Saturday, March 15, 2003

Man will go back to jungles again

Three days ago, the postman delivered a letter from
Swiss embassy, the responsible for U.S interest section in
Iran, to one of my neighbors living in the Western
part of Tehran. In this letter they had officially
asked my neighbor who have American passports to
have their documents ready at hand and fill their
car's gas tank and have a list of all their belongings
and be ready for emergency conditions.
Naturally, all the members of the family panicked.
Some twenty years ago, again under some emergency
conditions they were forced to collect all their
belongings and leave the country. It was when Iraqi
planes poured bombs and missiles on Tehran everyday
and my neighbor who is a surgeon witnessed many
wounded and dead everyday and when he discovered that
his young daughter was psychologically affected, he
decided to immigrate. They were among those lucky
people who managed to get into America and it took
them a long time until they finally settled in New
York. But last year, after September 11, they returned
to Tehran. The emergency conditions and the frightful
days that followed Bin Ladin's attack on Twin Towers
of World Trade Center were unbearable for them.
In the first few days of their return, they were
overfilled with happiness. Tehran was not the city
that they had abandoned, ruined and war ridden. There
was neither no sign of the fundamentalists who were
all over the city streets during the days of the
revolution, nor of the revolutionary guards who at
nights fearing Iraqi war planes, shot any house with
its lights on. Instead there were highways constructed
after the war and skyscrapers built over the
demolished houses and young girls taking advantage of
the reformist movement, walked in parks with their
friends. They soon learnt to have their parties and
celebrations in privacy of their house and only when
going outdoors have their scarves on and continue
their quite life and watch their favorite TV channels
through satellites. At nights the streets of Tehran
were safer than the streets of New York and water and
electricity and telephone were cheaper. And TVs showed
that the fundamentalist Taliban in Afghanistan, in the
east of Iran were overthrown and driven to caves.
In the past few months that American forces have been
deployed in the Persian Gulf Region, threatening
Saddam's regime, the family of my neighbor watched the
news calmly, happy to know that neither Bin Laden, nor
Saddam threatened their city and their home until that
Saturday when they received the above letter from the
Iran-Iraq war that forced our neighbor to immigrate
twenty years ago is the same war that these days the
President of America and his men are referring to. The
war that Saddam Hussein started and left nearly three
millions homeless and costed more than thousands
million dollars for both country and with the help of
a simple calculation took both countries twenty years
back and affected the life of seventy million people
with its destructive outcomes.
In Iran a revolution had occurred and Shah's modern
and powerful regime, that was called Gulf's gendarme,
with sixty eight thousand U.S military adviser supporting
and protecting it inside the country was overthrown
and replaced by a resistance front whose leaders
together with ordinary people shouted the most radical
slogans against Shah and his main supporter United
States. Again in a September but this time in 1979, a
group of revolutionary students climbed up the walls
of American Embassy in Tehran and occupied it and kept
fifty Americans as hostage for 444 days and played
with the awesomeness of American superpower while the
second superpower was quietly watching. Berjenev was
still alive and Soviet Union was in the peak of its
power which made the feat of revolutionary students
appear even more striking.
It was exactly at that time that Saddam Hussein
received the command of Fate. Considering the acute
dispute going on between Iranian Revolutionary regime
and Jimmy Carter's government, he concluded that he
can attack Iran. Saddam Hussein who wanted to bring
Iran with her 10 million population into a war with
Iraq with her four million population was sure of the
support of America and her allies, taking into account
the fact that Iran had just gone through a revolution
and her army was still in a disorganized confused
state. So he ordered the attack. Whether he had
received a message or not is not known. Later in some
of his interviews he claimed that he had consulted his
Western friends. And in order to coax his people into
the war, Saddam had selected a slogan too: Defending
Islam against Iranians who were introduced in his
propaganda as a bunch of non-Moslem Majus -
fire-worshipper - and a friend of Israel. If certain
people had sent him a message from Washington, they
weren't wrong as the Islamic Republic released the
hostages three months later and was not willing to
easily end the war that Saddam had started. For the
leaders of Islamic Republic had decided to punish
Saddam for breaking out the war in order to be able to
live in peace afterwards, but America and Europe did
not like to see Saddam overthrown and did not wish
Revolutionary government of Iran to win the war.
During the subsequent eight years of Iran-Iraq war,
financial support of Arab countries and American and
European military aids compensated for weakness and
smallness of Iraq and provided Saddam with the
opportunity to buy arms from the west with million
million dollars of Iraq and other Arab states oil
income. While Iran too, spent seventy percent of its
oil income on buying arms from different sources and
with higher prices.
The war that today Mr. Bush, the President of America
and Tony Blair, the Prime Minister of Britain refer to
as a sign of Saddam Hussein's threat to his neighbors,
was not possible in its own time without American and
European supports and aids. The raw material of the
chemical bombs that according to the recent reports of
American and British governments were used six times
against Iranians and Iraqi civilians living in cities
around the frontiers were manufactured in German
factories and the missiles thrown at Tehran and other
Iranian big cities were made in France. That is why
today Iranians do not believe that France and Germany
are against military attack on Iraq due to
humanitarian reasons. As they do not believe that
America has sent two hundred thousands of his forces
to the region for the purpose of disarming Saddam
Hussein and combating terrorism.
Our neighbor, forced to immigrate for the third time
in the past twenty years due to emergency conditions
upon receiving a letter from Swiss embassy in Tehran,
rightly asks for which uncommitted sin do we have to
wonder in a ring between dictators and religious
fundamentalists and economic powers? In the second
decade of the twentieth century, the parents of Dr.
Jalali, our neighbor, too were forced to leave
everything behind in Russia and immigrate under the
most unbearable conditions. On their way from Moscow
to Tabriz, in the north of Iran, they lost two of
their children. A family with such a past history
celebrated the beginning of twenty first century while
in harmony with President Clinton they were hoping
that the world would never see days like that again.
Like millions other people throughout the world, they
thought that with the fall of Soviet Union and
information explosion that has made it possible for
humans to know about each other more, they will not
witness massacres, bombardment, destruction and
immigration, but in the third year of the new century
once again they received a mail.
The content of the letter that the postman delivered
to our neighbor, Dr. Jalali, is what is forcing
hundred thousands people in the Middle East to think
of immigration. Thousands people should cross the snow
covered mountains of Iraq to reach Turkish frontiers
that are of course closed. As they were closed twenty
years ago. So they must turn and join thousands others
who are moving toward Iran from the south and west of
Iraq. Those hungry bare-footed people are not as lucky
as our neighbor and except a homeless life in deserts
and camps and burying their sick children in strange
roads have no other choice. What will the children of
this generation do? Would it be surprising that there
will be a couple of them who with a command of another
Ben Laden will ride on a plane to kill themselves in
order to kill thousands others?
What sort of vista of the new century do these nervous
killings and massacres in a world where
fundamentalists are acting freely will offer us? Would
disarmament of Saddam Hussein and the overthrow of
Iraq's despotic blood sucking regime, put an end to
continuous immigration, homelessness, pain and
suffering of men?
If the majority of people of the world and even those
three millions that joined the anti-war demonstrations
in Europe in the past few weeks could be sure that
attacking Iraq would be the beginning of the end of
the painful fate that chased the people of the whole
world throughout the past century, they would
definitely agree with it. Otherwise in harmony with an
Iranian poet would sing: Man will go back to jungle
again/ will go to mountain/ to cave.