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Note: Using editorials as an indicator, this series presents views, understanding and attitude of the Urdu periodicals in India towards various developments concerning the Middle East. The selection of an item does not mean the endorsement or concurrence with their accuracy or views. Editor, MEI@ND

The Etemaad Urdu Daily (The Confidence Urdu Daily), Hyderabad
Editorial, 2 December 2011, Friday
1. Iran-Britain Diplomatic War

The Western powers cannot tolerate the progress and self-sufficiency of the Third World countries, especially that of the Islamic states. Since the last few decades, the relationship between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Western countries has remained sour. As had been witnessed, the Islamic Revolution in Iran had come as a shock to the West. Raza Shah Pahlavi, who had tremendous support and the backing of the West, could not withstand the glorious revolution and thus became another chapter in history as he succumbed to the revolution. The leader of the revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini had given a message of brotherhood to the world. In this way, the revolution in Iran was instrumental in crushing the monarchy. But Western experts just couldn't read the significance of the movement. A number of wars were forced on Iran to weaken it. In spite of this, Iran could not be humiliated to change in the way the West wanted it to. The nuclear issue is being used now to bring about the isolation of Iran. Following this the economic and monetary sanctions of the British government against Iran, the reactionary attacks of Tehran on the embassy of Britain, the diplomatic breakdown of Britain-Iran relationships, could be signals to the world of an impending international clash.

After prolonged military attack on Afghanistan, and the intervention in Iraq, it is speculated that the next target of the Western countries is Iran. But Iran has a right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Just as Iraq and Afghanistan were attacked for false reasons, plans to attack Iran on similar lines have been thought of for a long time. As with regards to the atomic project of Iran, the role of the IAEA has been very crucial. On the one hand, Iran has to face the allegations of the West, on the other hand, because of the instability in its eastern neighbourhood and with the Syrian upsurge, Iran has also had to put up with isolation. Its relations with the neighbouring state of Turkey are also not completely normal. Because of Washington’s allegation of Iranian attempts to assassinate a Saudi diplomat, the Saudi -Iran relations have also been severely affected. For a long time now, Iran has been victim of the wicked attitude of the West.

In other words, in Iran “everything is not normal”. In the political meeting, the treatment meted out to the opposition was not in tune with the spirit of the Islamic revolution. The West is looking for an appropriate moment to catch Iran in a vulnerable position. Some days back, Britain had imposed economic and financial sanctions on Iran. Although there were diplomatic means available to resolve the problem, the British embassy was subsequently attacked and vandalized, something the Western powers were actually provoking Iran to do. Taking this as an excuse, Britain has reacted by closing its embassy at Iran and has ordered its diplomats to leave the country. The European state of Norway has similarly closed its embassy in Iran for security reasons. Even Germany has recalled its ambassador but on other grounds.

The West is united in its approach. The incident in Tehran’s British embassy could have been easily avoided.  Iran has all the right to use force within its territory. But how would this serve any purpose for anyone? In the long drawn Iran-Iraq War many Iranians sacrificed their life. Just like Iraq, the West also wants to fight this war on Iranian soil. Iran itself would never go and fight a war on Western territory. It's only in self-glorification that Iran says it is competing with the West. Worsening of the situation can still be avoided. The relations with US though non-existent, the embassy of Switzerland handles important affairs between Iran and the US.

In international politics, Britain is seen in a different light. The reason for the First and Second World Wars was Britain. It portrayed its opponent Germany as the enemy of the entire world. The war of Britain, along with US, was fought by colonial soldiers. The intelligence of Iran would reflect in its decision to avoid a similar fate. The Iranian people have the right to lead a respectful life at the international level. Even a small mistake can destroy their peace. Iran is associated with the OIC and NAM. It should try to raise the issue through these platforms. Turkey and Pakistan, besides their political clout and diplomatic significance, should come forward to prevent any clash. Pakistan is itself entangled with the US and the NATO while Turkey is busy with the problem in Syria. In spite of this, these states are capable of resolving the diplomatic tension between Iran and Britain. With regard to the atomic energy issue; India’s attitude has remained indifferent, but it has not affected Iran’s relations with India. India can play a vital role in resolving the tussle between Britain and Iran and maintaining peace in the region.  It’s time to maintain peace through diplomacy, when some powers are averse to peace. Iran and Britain will have to be extremely careful and wise in dealing with the situation.

