Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How do Ordinary Iranians Really Think?

A friend of mine was at a conference in Washington recently. It was hosted by a cross party foundation composed of Republicans and Democrats, politicians and academics. During the session, a female Democrat told him, they have been given some names of Iranian dissidents and would like to know his opinion on these dissidents. Naturally my friend was happy to oblige and so the Democrat member, struggled to pronounce the name as she read her notes, 'Mo-ham-ad Qali? Qalibaf?'. Dumbstruck and taken back at the ignorance of this US Democrat, my friend just raised his eyebrows and asked for the name of the next dissident.
'Ali La-ri- err Lari-jani', she continued. Struggling to hold back his laughter, my friend asked bemused as to who had told her these were Iranian dissidents?

-'Tritta Parsi' was her swift reply and so things became clear to my friend, as it probably has to most readers of this post.

The truth is an organised and well funded body of lobbyists and 'Iranian scholar experts' in numerous think tanks have confused the hell of the US statesmen, whose initial knowledge on Iran was rock bottom zilch in the first place. Yet this deliberate attempt to confuse and mislead is not confined to the Americans about Iran. So-called 'Iran experts' who at best are just hustling for recognition and academic credibility amongst their niche audiences and at worst are direct agents of the Islamic Republic have also been hard at work confusing the European statesmen at what is going on in Iran and how the ordinary Iranian thinks.

Although in Europe, the attempt is much more sophisticated. I doubt, rather I hope, a European statesman would not accept Qalibaf and Larijani, major IRI establishment figures, as Iranian dissidents!

The approach in UK, in my experience, for example, has been something along these lines, a wrong impression fed by half truths:

'The Iranians are extremely suspicious about the British motives. They recall the British role in the overthrow of the nationalist Dr. Mossadegh, blah, blah, blah...' and then the usual conclusion is that if the British government takes up measures against the Islamic Republic, it will rekindle those memories of half a century ago and will rally the nationalist feelings of the Iranian population behind the mullahs, hence appeasement of the mullahs is the best option!

Here is a rough narration of a conversation I had last week with a friend who had just arrived from Iran. Lets call him Mehdi for obvious reasons. This is not however an isolated anecdote, most of the ordinary Iranians I meet who live in Iran tell me similar things and you can see the common trends in their thoughts on politics.

Mehdi : America and England support the mullahs, it is as clear as daylight. We don't have a chance against the mullahs.

Me: Mehdi, how can you say that? look at all the overwhelming evidence, both UK and US would love to see the back of these mullahs, they just don't have many options.

Mehdi: Ok, tell me about the overwhelming evidence

Me: Well lets start with Bush calling Iran an axis of evil.

Mehdi: What? Thats just cheap talk, to fool the public. Cheney's Haliburton was still operating in Iran when all that was being talked.What practical measures has Bush taken to change this regime? If anything Bush has helped them. For example, the Taliban and Saddam were the most immediate problems for the Islamic Republic, America removed both of them and Jack Straw welcomed khatami as a partner in the 'war on terror'. Don't you remember?

Me: Why would UK and US want to support the mullahs Mehdi?

Mehdi: Arabs have so much money in their hands they could buy the West. Somehow this money has to be grabbed from them. Islamic Republic is the bogey man of the region, just like when Saddam was for a while. US and UK make Islamic Republic a dangerous threat to the rich Arab Persian Gulf countries so they can sell them more arms. Look at the recent missile tests, seconds after they were fired, there were massive orders for arms by the rich Arab countries in the region.

Me: What about the capture of the UK sailors?

Mehdi: What about it? First of all it established exactly where the disputed Iranian water territories was and secondly it made Ahmadi-Nejad more of a hero in Muslim countries, thus making their pro-Western governments even more scared into buying arms and equipment from the West.

Me: Mehdi, look at the oil prices soaring, how could UK and US want this tension in the region, look at the effects it is having on the global economy.

Mehdi: Nonsense, Bush was elected by the oil lobby, it is in the interests of those who brought him to power for the oil prices to soar. they are making billions and what money the Arabs are making, the US and the UK are pocketing again by selling them arms.

Me: Look at all the interference in Iraq made by the Islamic Republic. Surely, the US wants Iraq to be stable.

