Friday, July 17, 2009

Meet Great Britain--The New 'Great Satan' In Iran

Could it be that Great Britain is
the new...
Satan?

It seems that as much as Obama may want to apologize to Iran for past US transgressions, there is another country that has even more to answer more. The US may be the Great Satan, but Great Britain is the Greater Satan:

Since Iranians took to the streets to protest the official vote results, the government has expelled two British diplomats, kicked out the longtime British Broadcasting Corp. bureau chief, and arrested British Embassy staff members, accusing them of fomenting the unrest. Last week, an adviser to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called Britain "worse than America" for its alleged interference in Iran's post-election affairs.

Although complaints about British meddling are enjoying a resurgence, they are hardly new. For many Iranians, especially those whose memories go back several decades, the British reach is long and deep.

"To the older generation of Iranians, it's as if the sun has never gone down on the British Empire," said Mehrzad Boroujerdi, director of Middle Eastern studies at Syracuse University. "They are considered the masters of political intrigue, and players such as the U.S. are considered to be novices, new kids on the block."

It is not clear whether this is enough to inspire British Prime Minister Brown to do 'an Obama' and start apologizing for misdeeds past and present.

Not surprisingly, Iran's negative view towards Great Britain seems to mirror Israel's view not only of undo British interference in its countries affairs, but also Israel's suspicions of a well known British product:

In every Iranian crisis, the BBC has come in for blame, perhaps in part because of its history in Iran. "BBC Persian service has a very specific position in Iran -- it was created in 1941 to help with the overthrow of Reza Shah," Ansari said. By the late 1970s, however, "it played a role that was at odds with the British government. . . . It gave Khomeini a lot more airtime than they thought was useful or helpful," he said, referring to the late ayatollah and leader of the revolution.

Still, many in Iran find it hard to separate the BBC from the British government. The station's popularity there has stoked suspicion, as has its recent introduction of Farsi-language satellite television service.

"Because the BBC is seen as having been so important during the revolution, with the fact that the BBC is opening a new channel of communication, there's a feeling that perhaps the BBC is gearing up for a new revolution," said Dick Davis, a professor of Persian at Ohio State University.

Read the whole thing.

The article makes clear that nothing is set in stone, and Iranian sentiment could again focus on the US as the main enemy--now let's see if Obama can make use of that.

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