By Arab News
By Khaled Abou Zahr*
The Iran regime’s apologists in the US and Europe have been forced to keep shifting their stands. When the ongoing protests erupted in Iran, they first chose silence. Then, when their silence became too obvious, they focused on excesses in violence by the Basij forces. This was a clever way of acknowledging the protests and condemning violence, but without standing up to the regime or supporting the Iranian people.
Now they have shifted to a new phase, which is to push their analysis of the protests in Iran into the greater Middle East region and even the world. So, what they are simply trying to do is no longer focus on the repression of a theocratic regime but shift it into a global protest movement. It is about trying to drown the situation in Iran in a regional if not global social, political and economic problem. Indeed, some even linked it to protests in Europe and the rest of the world that are mainly due to the economic situation.
This technique has always been used by the mullahs. The Lebanese, who are used to listening to Hezbollah’s media, know how it works. This time, as the regime is cornered by its own people, the only way out is to use its global network of apologists to shift the storytelling of the situation in Iran into a global phenomenon. The mission is to convey to friendly policymakers that this is absolutely not an Iranian movement, but rather is something that is happening all over the world.
These mullah apologists have been operating for decades and they are the ones who worked on legitimizing the regime. They provided the color to show that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the mullahs are resistance fighters against every single oppressor in the world. Ultimately, these apologists are as much a creation of the mullahs and the IRGC as they are of the policymakers in Washington and Europe that need them. Ultimately, policymakers choose to believe these lies because it fits their agenda and purpose.
These apologists’ voices were needed to push for a nuclear deal that gave the regime billions and also opened an untapped market. And now, despite the violence, many politicians choose silence toward this situation. They need voices that can change the storyline from Iran. And here comes the “Islamic Apologists Guard Corps” that is ready to do this and shift it into a movement of global protests. The main objective is to let the mullahs off the hook. They need to be able to engage and they need an acceptable counterpart if they are to continue negotiating. And so, if it is a global movement, then the mullahs cannot be blamed for it. Hence, they can still negotiate to revive the nuclear deal.
There is, nevertheless, a more vicious twist, which is the obvious focus on the Middle East. There is a mix of these apologists pushing for a new kind of “Arab Spring,” starting on the streets of Iran. At the same time, the regime is threatening and becoming more aggressive. One should watch closely the changes in Iraq on that matter.
Well, I humbly tell them to go sell crazy somewhere else. It is simply the other way round — the change that is taking place in the Middle East has, in part, sparked a demand for change in Iran. There is something in people’s consciousness and seeing how the Middle East has become a land of hope, even attracting immigration for the first time, has struck at the core of the Iranian youth.
Indeed, despite our geopolitical deadlocks, confrontations and COVID-19, the Middle East has brought a revolution of hope and optimism. And revolutions like what the protests in Iran are starting to look more and more like only happen when there is hope, not in its absence. Thankfully, we can see that the new generation of Arabs, Turks and Israelis truly want to live in peace and prosper. And we can see this change happening before our eyes.
Let me start with this: Venture capital activity in the Middle East in the first half of 2022 rose 44 percent to $1.8 billion. World Bank economists have forecast that the Middle East and North Africa region will grow by 5.5 percent in 2022 (the fastest rate since 2016) and by 3.5 percent in 2023. Tourism is growing by more than 150 percent in many countries in the Middle East. Bilateral relations within the region are enhancing and becoming more constructive. And government investments in their own countries are at an all-time high. All of this offers hope.
On the other hand, a great country such as Iran is closing up and the regime’s billions are going to Hezbollah, the Houthis and a dangerous nuclear program. It is all about financing chaos to bring misery and destruction to the region. There is nothing to build and develop. This is what their apologists will never state: the violence and destruction this regime has brought upon the region and the fact that the youth of Iran want a real change. They will lie and state the opposite.
And so, the streets of Iran are witness to the battle of hope against chaos. And by hearing the lies of the regime’s apologists, the protesters understand the viciousness of the situation. Simply because it takes two to tango.
- Khaled Abou Zahr is CEO of Eurabia, a media and tech company. He is also the editor of Al-Watan Al-Arabi.