Persia was at its height during the coup d’etat of 1921. Although the coup itself was executed by Persians, it received vital assistance from, and was probably actually initiated by, certain British military officers and officials in Iran, most importantly Major-General Sir Edmund Ironside, Commander of Norperforce, Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Smyth, who was unofficially and “almost secretly” attached to the Cossacks at Qazvin, and Walter A Smart, the Oriental Secretary.

After the coup, Reza Shah Pahlavi, the new Shah of Iran ultimately crushed the Kurdish tribal rebellion and the subsequent ones imitated during 1929 and 1941. It wasn’t until 1946 when the real danger of separatism became prevalent in Iran with the Iranian crisis of 1946 and the aftermath of the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran during WWII. One of the first crises of the Cold War was initiated in 1946 when Stalin refused to relinquish occupied Iranian territory as the Soviets felt that the successor to Reza Shah Pahlavi, his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a staunch anti-communist was a danger to Soviet interests, especially with regards to the Truman doctrine. By mid-December 1945, with the use of troops and secret police, they had set up two pro-Soviet “People’s Democratic Republics” in northwestern Iran, the Azerbaijan People’s Republic headed by Sayyid Jafar Pishevari and the Kurdish Republic of Mahabad under Pesheva Qazi Muhammad and Mustafa Barzani, father to current US puppet Mahmoud Barzani who was the previous president of the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq before last year’s scandalous attempt at independence for the KRG (Kurdish regional government). Though Mustafa Barzani fled Iran and went back to Iraq, so called Marxist oriented parties such as Komala and the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDP-I) continued their hostilities not just with the Pahlavi regime but also later on with Islamic Republic after 1979, although these parties moved on from advocating separatism to specific demands and requests. This is due to the relatively low interest in separatism among the Kurdish public in Iran, mainly because of the close cultural, linguistic and historical relations that the Kurdish people and the rest of the Iranian society share.

Kurdish Insurrection after the Islamic Revolution and Israeli activities in western Iran

Since 2004, an armed conflict has been ongoing in the western provinces of Iran between the Iranian government forces and the so called “Party for a free life in Kurdistan” (PJAK). The group is said to be a branch of the PKK terrorist group in Turkey. The group settled in the area controlled by the PKK on the slopes of Mount Qandil, less than 16 kilometres from the Iranian border. Once established at Qandil and operating under the PKK’s security umbrella, the group began conducting sporadic attacks on Iranian border guards and security forces until a ceasefire commenced in 2011.

With the outbreak of the Syrian and Iraqi wars against terrorism, and with Iran focusing heavily on supporting the Syrian and Iraqi governments, the conflict resurged and intensified in 2016, this time with several other Kurdish militant groups also joining in, as US and Israeli support for Kurdish groups across the Middle East escalated. In an obvious show of solidarity with the Zionist state’s growing worries about the JCPOA (Iran Nuclear Deal), the KDP-I stated that it was returning to militancy after two decades of cessation of hostilities: “Since Iran has signed the atomic [nuclear deal] agreement, Iran thinks whatever they do, the outside world does not care. That is why we were forced to choose this approach,” Hassan Sharafi, the deputy leader of the PDKI said. Conveniently for the Zionist state and Washington, PJAK and leftist group Komalah immediately expressed their support for renewed hostilities and began attacking Iranian security forces respectively in the midst of Iran’s struggle against Takfiri terrorists across the region.

The Zionist state has for long had close relations to Kurdish groups across the Middle East as part of their “Alliance of the periphery” doctrine which calls for Israel to develop close strategic alliances with non-Arab Muslim states in the Middle East to counteract the united opposition of Arab states. After the fall of the Iranian monarchy and with Turkey’s recent Islamic resurgence, the strategy is mainly applied towards the Kurdish people, with Israeli government officials providing extensive support to Kurdish political parties and their aspirations for greater self-government and even independence. The government of Iraqi Kurdistan has maintained open ties with Israel and is an influential lobby for the establishment of normal diplomatic relations between Israel and Iraq. Israel remains today the closest regional ally of the YPG forces in Syria as well as the KRG in Iraq.

