Iran,  Your View

The Buzz Word is Iran

This is a guest post by Fariba Amini

Sarah Palin, the hot-headed screaming running mate of McCain, who lost to the Biden/Obama ticket, is up and running again. She just made another mockery of herself in the recent tea party nominations. In her speech, criticizing Obama, she called Iran, I ran. She has not even learned the basics. It is Iran, not I ran. Though, here in the US, some wish she would just run off back to her state of Alaska, to do what she does best that is hunt and kill animals, instead of trying to make sense in politics. She is too much of an embarrassment even to many in her own party.

Iran, or I ran (I used to correct people when they said that) is all the time in the news, everywhere, especially in the capital of the U.S. where think tanks, specialists and media people are having a field day. I have been observing and watching. There are so many Iran specialists these days; from the Leveretts, husband and wife, who have been to Iran once, who deny there was fraudulence in Iran’s June 2009 elections, and who hold forth on PBS, CNN, MSNBC and everywhere else; to former revolutionary guards who are giving You- Tube directions on how to engage in non-violence; to media specialists who, not never having visited to Iran, all of a sudden have also become Iran analysts- there are too many to keep count. Iran is the hot topic for all of them and a business venture for most.

In the meantime, Iranians human rights activists and journalists (53 journalists are currently held in Iran’s various prisons), women activists are rounded up, given prison sentences of varying length, released on hefty bails, tortured, re-arrested and put in jail almost on a daily basis. It is a very sad situation indeed. On the one hand, the Iran specialists are engaged in fund-raising and self-promotion. On the other hand, the people inside are paying with their flesh and blood.

The picture is just too gloomy, though sometimes it is also too humorous for words. I am not a specialist; I am just a writer and a journalist and like many others, I wake up every morning to hear the next piece of bad news from Iran and to wonder where are we going to end up. Will Iran be attacked as some of these specialists are recommending, or are we going to see more sanctions? Are Iran’s nuclear plants going to be bombed by Israel or is Neda Aqa Soltan’s ex-fiancée, Caspian Makan, after visiting Israel, going to be a mediator and stop the Israelis from attacking!

Just observing these days is probably the best thing to do. Iran is just too complicated to predict anything even for a top-notch analyst. It has always been a complicated country when it comes to negotiations with the outside world. At least that is what history tells us if anyone bothers to read history. I think between the State Department, the CIA, and the one hundred or so Washington think tanks (I am exaggerating), the New York Times, the Washington Post, the L.A. Times, and all other media outlets, no one can come up with good analysis or advice. Ahmadi Nejad won’t budge. He blasts Obama even though Obama has shown he is willing to make peace, beginning with the sending of nice Nowruz messages. It seems that peace is not an option with the likes of Ahmadi Nejad and his cronies. They just don’t want to make a deal that involves any concessions. They feel they are being bullied by the superpower and that rattles their Iranian pride. Sometimes I think they would love an attack so that they can show their mettle to the mighty bad guy, the U.S. They also have a lot to lose and where are they going to go anyway—to Syria or North Korea?

Iran’s nuclear program didn’t start yesterday. It has been going on for a long time, since, 1950’s, to be precise. It was part of a US program called “Atoms for Peace.”

In the meantime, Iran says, why India, why Pakistan, why Israel, why not us, why should we have less when we can have it all? This is after Obama and the Russian President Medvedev just signed a treaty aiming to decrease the world’s nuclear armaments.

It is amazing that all of a sudden the nuclear issue has become the center of everything. Human rights on the other hand have been violated for 30 years and no Western government has said much up until recently. For the longest time, even many Iranians paid very little attention that their countrymen and women were incarcerated, tortured and murdered. It is nothing new. But Human rights too have become the chic word these days.

Even with all the brain power of all the think tanks and the many conferences they convene to talk about Iran and its many issues, no one has come up with a real and viable solution. Negotiations have gone nowhere and even with a former hostage who is all for “Negotiating with Iran” as a chief American negotiator–, the other party is just not interested. Obama is very much willing but he can’t do magic. And it seems only magic or a miracle can solve the problem of Iran. In the meantime, we sit, watch and listen and wonder what next?

Khamenei, the grand leader, Khatami, the former President, Mir Hossein Mousavi, the one who supposedly lost, Karoubi, the nice cleric, Ahmadi Nejad, the Mahdi (the hidden Imam) of our times, and Rafsanjani, the one who advises but doesn’t change in principle are all the figures in this mad world of Iran. Each faction is trying to push and pull much like the ones here. In the meantime, the Iranian people are suffering and have to pay with their lives and their livelihood.

The Green Movement as it is called or the opposition doesn’t really have any clear leadership. The people’s demands, meanwhile, are more radical than those of the proclaimed leaders. On Facebook people just slander each other. Iranians love to squabble and disagree with each other. Some people try to be more useful by posting real news from inside Iran and making constructive comments.

Here in the heart of Washington, DC, NGO’s compete with each other to get their funding for their “Iran project,” not necessarily because they care about Iran or Iranians, but because it is a nice way to make a buck, pay your employees and go on conferences here and there, to talk about IRAN. I am not sure if all of them have a good understanding of the history of the country.

It used to be that Soviet specialists were everywhere. Now the buzz word is Iran. The books, written by journalists, analysts, correspondents and policy makers, pour out, almost on a weekly basis. I wonder which country would step in if Iran were to disappear from the radar screen.