Forty years ago a momentous event took place when the Shah of the Pahlavi dynasty, installed by the CIA, fled Iran, ushering in Iran’s Islamic Revolution led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on February 1, 1979.
Western countries and Israel, who had dominated and exploited the oil-rich region through the puppet Arab regimes they installed and protected, felt vulnerable and in danger.
Iran closed the embassy of the Apartheid South African regime and halted its oil supplies, 90% of which it imported from Iran. And within three weeks Iran severed relations with Zionist Israel, handing over the embassy to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). Yasser Arafat, PLO chairman became the first foreign dignitary to be welcomed in Tehran.
This unexpected, unanticipated and popular revolution sent shockwaves regionally and globally because it was based on Islamic values and principles. It was not just another palace coup in which one set of elite grabbed power from another.
Iran fearlessly spoke out against American and British hegemony, and the Zionist occupation of Palestine and its holy lands, regarding Israel as a cancer implanted into the heart of the Arab and Islamic world.
They pledged their support to liberate all of Palestine, forming the Resistance Axis with Syria, Hizbullah of Lebanon, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas.
The dominant powers’ reaction was predictable. The West, Israel and the Arab despotic regimes implemented strangulating embargoes and a series of counter-revolutionary, state-sponsored acts of terrorism and sabotage against the people and officials of Iran.
Iraq’s Saddam Hussein invaded Iran, armed with Western weapons including chemical weapons, all financed by the Gulf Sheikhdoms. The war lasted eight years at a cost of one million lives.
The Mujahideen-e Khalq Organisation (MKO), a Western-backed terror outfit, bombed the headquarters of the Islamic Republican Party and other installations killing 1200 leading figures of the Revolution.
The US, Saudi Arabia and Israel continue to threaten Iran with unprovoked aggression, killing Iranian scientists, provoking protests and engineering instability. Iran is falsely accused of developing nuclear weapons and of posing a “threat” to world peace and stability.
Iran has not attacked or threatened to attack any country. In fact, Iran is surrounded by hostile US forces and is confronting the menace of Israel’s nuclear missiles and US warships armed with cruise missiles and attack helicopters. Iran anticipated that the destabilization of Syria and Lebanon was a step towards attacking Iran itself.
The Pentagon, 16 major US intelligence agencies, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and the IAEA have all confirmed that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons and poses no military threat to anyone. Yet Iran is subjected to sanctions and threatened with military aggression by the US and Israel.
It is déjà vu in Iraq, using the same false propaganda campaign to rally world opinion for war against Iran. The hype about the threat posed by Iraq’s nonexistence “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (WMD) is replaced by the hype about the threat posed by Iran’s non-existent nuclear bomb.
Iran has watched the Western-orchestrated destruction, destabilization and regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria, primarily to maintain Western hegemony over the oil supplies and to protect the Zionist entity.
The West and its surrogates have always played the divisive sectarian and tribal card to stoke inter-Muslim conflict, in this case within the Sunni-Shi‘a framework, in order to weaken Iran and its strategic allies.
The war on Syria is a proxy war against Iran. Both Syria and Iran are on the US list of “rogue states” that are targeted for military intervention. Hence, an attack on Syria is an attack on Iran.
The removal of the current Syrian government of Bashar al-Asad will isolate Iran and allows the US and Israel to consolidate their dominance of the region and intensify their aggression against Iran.
Iran is targeted because it stands in the trench of resistance to Western hegemony and Israel’s occupation of Arab and Islamic lands and holy places. Should the Iranians accept Israel’s regional dominance, it will be embraced as a cherished friend and lavished with economic favors.
Iran has not only survived but flourished, without the protection of America. Iran has remained fiercely independent, stoically defending its rights, and succeeded in developing and achieving incredible scientific progress in spite of the illegal Western embargo.
Israel, the West and the Saudis, having failed to secure Syria’s surrender, or that of Hizbullah, Hamas or Islamic Jihad, have now planned a conference in Warsaw, Poland, specifically targeting Iran and its allies.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for a summit for February 13-14 to form a “Sunni Arab Nato” to spearhead the attack on the Resistance Front.
So, the challenge for genuine freedom and independence remains. However, there can be little doubt that Iran’s Islamic revolution 40 years ago was a turning point in contemporary history, altering the dynamics of the Middle East and setting the stage for a new world order.
(A medical doctor by profession, Dr Firoz Osman is Executive Director of the Media Review Network based in Johannesburg, South Africa.)