Documents leaked in 2010 by Wikileaks prove that Israeli Mossad chief Meir Dagan wanted to use Kurds and ethnic minorities to topple the Iranian government. The Israeli spy service wanted to have a weak divided Iran, like in Iraq where the Kurds have their own government, the spy chief told an U.S. official. According to a memo from August 2007, Dagan described to Under-Secretary of State Nicholas Burns the five pillars of Israel’s Iran policy, among them the desire to spark a revolution. The memo noted, ‘instability in Iran is driven by inflation and tension among ethnic minorities. This, Dagan said, “presents unique opportunities, and Israelis and Americans might see a change in Iran in their lifetimes.”

Dagan noted that Iran could end up like Iraq. “As for Iraq, it may end up a weak, federal state comprised of three cantons or entities, one each belonging to the Kurds, Sunnis and Shias.” He added that Iran’s minorities are “raising their heads, and are tempted to resort to violence.”

“It’s Realpolitik. By aligning with the Kurds Israel gains eyes and ears in Iran,” observed a former Israeli intelligence officer. Interestingly, PJAK themselves claim they receive no support from Washington or Tel Aviv. In an interview with Slate magazine in June 2006, PJAK spokesman Ihsan Warya stated that he “nevertheless points out that PJAK really does wish it were an agent of the United States, and that [PJAK is] disappointed that Washington hasn’t made contact.” The Slate article continues stating that the PJAK wishes to be supported by and work with the United States in overthrowing the government of Iran in a similar way to the US eventually cooperated with Kurdish organisations in Iraq in overthrowing the government of Iraq. Surely by now it is no secret that Kurdish chieftains and officials love to be the staunch vassals of Washington and Tel Aviv.

The KRG has even been so generous to offer its territory as a base for Mossad terrorists to launch operations inside Iran. According to several sources, the Mossad operates in the KRG to launch covert operations inside Iran and acquire intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program. “Israeli drones are said to be operating against Iran from bases inside the KRG,” wrote Patrick Seale, a British expert on the Middle East.

The London-based Sunday Times reported that, according to “Western intelligence sources,” during early 2012 Israeli commandos and special forces members carried out missions in Iran that were launched from the KRG. The Zionist terrorists, dressed in Iranian military uniforms, entered Iran in modified Black Hawk helicopters and travelled to Parchin, the site of an Iranian military complex just 30 kilometres southeast of Tehran, and Fordow, an Iranian military base with an underground uranium enrichment facility. The report claims that these forces utilized advanced technology to monitor radioactivity levels and record explosive tests carried out at the military facilities. Whether this report is true or part of a psychological war, I guess we’ll never know.

In addition to all of this, Arab separatism is on the rise in the western Khuzestan province where a large Arab minority reside. The 2018 Ahvaz Military Parade terrorist attack where 29 people were killed was evidence of a recent surge in Arab separatist activities. The Islamic Republic suspects that both Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states offer political and financial support to Arab separatist groups and personalities operating in the West, who in turn funnel the cash to militant networks inside Iran. Suspicions that regional rivals had a hand in the terror attack was intensified by pathetic comments made by Abdul Khaliq Abdullah, a former advisor to the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, that the Ahvaz attack did not constitute an act of terrorism since it was aimed at a military target. The significance of this inflammatory remark lies in Saudi Crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s statement that Saudi Arabia would take the battle “inside” Iran. Since the Saudi monarchy themselves are Zionist agents, we should again look for Washington and Tel Aviv’s hand in this latest campaign targeting yet another minority group in Iran.

The Islamic Republic is under attack from all sides with Washington and Tel Aviv specifically targeting ethnic minorities living in the border areas in the eastern and western regions of Iran. As Washington and Tel Aviv have admitted in the past, a full scale invasion of Iran is highly unlikely due to the size of the country and the large popular support the Islamic Republic enjoys, instead the Zionist Empire has deemed insurgency and fomenting a civil war to be the best way to weaken their adversaries, just like they did in Syria and Iraq. I expect these campaigns to escalate as the Islamic Republic gains more influence across the region and the Zionist Empire growing more and more frustrated each day.

الثورة الإسلامية في إيران بعيون فلسطينية استراتيجية

فبراير 4, 2019

محمد صادق الحسيني

أربعون ربيعاً ولا تزال الثورة حية في صدور أهلها كما في محيطها الخارجي وكأنها ولدت بالأمس او اليوم، وممتدة في تأثيراتها وتداعياتها الزلزالية من أعماق أوراسيا حتى سواحل المتوسط وكلّ المياه الساخنة من هرمز الى باب المندب…!

