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Simon Tisdall on Iran

In his piece in today’s Guardian Simon Tisdall gives no space to the various concerns voiced by protesters across Iran. The article is titled:

Iran’s enemies would be wise not to wish for regime change

and its first sentence reads:

Like birds of prey circling high in the desert sky, Iran’s many foes and rivals are watching the street protests in Tehran and other cities with beady-eyed anticipation.

Tisdall could have found reasonable targets for specific criticism amongst enemies of Iran’s current regime -  for example he might have identified the disjuncture between Trump’s expressions of support for the Iranian people and his inclusion of Iran in the travel ban.  But instead he implies that foreign support for the protest is simply self-serving, that those who hope for regime change must be the country’s ‘foes’.

It’s interesting to see how Tisdall sandwiches a brief and undeveloped observation about the unexpected nature of the protests into the middle of a discussion of Saudi and US wishes for regime change. The implication seems obvious.

Salman has the strong backing of his friend Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East envoy. Trump’s hostility towards what he calls Iran’s “rogue regime”, and his wish to see it toppled, are no secret.

What is a surprise is the sudden eruption of the protests, which had no obvious internal trigger. Trump and Mike Pence, his vice-president, voiced hopes Iran’s “oppressive regime” would fall, ignoring the fact that Hassan Rouhani was democratically re-elected as president less than one year ago.

And there is no acknowledgement here of democracy’s limitations in Iran – of the role played by the Guardian Council, for example.  This serves to ensure that the scare quotes around “oppressive regime” have their full force, and the effect is compounded by Tisdall’s failure to remind the reader of a single good reason for supporting the protestors – the already iconic image of a young woman waving her removed headscarf, for example.