Iran reminds us of what religion did when it was in charge. Throughout the Middle Ages, up to the Inquisition, religion took up the role of persecutor, and history is littered by ”appointed’ and executed heretics, and execution for blasphemy and apostasy. If I had been born around that long stretch of Dark Ages, and were given a choice, I would much rather have lived that period in Central Asia, or Persia, under the guise of Zoroastrianism, founded by Zoroaster, or Zaraϑuštra in his native Avestan language. Ironically, it is now the Iranian government which uses religion to persecute and remove the concept of ”Free Will”, an original Zoroastrian thought, from its populace.
Modern Iran is a functioning, bustling society, with remarkably open and friendly people. Tehran is a beautiful city, with dramatic mountain backdrop. People are almost as open in their disdain of their government as anyone in North America or Europe, which the exception of some Scandinavian countries, who have governments that are the state religion.
In fact Iran’s ban on alcohol for its Muslem population, but not its Jewish, Christian, Zoroastrian or other populations, is almost less harsh than Finland’s government monopoly and control on sale and price of alcohol, including restrictive shopping hours and locations. Sounds nice and is if your shop is located next to an official government monopoly pharmacy-like booze shop, but is not so nice when your shop is located far from one.
To some extent, and like a few other countries (USA these days seems to only be able to define itself by its enemies, usually self-created) both Finland and Iran have been influenced by their neighbour’s designs on them. Finns won’t even drink tea as Russian do so, and have indeed become the prime coffee consumers worldwide. Finns also don’t use gas for cooking, thus avoiding ordering it from Russia. Iranians are great tea drinkers, and a pot of tea and discussion around a table under a leafed tree on a small side street is a simple delight in many Iranian towns, and of course Iran has oil, and gas. And a lot of it. In the Zoroastrian religion, the naked flame is a symbol of life itself, and has almost sacred status. This is similar to Azerbaijan north of the Iranian border. There are famous small flames in both countries that are said to never go out, as ”natural” gas leaks from deep underground.
But Iran’s oil and gas reserves have been its attraction, and even before oil was needed for a multitude of modern uses, Persians were long used to invasion. The Persian empire that was subdued, briefly, by Alexander the Great, when he sacked one of the most beautiful and impressive cities in classical history, Persepolis, about 2,500 years ago, burning the city to the ground, and thus conquering the Persian Empire and civilisation (the ”land of first human rights)”, which many Greek scholars and philosophers promptly joined.
Much of the fineries of that period endured to the present era, and Iranian gardens still remain perhaps the finest crafted in the world. Iran has not had it easy though. An engineered coup by the American and British intelligence services in 1953 rid the country of the democratically-elected and popular Prime Minister, and the installed puppet Shah immediately handed over oil wealth and distribution to the forerunners of British Petrol. His son was declared Shah automatically, and although was far less brutal than father, still ruled with the aid of a brutal SAVAK secret police. The combination of western (not entirely deserved) sycophant and iron ruler saw his overthrow, and subsequent hijacking of the revolution by Khomeini’s mob culture version of Shi’a Islam. Khomeini’s Pol Pot-rule and philosophy was in many ways anti-Iranian in its desecration of all things beautiful for the austere – and like Pol Pot, favoured mass murder and fanatical terror as an efficient methods of ruling. But make no mistake, Khomeini’s legacy reached far: still now his face adorns murals in neighbouring Afghanistan, (he is seen as better than the Taliban, who used to massacre Shi’as) and when I was teaching in a vocational college in Bahrain, where the vast majority of students were (Arab) Shi’a, there was not just one (usually female) student with Khomeini’s scowling face taped to the phone. Indeed at one point a rather burly woman in black chador and abaya thrust the phone into my face and asked me what I thought of him and if I was scared. (”Nothing”, and ”no” I replied). But that was an extremely rare incident (of 1 occasion), where all the other students, female and male, were exceedingly charming and were happy to be joined in any demonstration they attending, in a country where the 70% Shi’a majority were subjected to rule by the 30% minority Sunni Muslem royal family.
For reasons of their own, the American administration, personified by Donald Rumfield’s visit to Bagdhad, encouraged Sadam Hussein to attack and invade Iran, going as far as to allege Iranian jets had shot down an American jet in the Persian Gulf (Iraqi jets had shot it down) in what is a familiar scenario if one refers to the false Gulf of Tonkin incident in Vietnam. The extremely profitable (if you were a Western government supplying arms) and murderous war took 8 years throughout the 1980s.
When in Bahrain I attended a reception with a number of American workers of the Saudi oil company we all worked for, on the 5th floor of an apartment overlooking Manama. With such a large number selected of American expatriots present, it was not long before they were thumping fists in the air and shouting ”Iraq first, Iran next!” This was in 2005. Talk of attack and invasion of Iran has been an ongoing theme for the years since, and a few before. The main players are, yet again, Israel and the United States, but the secret hidden financier remains Saudi Arabia, who has likened a nuclear attack on Iran to ”chopping the head of the serpent.”
