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What if the Iranian people had the cameraman’s opportunity? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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What could be described as a dark comedy recently took place in New York, involving Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. From the UN General Assembly podium, the Iranian President called for a new global system with no place for poverty or oppression, along with other worthless clichés. But then the entertainment commenced, when the Iranian President’s official cameraman announced his defection, and requested political asylum in the US!

The question here is as follows: If the television cameraman accompanying the Iranian President, for which there is supposed to be a careful selection process, has announced his defection, and he is part of Ahmadinejad’s delegation, then what would it be like if ordinary Iranians could obtain visas for Western countries normally? Certainly, Iran’s population would fall by more than sixty percent, and its best minds and young people would leave, just as the first generation left in the post-Shah phase after the Khomeini revolution! The Iranian regime is an example of a regime rooted in evil; one that excels in repressing and restricting its citizens, men and women. It is a regime that cannot continue in a rational and open atmosphere. Indeed, greater openness would only serve to blow down the paper tiger in Tehran.

The Iranian regime is tampering with the destinies of its people, and is putting the entire region at risk as a result of its ambitions, which, at the very least, we can say are extreme. This regime is funding Bashar al-Assad, the killer of Syria’s women and children, with nearly US $10 billion, at a time when the Iranian Rial continues to collapse. We see the Iranian economy facing a real danger that might threaten the Iranian political entity as a whole, and yet it is strange that Iran is suffering economically at a time of very high oil prices. Here it is suffice to compare between what the Gulf States, for example, are doing with their oil revenues, and what the Iranian regime is doing. The Gulf States are building and learning, and investing in their citizens. Saudi Arabia, for example, sends its citizens across the world in search of knowledge, while Iran funds al-Assad and sends members of its Revolutionary Guards to ensure the Syrian regime is victorious over the people. Tehran also supports Hassan Nasrallah and others in Yemen, Bahrain, and Iraq, the latter of which will overtake Iran, for the first time ever this month, in terms of oil production!

Therefore, the defection of the official cameraman accompanying the Iranian President is an indication of the burning embers under the ashes in Iran, a country which is preparing to face its internal and external dues, with international sanctions, the threat of a military strike, and forthcoming presidential elections. The Iranian regime has already sought to make preparations by blocking some popular internet services, as it did with Google previously, only to then return and unblock the website later. All of this confirms that we are nearing a mass boiling point in Iran, which gets ever closer with the economic sanctions, especially as it seems that Tehran’s support for al-Assad has become a major drain for Iran militarily, politically and financially. Iran’s political losses, for example, from supporting al-Assad are immeasurable, with regards to the Arab and Islamic world and at the level of public opinion.

Of course, there is still the following legitimate question: What do some of our intellectuals, or the Iranian lobbies among us – who have chewed our ears off in the past in praise of the Iranian model – think about what Iran is doing today, or what is happening to it? Are they like the dissident cameraman, or are they still confused? Well, they have certainly been confused for the past two years!

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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