A Fictional Tale about the Cardboard Emam Khomeini, the New Leader of the Islamic Republic.
Majid, a young schoolboy was busy working on his class project about the 1979 revolution. His father who ran a print shop on Vali-Asr Square had promised to help him with the project and together they had come up with the idea for the art work. They were going to print two life-size posters of Khomeini, glue them on the cardboards and take them to school on the following week for the presentation to the class.
Majid was very excited as he proudly looked at the finished product; two big posters of Khomeini, one standing as he was stepping off a plane and the other one, Khomeini sitting on the floor. Majid’s mother never liked Khomeini and she didn’t like the cardboard posters starring at her for the next few days so she told him to put the posters in the yard. Then one breezy night a gust of wind blew and took the 2 cardboards into the air. The posters flew for a while and finally got stuck in the branches of a tall tree in front of Khamenei’s residence.
Khamenei was getting ready for his morning prayer when his personal guard ran inside the house. “Rahbar, you are not going to believe this. Two big pictures of Emam Khomeini are sitting on the big tree in front of the house. The crowds are gathering and are saying that it is a sign from god that Emam is back! What shall I do?”
Khamenei looked at the posters from his balcony for a while and then suddenly realized that his prayers have been answered!
He had been struggling with the bad news for months; insubordination by Moussavi, Karroubi and Ahmadi, the sanctions, the economy, the collapse of Rial, the skyrocketing of the price of gold, the threats of military confrontation in the Persian Gulf and the upcoming elections. It was all bad news. He needed some kind of a distraction and it looked like that god had just delivered a miracle to him; The Return of Emam’s Golden Era!
“Go outside and carefully rescue the cardboard posters and then let’s have a ceremony at the airport today with honor guards to celebrate Emam’s return. After that, drive the sitting poster to Refah School in that old GMC Blazer, and then place it at the room where Emam used to conduct business running the country. Later on today, I will come and visit him there.” Rahbar said with a smile on his face.
After the news and the pictures of the ceremony at the airport got out, there was a buzz around the country and the rumors were flying all over Iran about the return of Emam. The excitement did not go un-noticed at the White House. The next day at the morning’s intelligence briefing the first topic of the discussion was the change of leadership in the Islamic Republic. General Petraeus, Director of CIA provided the details.
“Yesterday our spy drones detected some major activities at Emam Khomeini Airport. A person resembling Khomeini was helped off a plane and was received by the honor guards. He then got on a GMC Blazer and headed to Refah School where he is now. We believe that there was some kind of a change in the government there, but we don’t know exactly who this guy is.”
Obama was not pleased. “This is our number one security threat in the world and we don’t even know if there is a new leader over there. This is completely unacceptable. Why don’t you contact some of these guys that are in constant contact with the Regime and see if they know something, like that guy at NIAC. He seems to be well connected.”
General Petraeus quickly placed a call to Trita trying to find out what was going on. Trita had been on the phone with the Regime’s UN ambassador all morning getting up to speed on Emam’s return. Trita saw that as positive news. After all, Khomeini made deals with Reagan and bought spare parts from Israel so he would be open to making deals and ultimately supporting the Grand Bargain.
“General Petraeus, I just got off the phone with IR’s ambassador to the UN and he informed me that Emam Khomeini is back in Iran again! I think it is great news. We should really take advantage of this change and start negotiating. Do you think that President Obama is ready for another Roll of the Dice?” Trita said with excitement.
“Khomeini is back? No kidding! Well, Trita, if you want to get on a plane and go over there and deliver a message, we are ready as always to negotiate.” Petraeus said with a chuckle.
“I’ll be on my way sir. The UN Ambassador can make the arrangements so that I can meet the Emam as soon as I get there.”
Meanwhile back in Iran, young Majid couldn’t believe his eyes as he recognized his posters being shown on TV. “Mom, mom, swear to god, I have found my posters. They are right there!” But his mom was busy cooking and didn’t pay any attention.
A day later Trita arrived in Tehran where he was greeted by Khamenei’s personal guard at the airport. “OK Trita, we’ve arranged for a meeting for you with Emam for around 15 minutes. Make sure that you take your shoes off and sit on the floor, don’t make any eye contact and don’t ask any questions. Just state your case while Emam is listening, then when I tap you on the shoulder, get up and walk backwards with your head down and leave the room. I will call you after Emam has made his decision. Ok?”
Trita got to Refah School and had his meeting with Cardboard Emam. He talked about how US and the Regime are natural allies and can work together. He said how dangerous things were at the moment and how enemies were trying to create a rift and how through persistence and negotiation all these obstacles could be overcome.
As Trita left Refah School he was so proud of himself. He thought about his school years in Sweden. “I am going to show those Swedish schoolboys who never let me play hockey with them who the successful one is now. They always stuck me in the goal and laughed at me when I gave up easy goals. And that girl Ingrid, the beautiful blond who didn’t want to go out with me because I had a funny name. But look at me now. I am going to get a deal between the Regime and the US and then maybe get nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, while Sven and Bjorn are still ice-fishing on the frozen lakes, and Ingrid is married to that Volvo mechanic!”
He was deep into his thoughts when he ran into a young boy and his father in the alley.
“Excuse you me sir. Have you seen a big picture of Emam Khomeini on a cardboard? I saw the news today and it said that it is around here somewhere. I really need that for my school project!”