Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ahmadinejad's Blatant Double Standard

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's silence over the ongoing crisis in Syria is very telling as little more than 12 weeks ago he was praising the Egyptians as they stood together in their unshakeable pursuit of democracy, however he hasn't made the same outspoken statements regarding the Syrian people who are being killed everyday in their struggle against the brutal dictatorship of Bashar Al Assad.

Around Valentines Day last year Hilary Clinton stated Iran was transforming into a military dictatorship, hinting that the growing power and influence of the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij constituted this inevitability. As Wayne Madsen rightful points out in this RT report on these comments Clinton comes off as being hypocritically as she made these verbal criticisms of Iran from Saudi Arabia where the brutal mutaween clerical police were at the time of her visit (as Madsen also observes) brutally clamping down on any observances or celebrations of Valentines Day.

Saudi Arabia clearly is not a beacon of democracy in the region to set an example for the Iran on what kind of a state it should be, since it is the 7th most authoritarian state in the world, whilst Iran is the 9th and North Korea is number one. *

While supporters, sympathizers and people who view the current Iranian regime as a buffer to what they see as the greater evil of American hegemony are usually the first to point out such hypocrisies one doesn't have to be a political scientist or scholar to see Ahmadinejad's blatant hypocrisy regarding the Arab Spring of late.

Nearly exactly a year after Clinton's comments the Egyptian people stood together and ousted their President of 29 years Hosni Mubarak, Ahmadinejad took the timely opportunity to proclaim his support for the Egyptian people stating they had the right to (amongst other things) choose their own leaders and destiny, pivotal requirements in a democratic system, however he didn't seem to apply these professed beliefs about the Egyptians to his own people as his statements concurred with a peaceful opposition rally in Tehran being rapidly crushed by government forces.
This clear cut example of hypocrisy made for a well deserved lampooning by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.

What is more telling than any of Ahmadinejad's statements in relation to his actions is his, and the Iranian governments current silence over the situation in Syria, clearly Ahmadinejad doesn't advocate the Syrian peoples drive for democracy as Syria under Al Assad is of vital importance in upholding Iran's political influence to the region, as both are Hezbollah's client states, therefore it isn't surprising that Iran is attempting to help the Assad regime quell this democratic insurrection.

It is clear that while Ahmadinejad's statements have been for some time self discrediting one thing has been made clear, that while he may point the finger at the United States and accuse it of being an irresponsible superpower that not only meddles in other peoples affairs, but also props up repressive dictators to protect its interests over the interests of the vast majority of peoples in their own countries - Ahmadinejad himself as president of a regional power appears to have shown no qualms over doing the same thing by clandestinely supporting the repressive minority regime currently in power in Damascus, which is a clear attempt to defend his own strategic interests in the volatile region, interests that would be hampered if the majority of the Syrian people were to achieve their own right of self determination.


Mark Pyruz said...

Paul, President Ahmadinejad and Iranian leaders in general are not the only ones in the region that aren't offering strong condemnations against Assad and Syria. Other countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan and the UAE are equally mum. Even Israel is being publicly cautious.

If Syria were to somehow fall, it's conceivable that Jordan would become vulnerable. A Syria with a foreign policy beholden to popular sentiment wouldn't change much. But a Jordan with a foreign policy beholden to the will of its constituents would shake things up considerably, for both Israel and Saudi Arabia.

So my point is we shouldn't really be pointing our finger at Iran, but take into account the collective (lack of) reaction in the region, in general.

For their part, the Iranians believe that in many parts, the Arabs are catching up with the Iranians experience; in popularly regaining their own sovereignty and independent foreign policies. And in the specific case of Syria, they believe that Assad has at least a 50% base of support in-country, as indirectly evidenced by the military's continued loyalty.

Anonymous said...

What a load of nonsense dribble! I find it strange when people propagate the fallacy that Assad's fall is bad for Iran. As a matter of fact, it's Syria that depends on Iran and not the other way round. Assad is more a Frecnch - English shill than Iran. He had a relationship with Iran for REALPOLITIK purpose. Turkey is where the real problem will be felt as Kurdish separatists will have a free reign to increase pressure on Ankara. Assad's fall, if it ever happens will most likely ignite a civil war in Lebanon and a lot of insecurities in Israel and Jordan. Even the Saudis won't be safe. having said that, there's more reason to believe Assad will stay as he has the backing of the army.Syria's army is not like Gaddafi's that's easily swayed by sectarianism. They have a strategic view of things rather than religious view. Any wonder all the protests are taking place in border towns rather than in Damascus? Even if Assad falls, it's the army that will take over and not the Islamists - just like Egypt.

Anonymous said...

Just like the Americans / British and the rest of the Gang.

Anonymous said...

Actually Mark's comments are spot on and very balanced. If I amy extrapolate a few key points regarding Syria since I am familiar with the country and its military and internal political dynamics since the end of French mandate in Levant in 1943.

