A Daunting Prospect
The mounting international tension between the Iranian Supreme Guide, Ali Khamenei, and the American Conducător, Donald Trump, is no laughing matter.
In the Strait of Hormuz where about 2.7 mio m3 of crude oil passes per day, playing with matches is insane. Iran claims “conspiracy orchestrated by ill-wishers” and “adventurism” by foreigners when it comes to the tanker and drones war. If one considers the USA’s past adventures in the Middle-East and South-America, is this declaration really unfounded?
Khomeini and Trump have their equivalence growing in number in a pathetically weak Europe (Boris Johnson, Matteo Salvini, Viktor Orbán) and a pitiable decrepit Middle-East (Benjamin Netanyahu, Mohammad bin Salman, Recep Erdoğan).
In a dangerous world, wise leadership requires a prudent anticipation of untoward events and preparations to prevent them or mitigate their effects. This is not their concern; short-sighted, these men form a club of political opportunists and nepotists, sketching a daunting prospect in an interconnected world.
A Sinister Outlook
The Iranian domestic matters revolve around corruption, poverty, repression and the inadequacy of authorities in finding solutions to the problems they have created since 1979 on a daily basis.
Here too, one is hard pressed to find something funny.
If you were an adult, as I were in the 1980s, you might be as bored as I am now with the stagnation in which Iran is pedalling; for over forty years we have heard the same stories with different victims but the same bullies. Nothing has changed.
Open a book on Iran and you cannot escape a chapter or two about Cyrus’s cylinder and the charter of human rights when Europeans were living in caves, or how Iranians have resisted invasions, and how in 1953, the international politics, led by the USA and the UK, betrayed Mossadegh by setting up Operation Ajax.
This framework of writing portrays Iran as a complex and paradoxical country, but fails to grasp it comprehensively. It structures the rhetoric, but offers no alternative analysis of the mess we are in and the sinister outlook awaiting us.
In 2019, the Iranians cannot get rid of a bunch of clerics, born and bred in the country, that have betrayed the symbols and myths of a proud population. Hundreds of Iranians flee from the country each year. People are resigned to welcoming another dictatorship. Scared of putting their ideas into words, they fail to shake off centuries of voluntary servitude. In this, there is nothing to be proud of.
As frustration mounts in the population, the regime hardens, creating a desperate, explosive atmosphere in which the worst is more than a possibility. The sinister outlook of civil war is haunting. A civil war is the gross failure of a nation.
An Amusing modern Mirza Abolhassan Khan Ilchi
Despite this gloomy atmosphere, we found the expression of a long-standing Iranian cultural characteristic in a present public figure amusing.
In Iranian families, men are brought up thin-skinned. They grow up to master a persistent critical attitude toward everything and anything; thereby having a vested interest in fault-finding. It follows that to them being subject to others’ criticism is totally unacceptable.
In childhood, they turn to Mum and Dad to back up their words when they cannot have it their way. More often than not parents abide by their whims. It should not surprise us that as an adult, their boss serves as the last recourse to proving them right, even if they are utterly in the wrong.
Mirza Abolhassan Khan Ilchi, Minister of Foreign Affairs in the 19th century, had complained to his master, Fath-Ali Shah Qajar, far too often.
The Précieuse M.J. Zarif, the modern Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister, has complained to Daddy Khamenei about being ill-portrayed in a TV fictional serial broadcast by the IRIB, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, which hold a monopoly on domestic radio and television services.
The thin-skinned Zarif – coincidentally, his surname translates into the English adjective “elegant, delicate” – was described as contrite, inert, and his department was said to be weak, inept, and infested by foreign spies.
Zarif hated the fiction. He wrote and complained to the Supreme Guide who has the direct supervision of the IRIB.
Khamenei wrote back saying he is absolutely unsatisfied with disrespect toward the Iranian foreign minister.
So what? This schoolyard tiff can only happen in Iran, where the internal battles of the clerics and their protégés are raging; personal attacks and low blows are common. This is also a centuries-long characteristic of Iranian politics.
Unfortunately the means used among these corrupt people wearing antiquated religious symbols and following a reactionary agenda are those of a state. Their squabbles are serving their gang’s interests against people’s well-being and prosperity.
By writing to Daddy Khamenei, the Précieuse Zarif admitted the existence of propaganda and censorship in Iran and who is in charge of both. However, when he is interviewed by a Western journalist, he would find words to blame it on some American propaganda. By swearing on the rule of law in Iran, he pulls the wool over the eyes of the audience.