فعلى الرغم من مرور أربعين عاماً على انتصار الثورة الاسلامية في إيران إلا انّ تداعياتها وتأثيراتها العميقة، في موازين القوى الاستراتيجية في العالم أجمع وليس في غرب آسيا وحدها، لا زالت متواصلة، بديناميكية عالية الوتيرة حاملة وسائل تجددها الذاتي بداخلها، الامر الذي يؤكد ان لا خوف لا على الثورة ولا على أهدافها، التي تمثلت منذ اللحظة الاولى بالاضافة الى إطاحة الاستبداد الداخلي في مقاومة الهيمنة الاستعمارية الأميركية على مقدرات الشعوب في العالم وتحقيق الحرية والسيادة والاستقلال الوطني الكامل لكافة شعوب الارض.

ومن الجدير بالذكر، في هذا السياق، انّ الثورة الاسلامية في إيران قد جاءت كحلقة من حلقات الصراع الدولي، بين القوى الاستعمارية وقوى التحرّر الوطني، سواء في ما يسمّى بالشرق الأوسط أو في غيرة من بقاع الأرض. وقد جاء انتصار هذه الثورة بعيد ضربة كبرى تلقتها حركة التحرّر الوطني العربية، تلك الضربة التي تمثلت في زيارة السادات الخيانية للقدس المحتلة سنة 1977، ثم توقيعه اتفاقية الخيانة في كامب ديفيد بتاريخ 17/9/1978.

حيث إنّ هذه الاتفاقية التي احدثت زلزالاً استراتيجياً، سياسياً وعسكرياً، في المنطقة والعالم، وذلك من خلال خروج مصر من مشهد المواجهة العسكرية العربية مع العدو الصهيوني، وبالتالي مع الولايات المتحدة، التي كانت تستميت في محاولاتها لاستعادة بعض الهيبة السياسية والعسكرية، التي فقدتها بعد هزيمتها المدوية في حرب فيتنام عام 1975.

فخروج مصر من المواجهة ادى الى خلل استراتيجي، في موازين القوى الشرق أوسطية ، كان لا بد من اصلاحه وبأقصى سرعة، لإعادة التوازن الاستراتيجي، بمعناه الشامل وليس من خلال مقارنة حسابية لأعداد الدبابات والطائرات، الى مسرح المواجهة، وذلك حفاظاً على ما تبقى من القوى المنخرطة في قتال العدو الصهيوني الإمبريالي، مثل سورية والثورة الفلسطينية وحلفائها اللبنانيين.

ولَم تتأخر القوى الثورية المعادية للإمبريالية في الردّ، على الخلل الذي أحدثته سياسات الخيانة الساداتية، حيث شرع الشعب الإيراني العظيم بوضع برنامجه الثوري الإسلامي قيد التنفيذ الفعلي، الأمر الذي أدى الى حصول زلزال طهران في بداية عام 1979 والذي ادى الى اقتلاع عرش شاه إيران، العميل للولايات المتحدة و إسرائيل والذي كان يمارس ليس فقط دور شرطي هذه القوى الاستعمارية في المنطقة وقمع الشعوب العربية، بل إنه كان قد حوَّل إيران قاعدة تجسس ضخمة ضد الاتحاد السوفياتي، صديق حركات التحرر العربية والعالمية. ذلك الزلزال الذي أفضى الى انتصار الثورة الاسلامية وعودة قائدها العظيم، سماحة آية الله العظمى الخميني، من منفاه في باريس الى طهران بتاريخ 11/2/1979.

وها هو الرئيس الاميركي الحالي، دونالد ترامب، يحاول اعادة عجلة التاريخ الى الوراء، من خلال تصريحاته لبرنامج واجِهة الأُمة التلفزيوني الاميركي Face the Nation الذي تمّ بثه أمس، والذي أكد فيه ترامب على ضرورة بقاء القوات الاميركية في العراق بهدف مراقبة إيران…!

حيث كان يشير الى الوجود الأميركي في قاعدتي عين الأسد واربيل العراقيتين. مما يعني ان الولايات المتحدة لا زالت تنفذ السياسات العدوانية السابقة نفسها والتي كانت تتبعها إبان الحكم الشاهنشاهي في إيران.

وقد شكل هذا الانتصار في إيران ضربة استراتيجية كبرى للمشاريع الاستعمارية في المنطقة، وفِي مقدمتها المشروع الاستيطاني الصهيوني في فلسطين المحتلة، حيث كانت دولة الاحتلال الإسرائيلي حليفاً استراتيجياً لصيقا لنظام شاه إيران، لكن الثورة الاسلامية اغلقت السفارة الصهيونية في طهران وحوّلتها سفارة لدولة فلسطين.