Mehdi: America wants to stay in Iraq so it can sell all the oil at these high prices. If Iraq was stable there would be no reason for the Americans to stay there. So once again the mullahs are doing what they are told to do by the UK and US. Come on you know what we Iranians say about the mullahs, 'lift a mullah's beard and you see Made in Britain'. Who helped the UK and US to overthrow Mossadegh? The mullahs, we all know that, now they have been rewarded for their services.

Mehdi then went into the all familiar territory of how the BBC helped overthrow the Shah and how supportive of the mullahs the BBC is now, and how the BBC is referred to as Ayatollah BBC amongst the Iranians.

I was struggling to convince Mehdi on any front with my counter arguments, so I asked him about sanctions. 'Why would the UK and US impose sanctions against Islamic Republic if they support IRI?'

Mehdi: Its just a show again, these sanctions are useless, when have they ever been imposed against those who are repressing the people? They ban some Iranian scientist from travelling but they let Mortazevi go to Geneva as the head of the Iranian Human Rights delegation, come on Potkin, get real. If they want to finish the Islamic Republic, all they have to do is stop the export of Petrol. It will paralyse the regime, but they will never do it. They want them in power.
Carter brought them in for a reason.

Me: Mehdi, everyone is talking about the threat of war, and how an attack on Iran is imminent and you say Bush is supporting the mullahs?

Mehdi: Ah, we have heard all this for the last God knows how many years, it is all cheap talk, for the last decade we have been hearing in the next six months they will attack, they never will, do you know how many six months it has been? why would they attack their best friend in the region? Tell me something, do you have any idea how much the house prices have gone up in just the last year in Tehran? 100 percent! if people thought an attack was imminent do you not think they would start selling their houses and house prices would be falling instead. No one is doing it, no one in Iran believes this war bullshit.

They say the markets never lie. I really didn't know how to answer Mehdi on this point. If people in Iran thought war was imminent, why would they not sell their houses and move to safer places? Obviously they don't see an attack as an imminent danger and there is no panic about this amongst the population.

I gave up trying to convince Mehdi, so I was just resigned to ask him what his outlook on the future was. To which again Mehdi surprised me, 'Oh these lot will go. People are fed up with them and they have had enough. They have never been as hated as they are now. Iranians like change every 30 years or so. It will take a few years before this feeling of hatred towards the mullahs turns into street riots, but as soon as it does, the British and the Americans will find their next puppets to replace them and do their work.'

This surprised me, I have never known Mehdi to say the mullahs are on their way out until now, but this was also a contradiction to his original opening statement, 'we don't have a chance against the mullahs'. So I pointed out his contradiction, thinking at last I will have the upper hand in this friendly debate.

'Not right now we don't have a chance, but give it time, it is inevitable, everyone hates the mullahs more and more every day', Mehdi replied.

Let me just add Mehdi comes from a religious family background, he voted for the Islamic Republic in the sham referendum held immediately after the revolution. He also volunteered and served in the front line against Saddam's invasion of Iran and voted for Khatami first time round.


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Anonymous said...

Trita Parsi is an Iran expert. What credentials does your friend Mehdi have?

Winston said...

Iranian style Daei Napoleon conspiracy theories mixed with leftist-Islamist propaganda are very sick, ignorant and blind.

Mehrtash said...

An interesting read; sadly nothing new to my knowledge. 2% of the wealth in the USA is courtesy of Saudia Arabia - and that was 7 years ago...What one sees at face value is seldom what is really happening - that is the key characteristic of politics.

UK and USA make Iran appear to be the enemy - but whilst there is an enemy money and power can be yielded from it. Keeping the public anxious causes votes in favour of the government that boasts they can provide the right type of security. Keeping the 'West' in constant concern on another country keeps the puppet-master government in office.

There is a head mullah who ranks higher than the 'supreme leader' of Iran, his name ends in '...Kani'. Such agents 'sell out' the interests of Iran in return for UK love - money in abundance.

Closely analyzing the coming of the 'Islamic Revolution' back in 79 (57) one will see that the UK supported the coming of Khomeini, and that the then ruling Shah was encouraged to exile himself from his lands. I knew an ex-intelligence agent who confessed to me once that "one thing the US government did that may not have been the best thing was to bring the Mullahs in"...I'll leave that to your interpretation.

