Iran’s story is more than a mere movie

The academy award winning movie “Argo,” which tells the story of six U.S. Embassy staffers who secretly resorted to the Canadian Embassy in Tehran after protesters and Basij militiamen occupied their embassy following the fall of Iran’s Shah, has awakened many reactions.

The movie tells a short chapter of a long tense relationship between the two countries. The relation is currently tenser than ever. Who thought the strained relationship will last for 33 years? It is a long time of dispute, severance and indirect wars. In the past three decades, the reality of the revolutionary phase, the map and leaderships have changed, countries have fallen and alliances have shifted.

The old Iran as envisioned by Khomeini remains the same. It used to hate the “Great Satan” as a result of a mixture of history, ideology and politics

Abdul Rahman al-Rashed

Despite all that, Tehran has not changed much. It rather became fiercer in its tendency to resort to violence, and its desire to expand its influence increased. The Soviet Union collapsed and China changed. Even Vietnam and Cuba became open to Washington.

Regimes like Saddam’s and Qaddafi’s were toppled. Many concepts in international relations changed like the concepts of globalization and communication. Even the concepts of influence and sovereignty changed in meaning and content.
Regional domination

The old Iran as envisioned by Khomeini remains the same. It used to hate the “Great Satan” as a result of a mixture of history, ideology and politics. It currently hates the U.S. because it thinks that this Great Satan rejects allowing it to fulfill its dreams of possessing nuclear weapons and dominating the region. It is quite expected that a superpower country will not allow an “enemy” state to be armed with nuclear weapons that can destroy oil fields and ignite the world or that can be used to arm its rivals of terrorist organizations. It is also normal that a superpower country will fight an “enemy” country’s infinite attempt to gain regional domination that will establish an aggressive bloc and pose a threat to the security of its interests.

When the incident in which U.S. Embassy staffers were held captive happened, we thought it took place to express a pent-up anger. It was expected that the U.S. Embassy will be one of the first targets. But after three decades, Iran is still Iran despite many attempts by its men to reform the intellect of its leaders and transfer the country to a respectful level. However, all these men failed. The first of them was Iran’s first prime minister Abolhassan Banisadr. His story is a real drama that exceeds Argo’s drama. He struggled with Khomeini for twenty years and he was loyal to him. He won the presidential elections against seven opponents but he only remained in office for one year because Khomeini accused him of dereliction in confronting Iraqi forces. He thus became wanted and he had to flee the country. It is said he fled to the Turkish borders disguised in military outfit. Among the few good men was Mohammad Khatami, the fifth president of the republic who won with 70 percent of votes. There were hundreds of politicians, religious men and intellectuals who were persecuted although they were from within the basis of the regime and among the sons of the revolution. They all failed in altering the mentality of Qom’s political regime.
A worse era
We are currently witnessing a worse era in Iran’s governance as the Revolutionary Guards’ influence rises and as its domination of the state’s political, intelligence and economic keys increase. Today, the Revolutionary Guards is behind the fires ignited in Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza.

The movie “Argo” is about the revolution’s first year. Back then we were optimistic as the Shah suffered from paranoia and he dreamt of the Fares Empire which he wanted to build a fierce military force for. He spent the last decade of his ruling clashing with Gulf countries which witnessed a state of worry during the phase of the British withdrawal.

Disappointment was terrible as when Khomeini took over, we found out he suffered from the same disease. He frankly announced his scheme to expand his influence to the Arab region. This time, however, it was under the name of Islam. He announced his plan that would lead to a Shiite-Sunni dispute - one that Muslims have not known in their history since the collapse of the Umayyad State 13 centuries ago. That historical incident is why Iran suffers from this policy.

Iran is a fierce military power but a poor country that is civically a failure.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on March 7, 2013

 (Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.)


Last Update: Thursday, 14 March 2013 KSA 09:02 - GMT 06:02
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