Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Those Who Live like the Shah, will go like the Shah

If Iran’s government keeps behaving like the Shah’s dictatorship it will go the way the Shah did – in shame, at the hands of it’s own people

Past wrongs against the Iranian government by past British and American governments must be acknowledged, but can’t justify the current Iranian government killing, torturing and jailing Iranians and putting all real power in the hands of one unelected man, the same way the British and American backed dictatorship of the Shah which Iranians overthrew did.

In 1953 the British and American governments were shamefully involved in the overthrow of the elected government of Mohammed Mossadeq, who attempted to nationalise Iran’s oil industry after the British government and Anglo-Iranian Oil (which later became BP) refused to pay fairer taxes on oil revenues or pay it’s Iranian employees, who lived in shacks without water or electricity, a decent wage. For 26 years the British, American and French governments armed and supported the Shah’s brutal dictatorship as it killed and tortured Iranians and squandered the country’s oil revenues (1) – (3).

After the Shah was overthrown in the 1979 revolution the US, British, French, Chinese and Soviet governments armed and funded Saddam as he launched an unprovoked invasion of Iran and used poison gas on Iranians and Iraqi Kurds , as historians such as Professor Efraim Karsh have recorded (4).

Military action against Iran would kill more people than it would save and threats of it would let Iran’s government paint opponents as agents of foreign powers, so Obama is right to have ended Bush’s constant and counter-productive threats. Making another Iraq war out of Iran would benefit no-one and kill hundreds of thousands at the least, probably millions.

However the past cannot justify the Iranian government treating its people the way the Shah did; torturing them, jailing them without fair trial and allowing Basiij militias to murder them for exercising their rights to freedom of speech and assembly (5) – (7). Many Islamic scholars including former Iranian President Khatami say democracy and Islam are compatible, but since Khomeini’s faction hijacked the 1979 revolution most real power in Iran has been held by the unelected ‘Supreme Leader’ (now Ayatollah Khameini) with elected officials like the President having little real power (8).

Mousavi in his election campaign said that if elected he would transfer control of the police and security forces from the Supreme Leader to the elected President, allow private television stations (currently only the state TV station can broadcast) and disband the brutal religious ‘morality’ police (9).

An unelected ‘Supreme Leader’ holding real power, while holding elections in which only candidates approved by him can stand for offices without real power, echoes the Shah’s rule. Attacks on unarmed and mostly peaceful protesters bring shame upon the Islamic republic. These are the methods of the Shah and if they continue they can only result in Supreme Leader Khameini and his aides being overthrown by their own people the same way the Shah was, or in massacres which will shame the Islamic Republic in the eyes of the Muslims and non-Muslims alike around the world.

(1) = Pollack, Kenneth M.(2004), ‘The Persian Puzzle', Random House, New York, 2005 paperback edition, pages 27-140

(2) = Curtis, Mark (1995), ‘The Ambiguities of Power : British Foreign Policy since 1945', Zed Books, London & New York, 1995 paperback edition, pages 87-96

(3) = Takeyh, Ray (2006), ‘Hidden Iran', Times Books , New York, 2006, pages 83-96

(4) = Karsh, Efraim (2002) ‘The Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988’ Osprey, London, 2002, p20 US & Soviet Union supplying arms and military advisers to Saddam, p42-44 USSR, France and Egypt Saddam’s main arms suppliers, p 44 1984 -1985 Reagan admin doubles financial aid to Saddam ‘for food products and agricultural equipment’ from $345mn to $675mn. 1988 US govt extends $1bn credit to Iraq, largest amount of US annual credit to any country in that year; p44-45 Israel along with N.Korea, Libya and Syria armed Iran. Last three complete armaments, Israel spare parts for jets and tanks (own note – doesn’t count Iran-Contra arms?); p53-55 Gassing of 20 Kurdish villages in 1987 by Saddam to prevent them aiding Iranians; p55 Karsh says “Saddam was the favoured son of the West (and to a lesser extent the Soviet Union), the perceived barrier to the growth of Islamic Fundamentalism. Consequently, apart from occasional feeble remonstrations (notably after Halabja), western governments were consciously willing to turn a blind eye to Iraq’s chemical excesses.”

(5) = Independent 14 Jun 2009 ‘Robert Fisk: Iran erupts as voters back 'the Democrator'’,

(6) = AP/Independent 16 Jun 2009 ‘'Seven killed as protesters launched attack'’,

(7) = Independent 16 Jun 2009 ‘Claims of student massacre in Tehran spread’,

(8) = Takeyh, Ray (2006), ‘Hidden Iran', Times Books , New York, 2006 ; chapter 2, pages 44-51

(9) = Washington Post 07 Apr 2009 ‘Ahmadinejad Rival Calls For Increased Freedoms’,


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