Letters for 01-11-2018

Iran is burning, or at least smoldering
Iran is the second largest country in the
Middle East. It is an old nation with roots
that date back to the fourth millennium
BC. That makes civilization in Iran some
of the oldest in the world.
With a population of 81 million, it is the
18th most populated country on earth. The
geography is diverse with beaches on the
west and lofty rugged mountains on the
east. What makes it even more beautiful is
its natural wealth. Oil. Iran has the fourthlargest
oil reserves and the second largest
natural gas reserves in the world and is the
second largest OPEC oil producer. All the
oil is owned by the Iranian government.
Despite this abundance of pure energy,
Iran’s inefficiency in managing its
economy has led to economic distress
within the country. This is a testament to
the free market economy we enjoy within
America and how capitalism has built-in
Iran is not a political friend of the
United States, nor is it a friend of many
countries in the Mid-East. It was apparent
when I lived there that Saudi Arabia has no
love lost for Iran. The Iranians referred to
themselves as Persians and were not to be
called Arabs. If you were in Saudi Arabia,
the Persian Gulf – the official name of the
gulf between Saudi Arabia and Iran – was
not to be referred to as the Persian Gulf.
Instead we had to refer to the water as the
Arabian Gulf.
Additionally, religion is an issue with
Iran. The country is predominately of the
Shiite sect, while Saudi Arabia is Sunni.
This was the same situation with Iraq, so
when Iran invaded Iraq both Kuwait and
Saudi Arabia supported Iraq in that longprotracted
Iran was once a staunch ally of the
United States. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi,
better known as the Shah of Iran, came
to power during World War II. Intrigue
followed the new leader. The Shah turned
from being an international playboy to
becoming a progressive leader. His goal
was to return Iran to the grandeur of a
time when Persia was a dominant kingdom
and threatened the free world of ancient
Greece. It is reported that the Shah would
sit on a thrown covered in gold.
He wanted to move the country away from
Sharia law and move to a more progressive
country through socio-economic reform.
This alienated many within the country
as he built a massive army with American
support. Some religious zealots were
deported. One lived in Iraq. His name;
Ruhollah Khomeini. Following major
struggles within Iran, the Shah left and
Ruhollah Khomeini returned from exile.
President Carter reluctantly allowed the
Shah to come to the United States where
he was diagnosed with cancer. He did not
return to Iran from America to stand trial,
and this further fueled anti-American
I had only been living in Saudi Arabia a
couple of years when everything went on
the skids for American-Iranian relations. I
sat in shock as the American embassy was
stormed and sovereign American property
was seized and American diplomatic
members were held hostage. I remember
turning on my television to see the details
of the botched attempt to rescue the
embassy staff and how the planes had
turned inland of the barge I had been on
the night before.
Nothing has gone good for American–
Iranian relations since that time. I heard
from men that publicly Iranians yell,
“Death to America,” while in private they
longed to see the Shah once again. One
American told me they met an Iranian who
told him that when he was a child and a
Boy Scout, he had to stand with his scout
troop to wait for the Shah to come by in the
terrible cold. He hated the experience, but
said that he would stand out there all day
just to see him drive by again.
The general population of Iran is not
the enemy of America. It is the country’s
leaders and the Iranian Revolutionary
Guard that keep anti-American sentiment
alive in Iran. There have been several
protests held in the country only to be
suppressed. One was in 2009 and another
in 2011. They failed without any words of
support from the United States. This time
is different as the president stated that we
have no issue with the good people of Iran.
It is the government we have problems
with. He has sent several veiled messages
of support to the demonstrators and let
Iran know that the world is watching.
To date over 1,000 Iranians have been
arrested, 21 have been killed and social
media has been shut down.
It will now be interesting to see if words
of encouragement have any affect on this
protest and will this escalate to an all-out