ISSN 2330-717X

Iran And The Palestinians: A One-Way Solidarity – OpEd

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A high-profile meeting of the Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and Maryam Rajavi, the head of opposition group known as MEK, in Paris recently has angered Tehran and stirred a slew of commentaries in the Iranian media filled with laments about Iran’s decades long sacrifices for the Palestinian cause without hardly any reciprocity by the Palestinians.

There is now a growing consensus in Iran that Mr. Abbas has just signaled his inclusion in the Saudi-led axis against Iran, in light of a recent MEK rally in France featuring the former Saudi intelligence chief as a keynote speaker.

With Saudi Arabia in open hostility toward Iran, recruiting proxies all over the Middle East to fight dirty wars against the Islamic Republic of Iran, the PLO has now officially been added to the list, perhaps involving serious financial gains for the inept and hitherto ineffective PLO — that ought to focus on its own agenda for statehood in a rapidly shrinking Palestinian territory due to insatiable Zionist expansion of illegal settlements, quietly tolerated by the western governments.

Mr. Abbas had previously sent warm messages to President Rouhani and the latter must surely be now thinking what explains this unwelcome U-turn on Abbas’s part, particularly since Iran has an impeccable record in defense of the Palestinian rights?

Lest we forget, Abbas’s predecessor, Chairman Yasser Arafat, was the first foreign dignitary meeting Ayatollah Khomeini after the revolution and, consistently over the years, Iran has been a pillar of support for the Palestinian resistance against the Zionist occupation. Sadly, Mr. Arafat made a horrendous error of judgment by siding with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war, resulting in the recruitment of thousands of Palestinian “volunteers” in Saddam’s invading army, many of whom ended as POWs in Iran’s camps. After Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, Arafat augmented his big mistakes by siding with Saddam again, with little or no forethought of the dire consequences of such big gambles that never paid off.

Unfortunately, history appears to be repeating itself with Mr. Abbas closely following the dreadful footsteps of Arafat, by offering his services to the Saudis in their undeclared state of war with Iran, counting on the MEK and other similar groups bent on “regime change” in Iran; MEK too has a history of collaboration with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war, which is one of several reasons why it has absolutely no future in Iran, given the nationalistic Iranians’ collective memory of that war and those who sided with the enemy that exacted so many lives of Iranians.

To open a personal caveat here, this author has personally made repeated sacrifices for the sake of Palestinian rights and twice, at Boston University and State University of New York at Binghamton, was subjected to academic backlashes solely as a result of his public stance in defense of Palestinians.

And yet, over the past two years I have been targeted by a Palestinian restaurant owner, whom I assisted with a lecture by the renowned peace activist Noam Chomsky at his joint. Instead of showing the smallest gratitude, that Palestinian subjected me to serious mistreatment the night before the Chomsky talk and thus inflicted emotional harm, as I have been having a difficult time comprehending how someone can be so ungrateful and burn the hands that feed him? This is the question that now, on a broader level, many Iranians ask about the Palestinians, who seem all too ready to sell out Iran to the enemies without a pause. Perhaps the time has come for Iran to re-evaluate this unhealthy one-way solidarity that has cost Iran much, without an iota of benefit, save Iran’s own satisfaction of remaining true to its norms and values.


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Kaveh L. Afrasiabi

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, Ph.D. is an Iranian-American political scientist and author specializing in Iran’s foreign and nuclear affairs, and author of several books.

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