Iranians not yet fed up with wars? |
Arab Times - 29 August, 2012
Author: Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed
The Non-Aligned Movement summit conference in Tehran is, more or less, a festivity of real value only to the Iranian government. It is in need of improving its image, in particular to its own citizens who witnessed three years of continuous damage to the reputation of their president, their supreme spiritual leader and other political forces.
The government displayed ferocious brutality against its own followers who demonstrated peacefully with opponents such as Mir Hussein Mousavi. Later, the Iranian people watched their regime support the Syrian regime whose brutality, crimes and massacres filled the screens. Now the nuclear project of the government is deeply cutting at the ability of ordinary citizens to buy bread or fuel, even though in the end they will not benefit from this project.
Though the Non-Aligned Movement has been without value for decades, the summit will provide the Iranian government with an opportunity to reassure citizens who are worried by the besiege, the war talk and the possible strike from the West and Israel.
The Iranian citizen has reached a point of maturity and boredom where he no longer cares much about the issues the regime is creating abroad, while taking share from his bread to finance them. The Iranian government finances the war against the West and Israel and supports Hezbollah and the Iraqi forces loyal to it.
While the government adopts austerity measures in its spending on the needs of its citizens, it lavishly spends on the Assad regime which is on the verge of collapse. There is no exaggeration or cynicism in the news that the government has issued directives to the official media to avoid printing or showing state feasts where large quantities of delicious food are served. The government is aware that the internal frustration has reached the point of explosion.
It is only natural here to ask: Why does the Iranian leadership want to continue these battles? Please note here that the term “leadership” is obscure. In the past, the supreme religious leader represented the final authority. Few partners in the presidency, such as former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani, decided the country’s policy and worked out the details of its daily life. Though the supreme religious leader is still on his seat, he no longer enjoys complete authority.
The Revolutionary Guard, which has grown up, is now sharing the decision-making authority with him. President Ahmadijejad has also lost much of his power. He was several times publicly humiliated. He was forced to appoint some ministers he did not approve of and was prevented from appointing other ministers who were close to him. He made a number of threats, temporarily stopped coming to office but nothing has changed.
The question is: Why do these people – the supreme religious leader, the president and the secret officers in the Revolutionary Guard – wanted to take the path of confrontation with the world? Why does Iran continue to execute costly regional projects in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Yemen and Afghanistan?
What do the Iranian planners want from projects that erode the country’s revenues and put it into confrontation with countries bigger than it? If we believed in the hypothesis that Iran’s military nuclear project, despite its huge bill, represented an insurance policy to the regime against any threats in the future, why the confrontations with other countries in the region?
The only justification is that we are faced with old school leadership, which believes in conflicts of cultures and regimes though the end of the Cold War has proved the fallacy of these theories. Competition today is of economic, scientific and cultural nature. The military confrontation will not yield any benefits save to weapon traders.
All that the Americans and the Russians had fought for during the past 40 years seems absurd today. Countries such as Vietnam, Cuba, China, the United States and Russia now enjoy complete peaceful relations. In Tehran as in some Arab countries are leaders who still live on their old readings, hold fast to the conspiracy theories and believe that military and security gains constitute the maximum victory. A country like South Korea is dumping its products manufactured through its technology in large countries, making more gains than North Korea, which, like Iran, is spending all its funds on military and political projects that are a complete failure.
Had the Iranian leaders given up their political and military ambitions, they might have built the strongest country in the region. They might also have been able to impose their presence without paying a single dollar to Hezbollah, Assad or the Houthis in Yemen. No doubt the Iranians may one day arrive at this conclusion but this may be too late.