The Super-Inflated Super-Diplomat
Zarif thinks himself as the Iranian super-diplomat. Daddy Khamenei, who is the real decision maker on all affairs, especially international, allowed him to conclude the JCPOA as his lieutenant in Vienna. Upon his return to Iran, Zarif had his status and was celebrated as the Amir Kabir of our times.
In Iranian politics, over-dramatisation, over-statement and over-simplification are part of blindfolding the public and enlarging the national ego.
In the couple of years following the JCPOA, Zarif became the ace of the ministers of foreign affairs of the world, albeit he lied abundantly; a maestro in vindicating the theocracy.
He dismissed the obvious human rights abuses, refuted the issue of dual nationals taken as hostages and used as bargaining-chips, and warranted Iranian meddling in Syria and Yemen wars.
For him, just give a good sweep to embarrassing issues and everything disappears under a Persian carpet of denial.
The mainstream international media, always too happy to take shortcuts when the stories are related to Iran, portrayed the couple Hassan Rouhani–M.J. Zarif as beacons of Iranian moderates, and in the process forgetting the complexity and opacity of the Velayat-e faqih and the role of the Supreme Leader, who happens to be the hard-liner in chief. Besides, the dislike of the bigoted Donald Trump pressed them to shift the balance in favour of the Islamic Republic.
However, in his own country, things were not as smooth as Zarif liked them to be. When the Syrian president visited Iran in late February 2019, Zarif was not present at the two separate and crucial meetings.
At the first meeting, the Supreme Leader praised al-Assad to no end, and in the second, a gleeful H. Rouhani could not stop smiling to his guest.
Zarif, the foreign minister, was absent from both meetings. He was not invited…. The IRGC commander Major General Qasem Soleimani described his absence as some inconsistencies (lack of harmony?) within the government bodies…a mistake due to oversight.
When military explains politics, there is something to worry about.
The Précieuse Zarif sulked and resigned from his function by publishing a message on Instagram. However, in less than 48 hours he reappeared true to himself and grinning cattishly, in a meeting held between Ali Khamenei and Nikol Pashinyan, the Armenian PM, as if nothing has ever happened.
Daddy Khamenei still protects the Précieuse Zarif…up to a point.
The Reckless American Interference
On 31st July 2019, within the US Department of the Treasury, the Office Of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued this statement: The following individual has been added to OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List: ZARIF, Mohammad Javad (a.k.a. ZARIF KHONSARI, Mohammad Javad; a.k.a. “ZARIF, Javad”), Iran; DOB 08 Jan 1960; Additional Sanctions Information – Subject to Secondary Sanctions; Gender Male (individual) [IRAN-EO13876].
The US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said: Foreign Minister Zarif had been targeted because he acted on behalf of the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. Zarif is a key enabler of Ayatollah Khamenei’s policies throughout the region and around the world, the designation of Javad Zarif today reflects this reality.
The US president Donald Trump is very busy undoing what the previous president Barack Obama has done. Advised by John Bolton, he uses Mike Pompeo to find him a strategy for his absurd tweets laden with grave consequences.
For these men, the Saudis have clean hands in assassinations. Kim Jong-un writes beautiful letters, even when he encloses a missile or two, and are most pleased when Benjamin Netanyahu unlawfully puts up a sign in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights saying Trump Heights.
Trump, by promoting and peddling conspiracy theories, leads an angry, racist and cruel presidency. He is dragging his country into darkness; something that US citizens have failed to stop.
However, Iran’s internal affairs are not his business at all. It is difficult for me to admit, but the Islamic Republic of Iran is a sovereign country, and the outside world has to accept its representative, even if they are abhorred by the Iranians. It is not for Trump and co to decide for them.
Perhaps ignoring Trump and stopping to comment on his tweets would be best.
However, M.J. Zarif and the Velayat-e Faqih he represents are our concerns wherever we are, in Iran or abroad. It is our duty to shake off the regime. The sanctions and secondary sanctions on Iran may be lessened only by the pressure of the Iranians on their own regime.
Repeating همه چیز انشاألله درست میشود, Inshallah! Everything will be all right has never been a solution to anything.
Slowly, we are waking up from social slumber, realising that the government is made of spineless men who show no reaction to the violation of human rights, and support an anti-women system that has caused our lives to rot as citizens.
Someone with a higher education like Zarif does his best to justify the horrors of the regime and cover up the failures and the broken promises. He is pernicious and more dangerous to the Iranian people than a blunt bassiji.
In deceiving the population, Zarif’s accomplices are the Iranian journalists, those who still get their papers published.
