By Scott Taylor
The only thing that is clear about the recent outbreak of civil unrest in Iran is that absolutely nothing is clear. The absence of foreign media outlets, the government crackdown on social media and in the case of Canada and numerous other western countries, the suspension of all diplomatic ties has made Iran a virtual black hole of information.
The dribs and drabs of news that was reported in the west were often contradictory and almost entirely skewed through the self-delusional prism wherein we see complex foreign political equations through our own value system.
Initial reports claimed that the anti-government protests taking place in a multitude of Iranian cities were in response to rising food prices and a stalled economy. However in all of the shaky video footage of these demonstrations, the agitators appeared to be young men hurling rocks at police vehicles. Typically one would expect anger over food costs to be projected by a much more family-centric demographic, and throwing objects at security forces is not a clever tactic when trying to make your point peacefully.
Then came the bombshell report that these angry mobs were in fact chanting “Death to Khamenei!”
As Ayatollah Sayyid Khamenei is the Supreme Leader of the religious theocracy that rules Iran, the immediate conclusion jumped to by U.S. President Donald was that this is the beginning of the long awaited freedom revolution in Iran.
As fast as his thumbs could bang out the tweets, Trump professed his “respect for the people of Iran as they try to take back their corrupt government” and he pledged the Iranian protestors “great support from the United States.”
Trump’s immediate and wholehearted support for the Iranian protesters illustrates the presumption that if the U.S. administration despises the regime in Tehran, then any Iranian opposed to the ruling theocracy must hate them for the same reasons, and are therefore entitled to our full and unquestioned support.
This begs the question, have we learned nothing from the recent fiascos in Libya and Syria wherein we were equally quick to jump to the same false conclusion?
One of the key things to remember here is that the slogan of these freedom loving Iranian demonstrators is “Death to Khamenei!” They are not asking for lower taxes, increased freedom or greater representation from elected officials, they want the current leader dead.
When the uprising began in Libya in the spring of 2011, Canada was one of the leading western nations encouraging the rebels to overthrow President Moammar Gadhaffi. While Canadian officials talked of ‘regime change’ the multi-factional Libyan rebel forces openly and bloodthirstily called for the death of the Libyan leader.
On October 20, 2011, with the assistance of the NATO air armada and Special Forces advisors, the Libyan rebels captured Gadhaffi alive outside of his last stronghold of Sirte. The mob then proceeded to beat Gadhaffi to death.
As history has unfolded, we now realize that in our eagerness to overthrow one Gadhaffi, we threw our support behind a hundred murderous scoundrels who have since plunged that once prosperous North African nation into a failed state awash in violent anarchy. One clue as to the true nature of the Libyan ‘freedom fighters’ should have been their unrepentant bloodlust.
In 2012, Canada was still backing the rebels in the Syrian uprising and vowing that embattled President Bashar al Assad ‘must go!’ By that point in the conflict it was already widely understood that the anti-Assad forces in Syria were Islamic extremists groups with links to al-Qaeda, and eventually Daesh (aka ISIS or ISIL).
They too were not calling for the simple ouster of Assad and the implementation of democratic reforms, they were instead calling for Assad’s death and promising to enforce Sharia law.
In Canada people frequently take to their streets to express their displeasure with the government of the day, but I have yet to ever see any demonstrators calling for the death of our Prime Minister. Even in the U.S. where politics have become extremely polarized and divisive, no one is calling for the death of Donald Trump.
If those disgruntled Iranians think the key to democratic reform is the murder of the incumbent leaders, then I suggest they are reading the wrong handbook.