Monday, June 22, 2009

CNN Should Know Better

"Under the shah's regime, Iran saw nationalization of its oil and a strong movement toward modernization. Still, his secular programs and recognition of Israel cost him the support of the country's Shiite clergy, sparking clashes with the religious right and others who resented his pro-West views." -CNN Article regarding the Shah's son. (emphasis added)

This is a gross example of selective oversimplification at best. I realize the paragraph below sounds like a conspiracy theory. That's because it is one. It just happens to be true. Check the citations, if you don't believe me. We don't learn much about this in school.

The Shah was a brutal, repressive dictator, installed and supported by the United States, after the US organized a coup to overthrow Iran's democratically elected leadership. This was done to protect Western oil interests. The CIA trained SAVAK, the Shah's secret police force, which suppressed the media and engaged in torture, including rape. Frankly, running a fluff piece about the Shah's son weeping for dead protesters is disgusting. His father killed hundreds to thousands of them.

See how much of Wikipedia's explanation of the Islamic Revolution is related to "secular programs" and "recognition of Israel." (excerpts below)

"Several events in the 1970s set the stage for the 1979 revolution:

- The 1971 2,500th anniversary of the founding of the Persian Empire at Persepolis, organized by the shah's regime, was attacked for its extravagance. "As the foreigners reveled on drink forbidden by Islam, Iranians were not only excluded from the festivities, some were starving."

- The oil boom of the 1970s produced "alarming" increase in inflation and waste and an "accelerating gap" between the rich and poor, the city and the country, along with the presence of tens of thousand of unpopular skilled foreign workers. By mid-1977 economic austerity measures to fight inflation disproportionately affected the thousands of poor and unskilled male migrants to the cities working construction. Culturally and religiously conservative, many went on to form the core of revolution's demonstrators and "martyrs".

- All Iranians were required to join and pay dues to a new political party, the Rastakhiz party — all other parties being banned. That party's attempt to fight inflation with populist "anti-profiteering" campaigns — fining and jailing merchants for high prices — angered and politicized merchants while fueling black markets.

- The first casualties suffered in major demonstrations against the Shah came in January 1978. Hundreds of Islamist students and religious leaders in the city of Qom were furious over a story in the government-controlled press they felt was libelous. The army was sent in, dispersing the demonstrations and killing several students (two to nine according to the government, 70 or more according to the opposition).

- According to the Shi'ite customs, memorial services (called Arba'een) are held forty days after a person's death. In mosques across the nation, calls were made to honour the dead students. Thus on February 18 groups in a number of cities marched to honour the fallen and protest against the rule of the Shah. This time, violence erupted in Tabriz, where five hundred demonstrators were killed according to the opposition, ten according to the government. The cycle repeated itself, and on March 29, a new round of protests began across the nation. Luxury hotels, cinemas, banks, government offices, and other symbols of the Shah regime were destroyed; again security forces intervened, killing many. On May 10 the same occurred.

- In May, government commandos burst into the home of Ayatollah Kazem Shariatmadari, a leading cleric and political moderate, and shot dead one of his followers right in front of him. Shariatmadari abandoned his quietist stance and joined the opposition to the Shah.

- Facing a revolution, the Shah appealed to the United States for support. Because of Iran's history and strategic location, it was important to the United States. Iran shared a long border with America's cold war rival, the Soviet Union, and was the largest, most powerful country in the oil-rich Persian Gulf. The Shah had long been pro-American, but the Pahlavi regime had also recently garnered unfavorable publicity in the West for its human rights record.

- The U.S. ambassador to Iran, William H. Sullivan, recalls that the U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski “repeatedly assured Pahlavi that the U.S. backed him fully." On November 4, 1978, Brzezinski called the Shah to tell him that the United States would "back him to the hilt." But at the same time, certain high-level officials in the State Department believed the revolution was unstoppable. After visiting the Shah in summer of 1978, Secretary of the Treasury W. Michael Blumenthal complained of the Shah's emotional collapse, reporting, "You've got a zombie out there." Brzezinski and Energy Secretary James Schlesinger were adamant in their assurances that the Shah would receive military support.
[NOTE: Why was the US Energy Secretary promising military support for a foreign dictatorship? Think about it.]

- By summer 1978 the level of protest had been at a steady state for four months — about ten thousand participants in each major city (with the exception of Isfahan where protests were larger and Tehran where they were smaller). This amounted to an "almost fully mobilized `mosque network,`" of pious Iranian Muslims, but a small minority of the "more than 15 million" adults in Iran. Worse for the momentum of the movement, on June 17 1978 the 40-day mourning cycle of mobilization of protest — where demonstrators were killed every 40-days as they mourned the dead of earlier demonstrations — ended with a call for calm and a stay-at-home strike by moderate religious leader Shariatmadari. In an attempt to appease discontent the Shah made appeals to the moderate clergy, firing his head of SAVAK and promising free elections the next June.

- [In] the August 1978 Cinema Rex Fire in Abadan ... over 400 people died. Movie theaters had been a common target of Islamist demonstrators but such was the distrust of the regime and effectiveness of its enemies' communication skills that the public believed SAVAK had set the fire in an attempt to frame the opposition. The next day 10,000 relatives and sympathizers gathered for a mass funeral and march shouting, ‘burn the Shah’, and ‘the Shah is the guilty one.’

- A new prime minister, Jafar Sharif-Emami, was installed in late August and reversed some of the Shah's policies. Casinos were closed, the imperial calendar abolished, activity by political parties legalized — to no avail. By September, the nation was rapidly destabilizing, and major protests were becoming a regular occurrence. The Shah introduced martial law, and banned all demonstrations but on September 8 thousands of protesters gathered in Tehran. Security forces shot and killed dozens, in what became known as Black Friday.

- The clerical leadership declared that "thousands have been massacred by Zionist troops," but in retrospect it has been said that "the main casualty" of the shooting was "any hope for compromise" between the protest movement and the Shah's regime. The troops were actually ethnic Kurds who had been fired on by snipers, and post revolutionary tally by the Martyrs Foundation of people killed as a result of demonstrations throughout the city on that day found a total of 84 dead. In the mean time however, the appearance of government brutality alienated much of the rest of the Iranian people and the Shah's allies abroad."

No comments: