Ahmadinejad comes “home” to a hero’s welcome

Developing Just Leadership

Afeef Khan

Shawwal 22, 1431 2010-10-01

Main Stories

by Afeef Khan (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 39, No. 8, Shawwal, 1431)

One ordinary spectator said, “I just came today to say welcome to our home… Iran helped to rebuild Lebanon, and most of all, they helped in building a strong resistance, the first to defeat Israel, the strongest army in the region.”

One ordinary spectator said, “I just came today to say welcome to our home… Iran helped to rebuild Lebanon, and most of all, they helped in building a strong resistance, the first to defeat Israel, the strongest army in the region.” But this and more could have been the sentiments of any one of the estimated one million people who came out to receive Iran’s President Ahmadinejad on his first official state visit to Lebanon. Nearly one-third of the country’s population, comprising members from all of its confessional groupings — Christians, Shi‘is, Sunnis, Durzis, Palestinian refugees, and migrant workers from Sudan, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Central Asia, etc. — lined his motorcade route throwing rice and flower petals, witnessed his speeches shedding tears of joy, and for those few who could get close enough, shook his hands thanking him and offering their continued allegiance.

Such a cathartic outpouring of emotion and spontaneous eruption of excitement and exuberance all rolled up into a hero’s welcome is not easily offered up for anyone, especially heads of state in a world where the utilitarian, self-serving motivations of the global aristocracy of “leaders” cause it to be wholly repugnant to the masses. During the few days of his visit, Oct. 13–15, the people of Lebanon brought back memories of Imam Khomeini’s triumphant return to Iran in 1979, capping a long struggle to ignite the first contemporary Islamic revolution; and it is no accident that the beneficiaries of the momentum the Imam created are the increasingly free-minded people of Lebanon and the current leadership of the Islamic Republic, which has rekindled fealty to the ideological resolve and the military determination of the Imam’s line. After nearly 30 years of confidence building, problem solving, and alliance building, hardened by confronting, engaging, expelling, and outsmarting the cancerous Zionist tumor in the south of the country, the moved and the shaken of Lebanon finally had a chance to break bread with the movers and shakers.

Despite all Western media attempts, still ongoing two weeks after the president’s visit, to misrepresent this as a Hizbullah-only affair or to dilute excitement by diverting attention to Iran’s human-rights violations, in the geopolitical context, it must be viewed as a historic event. For a brief moment, the majority of people in a very troubled country with a divisive history inured in its very culture and exploited by foreign aggressors had something they could agree on.

And so they turned out not because they were paid to throw roses at a hated conqueror, not because they were protesting the ineptness of their own government, and not because they had nothing better to do for a few days due to nonexistent opportunities. No indeed. They turned out to express their love, honor, respect, admiration, and reverence for the representative of an indomitable ally that has followed through on all it said it would do and more. Respect is earned; it comes not by demand, and it is not for sale. But when it is deserved, it cannot be withheld.

According to Franklin Lamb, a writer who has been doing research in Lebanon, “An important reason for the outpouring of popular support was the quarter century of Iranian assistance to Lebanon for social projects, and for rebuilding much of Lebanon following the 1993, 1996 and 2006 Israeli aggressions. Massive aid that was detailed by Hezbollah’s Secretary-General in a recent speech and the cost of which is estimated to be in excess of one billion dollars… Iran’s President is widely believed in the diplomatic community here to have promoted sectarian unity in Lebanon, calmed the current political atmosphere, and delivered on offers of more desperately needed economic projects via 17 bilateral agreements. A particularly appreciated offer throughout Lebanon is Iran’s major pledge of an electrical complex that will deliver 7 times Lebanon’s current power supply, which in 2010 still sees power cuts throughout Lebanon. The current deficiencies range from three hours to 12 hours daily power cuts everywhere in Lebanon plus total blackouts for days at a time in some areas. Iran’s President is widely believed to have achieved a major advancement for Lebanese stability, sovereignty, and independence… What seems quite evident is that Iran’s President and the large delegation of business people comprising his entourage have opened a new era of bilateral relations between the two countries. His positive personal and political connections with virtually all Lebanon’s leaders, including compliments from rightist Christian politicians including Samir Geagea, will likely lead to big joint economic projects, the Iranian arming of the Lebanese Armed Forces, and strategic political cooperation, starting now.”

There is a reality here staring the Zionist/Euro/Americentric “place-your-national-interest-first” world in the face, but it cannot see that because of its ideological and racist blinders. For the better part of 80 years, they could have done something about and with Lebanon, not to mention the rest of the Islamic East, but they chose to make their Middle East a giant gas pump and used Israel as a staging area to convert the entire region into a nuclearized war zone; and in particular they made Lebanon into a closet where they could hide their skeletons.

Now somebody comes in and deals with the Lebanese as real people, makes them a priority and starts advancing all the people on a destiny of peace and prosperity built upon self-respect and dignity borne of saying “no” to any kind of abuse, degradation, humiliation, exploitation, and occupation. Only the pompous and narcissistic world of those who view the “values” of the Enlightenment as universal and who expect the rest of the world to kowtow as servants as they march toward their destiny can view President Ahmadi-nejad’s visit as a provocation or as some kind of chest thumping to tell Washington that the road to any reconciliation in the area goes through Tehran. Only they could say that the President of Iran is there to put pressure on Sa‘ad Hariri to reject the UN investigations into the mysterious death of his father, Rafik Hariri.

Why don’t they characterize President Kennedy’s visit to the Berlin Wall in 1963 at the height of the Cold War — the last time a comparable visit by a foreign head of state, viewed as a liberator, to a people divided by ideology and war took place — as a provocation, occurring as it did a few months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, which apparently brought the entire world to the edge of a nuclear winter? Why don’t they say that President Kennedy was there to put pressure on the Germans to reject the findings of UN commissions investigating the murder of East Germans trying to scale the Berlin Wall that were routinely blamed on the Soviets?

We are all used now to this double and foul “standard.” In fact, President Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon went beyond President Kennedy’s largely symbolic speech at the Berlin Wall. The President of Iran was acclaimed by all the varying cultures, religions, and ethnicities along with the majority of political groupings in Lebanon; and this is despite the fact that he hails from a land that has historically had an ethnic antipathy for the Arabs and vice-versa. By contrast, President Kennedy went to a largely homogenous society that shared with the United States a basically common culture, a religious racism, a similar ethnicity (especially as far as the ruling classes are concerned), and an aversion to communism.

Thirty years ago, no one could have predicted that Iran, of all countries, would be the one to liberate the Lebanese from Israeli aggression and American duplicity. But what is happening today in Lebanon is more than just gratitude to an Iranian president, it is the sign of an awakening that is taking place not only in the Islamic East, but throughout the Muslim world from Morocco to Indonesia, and from South Africa to Russia. American imperialism, European exceptionalism, and their Zionist pit bull are neither the center of the world nor are they at the center of man’s attention. The people of the world are discovering they can do much better with their problems if they don’t invite these parasites, contagions, and pesticides into their frank discussions.

And this is exactly what President Ahmadinejad went to Lebanon to say. You do not belong here, not because of who you are but because of your attitude, what you do, what you don’t do, and what you should have done. You are not on the short list or the long list of parties that need to be consulted for solutions to regional and local problems; in fact, you are not even on the map. Your mentality doesn’t belong anywhere in the discourse of sane and rational people committed to justice, peace, and liberty. To say these things requires integrity, courage, character, and conscience. And these are the ingredients of which real leaders are made. Give the Lebanese people credit for this acknowledgement.

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