Saturday, December 12, 2015

Iranian Panic

With the heightening fear of terrorist attack by the Islamists, leaders of the Western societies see the need to respond and they are responding. The first line of response generally begins with the security measures. Apparently one of the proposed security measures would put certain travel restrictions on the Iranian born citizens of the U.S. and Europe. What these restrictions exactly are, whether it will come to take effect I do not know and the severity of it is of little importance to me. Why? First of all with the existence of the serious threats that the Islamists are posing, as a responsible citizen I cannot begin from my convenience. At this point I need to mention as disclosure for those who are unfamiliar with me that I was born in Iran. Naturally any security restrictions targeting that group will affect me also. My second point is longer and you have to read the rest of this post to find out.

In the last few days I have seen a flurry of responses from my compatriots in my email and through FaceBook. They are varied, "I am really scared!", "Things are worse than we thought, it is not just Trump who is crazy", "Fascism is arriving". Some responses are dramatic (a strong Iranian trait) "گنه کرد در بلخ آهنگری ... به شوشتر زدند گردن مسگری" Roughly translated it says, someone commits a crime in NY but someone else in Los Angeles is executed for that crime. Los Angeles has the concentration of the Iranian émigré and is known as Tehrangeles among them. This dramatization is an insinuation, by my compatriots, that they are being scapegoated for the terror attack in San Bernardino. They cry out foul, "We are not Arabs, we are not Pakistanis, we are not Sunnis, we have not been involved in acts of terror why are you targeting us?" To ward off this "attack" on Iranian émigrés NIAC ACTION is circulating a petition and activity list. National Iranian American Council, NIAC, claims it is "Advancing Peace and the Iranian-American Community" and it stands for "Preventing War and Advancing Peace". Trita Parsi is its president. If you have heard him in the media, he sounds like other apologists for Islamists like Reza Aslan and Majid Nawaz. But as president of NIAC he plays another role which I can only describe as a hack for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Why a hack, I will explain this a bit later. NIAC is encouraging everyone to write and call on their representatives to stop these impending restrictions. My compatriots are circulating this message with a sense of urgency.

Facts are important and it seems that my Iranian compatriots have forgotten a simple fact. It is true that most of the Iranian émigré are not Arabs, they are not Pakistani, most are not Sunni and no Iranian had anything to do with the San Bernardino attack. But, we all come from the society which established the first Islamic state in the world and it uses terror both inside Iran and outside Iran to advance its political domain and influence. Assassinations in Iran, Europe and the U.S. and many other terror attacks by the Islamic Republic are public knowledge. Also, Islamic Republic in Iran and its endurance has been an inspiration for its duplication, creation of other Islamic states. This was the case with the Soviet Union. It was an inspiration for the creation of the communist states. ISIS can chop off lots of heads and display it on the YouTube and at times it will become the focus of the U.S. response but the fact remains that the primary conflict of the U.S. in that region will remain the Islamic government in Iran which has its shares of crimes against all kinds of groups. The U.S. fought face to face with the Chinese communists, a more horrendous and more backward form of communism, in Korea. But, the primary conflict remained with the Soviet Union. If you recall, after the Korean war, U.S. used the same China that it exchanged fire with to dismantle the Soviet Union. So my dear compatriots brace yourself and tame your "nationalism". The U.S. is bombing ISIS today but tomorrow it might use the same ISIS or at least remnants of it against the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). It would not surprise me if the U.S. is found doing both at the same time today. The policy makers and planners in the U.S. must be fools if they would not consider the options. That is the logic of this conflict and it has been imposed on the civil world.

The nuclear agreement with the Islamic state in Iran does not change the fundamental context of the conflict the same as the SALT agreement with the Soviet Union did not change that conflict. Totalitarian system of Soviet Union was intolerable for the modern world as is the theocratic regime in Iran. You can retort that the U.S. has supported dictators all over the world. It is true, but without exception they have been to counter the Soviet threat which was real and central. They played one form of backwardness against another, the only way the budding first democracy in the world could push forward since 250 years ago. All those dictators were wrapped up after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, look at Argentina and Chile as examples, many were put on trial for their excesses. The U.S. does not have any preference for dictators and actually prefers openness similar to its own. It is there where it thrives, look at the China relationship as an example. Many of you live in the U.S. and would benefit if you begin to develop a better understanding of the place you have adopted as your country and do not take it as granted.

So when one looks at the reality of the conflict with IRI and the precedents that has been set through the other major ideological based conflicts, one cannot expect that we, Iranian émigrés, would not be under observation in our international travels. This seems to be the issue at hand which has perturbed my compatriots. The other reality that I wish it did not exist is that my compatriots are playing dumb about the fact that Iran with its existing government is a major part of the Islamist problem if not its core that the modern world is facing. And this is not impressive.

