Thursday, May 21, 2009

Iran and the west: lessons from history

Ever since Shah Abbas tried to reach out to Europe, our dealings with Iran have been lost in translation

Brian Whitaker, Wednesday 20 May 2009

".......Disappointingly for Abbas, his hopes for a grand east-west alliance against the Ottomans came to nought. The Europeans proved fickle and were much more interested in fighting among themselves, though in 1622 the English did help him dislodge the Portuguese from the strategic island of Hormuz.

It is probably around this time that Iranians first developed their perception of a duplicitous west – a view reinforced by more recent events such as the US-instigated overthrow of Mossadeq's government in 1953 which Iranians still treat as a cause célèbre......

Jon Snow of Channel 4 News, who was chairing the discussion, brought it up to date by wondering why the west found itself "allied to some oppressive Sunni regimes" (no names, but Saudi Arabia comes to mind) while adopting a hostile attitude towards Iran. The answer seems to lie in history rather than religious ideology.

Is this likely to alter now as Barack Obama proffers his hand in the hope of meeting an unclenched fist? The reply from Mohajerani was not encouraging. The US president promised change, he said, but since being elected Obama himself had changed and was now behaving more like Bush.

Oh dear. It seems the frustrations felt by Abbas in his dealings with the outside world have returned to haunt us."

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