Firstly, as Mark has very accurately summarized most of the Arab and regional nations in the Syrian neighbourhood are artificially carved post-colonial fragile states. There is no earthly reason why Lebanon should have been carved out of Syria, or Kuwait out of Iraq, Jordan out of Iraq and so forth. Even the dismemberment of Shia majority Bahrain from Iran is having serious repercussions.

The situation is Syria is particularly sensitive as 15% Alawi minority which gained political primacy after Hafez el Assad seized power in 1970 with support from the largely Sunni establishment.

General Mustafa Tlas, the army chief was one of Hafez Assad's allies and is still allied to the Assad's today, despite being in his 80's. They have been nominally allied to the Baath pan-Arabist ideology of the 60's and 70's.

The Syrian military has been the only source of stability and Assad senior was grooming his son Basil, a rising military star until his death in an accident in 1994. The rise of middle son Bashar was totally based on expediency. Bashar is much milder non-military man and less pugnacious than either his deceased brother or younger brother Mahar who commands the Syrian Special Forces (aka Presidential Guard 81 armoured). This is the only brigade sized unit allowed near Damascus and backed up by modern tanks (T-72) and APC (mostly BTR/BMP)as well as rotary air support.

I would also point out that the Syrian regime has widespread public support despite the western media's usual hypocricy, which is not limited to the western politicians silence to Bahraini and Yemeni uprisings.

There has also been a very strong Suadi/Wahabbi effort to destabilize Syria via infiltration of Salafi terrorists via Jordan and Lebanon. Part of Saudi hostility stems from Syrian axis with Iran and Hezbollah as well as US efforts aimed at destabilizing any anti-Zionist regime. Syria scores high on that agenda.

However, I do not believe that the Assad regime is in any imminent danger of "regime change". Even the US puppets in the region understand the total chaos and unravelling that will follow if the Assad government fell and the motley collection of "Muslim Brotherhood" and Salafi/Wahabbi types took over. So no one in their right mind should be rooting for such chaos with totally unpredictable consequences, beyond Syria and will definately engulf Jordan, Lebanon and even the Zionist entity that has been occupying the Golan since 1967 and has built numerous settlements and military bases, not to mention disloging about a quarter million Druze and Arabs. Golan is the next regional flashpoint.

The position of the Syrian military and security apparatus should also not be underestimated as they will fight to the finish. In all of the Arabs armies, Syrians are undoubtedly the only martial material and not to shy away from a fight. Despite Sadat's treachery in 1973, the Syrians under Mustafa Tlas acquitted themselves with honor on the field and despite overwhemling odds.

Syria has never forgiven the Egyptian role in 1973 and this was part of the reason Assad senior looked at diversifying his strategic alliances. Post- revolutionary Iran was the obvious choice and also gave credibility to the Alawis (an off-shoot of Shia Islam anyway).

So in essense, there are many regional factors linked to Syria and an unlikely collapse will have very serious ramifications. Iran is not about to abandon an old and trusted ally that stood by Iranians during their hour of need. The SCUD-C that blew the top floors of the Iraqi national bank in Baghdad in 1982 was courtesy of Hafez el Assad (The Sphinx of Damascus), Iran is not about to let his sons down.

Gifted one said...

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Bahrain, etc, have, or had autocratic power structures imposed, enabled, or both, on their societies by outside, Western, interests.

This is why in the initial moments of the "Arab spring" Western political analysts theorized, wrongly as it turns out, that the monarchies of the Arab world would escape turmoil as they derived from indigenous social contracts.

On a different note, why is this blog ignoring the recent statements made by just-retired Mossad Chief Meir Dagan concerning the futility of attacking Iran? Does it not fit with the defeatist narrative predominant on this blog? just wondering about a glaring omission, maybe I missed the post.

Anonymous said...

Just another interesting point about the fragility of the Arab petro-pimpdoms and Saudis is the massive recruitment of mercenaries in the Persian Gulf which itself will prove very destabilizing as Africa showed in the 70's and 80's.

An article in NY TIMES gives a glimpse into the Arab predicament:

THE unrest stalking the Middle East has spurred a security rush by leaders in the region who long have worried about the loyalty and professionalism of their own armed forces.

The Sheiks are scrambling for non-Muslim and Pakistani mercenaries.

Even before the start of the revolt in Bahrain in February, the principality's rulers had been quietly stacking their security forces with foreigners - chiefly Pakistanis, but Jordanians, Iraqis and Yemenis too.

Still it came as a surprise when, after the first clashes in Manama, the protesters complained that their uniformed attackers spoke only Urdu, a Pakistani dialect.

Already embarrassed by having to call on Saudi Arabian forces to quell the unrest, the Bahraini royals put their foreign recruiting campaign into overdrive.

Such is the demand, Pakistan's army has established a commercial recruiting agency, Fauji Security Services, to enlist thousands from the ranks of the various Pakistani armed forces for service in Bahrain - retired officers and men from the ranks.

More than 90 per cent of the recruits are destined for Bahrain, according to Pakistani press reports. But some are also bound for Saudi Arabia, which in the past has relied on Pakistani pilots to fly its fighter jets.

