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Repressive Islamic rule loses its lustre in Iran

By Irfan Yusuf - posted Wednesday, 17 June 2009

It's not often the leader of the free world publicly acknowledges his country sabotaged the democracy of another country.

Yet this is exactly what United States President Barack Obama did during his speech in Cairo, billed as an address to the Arab and wider Muslim world.

And which country deserved this honourable mention? Why none other than Iran, referred to by Obama's predecessor George W Bush as one of three nations making up the "Axis of Evil".


For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against US troops and civilians.

It's little wonder the self-styled Islamic Republic of Iran has defined itself by opposition to the United States.

As Obama states, the US played a key role in the royalist coup that overthrew Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq in August 1953.

Mosaddeq was an arch nationalist who nationalised Iran's oil industry.

US and British agents installed Iran's Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The West resumed its near unfettered access to Iran's oil.

The Shah was at first an enlightened monarch who focused on education and economic development. However, he succumbed to more dictatorial instincts, his ruthless secret police unleashing a brutal crackdown on any opposition, whether from leftist parties or from religious scholars led by the late Ayatollah Khomeini.


Not even the full backing of the United States could keep the Shah in power and he fled Iran in January 1979. Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic, Iran and the US have fought each other using proxies.

America's main agent was former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who began a decade-long war against Iran in September 1980.

I was a teenager in Sydney at the time. The internet was not widely available, and our access to news was limited to whatever we were fed by local media.

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First published in the New Zealand Herald on June 11, 2009.

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About the Author

Irfan Yusuf is a New South Wales-based lawyer with a practice focusing on workplace relations and commercial dispute resolution. Irfan is also a regular media commentator on a variety of social, political, human rights, media and cultural issues. Irfan Yusuf's book, Once Were Radicals: My Years As A Teenage Islamo-Fascist, was published in May 2009 by Allen & Unwin.

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