Iran, Europe can’t pretend not to see what’s occurring

Those youths who are turning out in hundreds of cities throughout Iran –an immense country of 80 millions inhabitants – are all the world heroes of freedom and justice.

Over the last six days, we are seeing them in the streets prepared to face with their bare hands the world’s most aggressive and armed regime, which has at its disposal the Basij, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the army and police’s men who are all fiercely ready to come to the defense of an imperialist regime that imprisons, lashes and kills dissidents, oppresses women to the point of stoning them, hangs homosexuals from cranes, and continues to chant “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” as its most utilized battle cries.

Javad Zarif, Iran’s smiling cat Foreign Minister, who extended historic handshakes with the European Union (which Mogherini always seemed to enjoy very much) wrote in October: “Today, Iranians – boys, girls, men, women – are ALL IRGC; standing firm with those who defend us and the region against aggression and terror”. But this isn’t true. Young Iranians don’t stand with the regime.

They’re children of a culture much longer and richer than that of the fanatical 1979 Islamic Revolution, an don’t want to take up arms in Yemen or Gaza alongside Iran’s superstar of war and maybe next dictator, General Qasem Suleimani, Khamenei and Rouhani’s military envoy in Syria, Gaza, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen in order to assert its imperial presence. Iranian youths want to have a job, a decent salary, an interesting life, the freedom to connect to social media, which is restricted now more than ever that Instagram and Telegram have been blocked, as well as sexual and religious freedom, while Kurds, Azerbaijanis, Zoroastrians, and Sunnis are being persecuted.

Bread and freedom, this is the typical beginning of any important revolution: now more than in 2009, when the presidential election provided the fuse for political confrontation, because there are countless reasons that have led to a general air of malaise throughout the country. Another basic difference is that at that time Obama refused to lend his support to the popular uprising because he feared putting at risk the ugly nuclear deal that he was preparing; now the American administration has immediately spoken and it’s clearly on the side of the square.

But where’s Europe? Where’s the EU, which aspires to be the best custodian of human and civil liberties? That shouts any time that a Palestinian in jail does a hunger strike? In Iran the dissidents have been sentenced to death, and nobody whispers!

It’s time for Europe, as an act of moral survival, to bring itself up to speed by seeking to overcome all the opportunist reasons for which it remains attached to the nuclear deal: this is no time for money interests or dusty anti-Americanism. Mogherini’s pout when Trump decertified the nuclear deal is out of fashion. The life of millions of people is at stake here, an imperialist unbalancing, aggressive brutal power can be stopped in the Middle East therefore creating a new situation for peace, Hezbollah and Hams can receive here a good stop in their terrorist continuous aggression; and Europe should know, a new, there could be born a better international balance in which the Shia-Sunni war ceases to push towards Europe’s shores myriads of people who are fleeing from the Iranian oppressor. But Europe sticks to a ridiculous “moderate” position of wait and see: it only knows how to create artificial useless unitarian urgent position against the “territories” in defense of the Palestinian “human rights”. Thousands of Iranians marching through their countries and giving their life, this is still something that makes Mogherini wonder which is the right side to stand with.

The regime has spread yet another conspiracy theory: Khamenei would have stirred up the crowd against the “reformer” Rouhani. Yet the truth is that conservatives and reformers don’t exist, even if there are interest groups: according to the Iranian people, however, there only exists a dictatorship that spends its money, even after the sanctions were dropped, in wars abroad, sponsors terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and other militias that represses all.

Several years ago, I interviewed Reza Pahlavi, the son of the deceased Shah in Washington D.C.: I was struck by his faith that a people with a glorious and complex past wouldn’t have remained for long under the fundamentalist yoke, that one day relations with the West would help its innate ability to thrive again. Now the crowd wants to go back to being part of the world. And that world, therefore, must move by becoming actively involved!

Translation by Amy Rosenthal

This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (January 2, 2018)

About the Author
Fiamma Nirenstein is a journalist, author, former Deputy President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and member of the Italian delegation at the Council of Europe.
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