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A Lesson For Turkey #Iranprotests

A Lesson For Turkey  <a class="hashtagger" href="">#Iranprotests</a>

The protests in Iran show yet again the inevitable outcome of failed policies by  authoritarian regimes that put their own interests before those of their people.

The protestors and their supporters should be applauded for their courage for standing up to the regime that has stripped them of their freedoms and turned a blind eye to their needs. In the recent past, the backward mullah regime’s best bet had been grooming the kinds of Qasim Suleimani not only to quell the opposition but also to eliminate its sectarian enemies in the name of advancing the Shia cause in foreign lands — and they were not bad at it. The mullahs have spent billions of dollars to buy politicians as well as to train and equip their puppets in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon and diverted all of the country’s resources to a war effort miscalculating which way the benefits might accrue at the end of the day.

It is amazing to see, on the other hand how some in the West are disposed to see these protests as an opportunity to dismantle an accord that is believed to have checked the nuclear ambitions of Iran. They don’t agree that this accord is doing any good in view of the “taqiyye” displayed by the mullahs. They say it is only playing into their hands who are just buying time.

While the subject matter is the needs of the people, be that their democratic freedoms or material needs, the people are the last thing on the minds of most of the politicians around the world, including the West. I am not questioning the good intentions of human rights activists but their good intentions have not figured in the strategies of policy designers yet; and I don’t think it will ever reach that point. We have to discern lip service from real assistance to the people in need.

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Regardless of the inconsequential response of the international community  to these outbursts, the mullahs are claiming that Western governments are behind these protests. This is nothing farther from the truth. Almost everybody in the West has been caught by surprise. The public is unaware of what is really happening there because access to every form of media, including social media, has been banned by the authorities. It is a pity that people who are fed up with their sufferings have been left at the mercy of the security forces, revolutionary guards and the affiliated civilian militias called the Basij. God help the people.

I will sound a pessimistic tone here, but this is how the domestic state of affairs is handled once you are dragged into the nightmare of an “Islamic revolution”. Whether it is a Sunni revolution like the one ISIS managed to pull thanks to the US occupation of Iraq or a Shia revolution thanks to the US toppling of Musaddiq, the nationalist leader of Iran, it is always the people who suffer. And you cannot expect the civilians to overcome the cruel, brutal forces of the authorities unless there is a coalition of the willing to take on those forces as was the case with ISIS.

The wretched authoritarians always blame the protestors as those following instructions from enemies abroad and accuse the opposition with treason. So they garner the support of their ultra-conservative supporters to go and crackdown on the people.

Any protesting by the minorities on the other hand would cause all the nationalists to side with the regime against “foreign intervention”.

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So God help the Iranians. My heart really goes to the freedom loving, no-less nationalist nor less conservative Iranian protesters. I hope with all my heart that they will succeed to move the regime to becoming more tolerant of respecting their basic rights and quest for more democracy.

The so called Arab spring had resulted in vain as it had been hijacked by similar radical Islamists elsewhere in the MENA region.

So democracy with all its institutions safeguarding the principle for justice and freedoms for all is still in wanting in all the countries of our region.

There is a very important lesson for the Turkish people in this episode of the Iranian uprising. If we do not want to be facing a Sunni version of what the Iranians are experiencing, we have only one chance left. If modernist democrats in Turkey are marginalized by way of intrigue or rigged elections, then we may very well share a similar destiny with our Middle Eastern neighbors.

About The Author

Murat Ozcelik

Ambassador Özçelik served as a member of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for over 30 years till his retirement from the Foreign Service in 2013. During this time he held various positions, including Turkish Embassy in Riyadh, Turkey’s Permanent Representation to the then-European Economic Community in Brussels, Turkish Embassy in Washington D.C. and Turkish Consulate General in Shanghai. He was appointed Assistant Special Representative to Iraq in December 2006; served as Turkey’s Special Envoy to Iraq between 2007 and 2009; and Turkey’s Ambassador to Iraq between 2009 and 2011.In September 2014, Ambassador Özçelik was appointed the Chief Foreign Policy Advisor to the Chairman of the Republican People’s Party (“CHP”), the main opposition party in Turkey. Between November 2014 and November 2015, Ambassador Özçelik served as the Vice Chairman of Foreign Relations for CHP. Ambassador Özçelik also served as a Member of Parliament in 2015.Ambassador Özçelik graduated with a degree in Business Administration from the Middle East Technical University in 1976 and also attended a post graduate program on European Union integration at the Free University of Amsterdam in 1988. He is married with two children.

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