Robert Fantina

Why do Iranians celebrate the taking over of US embassy?

By Robert Fantina*


The government of the United States of America has a long and ugly history of supporting the most vile and repressive regimes. This is seen today in support of the brutally repressive government of Saudi Arabia, and the cruel, barbarous, apartheid regime of Israel, among many others. The U.S. blatantly works to overthrow the democratically-elected governments of countries, if, for some reason usually connected to wealth and power, those governments displease it. Chile, Nicaragua, Iraq, Venezuela and Syria are just a few of the countries that have been so victimized by the U.S. over the generations. The Syrian government today seems to have successfully defeated U.S. efforts to destroy it.

Historically, the U.S. supported the repressive government of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi in Iran. During his reign, freedom of the press was greatly curtailed, political opponents were arrested and executed, and thousands of people were killed. Yet this was all fine with the mighty U.S., as long as the Shah followed U.S. orders.

Conditions under the Shah were never good, and worsened as time progressed. Oil revenues that should have benefited the populace often went into the pockets of the Shah and his family, while many of the poor were near starvation. Opposition political parties were outlawed, and as government repression grew, so did the anger of the population.

The will of an oppressed people cannot be thwarted forever, and beginning in 1978, things progressed quickly in Iran. Strikes and protests against the government increased, and the Shah fled the country in January of 1979. That same month, Ayatollah Khomeini, in exile for 15 years, returned to Tehran, greeted by millions of cheering Iranians.

After much work and effort, the Revolution celebrated victory in November of 1979, as the U.S. Embassy was seized, symbolizing the  birth of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The change from a corrupt, pro-Western, puppet government, to an independent democracy with leaders more concerned with the welfare of their people than filling their pockets with money from oil revenues, did not please the U.S., which severed relations with Iran and has continued to demonstrate hostility toward Iran since then. At U.S. insistence, the United Nations passed resolutions condemning Iran’s nuclear program. It must be emphasized that Iran is a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and its leaders have repeatedly said that its nuclear program is for peaceful uses only. This is in sharp contrast to Israel, which possesses nuclear weapons and has refused to sign the NPT.

In 2015, Iran reached an agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with China, France, Russia, Britain, the U.S., Germany and the European Union, that regulated Iran’s nuclear development program. In exchange, sanctions against Iran would be lifted. Why such an agreement was necessary is a mystery to this writer; it makes no sense to reach such a treaty with a nation whose leaders have repeatedly proclaimed they have no interest in nuclear weapons, at the same time that the U.S. provides $4 billion annually to the rogue, nuclear-armed, apartheid regime of Israel.

Nonetheless, the agreement was signed, and in order to get U.S. approval, it was determined that the U.S. president would certify quarterly, to Congress, that Iran was in compliance, as indicated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). President Barack Obama, in office when the agreement was signed, certified Iranian compliance during his remaining time in office, and current President Donald Trump did so twice.

However, in October, Trump refused to certify Iranian compliance, despite the opinion of the international community, and even some of his top advisors, that Iran was, in fact, compliant. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, the grossly unqualified Nikki Haley, has made nonsensical remarks about Iran, including that that nation is abiding by the ‘letter’ but not the ‘spirit’ of the law, and condemning other Iranian actions that fall outside of the JCPOA.

The reason for this intransigence on the part of the Trump administration is clear: it is not what Israel wants. Prior to the signing of the agreement, which needed the approval of the U.S. Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress, trying to convince its members to vote against approval. Netanyahu sees ‘existential’ threats to Israel everywhere: the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement; U.N. condemnation of illegal settlements; even questions by the international soccer association are all considered threatening to the continued existence of Israel.

For at least twenty years, Netanyahu has been saying that Iran is within months of developing nuclear weapons; on more than one occasion, his minions have assassinated Iran’s nuclear scientists. He wants Israel, and only Israel, to have complete hegemony in the Middle East, and he cannot countenance Iran’s increasing power and influence. Israel wields tremendous control in the halls of the U.S. Congress, due to the campaign contributions that flow to Congress members from the various Israeli lobbies. Members of Congress are willing to overlook Israel’s violation of international law, and its crimes against humanity, in exchange for financing for their election and re-election campaigns.

Since the terrorist attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, the U.S. government, with a willing, corporate-owned press, has vilified Muslims. Trump himself has fostered this irrational fear and hatred of Islam, even attempting to ban Muslims from entering the country. He, his various minions and a willing media, use this fear to disparage Iran, a mostly-Muslim nation, to gain support for further hostile actions, from sanctions all the way to war.  Many people in the West are ignorant about both Iran and Islam, and this enables the government to easily manipulate their attitudes.

As Trump continues to threaten Iran at the behest of Netanyahu, he is risking a war that will kill millions, and that the U.S. cannot possibly win. Unlike neighboring Iraq, which the U.S. easily and criminally vanquished in 2003, Iran is a large nation, with a powerful military, and equally powerful allies, including Russia. Such a war would quickly expand beyond Iran and the U.S. It would not accomplish U.S. imperial goals.  All it would do is bring unspeakable carnage to the Middle East, and possibly beyond, and increase tenfold hostility toward the United States. This would be a tragedy of historic proportions, one made worse by the fact that it is entirely preventable.

This writer visited Iran in July, and wishes more people would take the opportunity of doing so. Only with knowledge can these irrational and dangerous fears be dispelled. By visiting Tehran and talking to people there, those who are so uninformed will learn that Iranians are no different than themselves.

As Iranians celebrate the taking of the U.S. embassy and the end of the repressive influence of the United States, people of good will around the globe wish them continued success. It is hoped that, in Washington, D.C., more thoughtful individuals will see reality clearly, and prevent Trump from making the colossal mistake of invading Iran. Although he has ‘decertified’ the JCPOA, all the other parties to it continue to support it, and their support, too, could sway him from invading.

The continued growth in power and influence of Iran in the Middle East can only be a positive factor for that region, and the rest of the world. The U.S. may be able to slow that progress, but it cannot prevent it from happening.



* Robert Fantina is an author and peace activist. His writing has appeared on Mondoweiss, Counterpunch, Trutout and other sites. His latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy

The views, opinions and positions expressed on Op-Ed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of