So we ”nuke Iran” to stop it getting nuclear power/energy/weapons? Interesting twist.
The latest two allies on the world stage are Azerbaijan and Israel, now cementing a close friendship, as Turkey and Israel’s starts to drift. This is an uncomfortable arrangement, with Azerbaijan having one of the most unpleasant anti-human rights governments around, and agendas of its own. With Israel now supplying a long list of weapons to Azerbaijan, those agendas look more feasible. The most logical one is a strike at Armenia, in order to regain control of Armenian-controlled Azeri territory (Nagorno-Karabach), the second one is more sinister, involving a dismemberment of Iran and retaking of ”Northern Azerbaijan”, part of Iran.
For Israel, the close friendship has obvious advantages. But one wonders who in Israel thought of this new connection: in 1997 I was in Baku, Azerbaijan, where ex-KGB members were still fleeing with dossiers opening. Where were they fleeing to, on mass? Yep, complete with false documents testifying to their ”Jewishness”. What role have they played in engineering this new, wonderful friendship between Israel and Azerbaijan?
Incidently, Palestinian homes that were occupied (and never let go) by Israelis since 1948 and still ongoing, include Armenian homes owned by the native Armenian population of Jerusalem, so any further strengthening of ties of Azerbaijan and Israel is not a total surprise for everyone. Not for my Armenian friend Alfred, who lost his home and spent the next years wandering around working in the Middle east without a proper ”home”, both as house and state.
So now we are told Iran is the new evil. We are told by the despicable Netanyahu government, (but not his military chief of staff, who has plainly said it is nonsense) that Iran are planning to build and bomb goodness knows where. Never mind that Iran’s capital has 20,000 Jews living in it, that Iran has a right to expect and want less strife on its borders – Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan do not exactly make for the kind of neighbours anyone would want. Of course Iran is involved in trying to secure these countries and bring an end to the wars, but not one person could claim that Iran is tying to gain territory or attack any neighbouring country in any way.
In my personal experience in the Middle East, I have seen that Iran’s relationship to the Hizbollah of Lebanon is similar to the USA’s relationship with Israel. Both USA and Iran spend a lot of time trying to stop both entities trying to do much worse than they would like to do, though both USA and Iran are ridiculous apologists at government level, when their so-called ‘client states” do get out of hand.
Advocating war, or strikes (where? hitting what exactly?) against Iran is criminal, unwarranted, and would be founded on a pack of lies as big as the lies that led the US to attack Iraq. Let those politicians and their cohorts who shout with bellicose voice about ”strategic bombing” put on their tin helmets and go. If there ever was an unwinnabe war, it is that one, despite Israel’s fantasy which verges on pornographic desire. (Israel, by the way, the one country in the region that has nuclear weapons, even if they illegaly will not admit to it. )
It is not up to corrupt warmongering politicians, with bizarre religious fervour about Armageddon to inform us whether Iran should have nuclear power or not. When the USS Vicennes warship shot and downed Iran Air flight 655 in Iranian waters in 1988 at the end of the Iran-Iraq war, it was not so much the outrageous, unprovoked attack on such a totally innocent target that so appalled Iran, but the refusal of the US government, or ship captain to make any kind of formal apology. Such an uncivilised attitude and corresponding behaviour was not fully understood or seen in good light by Iran. Iranian culture has values of politeness that are reminiscent of Japanese culture. Is a bombing of Iran seen as another Hiroshima by the fumbling alcoholics that so desperately want to press the trigger? Or is it part of the ”end of the empire” feeling, of thrashing out? Is it the steady decline in sperm count that creates such a desperate need of reaffirment?
Does it annoy those in power so much to have absolutely no control whatsoever over a country?
And what exactly is Israel’s excuse? Anyone who has read Ahmedinajad’s speech can see he never threatened to wipe Israel off the map at all. That was a deliberate mis-transalation, and make no mistake, it was deliberate. That is as far as I will go in speaking for the Iranian president, but what does Israel want from this exactly? What does the Nehanyahu government hope to gain from this? More self-adoration on trips to the USA? Which industries are immediately benefiting from all the self-aggrandising?
Israel and the USA already have carried out acts of hacking against Iran that would have seen anyone else in jail. The ”evidence” that warmongers, the ones that like fireworks and body bags flown home in order to be able to show their firm resolve and patriotism, is that there is…no evidence. That is the leg they are standing on, that there is no evidence that Iran is not ”building a nuclear bomb”. What kind of premise is that?
I have worked in the energy industry. I know what kind of junk is being spouted out and copied by in tweets and forums per verbatim.
Pick another enemy. Pick North Korea. Except they have a bomb or two, and they are not situated in the right place, and do not have the right kind calling for their dismemberment.