As a journalist put it: Conditions are hostile … our media people are self-censored and waiting for permission or even orders from others on what to write and say. Besides, often they have no will of their own, no initiative. They are dwarfs, and lag behind. […] Unfortunately, we have to admit that there is no media in Iran that speaks first and foremost in the region and in the world. They [who are “they”? The men in the theocratic regime?] have not let a media grow…
If we want to live a better life in our country, we need an audacious, honest media, inside Iran. Our private chats conveying political gossip and rumours, mixed with the baby’s health and the fluctuations in the price of fruits, do not help with uniting us.
The Self-Assurance of the Frustrated Bureaucrat
In conducting the Iranian diplomacy, focused on nuclear facilities, Israel’s annihilation, Death to USA and enrolling proxies to stand to Saudi Arabia, Zarif does his job as the Velayat-e Faqih’s emissary, but these are not the aims that the Iranian population wish to pursue.
The urban youths do not all aspire to a new revolution, but the gap between their generation and that of ageing elites who control the Islamic Republic is widening. For them, the objective of going through university is only to have a diploma – being hardly interested in what subject they study. Then they will find a girl to marry.
In the privacy of their close circles, they transgress the religious interdicts. In public, they bend to the ayatollahs’ rules. Most have never protested against power, and are less than curious to learn from other oppressed people elsewhere about demanding their rights. They may applaud those who have the courage to do so. This is a step forward, but as yet not enough to get rid of the geriatric elite.
Their parents have kept them safe from the regime’s brutalities, but could not teach them how to stand up to the mullahs. What can their elders explain when they have never tasted freedom themselves?
As Zarif brags and tweets, more dual nationals, daring artists and writers are imprisoned, and their lawyers, supporters and families arrested. Zarif vindicates a regime that kills environmentalists labelling their activities as unlawful and non-religious.
Today, the corrupt officials, bogged down by external sanctions, offer the best conditions for crooked transactions, none of which is taxed unlawful and non-religious, as long as clerics benefit from the largess of the questionable business deals.
However, as soon as the clerics’ cuts are forgotten by the crook, he becomes a مفسد فی الارض, enemy of God on Earth…. And is delivered to another corrupt institution, i.e. the Judiciary, headed by a ruthless hangman.
Some Active Supporters…
The Précieuse Zarif is the ace of Daddy Khamenei in dissembling, equivocating, prevaricating, misinforming, and distorting.
He is not alone. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Iranians are actively supporting the regime in various degrees.
Years ago, within the framework of my job, I was sitting with European expatriates in the waiting area of an Iranian high official’s office. To show us that he was the boss, the bureaucrat, full-time Hezbollahi and part-time pasdar (IRGC) kept us waiting.
The bureaucrat’s personal assistant greeted us with curt taarofs in American English. Believing that our delegation did not breathe a word in Farsi, he made offensive remarks about us to his colleagues. This is typical behaviour of Iranians in want of self-assurance and frustrated, عقده ای, with Westerners.
In passing, two of us were female. I learned from our Farsi speaking hosts that, as European residents, we could be easily persuaded to be taken to bed with any of them.
This manner of behaviour is very much nurtured by the Islamic Republic but has been born and reared well before it.
Judging by his age, the assistant must have studied in the 1990s in the USA. If all Western universities, in particular American, were as mean and decadent as the clerics pretend them to be, no son of a mullah should go there and quite a number of high officials would not have a degree.
Western decadence has its good sides: a MSc or better still a PhD from a British or an American university, a near perfect working knowledge of religious dogmas and practices, a natural ability for hypocrisy, and a weighty ayatollah as reference are the makings of a promising career. Take H. Rouhani and M.J. Zarif as living models.
Shame on us that we let all of this happen by acquiescing to the repression of minorities, by accepting women as second-hand citizens, and shutting up when we should have howled our indignation toward torture, rape and execution. We have behaved as موش مرده, dead rats, in the hands of bloodthirsty Tartuffes.
Shame on us that we have accepted this parody of revolution for the last forty years. Perhaps, in each of us, an evil spirit of a jinn like Précieuse Zarif is dormant. Given the opportunity, it wakes up and shatters all the hope of evolving to a better life. It keeps us from being united and having a common vision.
On second thoughts, the amusing modern Mirza Abolhassan Khan Ilchi, Mohammad Javad Zarif, is not so amusing. He is part of the daunting prospects in world affairs and the sinister outlook for Iran.
As a nation, we have a strong hand to play in realising what we dream of: a better life in our country. But we squander the opportunities by not working hard enough together and expecting someone, a messiah, Mehdi, to materialise.