A KNOWLEDGE of Iran and its history is essential in understanding the country today. This is no Iraq, or Afghanistan or even Syria. It’s certainly no pushover.

Iran was a world power and empire for most of the first millennium BCE and was feared throughout the civilised world. The Medes, then Persians and latterly the Parthians held sway over a vast area of the ancient world, stretching from India and China in the east to Libya and Macedonia in the west. They were consummate warriors, rulers and administrators who allowed free worship of ancient gods throughout their vast cultural empire and for much of their hegemony used Aramaic as the lingua franca of the territory.

The Persians, after conquering Babylonia, freed the captive Jews and sent them back to Palestine and encouraged them to rebuild their great Temple in Jerusalem. 

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They fought the Greeks at Marathon, Salamis and Thermopylae and the Greeks held the European line until Alexander of Macedon pushed the Persians back and took over much of the Persian empire circa 330 BC. The Parthians persisted in the rest of the empire until around 350 AD. From them we get the phrase “parting (Parthian) shot” as they had a habit of retreating from battle on their horses, lulling the enemy into a false sense of security, then turning round on their saddles and releasing volleys of arrows to devastating consequence.

The Persians, modern-day Iranians, are not Arabs or even Semitic. An Iranian is insulted if you mistake him for an Arab. They are Indo-Europeans from Western Asia, and Iran is not technically part of the Middle East at all. They speak Farsi, a non-Semitic language more related to Afghan and Turkic than anything else. Their only commonality with the Middle East is their religion, Islam.

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For the last 100 years and more, Iran, a total non-aggressor, has been invaded, harassed, infiltrated, sanctioned, resource-raped and been subjected to political assassination and regime change by Western forces intent on securing Iran’s considerable oil wealth. Britain has been a major player in this, removing the elected government and imposing a puppet ruler, the detested Shah. All this intervention eventually led to the Islamic revolution of ‘79 that ushered in the age of the Ayatollahs. All actions have consequences. When oppressed people find no justice through political or diplomatic process, they have two options – war or God. The Iranians chose God, and thus was born a suppressive theocracy where human rights are very much a secondary consideration. This need never have been the case if Iran had been left alone.

Religion and governance aside, the national character of Persians has not changed in 3000 years. They are powerful, proud and potentially a dangerous enemy. Every Persian man, woman and even child will, if necessary, fight to the last person standing, as they did in ages past, even if they oppose the ruling regime. Every Iranian is Iranian before they are anything else. To provoke Iran is an incredibly foolish move. They have been patient for a very long time, choosing pragmatism rather than confrontation. Will they continue to keep cool heads?

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Trump’s ripping up of the nuclear treaty was a calculated move of provocation. That didn’t really achieve the desired result, even with the imposition of punitive sanctions, so the ante was upped with the extra-judicial murder of Soleimani, who was in a third country travelling on a diplomatic passport.

Soleimani spent the last 20 years fighting terrorism in the form of al Qaeda, ISIS, Saudi Wahhabism and all the other fundamentalist Sunni offshoots funded and trained by the West. He helped Syria, Iraq and Lebanon protect themselves from these murderous aggressors, and yet he and the Iranian army of which he was supreme commander have been designated as terrorists themselves, by USA, quite unilaterally.

What “plot” did the American intelligence services intercept to justify his murder? Until irrefutable proof emerges of such a plot, I’ll take that as a lie. Who was it that attacked the US embassy in Baghdad, and did minimal damage? The Iraqi people, not Qasem Soleimani, another lie. Who was it that killed American personnel in Syria/Iraq? Not the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, another lie.

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In fact Soleimani had a special personal mission in areas of Iranian influence in the Middle East – to protect Christians and Yazidis who were singled out for death and slavery by ISIS forces. 

I don’t know why Trump has done what he’s done, don’t even know if he knows why he’s done what he’s done. I doubt it has anything to do with impending impeachment. Was it his decision, or was he cajoled and coerced? Is he actually sane and of sound mind? Is he actually in charge? Is the list published in the Project for a New American Century of seven countries to be “taken out” going to be completed at any cost, even at the price of regional or global conflagration? 

Somebody knows. It’s time they told the truth.

Breaking news. Trump is in a tantrum about the Iraqi Parliament ordering the removal of all US  troops from the country. He’s now going to impose sanctions on Iraq, again, than will make the Iran sanctions look like a slap on the wrist. We are dealing with a dangerous lunatic. I’ve said in the past that nuclear weapons will never be deployed, except maybe by a deranged, isolated dictator. Could that be the American President?

Judith Jaafar