Tehran, (Le Figaro) The prospect for a confrontation with the United States is taken up more and more, at all the levels of the Islamic Republic.
He remembers it as if it were yesterday. But times have changed. In April 2003, it was with delight that Ali looked at the statue of Saddam Hussein being taken down in Baghdad. "With the buddies, we dreamed only of one thing: to see Americans coming in Teheran with their tanks to help us getting rid of the mollahs and to taste freedom!", says the young 20 years-old Iranian salesman, wearing tennis western shoes and hair capped out of brush.
But today, when I see the Iraqi chaos, I say: No thank you, GI S, we do not want any of you!
“But today, when I see the Iraqi chaos, I say: No thank you, GI S, we do not want any of you!", he adds, leaning on the counter of his shop of clothing, close to the Imam-Khomeiny place, in the South of Teheran.
Here, rumours about the threats of an American military strike American go wild. They are fed, inter alia, by the decision of Washington to send a second aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf waters. One is still far from the paranoia with which the Tehranis were leaving the capital. But, as a sign of an increasing concern, certain political, up to now dumb on the question, start to seriously evoke the probability of an attack.
To start, Mohsen Rezaï, the present Secretary of the Expediency Council and former commander-in-chief of Pasdaran (Revolutionary guards) during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) said last week in Dasthe Azadegan, along Iran-Iraq borders: "The Iranian nation is once again on the brink of living a new confrontation". A few days earlier, he had warned about an "inescapable confrontation” in an interview with Al Bayan, Dubai’s official organ.
This prospect also worries the opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad, of both the right and the left, criticising him for having transferred the Iranian nuclear issue to the United Nations Security Council. Today, they fear to see his provocative slogans on the nuclear power and the Shoah to serve as a pretext for George W. Bush to tackle Iran, in spite of the opposition of the American Congress and the European countries.
"Bush showed, with the Iraqi invasion, that he is able to go it alone", wrote the daily “Kargozaran” in an alarming editorial. According to the reformist internet newspaper “Aftabnews”, former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has also made similar observations during a recent meeting with a hundred of Iranian lawmakers, warning that “one must take seriously the remarks made by the Supreme Guide Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i about American threats".
Mr. Khameneh’i, who was reported being sick and weakened by a cancer of the prostate, did not contradicted this information.
"The Iranian population remains unable to decipher the incomings and the outcomes of the combat between Bush and Ahmadi Nezhad and fears that at the end, it would become hostage of a war which it do not want. "If America attacks Iran, the whole area will be set ablaze", warns Sadegh Tirafkan. For this 41 years old Iranian artist, the risks of a war are too great to be allowed to remain silent. His last work, something between painting and photomontage, introduces Iranian images and everyday female Iranians, framed by Persian graphics. At each end of the painting, the photograph of American soldiers in battle dress comes to threaten this obvious serenity. "I wanted to show that a war can send in smoke all the rich culture the Middle East", Tirafkan said, adding:
"Perhaps our leaders have problems between them, but not our people! A war, that is to say thousands of young Iranians and Americans forced to go to die at the battle front... Look at what occurs to Iraq!”
In his small shop in the South, Ali says he fully feels the consequences of the American threats. "My customers already fell of half since the vote, last December, of the U.N. resolution favorable to sanctions. Today, that is worsened with fears of an attack. Business is bad these days! ", he says.
Mohammad, a customer next door, bearing beard and wearing black shirt, is an enthusiastic defender of the Iranian regime and wants to express himself: Tell to the Americans that we are not afraid of them. If they attack us, we shall defend our honour ("nâmous", in Persian) to the last drop of blood! Our country, it is like our mother. If a person rape her, we are ready to kill!”, he menace. "You know, he is not wrong ", observes Ali, once the customer eclipsed".
Perhaps our leaders have problems between them, but not our people!
“The Iranians are very nationalist. Myself, I’m against this government, and I dream about a change of the regime, however, I use weapons if it is needed ", he says". I like the songs of Madonna, and the films of Spyke Lee. But Bush, I cannot tolerate him! ", he goes on.
A young woman has just pushed the door of the shop. It is Narguess, the sister of Ali. She complains to have to wear her scarf throughout the day. But the democracy American style, imposed by the force, she does not want either. "By times which run, our security is more important than our freedom", says she. ENDS IRAN SITUATION 31107
Editor's note: The above article was posted by Le Figaro on its 30 January issue.
Translation and highlights and some editing are by IPS