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16.02.2009 Feature Article

Bluntly SpeakingWill there be a change in US-Iran relations

IF THE current friendly and beautiful noises coming out of the United States of America (USA) and Iran, can translate into something positive, then the whole world should be grateful to President Barack Obama.

For the past thirty years, relations between the United States and Iran have frozen harder than an Artic iceberg.

Iran has described Amercia as the “Great Satan”. Not to be outdone, ex-President George Bush, Jnr. saw Iran as belonging to “an Axis of Evil,” with Syria and North Korea forming the other points of the Axis.

After unilaterally and disastrously invading Iraq, Bush never hid his intention of invading Iran too, and possibly Syria. He kept brandishing the big stick in the face of Iran.

Perhaps, it was the disastrous failure of his misadventure in Iraq that stopped George Bush from carrying out his intentions.

Where George Bush had demonised Iran, and had kept threatening that country with the heavy club of war, President Obama has reportedly said that he was looking for “openings that can be created where we can start sitting across the table face-to-face.”

If Bush heard Obama, then he (Bush) must have suffered a stroke at this 'heretical', 360-degree turn in the American policy towards the enemy he (bush) so loved to hate and to wipe off the face of the earth.

How can Obama even think of extending the hand of friendship to a terrorist, an evil nation that supports the enemies of America? Obama, how could you do this? Well, Obama has done it. In fact, earlier, he had offered a hand of friendship, provided that Iran “unclenched its fist.”

It is said, one can catch more files with molasses, than with vinegar. And Shakespeare has stated in his play, MEASURE FOR MEASURE, that while it is great to have the strength of a giant, it is tyrannical to use it like a giant.

There is no way Iran can invade America or defeat it in a shooting war. Obama must, therefore, be speaking from a position of strength.

Fortunately, the response from Iran has been positive. Instead of asking the United States to apologise before talks, as it has repeatedly stated, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has reportedly said, “It is quite clear that real change must be fundamental and not tactical.

It is clear the Iranian nation welcomes real changes, and is ready for dialogue in a climate of equality and mutual respect.”

To understand the current frosty relations between Iran and America, one has to go back a bit into history.

When the Second World War broke out, Iran, under their King, Shah Reza Pahlavi, declared its neutrality. However, because the Allies wanted to use the Trans-Iranian Railway to carry war supplies from Great Britain to the Soviet Union, the two countries invaded Iran and forced the Shah to abdicate, and his son, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, became the Shah.

Nationalist agitation, led by Mohammed Mossadegh, was against the presence of foreign troops in Iran and the British control and exploitation of Iranian oil.

For a time, the Shah was forced to go into exile, but America's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and British Secret Service agents brought back the Shah, and imposed him on the people. Mossadegh was arrested.

America turned the Shah into a puppet, and also made him the Policeman of the Gulf.

He became a cruel dictator. He used his secret police unit, the SAVAK, to silence dissent through torture, intimidation and corruption. Indeed, it became extremely dangerous to hold a conversation with a fellow citizen, because one never knew what trap had been set by the SAVAK.

In February 1979, the Shah was overthrown by an Islamic revolution, tele-guided by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then in exile in France. He had gone into exile in January 1979.

In October, 1979, US President Jimmy Carter allowed the exiled Shah to enter the United States for medical treatment. This, so infuriated the Iranian revolutionaries, that they seized the US Embassy in Iran.

They demanded the return of the Shah to stand trial, in exchange for the freeing of the Embassy hostages.

Of course, President Carter refused the demands. Instead, he imposed a ban on the export of Iranian goods, and also severed diplomatic ties with Iran. That was in April 1980. Carter also tried to rescue the hostages, but the attempt ended in abysmal failure, when three of the helicopters broke down in a sandstorm, while one collided with a passenger plane.

Both aircraft exploded, and eight people were killed. On January 20, 1980, the very day President Carter left office, the US Embassy hostages were freed.

Ex-President Bill Clinton also imposed economic sanctions on Iran. In accounting for Iranian resentment against the US in particular, and the West at large, one must not forget the shocking, deliberate act of murder perpetrated by the Captain of a Gulf-based United States warship, known as the VINCENNES.

The warship fired two missiles that shot down an Iranian passenger plane on July 3, 1988. It was cold-blooded murder, which the captain tried to explain away without success.

The Iranian civilian plane was Flight 655. It was an Airbus A300 B2. Yet, the captain said he thought the plane was a war plane known as the F14A Tomcat.

The civilian equipment, known as markers, clearly distinguished the civilian plane from a military aircraft. The plane was ascending, but the captain said he thought it was descending.

The plane was moving away from the warship, but the captain said he thought it was moving towards his ship.

There were 290 persons on board the plane, made up of 274 passengers and 16 crew. The breakdown showed that there were 254 Iranians, 13 citizens of the United Arab Emirates, 10 Indians, 6 Pakistanis, 6 Yugoslavs and one Italian.

Finally, it is reported that during the Iran-Iraq war, which lasted from 1980 to 1988, American reconnaissance planes filmed Iranian territory, and presented the air photos to the Iraqis, so that they (the Iraqis) would know which targets to hit.

Whatever the grievances and concerns of the United States and Iran, it is hoped that the power brokers of both countries will put aside extremism, and the desire to profit from tension and war-mongering, and work towards peace.

As stated by President Ahmadinejad, the dialogue must be conducted “in a climate of equality and mutual respect.” Abusive terms like the “Great Satan” and Axis of Evil” should be expunged from the vocabulary.

_anonymous Columnist
_anonymous Columnist, © 2009

This author has authored 86 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: AnonymousColumnist

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