Roznama Rashtriya Sahara (National Sahara Daily), Delhi
Editorial, 2 December 2011, Friday
2. Tiff in Iran-Britain Relations
Two days after discussion and voting in the Iranian Parliament on the fate of the British diplomat, one political group actually attacked the British embassy. According to sources, these people jumped through the walls of the embassy and reached inside, removed and burnt the British flag and put the Iranian one instead and then vandalized the place. Nothing is clear as to which political group is responsible. However, the President has expressed disappointment at the episode. But for Britain, the expression of grief over this incident alone is not good enough. Britain has demanded the arrest and the conduct of a legal enquiry against the vandals of the British embassy. Following this incident, the British Prime Minister, David Cameroon, has threatened Iran with severe consequences. Calling it arrogance, he said that the failure to protect the British embassy is embarrassing for the Iranian government. According to him, the Iranian government should understand that this failure to secure the British embassy would result in dire consequences for Iran.

Agreeing univocally with British Prime Minister, both the UN Security Council as well as the US President, Barack Obama, have argued for a strict enquiry into the matter, whereas France has remarked that it is concerned with the Iranian government not conforming to international laws. Given the expression of grief at the incident by the Iranian President, this accusation of violation of international laws on Iran does not seem to be appropriate. Of course what is to be criticized is the inability of the Iranian police and security forces to prevent the vandals from intruding the premises of the British embassy. But the disappointment at this has already been expressed by the Iranian President himself.

Nonetheless, the manner in which the matter is being weighed also reflects the attitude of the international community or more importantly, the powerful states. It seems as if they have been waiting for Iran to make a mistake so that they get an opportunity to crush its neck.

The responsibility of the security of an embassy is of the country in which it is set. According to international law, the embassy of a state is the sovereign territory of that state. The embassies raise the flag of their respective state. No state has the right to remove the flag in an embassy and raise their own flag.

If what happened in Tehran at the British embassy was carried out by the Iranian government or done by a group upon the orders of the government, then it would have indeed been a matter of severe criticism and a different scenario altogether. But after the disappointment expressed by the government, it is clear that whether or not the vandals belonged to any political group, it definitely did not have links with the government. Since the attack on the embassy happened shortly after the discussion and voting in the Iranian Parliament on the dismissal of the British ambassador in which the decision was taken in favour of dismissal, it could seem that the Iranian government may have had a hand in the matter. But this assumption is questionable as Iran cannot afford to commit such mistakes at a time when the entire world is watching it closely. Iran would want to avoid anything that has even a small potential to increase the problems.

What should be understood by the international powers is that the blind sanctions imposed upon Iran by the international community in spite of the IAEA reports has created desperation and frustration among the Iranian people. Obviously, the sanctions imposed upon a state have negative impact upon its people; they are the ones who suffer the brunt of it. The discussion in the Iranian Parliament and the eventual voting and dismissal of the British ambassador was also an expression of the disgruntled Iranians on the sanctions imposed by Britain, the US and Canada on Iranian nuclear programme. To see the attacks on the British embassy as anything more than vandalism and take any severe action against Iran because of it would be inappropriate. The door of diplomacy should be kept open.

Dawat Online (Invitation), New Delhi
Editorial, 10 December 2011, Saturday
3. The New Political Climate in Egypt
The results of first phase of  voting in Egypt has made it evident that in the ensuing elections, whatever the results may be, the Islamist groups will come to power and it will be the expression of people’s choice of the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Freedom and Justice Party. This could make them the single largest party and they would probably form the government along with groups with similar ideologies. This has also made it evident as to which group played an important role in the revolution that occurred in the country and what kind of changes the people aspired for. It is that aspect of the revolution which had hitherto been veiled by the West that was trying to give a different interpretation to the revolution in Egypt. After elections, the true picture has come out in open.

It is being said that in the first phase the Muslim Brotherhood got 38 per cent of the total votes, the Salafist Al-Nour Party got 25 per cent of the votes whereas the leftist and liberal block got only 20 percent of the total seats. The success of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Al-Nour Party and the Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya (Islamic Group Egypt) candidates in the elections in nine districts so far have shown that the people want religious groups to come to power, and have considered them worthy of this, in spite of the fact that they have no experience of governance, but sitting in opposition, especially the Muslim Brotherhood which has always criticized the Egyptian rulers for their pro-American and soft Israeli policies. It also has had sufficient experience with Parliamentary elections. In fact, if the Hosni Mubarak regime had had a significant opposition, then it would indeed have been the Muslim Brotherhood, and now the Egyptian people are making it the largest party in the Parliament. However, it is too early to say what the Islamist parties would do in the future. They have rejected the appeal of the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to make Egypt a secular state, and have expressed their own intentions instead. The biggest question had been as to whether the Islamist parties would come to power. The US President Barack Obama had, during the time of the revolution itself, warned against it and gave a strict warning to the people of Egypt. As far as the present administrative powers in Egypt is concerned, after the downfall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, it vests with the Supreme Council of the Army, and the governing powers of the regime also belong to the army, who are themselves conspiring to become the rulers of Egypt. It is still not evident what the political framework would be like in Egypt. Which way the regime will go and how will it work, whether the country will have a parliamentary, presidential or single head of state — since all these are matters to be decided after the final elections and the formation of a new Constitution, nothing can be said about the future with certainty.