How does the IRGC remain so powerful? How come Trita Parsi has such a loud and infecting voice in the US senate? WHy does the BBC not cover all the interesting stories about Iran? Why was Mortazavi accepted as the Human Rights Rep for Iran at the UN Human Rights Meeting - he was a key player in the abuse of human rights, such as Zahra Kazemi to name one out of a very long list?

People need to wake up and feel the thorns - if one wants to bring democracy to Iran they are not just taking the mullahs on - they are taking on the UK and USA combined.

Anonymous said...

If the US wanted oil, it could attack Mexico or Venezuela or even Canada for it. This charge is ridiculous

Anonymous said...

ordinary and not ODINARY. you missed an R in title

Anonymous said...

Ordinary Iranians? As if somehow you are extraordinary?

Azarmehr said...

Thanks for telling me about the typo in the title. It was early hours of the morning. I have corrected it now.

Azarmehr said...

Hmm! Like I said it was early hours in the morning. Perhaps Ordinary was not the right choice of word, I meant Iranians who are getting on with their lives and not involved in any political activity, the mainstream majority perhaps? How would you have described what I wanted to say?

Azarmehr said...

anon 1 who commented on my hair :))))))))))), probably the same anon who thinks Tritta Parsi is an expert on Iran :))))))))))

seems like you have done a lot of research on how to deal with thinning hair and it bothers you much :))))). It doesnt bother me however, if it ever does, I will look into your experience. Hope Tritta approves of you with a wig any way :))))))))

Anonymous said...

باور كنيد اكئر مردم ايران همانطور كه دوست شما گفت فكر ميكنند بخصوص نسبت به اتحاديه اروپا خيلي بدبين هستند و آنها را همدست اخوندها ميدانند

Mehrtash said...

Anonymous - I would pity you; however I consider that to be a sentiment past your deserving. Suffice it to say you are a parasitical being who is more than happy to sell out to the 'powers' - you're a glory supporter, in it for yourself til you bite the dust and have but maggots for your pitiful existence.

Furthermore, Mexico and the other lands you pointed out may have oil, but please do not overlook the fact that they never lent the UK and the US MILLIONS of dollars. The Shah had lent the UK millions of pounds in order for the British government to to cleanse the Thames river, as it was very very dirty, during the late sixties, which was to take place in the seventies - please do your reading and you will find my argument is corroborated by evidence.

The Shah had lent the US some millions of dollars to assist them with their need. The repayment deadline was 1979. What actually took place in 1979? Not a matter of coincidence.

Yes, I am asserting that the UK and USA also assisted the Islamic revolution in order to escape having to pay back the very high loans. Since then, they have had to keep their fingers in the pie to maintain control, since the situation is their 'ship'.

They owe nothing to Mexico, Venezuela or Canada - it's all on their doorstep. But since we're on the subject of central/latin America - how many assassination attempts did the CIA make on the leaders of such region? All this because they were losing control over a 'rich' region of America.

So, 'Anonymous' - the coward who hides behind a computer and is nothing more than a keyboard warrior' - I hope that you have become somewhat enlightened to the fact of history that some governments do not want the public to remember.

Winston said...

Well, probably Socialist-Leftist governments in Germany, Italy, Belgium and France were supportive of the regime but now that there has been a change of hands in Eurabia, the pressure is increasing daily. Right wing governments are in place from Italy to Sweden and Germany and France. These people are tougher than ever, IMO

Anonymous said...

The more accurate term would have been lay: "How Do Lay Iranians Really Think." But ordinary works. In fact, it works better - I was just being an asshole:)

Bahramerad said...

Change your friends.

Anonymous said...

Azarmehr -
Judging from the last time I saw Trita Parsi's receding hairline on tv, I think your 1st anonymous may BE Trita

Anonymous said...

How do ordinary Iranians think? Perhaps this is exemplified by the following joke told by Iranians inside Iran: The President of Iran and the Ayatollah of Iran went by a cave where the Devil dwelled. The President said, "Let us negotiate and try to reason with the Devil." The Ayatollah said in response, "No compromise with the Devil. Let us throw stones at the Devil." The Ayatollah picked up a stone and threw it into the cave, whereupon the Devil came out of the cave and said, "Why do you throw stones at us? You're one of us!" That joke may not make the Jay Leno monologue,, but it's hilarious if you live in Iran.