By one estimate, Pakistanis are signing up at a rate of as many as 1500 a month to the Bahraini packages, which include a monthly salary of $1100 and perks such as health insurance and lodging. More than 12,000 Pakistanis are said to be serving in Bahrain.

Mercenaries are hardly new to the battlefields. But in the past decade the private element of war has leapt as Washington has sought to drive down the huge cost of its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In both theatres the ratio of private security contractors to government forces is almost one-to-one and contracting has become a $100-billion-a-year industry.

Second, recruiting Pakistani Muslims fails to address the concern that Middle East rulers have over the Islamic objection to Muslims inflicting violence on fellow Muslims. This concern is being addressed in a spectacular bid by the rulers of the United Arab Emirates to buy a new, Western-trained and foreign-recruited fighting force.

Abu Dhabi, according to The New York Times, is putting up $500 million for a company connected to Erik Prince, the founder of the controversial Blackwater global security organisation, to set up an American-led mercenary force, mainly Colombians and South Africans, to conduct special operations at home and abroad, to defend the emirates' oil facilities and to put down revolts. Prince reportedly has a cardinal rule of recruitment - no Muslims.

His companies have made billions from the American war machine in the post September-11 world, but he worries about any reluctance by Muslim recruits to kill fellow Muslims. Obviously, the paranoid Emirati princes on shaky thrones agree.

Nader Uskowi said...

Gifted one,

On you note on this blog: Slogans and sloganeering are cheap, actually free, but it does not mean we need to use them! Your accusation of defeatism is regrettable. I believe arguing for a negotiated settlement of the nuclear issue is in the national interests of Iran and can and will strengthen Iran’s position. You might have a different opinion, but that would not give me a license to call you a pro-bomb warmonger. Everyone needs to calm down and start a rational argument on the best interests of the country vis-à-vis its nuclear program.

Also, we didn’t publish comments by Dagan and his friends regarding imminent military attacks on Iran, and we did not publish his latest to the contrary. These statements are made mainly for the internal use in Israel, and there are so many good blogs on Israel that are covering them. If we see a real change in Israeli policy toward Iran, we will report it, please rest assured.

Nader Uskowi said...

On a parallel issue raised by Paul in this post, please note that the people behave differently than the governments. We can, and should condemn the barbaric response by Assad to quell the Syrian people’s aspirations for democracy and an end to a dynasty that is governing the country brutally for two decades, and we need, as people, join the call for Assad’s ouster. This is the right thing to do and it should be immaterial if our call runs against the foreign policy considerations of Iran or any other country. The same is true vis-à-vis the popular movements in Yemen, Bahrain and Libya, as was true in Egypt and Tunisia. And as was true in Iran in 2009. Notwithstanding the interests of different governments, the people in this region have the right to establish democratic regimes in their homeland. They will not triumph overnight, or even in one generation, but they deserve our support.

Gifted one said...

"These statements are made mainly for the internal use in Israel"...

How you can believe the statement above is bizarre. To assert that statements made publically by the former head of mossad, a man in charge when syria's suspected reactor was bombed, can be relevant only to internal Israeli politics is beyond my understanding.

Considering Netanyahu's recent trip to the US, and the anti-Iran statements he made there, the statements by Dagan represent definite pushback against the possibility of a catastrophic regional war. Infact it concerns more than just the immediate region, as Joe Klein correctly points out about the implications of Dagan's statements in Time magazine,

"It seems to me that American neoconservatives–as well as fellow-traveling Democrats like Harry Reid and Steny Hoyer–have some explaining to do when they side with Netanyahu, not just against the combined heads of Israel’s internal and external spy services and the Israeli military, but also against their own President, Barack Obama." Read here

This has to do very direcctly with the security of Iran. That you remain blind to this fundamental dynamic is puzzling to say the least. I hope you publish this comment, at least to cast some light on a vital subject that you curiously ignore on your blog.

Nader Uskowi said...

Gifted one,

You are very welcome to publish your comments here, but you are not welcomed to lecture us or make personal attacks. The strength of your arguments should be enough without using this type of language. It is sad and regrettable.

Gifted one said...

Dear Nader,
if you feel so strongly about my comment please feel free to delete it. That i find something bizarre, or curious, is not, and should not be seen as a personal attack.
My comment is my, sometimes strongly held, opinion, and not a lecture.
I fail to understand the reason for your offense, that failure is mine however and i understand that this is your blog and you are free to interpret and publish comments as you see fit.
I hope to still be allowed to comment in this wonderful forum, all the best for now.

Nader Uskowi said...

Great to have you with us.

reader said...

I don’t think Ahmadinejad & Co are that much more hypocrite than their western foes. Assad may be a good friend to Iran and a benevolent dictator, but dictators are dictators and the good ones are best in exile.

Western governments are often and rightly critisized for their double standards by many of the co-readers of this blog. It is fair to expect that the criticism is also extended to Ahmadinejad & Co for their often raw and unrefined double standards.

Paul Iddon said...


Your comment summed up in a nutshell the point I was making

Thank you