Is this a sign of things to come in Bahrain? I really hope not. That doesn't bode well for me and other bloggers!
On a different note, in relation to Iran, I really have problems nowadays understanding the Iranian mentality. As I've explained before, most, if not all, of the Iranian people want the Islamic republic to be overthrown, and for good reasons too. What I really don't understand, however, is that there is a substantial part of the population who want the Shah to come back. You'd think they'd learn from history.
The net is filled with sites and blogs calling for the return of the Shah's son.They want a cruel, tyrannical regime supported by no one to be replaced by a cruel, tyrannical regime supported by the U.S. Why in hell do they think people overthrew the Shah in the first place?
Admittedly, most of the people who write these sites come from the families that had the most to lose from the Shah's departure. They're either from the former elite of the country, or from those who left the country after the Islamic revolution. Hence, their viewpoints should be taken with a grain of salt, as they definitely have their own vested interests, and do not reflect the majority of the population.
As I've posted before, I had the pleasure of spending a month in Iran in the summer, and most of the people I met were from these former elite families, who'd definitely welcome a return of the Shah. What amazes is how distorted and ridiculous their viewpoints and history OF THEIR OWN COUNTRY is.
Before I go on, let me give a quick bare-bones summary of Iran's government history over the last fifty years.
Up until the early fiftees, iran was ruled by the Pahlavi dynasty, which was very pro-British (most of their oil revenues went to the British).
In the early fiftees, Iran had its first, and only, proper democratic experience. The elected prime minister was Mohammed Mossadeq, who was very nationalistic and nationalized the oil industry, much to British and American anger.
Mohammed Mosaddeq was overthrown in a coup arranged by the CIA and British intelligence officers. The Shah was reinstalled as the sole ruler, and the Pro-American/British alliance was restored.
In the late seventies, a popular revolution occured, supported by ALL SEGMENTS OF THE POPULATION (except obviously those that benefited from the Shah), and the Shah was overthrown, but unfortunately the revolution in the end was hijacked by the Islamists, led by Khomeini.
Now all of these historical events are undisputed, especially those up until the 1970s.
Talking to these guys in Iran, however, you get a completely different version of history. (Note: Iran, just like the Arabic world, is rife with conspiracy theories and warped logic to analyze events. In fact, I'd say they even have the honour of surprassing us in this area.)
They first tell me that Mossadeq actually was the one who was very pro-British and pro-American.
Instead, it was the SHAH who was extremely ambitious, and had plans that completely went against those of the U.S. and the UK.
(This one actually made me laugh). Iran under the Shah used to be an extremely powerful and devloped country. In fact, it was the FIFTH OR SIXTH strongest and most advanced country in the world. (me to myself: oh really? UK, US, Soviet Union, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Canada. That's more than five or six to me). In fact, no one was poor in Shah's time. Every person even had a car.
That is why it is actually THE UK that arranged the succession of Khomeini to power. In fact, the Islamic regime is not only tolerated by European governments (which MAYBE you could argue), but is actually supported by them, and depends for its existence on them.
The sad thing is that this not only said by ignorant youth, but I've actually talked to sixty-somethings, who were extremely respected in society, and hold the above viewpoint. They in turn unfortunately pass their viewpoint down to the young generation. The end product is that there is a vast swath of the population who views the life under the Shah as being idealistic, perfect, where everyone was happy and no one was poor.
My reply to this (obviously in a very subtle and gentle way, since the Iranians don't like being criticized, especially by Arabs. They have a particular habit of seeing us as backwards and the dirt of the earth) is always:
"So why was the Shah overthrown?"
You can tell the argument starts cracking up a bit here. They always throw in some hotch-potch replies. "Oh, that's because they were tricked by Khomeini in that they would have a better life under him. It wasn't because the Shah did anything wrong." They tend to forget that there were communists, liberals, and socialists who all supported the revolution in the beginning.
After all this rant, here is my final quick-capsule review: The guy who support, and want, the Shah to come back are just as bad as the Islamists. They might be pro-Western, and hence will have sanctions lifted, and they might let people strut around in bikinis on Iran's beaches, but at the end of the day they are just as undemocratic and oppressive as the Islamists.
If you want proof of this, just switch on any of the Iranian anti-government channels and watch the twits on it. All they do is shout at the top of their voices about how bad the current regime is, and how good the Shah was. What they never do, however, is accept criticism of their view. More importantly, they never offer a coherent explanation of their alternative, and how they instead will change society. That's because they don't have a coherent alternative.
All of these channels are broadcasted from America, particularly Los Angeles, where there estimated to be about 2 million Iranians and descendants. The sad thing is that even if the Islamic regime was overthrown, most of them will not come back to Iran, and even if they did, they will swiftly leave. They have become so American that I doubt they would be able to fit back into their society.
It seems Iran is destined to always go through turmoil, going from one revolution to another, from one extreme to another. I used to think that by now, since the Iranians have experienced both the Shah and the Islamists, they finally will be sensible and settle on democracy. Nope. Their fiery and rebelous nature seems destined to give them heavy-handed and tyrranical regimes on the one hand, and a fiery opposition that doesn't like the regime on the other.