Iran celebrates revolutions, but not at home

Statement by Hon. Fiamma Nirenstein, Vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, during Parliamentary Assembly debate, Italy, February 16, 2011:

Dialogue with Iranian authorities is pointless; it is necessary to talk to the opposition

    “Given the recent demonstrations in Iranian cities, with the Iranian people once again proving their profound enmity towards a government that violates all their human rights; given the violence perpetrated by the Iranian security forces; and given the disconcerting images, in all today’s newspapers, of the Iranian parliament demanding the hanging of the opposition leaders, I announce that, in my capacity as Vicepresident of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I will not participate in tomorrow’s meeting of my Committee with a delegation of Iranian parliamentarians, headed by the President of the Iranian Foreign Affairs Committee.

    I feel that a dialogue with Iran’s official representatives is completely pointless. On the contrary, I think it’s extremely useful to express and give concrete solidarity meeting its oppositions. Indeed, until now, international meetings with Iran’s representatives on human rights or nuclear facilities, has served no useful purpose. They have only helped to give more time and legitimacy to the regime of the Ayatollah. Iran has to date proven its extreme determination to pursue its aggressive, imperialist and anti-Semitic course, as it is proved by Ahmadinejad’s latest declarations de facto inciting to genocide. The opposition, on the other hand, nothwistanding the fierce repression it faces, still continues to express a desire for freedom and peace which deserves all our support”.

Iran celebrates revolutions, but not at home

by Fiamma Nirenstein,

The ayatollahs spurred on protests in Egypt and Tunisia, but people’s anger erupted against them, facing a brutal repression. After ditching Mubarak, Obama cannot now deny support to those calling for freedom in Teheran.

If only the Iranian demonstrations, which have already notched up casualties and deaths, really had achieved the great revolution of the Islamic world yesterday. If only these hours of clashes in the centre of Teheran and at Isfahan really were preparing Iranians for a sudden and fortuitous leap towards democracy, against a government that holds the record for human rights abuses with its public hangings of homosexuals, dissidents and women, against a regime preparing an atomic bomb to destroy Israel and the West. If it were the case, such an event would have two outstanding features: a certain irony, and a turning point for all the revolutions underway in the Muslim world.

The irony: in the days of the revolution in Egypt and the surrounding area, supreme leader Khamenei, followed by Ahmadinejad, solemnly declared that the Iranian revolution of ’79 inspired the Egyptian revolt. Obviously this is far from the truth. If anything the Egyptians were inspired by the movement that challenged the ayatollahs and election results in 2009. But the Iranian leaders called for a procession to support the Egyptian revolution, which in actual fact was a way of affirming their hegemonic paternalism over the Middle East as a whole and announcing the end of Israel and of the US. But in doing so, Ahmadinejad and the old ayatollahs awoke the Green Movement of 2009, which in turn called for a demonstration, promptly outlawed by the regime. Over the course of the last few days, the regime put the Green Movement’s leaders, Moussavi and Karroubi, under house arrest. They then made mass arrests amongst young people before allegedly carrying out a wave of executions. Yet in the darkness of Teheran’s wintery dawn hours, the last few days have seen the capital filled with chants of «Allah is great» alongside fearless calls of «Death to the dictator», and on Monday an enormous throng of people invaded the square. What a slap in the face for Ahmadinejad.

As a result, the instrumental praise of the ayatollahs for the Egyptian revolution has ironically had the effect of waking up the very movement that desperately wants to overthrow them. An Iranian has alreasy told the story of a heroine who tried to throw herself from a window dressed in green, but the basiji stopped her and took her away, and nothing more is known about her fate. A new Neda for a new anti-Khomeinist revolution.

The success of this new revolution would bring radical change to the situation in the Middle East as a whole, and would make the Islamic world quest for freedom far more real. Iran has in fact been attempting in recent days to put its hallmark on the revolutions that have been triggered, to render them extreme and give them a religious, anti-Western belligerent tone.

From Iran’s point of view, it is not the aspiration to freedom which needs to be protected in the wave of revolutions currently spreading in Islamic Countries, but rather the likliness of the regional actors to become part of its system of alliances and hegemonic power. An agreement between Shiites, such as Iran with the Hezbollahs’ Lebanon, and the Egyptian Sunnis (with the active intervention of the Muslim Brothers) with the Palestinians of Hamas, has the potential to hand Iran the role of guide State. Syria is already in its sphere of power.

An extremist Iranian drift can pull in the direction of a new war. Without an aggressive, fundamentalist Iran, democracy, and therefore peace, would have far more hope. At a time when Obama has abandoned Mubarak, his most important ally, Iran has immediately stepped in to offer itself as a friend that you can hang on, and not without its successes: its ships can be seen in the ports of Saudi Arabia and of the Mediterranean for the first time. But Ahmadinejad is also adrift on a raft in a stormy sea: on Monday, during the demonstrations in Teheran, he could be seen next to Abdullah Gül, the President of Turkey, who was there on a visit. Even his guest, on hearing the news of the clashes, was forced to say that it is necessary to listen to the people. Of course he was thinking about his own Country, just like everybody in the Middle East today, and about his people in great part oppressed by the new Islamism.

Teheran has shown too self-confidence trying to take possess of the recent revolutions in the Muslim world. But its move became a boomerang. If its crowds could in the next days follow the Egyptian example and manage to keep the square day and night; if, and we hope it is not the case, the basiji open fire as they did in 2009, it will be difficult for Obama to look away this time, as he cynically did back then. He has said too much in recent weeks against dictators, on behalf of those attempting to obtain freedom and also on behalf of the Iranian crowds, to be able to pull back now – although it must be said we are now used to his strange U-turns.

Nonetheless, it can be said that the general atmosphere now is far more favourable for an Iranian revolution than it was in 2009, and a positive outcome of the Iranian revolt would be the only real prove that the Muslim people is marching towards democracy.

February 17, 2011 | 1 Comment »

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