Friendship societies are common in countries of the world. In normal times particularly as a reciprocity between the democratic countries these societies play a positive role. But at times of major conflicts they engage in campaigns to paper over the acts and the behaviors of the country that the U.S. is in major conflict with. This is the case with the NIAC. It uses the openness of the U.S. society and under the guise of promoting peace, NIAC tries to create stumbling blocks and generate opposition to the U.S. policies. In appearance, it is acting in sympathy with the Iranian émigré and it is promoting "peace", but it is really acting for the benefit of IRI. All to facilitate the destructive efforts of Iran in the Middle East. NIAC can stay active in the U.S. while no similar society could exist in Iran to play the same role for the U.S. due to the closed environment in Iran. The contending parties are shooting at each other overtly or covertly and only NIAC is promoting "peace" in the U.S. by lobbying. Anyone who dares to even pose a question to the Ayatollahs in Iran is in jail.

This has a precedent also. At the beginning of the WWII the pressure for the U.S. entry to the war against the Nazis was building up. In 1940 an organization called America First Committee (AFC) was formed that promoted peace and opposed the U.S. entry on the side of Britain and France. It even opposed aid to those countries under the guise that aid to Britain will prolong the war and German victory will not affect the U.S. AFC contented that Germany will not have the resources to attack the U.S. At the time the Fascists organizations along with Communists and some pacifists participated in AFC. Fascists and Communists were working together, the Hitler-Stalin non-aggression pact of 1939 was in effect yet. The number of activists were quite impressive. It organized meetings and rallies and lobbied the members of the congress. After Germany attacked the Soviet Union the pro Soviet American Communists pulled out of the AFC and began supporting the war efforts in the U.S. Of course Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor changed everything.

We are in the middle of a protracted conflict with the Islamists which the Islamic state in Iran will remain center stage for the foreseeable future. With the parallels that I drew I am not forecasting the future but we must be clear where we are now.

IRI is intervening in Syria to shore up Assad, a government based on Alawites, a minority group. IRI's "Revolutionary Guards" are on the ground fighting the majority Sunni population of the Syria and NIAC is promoting "peace" in the U.S. and tries to undermine the security policy making in the U.S.

My recommendation to my Iranian compatriots is to stay away from NIAC unless you like to play the second fiddle for the Islamic Republic of Iran, the first Islamic state.

I appreciate you reading my post. If you think the issues that I am raising are important and deserve discussion do not step aside. Step in and share these posts.


Pooya said...

Step aside from NIAC, I agree with that.

But there are some related issues that are not well discussed in your post.

You may think that you have already answered these questions, but I am not convinced yet. If being the first Islamic state really matters for US to plan against Islamic Republic in Iran, why preaching the extreme Islamic backwardness by Saudis and the Pakistani government does not generate any reaction from the US government? Does US care at all that Saudis support ISIS by all means? Ideologically and financially?

Secondly, suppose we all come to an agreement that IRI is actually the greatest evil in the world that the US should confront as the first priority. And suppose that you can get rid of IRI by bombing Iran. Should we care about the fact that bombing Iran will also ruins the lives of a large body of Iranian population who resent Islamic Republic ideology and policies, and who have been tortured by Islamic Republic for years so far?

Siamak Zahraie said...

Very good and valid question. Everything is relative. Iran as a society is one of the most advanced societies in the ME and North Africa. Saudi society is probably one of the most backward and Pakistan is way behind Iran, ahead of Saudi society. This is a fact but if you notice I am not talking about the societies. The conflict is with IRI, the government of Iran which itself is in the opposite direction of the general population. At the same time IRI is against western reforms while the population is moving toward the West. There are ample forces, reform forces, that could displace IRI. Many are lingering in jails. While Saudi society is very backward the most progressive part of it is the Saudi regime. Contending forces in Saudi Arabia are Osama Bin Ladin type. Overthrow of Saudi regime could only help a true Islamic State to come to power, an Islamic State with the claim to the seat of Islam, Mecca and Median! That would be a boon to the Islamists that they are dreaming about. Saudi regime is actually implementing reforms against the grain of society. Imagine how backward that society is that the regime is implementing reforms. Pakistan is in the similar. Pakistani government is struggling with the Islamists, it is not the Islamists while the government in Iran is leading the Islamists, the Shia Islamists. The U.S. has disagreements with them, Saudi regime and Pakistani government, in terms of their policies, but that is not a conflict and that is good. It is the dynamic of these governments in relation to their societies that determine the conflict and not the U.S. whims. I have talked about them in other posts. I have to come back to it again. Thanks for bringing this up. Also remember conflict even very serious conflict does not mean bombing. It is stupid to go and bomb Iran. It would be dangerous, it might come to it I do not know. Bur probably the conflict will channel through proxies as it is today, in Yemen and Syria, and will continue until something happens internally in Iran. Soviets and the U.S. did not directly exchange fire and the conflict went on for some 70 years. All I can promote are the principles and not the tactics of engagement in this conflict. Question of women is the principle one which needs to take center stage. I will have an example of it, how this principle could be demonstrated, in one of my posts in the near future. Thanks again.