Saturday, September 06, 2008

A Necessary Correction

The explanation or correction offered by the spokesperson for Iran’s foreign ministry that ‎the Iranian government has taken an independent posture regarding the recent events in ‎the Caucuses (i.e. Georgia), and the denials of Iranian authorities that the country has ‎sided with Russia in its dispute with Georgia, contains both good and bad news.‎

The good news is that the spokesperson understands the importance of acting quickly to ‎correct an impression before it is too late. Otherwise it would not be clear what would the ‎confrontation between the Iranian cat and the Russian bear would lead to. Just as it is not ‎clear that if the Iranian government had taken a few more steps, what other unwanted ‎requests it would have to heed to, taking the country into some further unknown ‎direction.‎

But the bad news is that reason for the explanation and correction that was provided was ‎not what it should have been. ‎

The explanation of the spokesperson was so choreographed as if the world press or ‎analysts opposing the government had said something that had not been calculated and ‎thought through which now needed an explanation or a correction. This as we know was ‎not the case. When one looks at last week’s major headlines of government and pro-‎government newspapers such as Kayhan, and more importantly when one listens to the ‎remarks that the president himself made on Monday and others made during his presence ‎at the Shanghai gathering, it becomes clear that the domestic and international ‎commentators had actually been right.‎

The cartoon that the Daily Telegraph, a British right-wing newspaper, published showing ‎a bear whose one claw was holding oil pipelines – showing Russia’s hold on portions of ‎the international gas and oil connections around the world – while the other was giving ‎Iran a gift, which was nothing but Russian missiles, was exactly what the headline of the ‎Iranian right-wing newspaper Resalat had for its readers: “Iran Acquires Most Advanced ‎Missiles”, or Kayhan’s headline on Sunday [even though it is a quote from Western ‎sources] which claimed that the Georgian crises had removed the possibility of a George ‎Bush military attack against Iran. So commentators and analysts who had said that Iran ‎was probably supportive of the Russian position were not off the mark.‎

Even if these and all other similar announcements made by Iran’s state-run national radio ‎and television network last week are attributed to the media, one cannot ignore the ‎remarks and the joyous laughter that Iran’s president demonstrated in Dushanbe, the ‎capital of Tajikistan, when he talked of moves by Georgia’s uncalculated state authorities ‎and attributed the crises in the Caucuses to foreign powers saying, “We have reports that ‎the Zionists were very active in this issue.”‎

President Ahmadinejad’s remarks amid the condemnation of Russia’s military attack by ‎almost all of Russia’s neighbors or at the least condemnation of the military attack by a ‎powerful neighbor meant nothing but a show of support for the Kremlin. But it was now ‎the job of the spokesperson of Iran’s foreign ministry to change the president’s words ‎from “intervention of powers outside the region” and “foreign and non-regional ‎intervention in the Georgian crises” to saying that “this crises was not in the interest of ‎peace or stability for the region”, without naming the source of the intervention.‎

It is already late for the Islamic republic of Iran, after its thirty plus years of existence, ‎and with the forced retirement of its diplomats, not to know that one cannot be successful ‎at the international stage by making categorical statements or displaying uncalled for ‎laughter.‎

What the president said at the Dushanbe meeting about the Caucasian crises, and the ‎following correction or explanations that were offered, not only harmed Iran in a normal ‎way, but they also damaged the country’s dignity and standing. The mere presence of ‎Iran’s president at a meeting whose members are not too keen on accepting Iran as one of ‎them, and clinging on to Putin and others are not things that bring respect for the country.‎

These childish initiatives, such as gathering three participating members who spoke Farsi ‎and then portraying this as a major event in the Iranian press, are not only valueless, but ‎also show our thirst for newspaper headlines, while instructing them how to deal with us.‎

In all honesty, what is the importance of being in the same room with Hamid Karzai - ‎while everyone knows how he came to power in Afghanistan - and president ‎Ahmadinejad’s counterpart in Tajikistan who loudly proclaims two points every time he ‎comes across an Iranian, that first of all they do not need any clerics in their country, and ‎secondly that they drink vodka there, and plenty of it, except to feed the Iranian state run ‎news agencies?‎