Since its establishment in 1979, the Islamic Revolution has always been seen by Muslim dictators, their media and their western masters as a source of threat - not through force of arms but by example. And with Islamic movements throughout the Muslim world receiving inspiration and encouragement from the continuing success of the Revolution, it is not surprising that the unholy alliance between western and Muslim capitals has seized upon the recent student demonstrations in Iran as yet another opportunity to destabilize the country.
Nor is it surprising that Egypt, Uncle Sam’s leading Arab proxy, and Turkey, a NATO member and the most secular of Muslim states, are at the forefront of the new propaganda war against Tehran. The Egyptian president, Husni Mubarak, and the Turkish prime minister, Bulent Ecevit, have been even more vocal than western leaders in their criticism of a fellow Muslim country.
Mubarak - fresh from his recent visit to the US, where he had meetings with American officials and leaders of Jewish organizations, and almost certainly discussed Iran with them- said in a statement on July 13 that his country would not resume diplomatic ties with Iran, adding that such a development would be conditional on Tehran refraining from interfering in the affairs of other states.
The president, who is not exactly renowned for his diplomatic finesse, accused Tehran of making a practice of meddling in other countries’ internal affairs. “Egypt will not re-establish relations with Iran unless it is convinced that the Iranian rulers have rectified their positions and are no longer prepared to interfere in the affairs of other states”, he said.
Mubarak made his statement to the editors of Egyptian newspapers accompanying him on his return to Cairo from the African summit in Algeria. The editors, who treat the president as a national hero and a star on the international scene, then launched a severe attack on Iran, accusing president Muhammad Khatami of abandoning the student demonstrators and of siding with ‘the repressive hardliners’.
But interestingly, Mubarak and his fawning media were not as critical of Tehran before his departure for Washington as they have been since his return home. On the eve of his trip, the Egyptian leader simply said that he would await further developments before making a decision, adding that relations between Cairo and Tehran - severed since the inception of the Islamic Revolution in 1979 - were on the mend.
Was that his way of saying that he needed to discuss the issue with the Clinton administration before committing himself to any course of action? Certainly his unjustified attacks on ‘Iranian rulers’ since conferring with US president Bill Clinton, shows that a change has occurred in his attitude - always somewhat frosty - to Tehran. How else can anyone explain Mubarak’s categorical refusal to resume ties with Iran at the very moment when Britain was re-opening its embassy in Tehran.
Another explanation for his stance is that he, like western leaders, was disappointed in President Khatami’s public admonition of the student demonstrators on July 13 and in the show of strength by supporters of the Islamic Revolution during a rally on the same day. On noting the size of the rally, Mubarak was quoted as saying by newspaper interview that it demonstrates that ‘the extremists are still in control.’
But Mubarak was not the only Muslim leader publicly supporting the student demonstrators and accusing Tehran of suppressing them. Bulent Ecevit, the Turkish Prime Minister, told thge Turkish press that the student demonstrations “are a natural reaction to a repressive regime.” He went on to say, somewhat pompously, “The Iranian people has a noble past, historically and culturally... and we cannot expect them to endure for a long period this repressive and outmoded regime.”
Few countries in the Middle East are as repressive as Egypt and Turkey, where no student demonstration would be allowed. In Turkey, for instance, while Ecevit was speaking of Iranian repression, the former Mayor of Istanbul had just completed a prison sentence, imposed for quoting a poem praising religion; and Muslimahs wear ing hijab are banned from universities and public institutions.
Mubarak and Ecevit were in their statements reflecting the editorial opinions of the western media. The London-based Daily Telegraph newspaper, for instance, commented adversely on President Khatami’s reprimand of the students “for attacking the foundations of the regime” - reflecting that “the students’ faith in Mr Khatami as a reformer has proved pathetically misplaced”.
The Arab media was equally hostile to the Islamic Revolution in their reaction to the student demonstration and to president Khatami’s opposition to them. An editorial in the Saudi-owned Al-Hayat daily on July 17 was typical. “The only thing that may be said with any certainty is that the legitimacy of the Khomeini revolution had declared its bankruptcy”.
In the past, the west and its Muslim proxies tried to use former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, whom they described as pragmatic, to lead a counter-coup. More recently they have tried to exploit President Khatami, elected in 1997, in a similar fashion; they must now be realising that this hope too is unlikely to be fulfilled.
Their most desperate attempt to destroy the Islamic revolution was by funding Saddam’s war against Iran, which mercifully also failed. With Iraq shattered by them during the Gulf war, who can they in their desperation instigate to attack Iran?
Muslimedia: August 16-31, 1999