I lived 20 years in Iran and six years in Lebanon before migrating to the United States in 1963. I have traveled to Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Syria and Morocco. I am well-versed in the culture of Middle Eastern countries and that of the United States I have followed the foreign policy of the United States, my adopted country, and have read about the history of Middle Eastern countries and the United States I have personally experienced the effects of U.S. policy in the Middle East. Therefore, in the following paragraphs, I will talk about my opinion on the reasons for the negative image of the United States in the Middle East.
In 1953, I was a 16-year-old idealistic person who, like millions of Iranians, took part in a nonviolent revolution against Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran in order to establish a democratic government. Shah’s soldiers killed hundreds of us. Shah fled Iran after realizing that he could not intimidate us by force. Dr. M. Mosaddegh, whose bill in the Iranian Parliament had nationalized the British-Iranian Oil Company, was elected to lead Iran with more than 90 percent of the votes. President Eisenhower sent CIA agents to Iran to overthrow Iran’s first democratically elected government by an illegal coup d’etat and to reinstall the Shah. Eisenhower wrote in his memoirs that he did it for control of Iranian oil and that it was a like a “dime store novel.” After the success of the coup, U.S. oil companies got the majority of Iranian concessions and British companies were second in rank. The coup was the equivalent of bringing the British back to the United States after the revolution of 1776.
The Soviet Union and the United States fought a proxy war in Afghanistan. The CIA trained the Mujaheddin, including Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar and the Taliban, and armed them to fight Russians. This was in accordance with Brezhinski’s doctrine of promoting Islamic fundamentalism to defeat communism. This led to disaster for Afghanis (Taliban’s brutal rise to power) and the United States (September 11 crimes in New York and Washington, D.C.).
The United States sold arms to Saddam Hussein and to Iran to prolong the war between Iran and Iraq. The war caused about 500,000 deaths.
The United States has placed our military troops in Saudi Arabia against the wishes of the majority of Saudi Arabians. Our government has supported an embargo against Iraq. The embargo has caused the deaths of 1.5 million Iraqis, including 1 million children, according to United Nations sources.
The U.S. government has supported Israelis in spite of their illegal building of settlements in the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. U.N. resolutions forbid the building of settlements on occupied lands and call for the return of lands occupied by Israelis since 1967. Another resolution calls for the return of Palestinian refugees driven from their lands in 1948 ethnic cleansings by Israeli terrorists. The United States has vetoed 30 U.N. Security Council resolutions against illegal Israeli activities.
The generosity, compassion and justness of the people of the United States are the antithesis of the above actions of our government. U.S. residents are sending billions of dollars overseas to help the poor. They are building schools, hospitals, bridges, water treatment facilities, etc., to help people of third world countries.
I believe we can change our misguided foreign policies by informing ourselves of the issues and electing people to the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House who represent the citizens’ generosity, compassion and justness.
Parviz Neil Soltanpour has been a faculty member at CSU since April of 1966.