US, Iran must overcome resentment for historic opportunity
Published: Sunday, September 29, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 29, 2013 23:09
This year's meeting at the U.N. General Assembly saw a sudden thaw in the usually frozen relations between the US and "Axis of Evil" member Iran. The shocking increase in harmonious dialogue is largely due to former nuclear negotiator Hassan Rouhani's ascension as President of Iran. Rouhani is considered a moderate in Iran, which is how he won overwhelming popular support and a landslide victory, but his ties to the Revolutionary Guard and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the true Supreme Ruler of Iran, say otherwise. This, however, is not a reason to continue America's infantile as well as brutish behavior towards Iran. If the US truly prides itself on championing freedom, we will do all we can to repair the bridge of trust that the United States, not Iran, blew up.
US-Iranian relations were forever marred when in 1953 CIA agent Kermit Roosevelt Jr., under orders from President Eisenhower, orchestrated a coup d'etat called "Operation Ajax." The coup was directed against Iran's overwhelmingly popular Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, the nation's first elected leader in nearly 2,500 years. Mossadegh was quite the socialist, making him easily susceptible to inevitable charges of "communist," but the real reason the CIA and MI6 wanted him gone was because he had nationalized Iran's oil industry, effectively closing it off to foreign firms, and that was just unacceptable to US planners. Mossadegh was imprisoned while his people were murdered in the streets by Western-supplied thugs and Roosevelt had Mohammad Pahlavi, the former monarch of Iran, reinstated as the Shah.
The Shah was a secular ruler who heavily modernized the country while suppressing the grass-roots movements for self-determination, which was mostly lead by Islamic clerics, so that the Western firms would feel safer as they invested in the country. His Western-backed oppression eventually destroyed itself when on Sept. 8, 1978, what has since become "Black Friday," the Shah ordered soldiers to break up a religious demonstration in Tehran's Jaleh Square. The soldiers, who were heavily inexperienced in dealing with peaceful gatherings, fired indiscriminately into the crowd killing 88 civilians. The Shah, as a last-ditch effort to save face, allowed most of Iran's political dissidents to return to the country, but this only expedited the end to his rule as Ruhollah Khomenei, the Grand Ayatollah, was welcomed home by throngs of supporters and quickly replaced Pahlavi as Supreme Ruler of Iran.
Khomenei was understandably anti-Western, as was the vast majority of Iran, and he quickly called for an Islamic Revolution across the Middle East as a way of destroying the foreign funded dictatorships in Iran's Arabian neighbor states. Saddam Hussein, then dictator of Iraq and staunch American ally, used Khomenei's attempts to mobilize Iraq's largely Shiite majority against the Ba'ath Party regime as a justification for invading Iran's oil-rich province of Khuzestan in what would become the Iran-Iraq War. The US, as the world's largest weapons supplier, sold Saddam arms, coincidentally including the two Exocet anti-ship missiles that an Iraqi warplane used on the USS Stark, while also smuggling weapons into Iran under the Iran-Contra affair. Additionally, US involvement extended to the USS Vincennes shooting down Iran Air Flight 655, killing all 290 civilian passengers, while attempting to destroy Iranian gunboats, all in flagrant violation of international law.
Now I would be remiss to not point out that Khomenei and his successor Khamenei have consolidated a harshly repressive theocratic state that employs many of the same tactics the Shah used against his own political dissidents and have refused popular calls amongst the citizenry to abdicate power to a freely elected executive official. The 2009-2010 Iranian election protests were a result of Iranian's long simmering resentment against the theocrats and their puppet, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, whose anti-Western rhetoric had resulted in debilitating economic sanctions. Luckily for the theocracy, Michael Jackson's untimely death distracted virtually all of the revolution's support in the West, but Khamenei saw the writing on the wall and allowed the less-conservative Rouhani to beat Ahmedinejad's planned successor earlier this year.