USA – Iran: What you need to know – a short but rich summary and comment

If you want to see some must read non political posts on USA-Iran, head over to:

http://theotheriran.com/category/usa/

You will find multiple interesting posts including:

Iran’s extraordinary reaction to 9/11, a reaction that was unique in the region:

http://theotheriran.com/2014/03/29/irans-exceptional-reaction-to-911-attacks-candlelit-vigils-for-the-victims-and-60k-soccer-fans-respected-a-minutes-silence/

How US athletes are celebrated by Iranians shouting “USA,USA”:

http://theotheriran.com/2014/08/02/american-athletes-get-star-treatment-in-iran-usa-usa-chants-for-us-athletes/

Iranian players handed out white roses (a symbol of peace in Iran) to the US players during a football/soccer match in 1998:

http://theotheriran.com/2014/03/21/iranian-players-handed-white-roses-a-symbol-of-peace-in-iran-to-the-us-players-prior-to-soccer-match/

An address by Italy’s former Ambassador to Iran telling US students in John Hopkins University about how the common Iranians really view the US:

http://theotheriran.com/2014/08/24/italys-former-ambassador-to-iran-no-iranians-dont-hate-you/

And some incredible travel reports by US Americans who really have been in Iran (in contrast to the most opinionated politicians):

http://theotheriran.com/category/usa/

Let’s move to the comment part:

Since the hostage crisis in 1979 mainstream US TV, which is still the main source of information for most of the people in the US, has not really shown multiple sides of Iran. The media coverage has focused on the happenings in 1979 and showing recordings of Iranians shouting anti-American slogans. The hostage crisis took 444 days and Iran was seen as the main adversary of the US. Unfortunately this view has manifested itself since then.

If you compare the hostage taking with what is happening these days in other parts of the world, it does not seem as insuperable hurdle for peace making. The hostages were not put in orange jumpsuits, were not beaten or tortured, they were basically put under house arrest. Shortly after the embassy takeover, the students released women and African American personnel, citing solidarity with “oppressed minorities.” Another hostage, Richard Queen, was released in 1980 due to health problems.
70% of the Iranians are under 40 years. So most of the people living in Iran were not even five years old when the embassy takeover happened. I don’t care about the governments but the people deserve peace and shouldn’t be barred from reestablishing friendship.
After all why should this be impossible when the US could see Germany as partner and friend a few years after millions were killed in WWII and the Holocaust. Germany got a second chance and a lot of help (Marshal Plan) after committing unbelievable crimes.

The hostage taking was bad, but then what about:

http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/08/26/exclusive-cia-files-prove-america-helped-saddam-as-he-gassed-iran/

or the downing of a civilian Iranian Air liner over the Persian Gulf by the US navy (290 passengers, 66 children):

http://www.iranchamber.com/history/articles/shootingdown_iranair_flight655.php

Vice President George H. W. Bush (later President of United States of America) declared a month later,
“I will never apologize for the United States of America, ever. I don’t care what the facts are.”

“Death to America” slogans are bad, but what about:

John McCain singing “Bomb, Bomb, bomb Iran” in front of applauding audience: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9688222

US Senator on Iran Sanctions: “take the food out of the mouths of the Iranian citizens”:
http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/10/12/342194/kirk-food-from-mouths-iran/

or the US classic “All military options are on the table”

Iranians still hold a lot of admiration for the US. Opinion polls show the majority of Iranians hold a favorable opinion of Americans, making Iran second only to Israel as the most supportive country in the Middle East. Iranians are not resentful and they are very well informed about the US ( Satellite TV, Internet ), may be if bigger parts of US media could focus on representing the majority of Iranians instead of a tiny minority, a lot of misunderstandings between our people could be solved.

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Very interesting – British Journalist reports from inside Syria – THE TELEGRAPH

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10770311/Syria-As-the-bombs-fall-the-people-of-Damascus-rally-round-Bashar-al-Assad.html

The West may oppose Assad’s regime, but on the streets of the capital the people fear a greater evil.

Several of its suburbs are held by rebel fighters, who pound government-held areas with mortars.

most people live under the shadow of constant attack.

Many of the shells land harmlessly, or do not explode. Others cause mayhem. On Tuesday, one struck a school in Bab Touma (St Thomas’s Gate), killing one child and wounding roughly 40. And over the past few days the volume of the bombardment has escalated sharply.

Over the past few days, I have talked to shopkeepers, students, soldiers, doctors, a dentist, MPs and government ministers (including the minister for tourism, who must have the most thankless job in the world). On the basis of these conversations, I would judge not just that support for the regime is holding up, but that President Assad could very well win a popular election, even if carried out on a free and fair basis.

I found – to my surprise – that even people outside the governing Ba’ath party, including some of Assad’s political opponents, said they would support him.

People here see their country as being threatened by foreign powers (above all Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, all backed by the West) who are sponsoring the jihadist groups that make up the opposition. I was struck by the fact that this argument is not made only by the Alawite coterie around the president. I also heard it from Sunni Muslims, Christians and members of the various other cultural and religious groups that abound in Syria.

Only a handful of members of Assad’s 30-strong cabinet (I was told two) are Alawite. The prime minister is Sunni, as are the interior minister, the justice minister, the foreign minister, even the defence minister. The delegation that travelled to Geneva for the failed peace talks several months ago was also almost entirely composed of Sunni Muslims (though they would probably reject sectarian terms, and prefer to think of themselves just as Syrians).

I do think the words of my shopkeeper friend are worth pondering. If the insurgents who killed his mother win the war, there will be no Christian churches in Syria any more (just as there aren’t in Saudi Arabia at the moment). Life will be similarly terrible for many of the ordinary Muslims who make up the great majority of the population.

There are no “good guys” in Syria’s civil war. But we should not be blind to the fact that there is a project out there to destroy its rich, pluralist and unbelievably intricate culture and replace it with a monochrome version of Wahhabi Islam, of the kind favoured by Saudi mullahs. And for reasons that history may come to judge very severely, Britain, the United States, and the West have been aiding and abetting this project.