وهذا ما أكده الزعيم الفلسطيني، ياسر عرفات أبو عمار في أول لقاء له مع قائد الثورة الاسلامية في طهران يوم 17/2/1979، عندما قال: إن جبهة المقاومة أصبحت تمتد من صور الى خراسان… فماذا يعني هذا الكلام من ناحية المفاعيل الاستراتيجية؟ على صعيد موازين القوى في ميادين المواجهة.

أولاً: إن سقوط نظام شاه إيران قد خلق أفقاً استراتيجياً واسعاً للقوى المعادية للامبريالية في المنطقة العربية بشكل عام، ورغم اضطراب العلاقة بين دول وتنظيمات وأحزاب وفصائل تلك القوى آنذاك، كما يتضح من طبيعة التوتر الذي كان يسود العلاقة بين منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية وسورية مثلاً…!

وعلى الرغم من التناقضات الداخلية، بين أطراف حلف المقاومة آنذاك، إلا ان الدور الإيراني حافظ على حيويته وديناميكيته، من خلال تقوية علاقات الجمهورية الاسلامية الإيرانية مع كافة أطراف قوى الثورة والمقاومة اللبنانية والفلسطينية في لبنان، إضافة الى بدء علاقة تحالف إيرانية سورية متينة شملت مختلف مجالات التعاون. الأمر الذي شكل ارضية صلبة لتشكيل محور مقاومة متجانس ومتناغم.

ثانياً: كما ان انتصار الثورة الاسلامية في إيران قد أوجد، ومن الناحية الموضوعية المجردة والبعيدة عن العواطف والمواقف الشخصية، وبالنظر الى العقيدة الجهادية الثابتة التي اعتمدتها الجمهورية الاسلامية في إيران، قد خلق ليس فقط عمقاً استراتيجياً لقوى المقاومة الفلسطينية واللبنانية، وانما خلق قاعدة استراتيجية ثابتة وقوية ومبادرة وقادرة يمكن الاعتماد على دعمها لتامين الاستمرارية في المقاومة وتطوير عملها التحرري.

وهو الأمر الذي شهد على صحته التصاعد المستمر في إنجازات المقاومة، خاصة المقاومة الاسلامية في لبنان والمقاومة الفلسطينية في فلسطين المحتلة. هذا التصاعد الذي عبر عن نفسه بجلاء من خلال الانتصار الأسطوري الذي تحقق في لبنان، ضد الجيش الإسرائيلي، وذلك خلال الحرب التي شنها على لبنان عام 2006. وكذلك الامر عندما عجز الجيش الإسرائيلي من ضرب المقاومة الفلسطينية في غزة، عبر أربعة حروب شنت على قطاع غزة والذي كان آخرها عدوان شهر 11/2018 الذي انتهى بهزيمة مدوية للجيش الإسرائيلي…!

هذا الجيش الذي خبر مفاعيل المساعدات العسكرية، المباشرة وغير المباشرة المقدمة للمقاومة الفلسطينية من إيران، سواء عبر استخدام صواريخ الكورنيت المضادة للدروع أو باستخدام الصواريخ الدقيقة في قصف عسقلان وإصابة أهداف فيها بدقة متناهية.

ثالثاً: بناء وتطوير قاعدة علمية تكنولوجية صناعية عملاقة في إيران، وذلك من خلال تطوير القدرات الذاتية للشعب الإيراني وإطلاق العنان لإبداعه، عبر تنمية ورعاية الطاقات العلمية الإيرانية، وتعميق العلم والمعرفة في وجدان الشعب الإيراني، المحب للقراءة والمعرفة والعلم تاريخياً. وهو الأمر الذي تؤكده حقيقة ان مجموع ما ينشر في إيران من صحف محلية يومية قد وصل الى الف ومئة صحيفة يومية وأسبوعية وفصلية، الى جانب ثلاثة وسبعين ألف كتاب جديد تمّ نشرها سنة 2018 السعودية نشرت 2800 كتاب فقط ، وافتتاح أكبر حديقة للكتب في العالم، في شهر تموز 2017، بمساحة اجمالية تبلغ مئة وعشرة آلاف متر مربع، وهي بذلك تكون اكبر من مكتبة بارنز ونوبل في نيويورك.

