Around four months ago, just before the coronavirus pandemic picked up across the world, first Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and then their so-called Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei commented on the riots raging in New Delhi. The riots at Shaheen Baug were not the conventional Hindu-Muslim riots; they were politically motivated, engineered by anti-India forces, mere optics staged for then visiting US President Trump. More importantly, they were India’s internal matter.
India promptly and aptly snubbed Zarif for his remarks, but Khamenei did not pick the signs. He crossed the red line and made rather foolish anti-India remarks. The world, including many Muslims and those from his community, ignored him.
Supreme religious leaders of Iran, erstwhile Persia, suffer from selective, and mostly, convenient amnesia. If they can forget Rahab Siddh Dutt who fought and, as goes the legend, sacrificed his seven sons for Imam Husain in the tragedy of Karbala during the month of Moharram n 680 AD, and the thousands of Hussaini Brahmins that continue to preserve the legacy of blend between Hindus and Shia Muslims, it is not surprising that they forgot that India was one of the few countries resisting US pressure ad sanctions vis-à-vis Iran till the very end.
Iran also fails to comprehend that India is the only country which could have stood between itself and the US, Israel, and its sworn enemies in the Arab world – all of whom share good relations with India. If the news that Iran wants to drop India from its Chabahar-Zahedan rail project to favour China is true, then it is as good (rather, bad) as shooting Iran shooting itself in the foot and prove to set in motion the beginning of its downfall.
The latest comprehensive deal proposal between Iran and China is just to appease the latter, it is a sell-out of Iranian oil at almost 30% the original price for 25 years, in times when oil is already getting cheaper than water. Most importantly, it is an unconditional, humiliating surrender of their sovereignty for an imaginary Chinese investment of USD 400 billion.
Soon, Iran and its elite Quds force could turn into a mercenary force for the CPC (Communist Party of China), engaging mighty Americans, wary Arabs and determined Israelis who consider Iran’s nuclear programme to be an existential threat, with second-rate Chinese weapons and China’s so-called investment which, in reality, is a debt trap.
Today China faces massive global hatred and backlash like never before, not even during the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989. While the whole world, and even staunch Chinese allies North Korea and Pakistan, are desperately trying to distance themselves from China and CPC, Iran is foolishly volunteering to be its proxy. It is inadvertently agreeing to be a sacrificial goat, transferring the battling turf from China’s immediate borders with Tibet, Ladakh and South China Sea, to its own territory and the Persian Gulf.
By agreeing to be China’s client state, it increases the chances of uniting American, Israeli, and Arab forces into an attack on itself. Iran stands no chance of surviving such an attack, despite ‘Shia Pride’, or Shia leadership.
By joining hands with China, Khamenei, who lamented the so-called atrocities on Indian Muslims four months ago, has willingly sold out 1.22 crores of Uighur Muslims of Xinjiang persecuted by the CPC. If they being Sunni Muslims could be a reason, then he will very well have irked the Sunni Muslim world in the bargain.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini dethroned Shah Reza Pahlavi (Shah of Iran) in 1979. The Iranian society of that time was progressive, educated, liberal and free, but it supported Khomeini’s actions because of the Shah’s poor governance, total neglect of the masses, his excessive tilt to the west, especially the US, and resulting economic hardships. Khomeini turned Iran into a ‘Shia Islamic Republic’, a bulwark against its powerful Sunni neighbourhood. The Iranians were not joyous, but they took that in their stride as well.
However, the 40-years’ rule of the Imams has long served its purpose. It is now proving to be dead weight and counterproductive. Smart, evolved Iranians who have seen too many upheavals in their society know too well that the Khomeneis and Khameneis are too outdated a material to rule their society in the present-day world. They can only bring destruction, deprivation, and regression to Iran. Incidentally, similar feeling exists, in varying degrees and sections of Chinese and neighbouring Pakistani societies.
It would not, then, be a surprise if a version of the ‘Arab Spring’ springs up in Iran and people rally for a saner, democratic leadership promising free, open, and progressive society. Similar possibility exists in Pakistan and China too. It would not be a surprise if the citizens wish to oust these current doomsday regimes that threaten the world with nuclear weapon, as well their ‘security’ apparatus and the innumerable sufferings they bring to common people. Aspirations and dreams for a peaceful, democratic, welfare state will prevail.
Gone are the days when in a Nazi Germany, each German was eager to sacrifice all – even life – for Hitler’s slightest whims. In today’s world, the Xis, Khameinis and Imrans-Bajwas are mere ‘expendable dwarfs’.
Dr Anant Bhagwat
Dr Anant Bhagwat is a Pune-based radiologist who also runs an NGO named वैश्विक सामरिक नीति प्रतिष्ठान पुणे/ Global Strategic Policy Foundation Pune (GSPFP).
The views and opinions expressed in the above article belong to the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official opinion, policy or position of Lokmaanya.