Iran’s painful silence on Gaza flotilla tragedy
It is interesting to note Iran’s relative silence in response to the tragic killings by the IDF of peace activists on the Gaza flotilla. It would seem an opportunity for the Iranian regime dressed for the plate and ready to be served. Here is an opportunity for Iran to join the worldwide clamor of protest about Israel heavy-handed boorishness. Certainly Israel has its hasbara machine working at full pace, attempting to convince anyone who will still listen with a straight face to the spin that the violence was the result of the activists provocations and not cold, premeditated piracy and murder; the exact same actions the West reacts with gunships to off the coast of Somalia.
Iran could have used the opportunity to rile up its people for prime media footage, hit the airwaves decrying Israel and using the opportunity to bolster its position as an aggrieved party in the US-Israel conspiracy in region. Yet the streets of Tehran remain quiet, and the Iranian regime muted in any accusations against Israel. Why no complaints about Israeli aggression ? Why no discussion about Haq-khordan in relation to US-Israel policy? . Haq-khordan roughly translates as you are trampling on my rights. Why? It is because the Iranian regime is still paranoid about street protests rapidly turning into anti-government protests. They don’t want crowds assembling for any reason, regardless of the missed opportunity to rub Israel’s nose in the bungling of the raid.
Despite attempting to ban it and cutting off power, the Iranian authorities failed to even stop the new documentary about the death of the young girl Neda in the post-election protests going viral. Iran is already at a tipping point, street anger over any issue is being quashed in Iran, regardless of the subject. This sees a frustrated Iranian regime sitting on its hands in silence unable to accuse Israel, not harnessing street protests for its cause as normal, nor taking to the airwaves to condemn the IDF actions. It appears the Iranian regime will pay any price to stay in power, no matter what the cost to integrity, moral authority or regional standing. Move aside Iran, Turkey is now leading the charge as the regional powerhouse for safeguarding Muslim rights. This must irk Tehran so much, but that’s the price you have to pay for illegitimate governance.
Khamenei is fearful. Not of Israel, but from his own population. His regime is isolated within Iran and has lost so much credibility that he is worried that such demonstrations could turn into anti-government gatherings. And he would be right.
Last year’s Qods Day turned into an opposition event. The same could happen this year if he arranges demonstrations against the flotilla incident, especially since we are close to the anniversary of the 2009 Iranian presidential elections. The very fact that opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi issued his own statement against Israel calling it a “violator of human dignity” makes Khamenei’s concerns more valid.
This is a clear sign that one year on from the elections, we are no longer looking at the same Iran. The cracks in the foundations of the regime have still not been repaired.
There is another factor that should concern Khamenei. Israel’s taking over of the Turkish ship was useful for Khamenei’s government; it gave a boost to Iran and its hardline position in the region. However, the points that Iran has gained pale into insignificance when they are compared to the effect on Turkey. The flotilla incident and Turkey’s role have catapulted its status in the Muslim world as the defender of Muslim rights. This most probably includes members of Hamas, whom Iran has been spending millions on in an effort to buy their support and loyalty.
Which other Muslim country has enough credibility, power and self-confidence to do what Turkey did? It promised to dispatch the flotilla and it went through with its promise.
The icing on the cake came when prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a very clear ultimatum to the Israeli government: free every single Turkish citizen, including those who assaulted your soldiers, otherwise our relations will suffer. Within three hours, Binyamin Netanyahu had accepted. Had this been an Arab country, including those that Israel has relations with, such as Jordan and Egypt, the Israelis would probably have stuck to their guns. The same for Iran.
But not Turkey. There is a new player in town and Israel takes it very seriously.