Nevertheless, the results of the subsequent elections will not be very different from the present results. In the new Parliament, religious groups will be the most dominant. It is inevitable that just as in the revolution; their role in the new political set up of Egypt would also be the most substantial. This implies that the wave of changes that have stuck the country could continue to flow in the same manner. As political changes sweep the country there could definitely be social changes as well and a new Egypt could come into existence which would not only be an ally of the US, the West and Israel but more importantly could be able to play an important role in the resolution of all important issues of the region.

Roznama Sahafat (Journalism Daily), Delhi
Editorial, 10 December 2011, Saturday
4. Recommendations against Iran
If the US had wanted to play a political game in Iran, then by its own doing, it has spoilt its own game. For a long time the US has been trying to bring an end to the rule of the current Iranian President Mohammed Ahmadinejad. For this purpose, the US had given sufficient help to the previous President Hashemi Rafsanjani. The US had considered Rafsanjani to be more sympathetic and understanding of their viewpoint and felt that he was closer to the Americans. When this did not match with the people’s choice, then it resorted to other means. The easiest way to do this was to impose economic sanctions against Iran so that there is economic depression in the country due to which people would revolt against the government and overthrow the regime. As this was seen to be done to contain the Iranian nuclear programme, which has been a cause of severe worry to Israel, the plan backfired. Instead of opposing the ruling government, the Iranian people became more supportive of it. The biggest shock to the US came when it realized that the nuclear programme is of great importance to the Iranian people and that even the opposition could not afford to criticize the government on that point.

A look at it would suggest that rather than weakening Ahmadinejad, the sanctions are strengthening him. The opposition is absolutely sure that the sanctions imposed upon Iran would create difficulties for the Iranian people, but even these difficulties are not enough to force them to go against Ahmadinejad. They are also certain that there is no scope of further issuing of sanctions on Iran by virtue of the UN Security Council. Russia and China would veto any such sanction that would be brought in for discussion in the Security Council. They are also aware that sanctions from Britain and other European countries would not have any impact on the Iranian people. The biggest example of this is the attack of the Iranians on the British embassy. The restrictions imposed upon some Iranian corporate trading companies by some European states cannot severely hamper the economy of Iran. The allegations of the US and its open display of contempt for Iran has further strengthened the position of the Iranians and they seem to be much more stronger than what they were at the time of the people’s revolution under Imam Khomeini where the posters and slogans of “Long Live Revolution” were upheld. Therefore, seen from whichever point of view, the American game seems to have come to an end in Iran.

Israel’s threats have also made the people of Iran firm.  First, Israel tried to render the Iranian nuclear technology unusable by the use of a computer virus attack. Though some harm was done by this virus, the Iranian engineers were able to bring it under control. Following this, an attempt was made to bomb the rocket-making plant of Iran. But, this also had no major impact. However, all this made it very clear to the Iranian people that the US and Israel are dedicated to the extinction of their country and this realization made them more sympathetic to their government. The propaganda by the Israeli leaders and media that they are planning to attack the Iran has been counterproductive. Obviously, no population howsoever opposed it may be to its government, can tolerate the plan of it being attacked by a foreign country. Though President Ahmadinejad is certain that in the near future there is no chance of any such attack on Iran, he knows two things with certainty. One, until oil is outside the purview of sanctions nothing can have a severe impact on the economy of Iran, and that it would be outside the purview of sanctions has already to be demonstrated by Russia and China. Second, if due to an attack or threat of attack Iran closes the Strait of Hormuz, the price of oil across the world would double and many countries would not be able to bear the burden of this and it would result in a further criticism of the US and Israel. The US is not able to destroy Iran by its game. Its own position is now becoming increasingly threatened.

Roznama Rashtriya Sahara (National Sahara Daily), Delhi
Editorial, 13 December 2011, Tuesday
5. Strong Criticism by Tawakel Karman
It is very rare that the Nobel Peace Prize is won by someone who is a great critique of the US or the West and of their policies. From this respect, the critique on the double standard of Western policies that has been done by Yemeni citizen Tawakel Karman, one of the three Nobel Peace Prize winners, is of great significance and demonstrates that in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, anti-American sentiments are becoming stronger among the personalities of the region. It is this sentiment that has become so evident in the recent uprisings in the Arab world, which is obviously a cause of great concern for the West.

