Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Iran We Long For | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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An image of the skyline of Tehran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

It would be no surprise if Iran is revealed to be behind the espionage cell arrested by the Saudi authorities last week. Iran has lately become the common denominator in every major regional issue. Bahrain is suffering as a result of Iranian interventions and threats, while the same can be said about the UAE with regards to Iran’s blatant occupation of its islands. Kuwait is suffering greatly as a result of direct and indirect interference by Tehran, and Kuwait has previously announced that it has arrested espionage and armed cells affiliated with Iranian intelligence.

Of course, Tehran’s fingerprints can be seen clearly all over Iraq. Today, the Iranians are firmly entrenched within the Iraqi political scene. We are also seeing Iran openly threatening Yemen, which has prompted Yemeni leaders to issue statements explicitly designating Tehran as a genuine threat to Yemen’s security and unity. Neither can we overlook Iran’s flagrant intervention in backing the criminal and despotic Assad regime—a position that nobody can accept. These are all criminal and dangerous actions.

Today, there is an entire generation of Arabs who long to see the Iran of old: the Iran that Arabs yearned to visit and to lose themselves in its culture and civilization. Arabs before the revolution witnessed the creativity of Iran’s Isfahan craftsmen, who excelled at producing wonderful pottery and chandeliers—not to mention the marvelous carpet weavers who could be found in Qom, Tabriz and Kashan, whose products shocked the world. In addition to this, we have the wonderful Persian cuisine, from Iranian-style basmati rice to the Chelow kabob. These are all truly peerless dishes. We must also not forget Iranian saffron, which can be added to different dishes, and of course tea and coffee.

Iranian art and literature also have a special place in the Arab world. In fact, Arab audiences have always had a soft spot for well-known Iranian singer Googoosh, and still diligently attend her concerts and tours. She most recently appeared at London’s Royal Albert Hall, and the number of Arabs in the audience demonstrated her fame in the Arab world. In addition, we have the poetry of Omar Khayyam and Rumi, not to mention the movies of Samira Makhmalbaf and Abbas Kiarostan.

These are all just examples of the stature that Iran once enjoyed in the Arab world. Iran is a dazzling and successful state that transformed into a spiteful and angry one, and it continues to incite uprisings, sedition and unrest. It has tainted the proud Iranian people to the point where they are always suspect and in doubt.

The Iranian people have been held for ransom by a despotic regime that is seeking to export the revolution. A comparison between the state of affairs in the region before and after Khomeini’s 1979 revolution only serves to clarify the dubious consequences of this. This revolution was nothing more than a disaster for Iran and the entire region. We are all longing for the Iran of old, which served as a source of admiration and inspiration. However, it is now nothing more than a chapter of history, and there is no room for it in Iran’s present.