– Iran’s political crisis continues to blaze. It’s still impossible to say which leaders or factions will emerge victorious, but one thing is certain: the earthquake in the Islamic Republic is shaking the Mideast and deeply confusing everyone, including the US government.
Highlighting the complexity of this crisis, Meir Dagan, the head of Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, reportedly voiced his hope that Iran’s embattled president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, would remain in office. On the surface, that sounds absurd, since Ahmadinejad is Israel’s Great Satan.
But, according to Dagan, if Ahmadinejad’s supposedly "moderate" rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi, came to power, it would be harder for Israel to keep up its propaganda war against Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Besides, added the Mossad chief, the devil you know is better.
Meanwhile, we have been watching an intensifying western propaganda campaign against Iran, mounted by the US and British governments. What we hear is commentary and analysis that comes from bitterly anti-regime Iranian exiles, "experts" with an ax to grind, and US pro-Israel neocons yearning for war with Iran.
In viewing the Muslim world, Westerners keep listening to those who tell them what they want to hear, rather than the facts. We are at it again in Iran.
President Barack Obama’s properly stated he would refrain from being seen to "meddle" in Iran’s internal affairs in spite of calls by hard-line Republicans for American action – whatever that might be. Obama did the right thing by apologizing for the US/British coup that overthrew Iran’s democratic Mossadegh government in 1953.
But that was not the whole story. Washington has been attempting to overthrow Iran’s Islamic government since the 1979 revolution and continues to do so in spite of pledges of neutrality in the current crisis.
The US has laid economic siege to Iran for 30 years, blocking desperately needed foreign investment, preventing technology transfers, and disrupting Iranian trade. In recent years, the US Congress voted $120 million for anti-regime media broadcasts into Iran, and $60-75 million funding opposition parties, violent underground Marxists like the Mujahidin-i-Khalq, and restive ethnic groups like Azeris, Kurds, and Arabs under the so-called "Iran Democracy Program."
The arm of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, remains withered from a bomb planted by the US-backed Mujahidin-i-Khalq, who were once on the US terrorist list.
Pakistani intelligence sources put CIA’s recent spending on "black operations" to subvert Iran’s government at $400 million.
According to an ABC News investigation, President George Bush signed a "finding" that authorized an accelerated campaign of subversion against the Islamic Republic. Washington’s goal was "regime change" in Tehran and installation of a pro-US regime of former Iranian royalist exiles.
While the majority of protests we see in Tehran are genuine and spontaneous, Western intelligence agencies and media are playing a key role in sustaining the uprising and providing communications, including the newest electronic method, via Twitter. These are covert techniques developed by the US during recent revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia that brought pro-US governments to power.
The Tehran government made things worse by limiting foreign news reports and arresting prominent politicians. Its leadership is increasingly – and dangerously – split over how to handle the protests.
We also hear lot of hypocrisy from Western capitals. Washington, Ottawa, London and Paris piously accused Iran of improper electoral procedures while utterly ignoring the total lack of democracy in their authoritarian Mideast allies such as Egypt, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia, that never hold elections and throw political opponents into prison and torture them. Compared to them, Iran, for all its faults, is almost a model of democratic governance.
The US, France and Saudi Arabia just cooperated to rig Lebanon’s recent elections, dishing out millions in bribe money to ensure victory of the pro-US faction. France’s President Nicholas Sarkozy had the chutzpah to rebuke Iran for improper election procedures after returning from the funeral of Gabon’s dictator, Omar Bongo, who had ruled for 41 years and supplied France with cheap oil.
When Hamas won a fair and square democratic election in Gaza, the US and Israel swiftly moved to mount a coup against the new Palestinian government.
US senators, led by John McCain, blasted Iran for not respecting human rights. That’s pretty rich after they just voted to bar the public release of ghastly torture photos from US prisons in Iraq, want secret US prisons kept open, and champion torture.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the dimmest bulbs in the weak-wattage Republican ranks, called for US intervention in Iran. Graham was an architect of the Iraq fiasco. Let’s air assault the warlike senator into downtown Tehran.
Über-moral Canada, which backed Pakistan’s military dictatorship under Gen. Pervez Musharraf, accused Tehran of unfair elections.
There are many questions about Iran’s vote, of which incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won by 60%.
Voter turnout was an amazing 84%, putting to shame the US and Europe, where less than half of voters exercise their right.
Pre-election polls that showed Ahmadinejad headed for a big win were right. All those foreigners praying for his defeat and the collapse of the Islamic government may be deeply disappointed.
But it also appears there were significant – though as far as we know now – not decisive irregularities. Iran’s government has admitted that some ballot boxes were stuffed, and the speaker of the Majils (parliament), the capable Ali Larijani, rebuked certain unnamed clerics for trying to rig results. This was extremely stupid, as Ahmadinejad was way ahead in pre-election polls anyway, and very popular.
This leaves Washington in a quandary. President Obama sincerely wants to enter into talks with Iran over its nuclear program and try to convince Tehran to give up enrichment. But hardliners in his cabinet and Congress are urging Obama to seize the opportunity to further destabilize Iran.
Bad idea. A stable Iran is essential to a stable Mideast. Mossad chief Dagan knows what he’s talking about. US and British efforts to subvert Iran’s government could yet blow up in our faces. And do we really need another monster crisis after Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Palestine?
Meanwhile, other Mideast nations allied to the US will look at Iran and conclude that giving any democratic rights can be downright dangerous and must be avoided at all costs.
Eric Margolis [send him mail], contributing foreign editor for Sun National Media Canada. He is the author of War at the Top of the World and the new book, American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World. See his website.
Copyright © 2009 Eric Margolis