It was five PM but the sky was already black. The omnipresent rain splattered against the car window as we drove past Putney Station. The smug man on the radio announces that Qasem Soleimani has been assassinated, and my mum responds “good”. I was extremely confused, “what do you mean, ’good’?”. This action breached the whole principle of national sovereignty. It is inviting retaliation from the Revolutionary Guard hotheads. It is the first step into the often-walked path of war with the Middle-East. This is what they have always wanted: destabilisation in the Middle-East. Do you want them to do to Iran what they did to Iraq? Libya? Afghanistan? Syria?
But we need to get rid of these akhoonds (1) somehow. Didn’t you see how many times the people protested? And how the Basij (2) attacked them and shot them? How they killed your father’s cousin? How they set fire to the banks and blamed it on the people? They are like cancer, and if the only way to get rid of them is through a war, then be it.
Hearing my own mother, who lived through the revolution, who lived through the Iran-Iraq war, who lost her father to the trauma of that war, say these words, sent an ice-cold shiver through my body. Of all people, if she didn’t know how terrible this war would be, then who would? It didn’t take much before I rationalised the opposition to this war, and by the time we got home she was totally against it; she even joined me in an anti-war protest at Downing Street, yelling all of the chants way louder than me; clearly a revolution is good practice for chanting loudly.
Although her initial stance horrified me, it reminded me of a very legitimate dilemma. For, at the end of the day, I am almost completely detached from the suffering caused by this regime, whilst she has lost family, friends, and neighbours to it. It is very easy for me to scream short Taylor Swift-level catchy chants like “no war with Iran!”, but it is far less easy for me to scream “let’s create structural reform and domestically-induced regime change!”. Like ok cool, no one wants war, but what do we want? That is the difficult question, because in reality that is the only question. That is why when I asked Emma Dent Coad, former Labour MP for Kensington, what her Party’s policy on Iran’s regime actually is, I was able to say “that doesn’t in the slightest answer my question” to her response which was: We are listening to what the Iranian residents of Kensington actually want, we have been holding meetings with residents to listen to them…blah…blah…blah (3).
I don’t claim that solving the problems in Iran is easy, but I do claim to know the solution: having conversations aimed at finding a long-term remedy. Not a remedy for the current rising tensions, for the nuclear deal, or for the upcoming Iranian Elections. No. A remedy for the entire Iranian political system, which should be benefiting the people of Iran.
Should there be a war? Is there space left on the buildings in Iran for the portrait of even one more war martyr? Should the people protest? Is there any chance that the stones thrown by the people hit harder that the bullets fired by the government? Should there be more sanctions? Is there any chance that the bearded preacher feels guilt for his starving congregation? Should we bring back the Pahlavis (4)? Will the people see this as the ultimate blessing, or the ultimate betrayal? Should the current regime reform? Is it possible for reform to make an autocracy democratic?
Maybe my mum is right. Maybe we should just execute all the akhoonds.
But what about their sons?1. A Farsi title for an Islamic cleric.
2. A paramilitary volunteer militia, one of the five forces of the Revolutionary Guard.
3. This is by no means a dismissal of all that the Labour party has done for minority groups, from criticising the Conservative Party’s disgusting foreign policy to speaking at protests like this, but it is instead a wider criticism of British politics and its failure to: At best) consider the consequences of their role in the middle east. At worst) to admit to their century long policy which is to intervene in the middle east and gain imperial dominance.
4. Reza Pahlavi, exiled son of the last Shah of Iran has, according to an article written by Politico on 13 December 2018 (titled “Son of deposed Iranian Shah calls for U.S.-backed regime change”), called for an Iranian Parliamentary democracy which he is willing to serve in if it be the will of the people.