Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Conservatives and the Slogan “Death to American “

A few days ago Iran’s Mehr news agency carried this news item: “Iran and Iraq have a common feature in both having a majority of Shiites in their population and both have a deep culture and history.”

Paul Ingram who is a Senior Analyst at the British American Security Information Council, has said that “Iran now has the kind of relations with Iraq that it has not had before. Iraqi fighters have mostly seen their training in Iran and have not received any instructions till today.” He further says that if the West attacks Iran, one should expect the para-military groups that have deeply infiltrated in Iraq’s forces to received instructions from Tehran.

Following this news, Keyhan has quoted an Egyptian political analyst that even though it may appear that the ideology of the “Great Satan” may have become inactive, but it has not completely disappeared. “If an attack occurs, it will certainly be revived,” he says adding that Iraqi Shiites will not pass by this issue very lightly and would not remain mere spectators. Both the Mahdi brigade linked to Muqtada Sadr the anti-American Iraqi cleric and the Badr brigade which is the armed group of Iraq’s Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution of Iraq enjoy deep relations with Iran.

Whether what Ingram says is what Keyhan claims requires some research, but even if we assume the quote to be accurate – which is normally not the case – it is clear why Ingram says these things and who his target audience is. But the reasons why a hardline newspaper such as Keyhan would publish the news are questionable.

Somebody should ask have we forgotten how the seventy million Iranian Shiites acted when the forces led by the US attacked Iraq that now some believe that the 5 or 6 million Shiites of Iraq who are so completely engaged with their own problems would react to an attack on Iran. When the US attacked Iraq, Iranian Shiites had been in power for a quarter century and controlled the country’s oil and other instruments of power. None of that is true for Iraqi Shiites today.

It is clear that by exaggerating such issues, Iranian hardliners intend to portray that Iran with a population of 75 million people is the regional superpower and so the US should be afraid of attacking Iran because of Iraq’s Muqtada Sadr and Al-Mahdi. One should remind these hardliners that they really do not need to take the trouble of making their point. The US knows very well what the cost of attacking Iran may be and says it openly in many ways. But if the US is really waiting for a moment to attack Iran, it will when local discontent is at its height while the country’s leaders are unable to address them.

The Americans have witnessed and learned during the last nine months when the new administration came to power in Tehran that this government is not capable of doing anything for people other than mere distributing the oil income which is also its Achilles hill so that as soon as oil exports and the imports of everything slacken, the rug will be pulled from under the feet of these people who have no plans. If the US did not know in the past, it does know now that the current leaders of Iran have only one policy towards the Iranian people and the height of their knowledge is to exaggerate everything. Iran’s Azeri-speaking people are the most influential group in the country, but even there whenever they have taken a step, they have been suppressed and crushed, and accused of being connected to foreigners. And this is the same way the regime deals with students, workers, women or the youth. The US knows very well that any small incident in the country can turn into a major crisis. And this large army of propagandists and vote-buyers who have been recruited will soon disappear when the fruit basket disappears.

Those in Iran who are least aware of the conditions in the world know only one thing to do which to spread illusions and how not to think. They spread the culture of obedience and never questioning anything. They are told to only listen and accept, and a week later to listen and accept exactly the opposite of what they heard the previous week. One day talks with the US were deemed to be against the interests of Islam and the regime and deserving the death penalty, while the next the same loudspeakers begged for talks and considered the idea most rational with punishments for whoever opposed them!

The same goal lies behind the exaggerations: prevent people from thinking, comparing, questioning and concluding. They demand that everyone only says, “Death to America.”