CUMALİ ÖNAL

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CUMALİ ÖNAL
July 29, 2012, Sunday

Does the Arab community admire Iran?

Recently some of the leading Islamic intellectuals in Turkey have persistently been arguing that the revolutions that have swept through the Arab world are an extension of the Iranian revolution, which occurred more than 30 years ago.

What’s more, these people go further and say that Iran’s support for Syria hasn’t caused any decrease in the admiration that Arab peoples have for Iran.

According to these intellectuals, the only concern among Arab peoples is a pro-Israel leader coming to power in Syria. According to them, everybody sees Iran as innocent.

The Iranian regime and pro-regime academics have been repeating the arguments of these people in Turkey for months.

First of all, for the Arab revolutions to be an extension of the Iranian revolution, those who enabled change in the Arab world need to have respect  for Iran.

We have neither observed nor heard of such friendly feelings toward Iran among the youngsters who opposed dictators by risking their necks when necessary. None of these youngsters have referred to the Iranian revolution so far.

So what is the reference point for those who see the Arab revolutions as an extension of the Iranian revolution? It is that the Arab revolutions are movements of people and youth. But such movements occur all around the world. Do all of them set Iran as a model? Motives similar to the ones that caused the Iranian revolution exist in the Arab world as well as in different parts of the world.

Additionally, one shouldn’t forget the role of social media and the press in the revolution in Egypt. If Al Jazeera hadn’t shown live or recorded broadcasting in Tahrir Square in spite of thousands of difficulties and if the youngsters hadn’t organized via Facebook or Twitter, we could be in a different situation today.

Additionally, it is true that the Iranian revolution succeeded, but was it able to offer a good alternative to the old regime? Are the Iranian people happier today? Can Iran address the problems of its people effectively by rising up against the US or Israel? All in all the Iranian revolution is a revolution that failed. Why should Arab peoples take such a revolution as an example?

The most important reason why Arab peoples started their revolutions is economic. Because of this, there is a genuine admiration for Turkey in the Arab world. Turkey’s economic success has been the key factor behind their admiration for Turkey.

The period in which Iran was the most popular in the region was after the Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006. Hezbollah and its leader, Hasan Nasrallah, gained a relative victory against Israel and became very popular in the region for a while. As a result of this, Iran gained significant ascendancy in the region. However, when Turkey’s “one-minute” rise occurred, Iran and Hezbollah’s artificial popularity quickly started to melt.

Today Iran’s support for the Assad regime surely has strategic goals. But it having strategic aims doesn’t overshadow the fact that they have a sectarian bond. Why does Iran, which supported revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, oppose the revolts in Syria? Why does it put Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah into action to help Damascus? Can it be expected that a country that terms itself an “Islamic Republic” will support a regime like that of the Assads, who have been torturing their people for more than 40 years?

These double standards that Iran pursues are followed closely by the Arab peoples, and Iran has begun to be perceived as a country that is dangerous for the region like Israel. Is it possible for the Arab community to have respect for an Iran that gives absolute support for the Syrian regime, while their brothers are being smashed under the tanks of Assad?

Besides, the Arab community doesn’t have worries about the re-establishment of a pro-Israel regime in Syria. Everybody knows that the Assad regime will be ousted in Syria and just as it happened in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, a leader selected by the people will be swept to power. The idea that a pro-Israel leader will be brought to power in Syria is totally the propaganda of Iran.

Today Iran also knows that Assad’s regime will not remain in power. But it at least wants any prospective leader to be swept to power in a Syria where Assad and his family remain influential. Both Israel and Russia have this desire. What is the point? It is strategic… In other words, nobody cares about the Syrian people. Which Arab people can support countries that don’t care about people? Iran is among these countries. Now the love for Iran among Islamic intellectuals in Turkey should be dependent on realistic bases.

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