Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Backside to Mr. Pelham's Iran Story

The journalist Nicolas Pelham, who writes for The Economist, has published an interesting, quite entertaining and well written article in 1843, the sister magazine of the Economist, called "Trapped in Iran" about his recent visit to Iran. He details his difficulties getting out of the country, being interrogated by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, having his papers seized, and being forced to remain for several months in Iran before finally obtaining an exit visa. However, the backside to this story has been completely omitted, probably on purpose. In the comments below, it is the political aspect of the story that are considered, not the different cultural, social and religious descriptions that also form a part of Mr. Pelham's essay.  

Firstly, one cannot be so surprised at what happened to him in Tehran; when one writes for The Economist, the main news magazine of the anti-Iranian Anglo-Saxon establishment, such things can happen. Had Nicolas Pelham been from another news outlet, an independent, alternative or at least relatively neutral observer of international events, things would surely have turned out differently for him. But The Economist! This paper has hardly written a single unbiased op-ed about Iran, taking the US position that Iran must have another government because it does not accept Israel’s right to exist and that it is to blame for all the chaos in the Middle East.

One must never forget Iran’s recent past and difficulties with the US and the UK. It might be difficult to image in the West, but it is a country that has been threatened and oppressed by the US for decades, and before that by the UK, going back all the way to the British forced nationalisation of the Iranian oil resources at the turn of the 20th century. A fierce economic war has been waged against Iran for over 40 years, with illegal sanctions imposed upon it, unilaterally by the US. This has not much to do with the type of regime in Tehran, but with Iran refusing to bend to US will. Iran must be broken because Iran is a key piece in Uncle Sam’s geopolitical chessboard for world domination. The immense oil and gas resources of Iran are less important than they were, but are of course coveted as well.

It is well known that spies loyal to the US and Israel are operating inside Iran and are constantly trying to steal information, sabotage infrastructure or stir up the people against the government. One remembers the famous Stuxnet virus that was unleashed against Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities by a joint US and Israeli operation, or the murder of several Iranian nuclear scientists simply for working on Iran’s civilian nuclear programme. There is the now very open support, by many well-known US politicians, for the MEK, an armed opposition group which was previously considered a terrorist organization both in the USA and in Europe. With all these points in mind, one can fully understand that Iran’s security services are careful with regard to Jewish journalists working for The Economist. No wonder Iranians take all possible precautions towards certain foreigners.

The fact that Nicolas Pelham does not mention this whole background is chocking to say the least, either in its ignorance or its insidiousness. If he is unawareness of all these events in recent Iranian history, he is simply a poor ignorant soul. On the other hand, if he is aware, but consciously avoided mentioning any of it in his essay, he is a cunning propagandist. In either case, he is not worthy of being a journalist. He does not for a second mention that there is perhaps a rational and understandable reason why he is treated the way he is by Iran’s authorities. Instead, he makes the whole situation he is involved in seem Kafkaesque; as merely being caught up in an absurd Iranian bureaucratic nightmare where there is no reason, no explanation behind the administrative and penal process which involves him against his will.

But not all foreigners are targeted in this way in Iran, far from it. There is no general paranoia about foreigners in Iran from the authorities, contrary to what one may think after reading Mr. Pelham’s essay. Many foreigners – mainly tourists - visit Iran every year; it is actually one of the hottest new destinations for Europeans, despite the negative image that is being constantly projected in the West about this country.

Finally, introspection is fundamental before pointing fingers at others. Of course Iran’s government and administration are far from perfect; they have streaks of authoritarianism and aspects of a police state, like many countries in the Middle East and beyond. But one must also not forget the terrible way in which the US and UK treat their own journalists and dissidents, or how bad they are at upholding laws of freedom of expression, even against their own citizens! Just think of Manning, Assange, Snowden, Drake, Seth Rich, Sibel Edmonds, and many others, who are either imprisoned or have had their careers ruined or reset when they refused to align with the State and express the right opinions in the subservient Western Main Stream Media. In the West as elsewhere, if one does not have the right opinions, or, worse, if one is considered a threat to the State, then the supposedly inalienable and guaranteed human rights quickly vanish. It is sad and alarming to constantly see such hypocrisy and holier-than-thou attitude from the West given these circumstances.

Regardless of what one thinks of Iran's government, it is absolutely necessary to support – morally, politically, publicly - the continued independence of Iran from the aggressive beast across the Atlantic. The affairs of Iran are entirely the business of the Iranian people, regardless of what The Economist and the like may say.

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