Iranians are understandably unhappy. With a sinking economy, record unemployment, record drug addiction, international sanctions, international humiliation branding Iranians as terrorists or war mongers – its a tough time to be Iranian! Iranians at home and abroad are all walking arround like Zombies …wondering how much worse it can get. But the only way things can get better is if there is improved ‘global’ understanding between Iranians and the rest of the world. A good start in understanding Iranians, in my opinion, is to figure out what bothers them, what chips they carry on their back – what are their national “grudges” against the rest of the world.
So here is my take on this subject:
1) Iranian ‘constutional” democracy was stolen in 1925. The weakened Qajar regime was deposed by what is now termed Reza Shah (Pahlavi) under the guidance of the British Government – restricting Russian encroachment into Iran, but at the same time guaranteeing continuing british exploitation of Iranian oil. (As a matter of reference, Iran had the first constitutional democracy in Asia)
2) The British “theft” of Iranian oil. After discovering oil in Southern Iran, the company that eventually changed its name to British Petroleum, exploited Iranian oil under a royalty payment arrangement, BUT never properly paid Iran its royalties. In fact ONE year’s tax payments to the British Government in 1950 on its profits was MORE than it had paid Iran in royalties over the previous 40 years of operation. Iranians had been ripped off – with improper accounting and exploitation of Iranian oil.
3) The CIA backed coup of 1952 was a second major onslaught of Iranian democracy. After the second world war, and Reza Shah’s abdication to his very young son (Mohamad Reza Pahlavi), Iranian democracy flourished again, and by 1950 a new generation of nationalist parliamentarians that were properly elected to Iran’s parliament (Majlis) correctly nationalised Iranian oil due to improper British oil exploitation in Iran. Winston Churchil, Britain’s prime minister at the time, convinced President Eisenhower to conduct a joint coup (led by the CIA, but assisted by the Brits) to oust the democratically elected government and appoint the Mohamad Reza Shah as a dictator (not as a symbolic head of state that consitution mandated).
4) The theft of Iranian democracy for a third time with the hijacking of the Iranian revolution in 1979 by the CIA/British intelligence. After 25 years of dictatorship, and facing the expiration of the Oil concesions given to a consortium of American and British oil companies, the people of Iran revolted demanding their freedom again. After the ousting of the Shah’s regime, a new theocratic power was established in Iran with the support of foreign media and the creation of a religious militia that effectively took control of Iran away from the people of Iran and established a dictatorial religious theocracy. Iranian democracy was stolen again. After several years of confusion, the theocracy consolidated its power base and has continued to rule Iran since with an “Iron Fist”. Declassified documents now confirm the extent of foreign influence in establishing the religious theocracy in Iran.
5) An imposed war on Iran – with Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran that resulted in over 1 Million casualties. Originally designed to take advantage of the weakened situation after the Revolution to grab Iranian oil and gas assets in Southern Iran. Thankfully, widespread national resistance by ordinary Iranians thwarted this invasion with an unbelievable price of over 1 million casualties on both sides. But it is only now that we are begining to understand the extent of Western and Arab assistance to Iraq – with billions of dollars in loans etc. that have now been forgiven after the American led “Gulf War”.
6) The policy of isolation of Iran since 1979 designed to allow or enable the theocracy to stay in power, but provide an excuse to ‘contain’ Iran. Think of this tacit support for the Mullahs as an act functionally similar to the tacit appeasement of Hitler – by people like Bush’s grandfather – that is now angrily refuted, but factually true. All the denial in the world, will NOT change facts on the ground. This policy must end. Having failed to grab more land via Iraq’s invasion, this policy is designed to enable the West to exploit Iranian assets without any resistance from Iran or Iranians. Iran’s 50% ownership of the Caspian Sea bed has been reduced to 13% and over 3 million barrels of Iranian Oil and thousands of cubic feet of Iranian Natural gas now exit the Caspian via western led consortium of oil companies without any benefit to Iran. The West has conveniently installed dictatorships in neighboring litoral Caspian states – like President for Live Aliev in Azerbaijan, and similarly in Turkmenistan. This policy of isolation and sanctioning of Iran also led to essentially all trade with Iran going through the former British colony of Dubai (dominated by British companies and Brisith Banks) as a transhipment point – which has now flourished at the expense of Iran. This policy is also designed to ‘persuade’ neighboring states to buy record volumes of arms – fearing Iran. Western arms sales to the region hit a record $70 Billion in shipments last year. Its a policy to pillage the region. The West is not seriously interested in change in Iran, or democracy in Iran or the region, they simply want to continue a disingenious plan to rip off the region.
7) The international branding of Iranians as terrorists and suspect individuals. Try to go through any border globally …as an Iranian its humiliating. Iranians abroad call themselves Mo, Ray, Fred etc. to hide their heritage. When asked they say they are Italian or Greek – but never admit to being Iranian. This is after thousands of years of Iranian culture of poetry and music – with a deep romantic essence. Iranians are lovers not fighters. Its a completely false media representation of Iranians – all designed to continue the pillaging of Iran and the region. Ordinary Iranians have done nothing to deserve this branding.
If only the West could understand that there is considerably more benefit to the world to have a globally engaged Iran that can lead the region out of poverty. That Iran can be a regional ally that can help lift the world out of this recession by financing major regional growth projects – like refineries, airports, factories etc. Coca-cola can flow again in the streets of Tehran – but also critically it can flow in Dushanbe (Tajikestan), Ashkabad (turkmenistan) – with Iranian partners implementing the projects with their U.S. affiliated companies. Just like China has been a magnet of global investment and growth – Iran too can promote significant economic growth to the greater benefit of U.S. and Europeans. This policy of isolation and containment (along with tacit support of the regime) is wrong.
Help Iranians get rid of these grudges. Think of Kenedy’s famous quote: If you are not the solution – you are part of the problem. There is a solution out there waiting for us all to create a new (better) world for our children.