رابعاً: وفِي إطار تطوير القاعدة العلمية في إيران فقد نجحت قيادة الجمهورية الاسلامية في إيران في تحويل البلاد مركزاً هاماً للعلم والمعرفة. اذ بلغ عدد الطلاب المسجلين في الجامعات الإيرانية خمسة ملايين ونصف المليون طالب سنة 2017، بالاضافة الى خمسين ألفاً آخرين يتلقون علومهم في الجامعات الاوروبية، واثني عشر ألفاً الى جانبهم في الجامعات الأميركية.

علماً أن عدد الطلاب في الجامعات الإيرانية قبل انتصار الثورة الاسلامية لم يتجاوز المئة الف طالب. وهو الأمر الذي جعل إيران قادرة على تأهيل الكوادر والطاقات العلمية المحلية الضرورية لتسيير وتطوير قاعدتها الصناعية الضرورية وتأمين النهضة المستدامة للاقتصاد الإيراني المقاوم. وما الدليل على ذلك الا تسجيل ستة وثلاثين ألف براءة اختراع جديد، لطاقات إيرانية شابة، خلال عام 2017 فقط، ما يجعل الجمهورية الاسلامية من الدول العشر الأولى في الاختراعات العلمية المختلفة.

سادساً: اذن فحملات العداء المتواصلة، والعقوبات المختلفة، ضد الجمهورية الاسلامية في إيران، من قبل القوى الاستعمارية والصهيونية، وعلى رأسهما الولايات المتحدة ودولة كيان الاحتلال الصهيوني، ليست مرتبطة لا بالأسلحة النووية المزعومة ولا ببرنامج الصواريخ الحربية الإيرانية أي ما تُسمى الصواريخ البالستية وهي بالمناسبة تسمية خاطئة، حيث إن كلمة بالستي، أو – Ballestic بالإنجليزية – هي كلمة يونانية الأصل وتعني: علم دراسة حركة او حركيات المقذوفات – وانما باتساع العلم والمعرفة لدى الشعب الإيراني، المقترنة بإرادة سياسية حديدية وقرار واضح وصريح، من قبل قيادة الثورة الاسلامية وقائدها، والذي ينصّ على ضرورة تطوير البلاد وتحصينها ورفع مكانتها بين الدول، عبر الاعتماد على الذات والإمكانيات المحلية والاقتصاد المقاوم غير الخاضع لقوى الهيمنة والاستعمار.

وهذا يعني بالطبع: العمل على إنجاز الاستقلال الوطني الكامل والانفكاك من نير التبعية للقوى الاستعمارية الأجنبية، وبالتالي وضع حد لنهب خيرات البلاد البترولية والمعدنية خامات معدنية ، من قبل شركات الدول الاستعمارية.

وبما أن المواجهة الشاملة، بين الولايات المتحدة والجمهورية الاسلامية، لا تقتصر على الميدان العسكري فقط، فقد اقامت الجمهورية الاسلامية الإيرانية منطقة منع دخول اقتصادي، او Anti Access، في وجه الدول الاستعمارية، مانعة إياها من مواصلة نهب خيرات الشعب الإيراني كما كان عليه الحال في عهد نظام شاه إيران السابق.

من هنا فإن القراءة الدقيقة، للأهداف الاميركية تجاه الجمهورية الاسلامية في إيران، لا تدع مجالاً للشك بان إسقاط النظام الإيراني بحد ذاته ليس هو الهدف الأميركي. بل ان الهدف يتمثل في إعادة التبعية حتى لو بقي من يحكم البلاد مرتدياً الجلباب والعمة. ولنا في الدول المجاورة لإيران والتابعة للولايات المتحدة اوضح مثال على ذلك.

سابعاً: وعلى الرغم من النجاحات الكبرى التي حققتها الثورة الاسلامية في إيران، وعلى مختلف الصعد، فان الاخطار المحدقة بهذه التجربة الناجحة لا زالت كبيرة جداً وتستدعي اتباع سياسة خارجية غاية في الحزم الى جانب سياسة داخلية ديناميكية تكون بوصلتها تعزيز كرامة المواطن الإيراني، من خلال تأمين احتياجاته اليومية ورفع قدرته على مواجهة متطلبات الحياة، المتزايدة الصعوبة بسبب مواصلة اجراءات الحصار الاميركي الخانق.