Tawakel Karman is from Yemen and is considered a significant and dynamic voice of the Arab Spring not only in Yemen but in the entire region. The entire world reveres her and treats her views with respect. In the preceding week, after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize at Oslo, the capital city of Norway, along with two other women, she targeted the western countries with her critique of the irresponsibility and double standards of these countries with clarity. Tawakel Karman said that the West should not fear the Arab spring in the Middle East leading to political disorder or that the people would suffer from their desperation. The critique by Karman is actually related to the West’s attitude towards the revolution of the Yemeni people. It is worth mentioning that Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh is said to be a close ally of the Western countries and America. It is for this reason that the revolution in Yemen did not get enough support from the West unlike in Libya where the revolutionaries got enough backing against Qaddafi or at present, the support that the revolutionaries in Syria against President Bashar al-Assad are getting. It is also evident that these two personalities were generally disliked by the West and their relations with the West or the US were not friendly. On the other hand, the opposition in Saudi Arabia, Yemen or other Muslim states have not got enough Western support as the leaders of these countries have good relations with the US and the West. This is actually the case with Yemen where President Ali Abdullah Saleh has remained in his position in spite of the pressure of the revolts, because the international community, particularly the US and the West have not whole heartedly supported the revolutionaries here. This is obviously an instance of the double standards of the West that has been acutely critiqued by Tawakel Karman. In fact, she is one of those Yemeni women who have substantially participated in the movement against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The 32 year old Karman, a mother of three children, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her fight for human rights, fight for securing the rights of women and for her efforts in the movement against the ruling regime. However, she is pained by the fact that the West has not given adequate support to the revolution in Yemen. She also realizes that the West has a double standard on this matter and their policies with regard to the support or containment of the popular revolution is determined by the stakes that it has for itself. She indicates the example of Libya, where the NATO joined hands with the revolutionaries in the name of relieving the Libyan people from the rule of Colonel Qaddafi who played a ruthless and bloody game which saw violation of human rights and international law. She also has the example of the pressure that is being exercised by the US, Europe, Muslim states and the international community on Syria. In contrast to this, however, the revolution in Yemen could not get Western support for a long time precisely because Ali Abdullah Saleh has had good relations with them. This double standard of the Western countries has, in fact, created a number of issues at the international level and it is this attitude that has been instrumental in suppressing popular rebellions in republics. Tawakel Karman’s critique on the West should be seen from this viewpoint.

Inquilab (The Revolution), Mumbai
Editorial, 15 December 2011, Thursday
6. The End of the Iraq War
Barack Obama seems to be quite pleased these days. The probable reason for this could be that he is going to fulfil his promise of bringing the Iraq war to an end. In the 2008 Presidential election the agenda by which he defeated his rival included some slogans one of which was to end the ongoing war in Iraq. Power wielders of every country are alike. The difference is brought about with the action and reaction of the people. Where people are aware, power holders could lie little, could enact little, and could fool people less. Where the people are not aware, the political leaders lie blatantly, dramatize the situation overwhelmingly, and openly and industriously fool the people. By withdrawing the final fleets of the US army from Iraq, Obama wants to give the message to his people that he has fulfilled his promise whereas the reality is far from it. In the last year of his four year Presidential term, this promise has been fulfilled simply because he has to present himself before the American people very soon, fighting to win another term. Thus, it is necessary now to complete his promises. If the US Presidential term was of 10 years then one would have witnessed the presence of US troops for another ten years.

Another reason for this withdrawal is the deteriorating economic position of the US. When George Bush attacked Iraq he had not imagined the expense that the tax payers would have to suffer due to the imposition of this unnecessary war. The war had incurred an expenditure of One trillion dollars, just as a gambler takes all his money and gambles stakes with the intention of finishing it all. Although the authorities have not blamed the economic depression of the US on the Iraq war, they have viewed the Iraq war as a contributing factor. Since Obama was not ready to invest more money in the war, he was left with no other choice but to recall the American forces.

The justice loving world looks unto the US; therefore it does not distinguish between George Bush and Barack Obama. The reason is clear— the American President remains the American President whatever his name. Obama had promised and given sufficient reassurances to the people that his policies and programmes would be different and more pertinent than those of George Bush. In the following four years it was witnessed that this did not happen. The only difference was in the manner in which American policies were carried out and the person who was in authority. If Obama was really peace loving would he not have taken steps earlier.

The first question that is raised at the end of a war is- who is the winner? It is important, however, to note that after so many years of fighting the Iraq war, nobody is raising the question. It is possible that in order to underplay their shame, the Americans would say that they have made the Iraqi people’s existence more secure. This kind of convenient comment is most liked by the American presidents. The peace and justice loving people of the world should question America as to why they murdered innocent Iraqis and when the time had come to pay for the losses, why did they run away?

Translated and Compiled by Amna Sunmbul

Amna Sunmbul is a Research Student at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Email 

As part of its editorial policy, the MEI@ND standardizes spelling and date formats to make the text uniformly accessible and stylistically consistent. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views/positions of the MEI@ND. Editor, MEI@ND: P R Kumaraswamy