بمعنى ان العمل على قطع الطريق الداخلي على العدو الخارجي يجب ان تكون له الأولوية المطلقة وذلك لتعزيز القدرة على المواجهة وتأمين فرص النجاح والتطور للجمهورية الإسلامية وشعبها المقتدر. وهو الامر الذي لا يساورنا اي شك في انه سيتحقق قطعاً بفضل صمود شعبه العزيز وحكمة قيادته العالية الحنكة.

بعدنا طيبين، قولوا الله.

The U.S. Has Always Backed Dictators. Trump’s Support for MBS is no Different

In his steadfast support for MBS, Trump is following a long tradition of US support for Arab autocrats, which in turn is used as the reason for violent terrorist organisations to target the US

By Madawi Al-Rasheed

December 14, 2018 “Information Clearing House” –   Last week, US President Donald Trump announced that the close US-Saudi partnership will continue, even after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and a CIA report that pointed the finger at Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) as the one who ordered the killing.

A longstanding US tradition

The president’s statement cited a combination of geostrategic and economic reasons to justify continuing his close alliance with a regime that had practised utter brutality at home and abroad. Trump highlighted the lucrative financial dividends of this partnership to the US economy, based on MBS’s promise of $450bn investment, including $100bn-plus of arms purchases.

The president also asserted that Saudi Arabia was central to containing Iran’s expansion in the Middle East and achieving peace with Israel.

Despite its shockingly frank nature, the president’s statement does not represent a major departure from previous US foreign policy but rather maintains a longstanding principle of supporting Arab dictators for specific strategic and economic reasons. What is different from previous US presidents is Trump’s uncomfortably explicit calculus.

No previous US president has flagged hard cash as the rationale for maintaining close ties with and even support for the Saudi leadership.

But rhetoric aside, Trump is remaining faithful to a longstanding tradition of US foreign policy that privileges economic and strategic interests over moral and ethical issues, sometimes referred to as realpolitik.

In the past, the US has occasionally expressed concern over severe human rights violations by their proteges but few would seriously expect President Trump to be troubled by the crimes of the Saudi regime.

Even if he admits that no one should condone such a murder, he was apparently comfortable endorsing the far-from-credible Saudi explanation for what happened at the consulate. He even provided a possible exit strategy for the Saudis when he said that the murder could be the work of“rogue killers”, thus providing a potential out for MBS, the de facto head of state and the security apparatus in Saudi Arabia.

Empowering dictators

Trump’s latest statement, that business as usual with Saudi Arabia is to be maintained, even if MBS “may or may not” have ordered the murder of Khashoggi, is certainly shocking for some American audiences. But for Arabs in general and Saudis in particular, the statement was expected, to say the least.

It confirmed their strong belief that the US prefers to work with autocrats than encourage them to democratise or at least restrain themselves from suffocating their people with draconian measures ranging from detention to murder.

US support for Arab dictators has been asserted as the casus belli by the most violent terrorist organisations to target the US. Osama bin Laden’s justification for hitting the “far enemy”, namely the US that supports the Saudi regime only echoed previous slogans of Arab nationalists, socialists and pro-democracy forces that blamed the US for the excesses of their regimes.

In their logic, US support empowers dictators not only through the transfer of the technology of death, surveillance and torture, but also morally and globally.

Even Trump himself admitted that without US support, the Saudi regime will collapse in two weeks. Former US intelligence officer Bruce Riedel confirmed that without US and UK support, the Saudis will not be able to continue the war in Yemen.

The likes of Bin Laden strongly believed this narrative long before it was uttered by the US president. Consequently, his network diverted its struggle against the near enemy to the far one and precipitated a global terrorist crisis that keeps resurfacing under different names. The Islamic State group (IS) was the most recent incarnation of this phenomenon but may not be the last.

Many Americans understandably feel uncomfortable with the president’s blunt words as they cling to a myth that American foreign policy should reflect American values, especially when a high-profile murder by a close partner is concerned.

However, like so-called ‘American exceptionalism’, American values, in the form of respect of civil, political and human rights, have not been an obvious principle guiding American foreign policy in the Arab world.

Also, such values are being eroded and undermined in the US itself under the ultra-nationalist and populist rhetoric of the current president.

The wrath of the people

Previous US presidents may not have liked Arab dictators but nonetheless lent them support, often in the form of military sales and assistance. The list is long.

Many Arab autocrats had the full support of previous American administrations despite the fact that domestically they violated their own peoples’ rights, including Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Zine Abedine Ben Ali of Tunisia, King Hamad bin Al-Khalifa of Bahrain, and at one moment Muammar Qaddafi of Libya came close to being an ally just before he faced an uprising in 2011

Until his fall in 1979, the US granted the Shah of Iran its ultimate support by making him the “policeman of the Gulf” to ward off and contain the spread of communism and nationalism at the time. His dramatic fall at the hands of his own people was shocking for both the US and its Western allies.

The message to the US at the time could not have been clearer: no amount of US support can protect a dictator from the wrath of his own people when the right moment comes. In fact, the US could not even protect its own Tehran Embassy where over 50 diplomats were held hostage for 444 days, an incident that four decades later still shapes and haunts US thinking about Iran.

Yet unconditional US support had always been the privilege of Saudi monarchs. The love affair with Saudi kings is based on expediency and interest rather than passionate conviction. US support was neither shaken nor reconsidered, at least in public, even after 15 Saudi hijackers attacked the Twin Towers in New York on 9/11

The US administration at the time meandered and left it to the US media and civil society to pressure the Saudi regime to change its policy of spreading lethal religious interpretations that had inspired a whole generation of Muslims across the globe and justified terrorism.

It is a cruel irony for the victims of this attack that Trump now considers the Saudi regime an indispensable partner against terrorism.

The face of Saudi Arabia

Even if Americans are not entirely comfortable with their government’s foreign policy of complete neglect for human rights and even direct support for MBS, despite his latest murderous adventure abroad, this is as nothing compared with Saudis living under the reality of one-man rule.

As MBS became the sole face of Saudi Arabia, in control of economic, military, security and social dimensions of government, he has exhibited complete disrespect for the basic semblance of tolerance towards critics, dissidents and activists.

Saudi Arabia has hardly been a safe haven for dissent but the magnitude of MBS’s ambition to reach the top of the royal hierarchy has turned Saudi Arabia into a murderous nightmare for anyone associated with dissent.

Under his orders, potential rival princes were detained, and a nascent feminist movement was stifled and its remaining advocates imprisoned and tortured according to a recent Amnesty report. Intellectuals and religious clerics were also imprisoned.

Prisoners of Conscie@m3takl_en

SEVERE TORTURE in the prison has caused lately the death of:
Shiekh Suleiman al-Dweesh
Journalist Turki al-Jasser
We warn of a possible deterioration and a possible death of one of the female activists who were tortured and sexually harassed !

97 people are talking about this
Vague charges such as communicating with foreign agents, treason, and undermining the image of the state are mentioned as justification for detention. These charges are more reminiscent of Stalin’s terror than a benevolent monarchy that Saudi propaganda would have us believe it is.

Almost all detained Saudi intellectuals are charged with treason and of being agents of foreign governments. From Salman al-Odah to economist Essam al-Zamil and feminist Lujain al-Huthloul, the word treason looms large and may lead to the death penalty. In fact, the Saudi public prosecutor called for such punishment to be inflicted on those detainees. The infamous office of the public prosecutor is also in charge of the investigation of Khashoggi’s murder.

Seeds of terror

Being “an enemy of the state” – to use Trump’s reiteration of what Saudi officials had told him about Khashoggi – is now a common crime investigated by appointed judges who enjoy no independence whatsoever. Trump seems comfortable with such a statement. Perhaps “enemy of the state” reflects or mirrors his own thinking about anybody who criticises a president, a king or a crown prince.

Saudis know very well that US support for MBS will not waiver as they are fed on propaganda that money buys everything – from mighty fighter jets used against their poorest Yemeni neighbours, to the US president’s silence over one of the most horrific crimes committed against a journalist.

Trump will cling to MBS even if the latter becomes more burdensome. If there is a chance for so-called “American values” to become relevant to foreign policy, it is the US Congress that will have to push for a reconsideration of the age-old US support for dictators. This should spring not out of concern for the safety and security of the Saudi people, but for their own American national security.

Congress must know that under the dark and repressive cloak of MBS, the flamboyant and illusory economic plans, and the veneer of social liberalisation, the seeds of terror are sown. In the past this terror has spilled over and reached the US itself. For the present, there is little to assure the American public that it won’t happen again.

– Professor Madawi al-Rasheed is a visiting professor at the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics. She has written extensively about the Arabian Peninsula, Arab migration, globalisation, religious transnationalism and gender. On Twitter: @MadawiDr

This article was originally published by Middle East Eye” 

%d bloggers like this: