It is fashionable in foreign policy circles today to be warning Americans about the approaching danger from a supposed growing alliance between Iran and the leftist governments in Latin America, particularly Hugo Chavez. This piece from today's LATimes is indicitive of the tone most observers strike, which is somewhere between mild worrying and outright alarm.
But the truth is that while relationships are budding between the two regions, the issue is nothing the US needs to worry about. The reality is that there are huge differences between the new Latin socialists in Caracas or Quito and Islamists in Tehran (or Beirut). All the diabolical meetings and agreements that have been signed have yielded very little. While the press says trade is "booming", the reality is that less than $17 million in trade has actually occured this year between Venezuela and Iran. There has been increased coordination on the OPEC bloc as would be expected, but little success in deviating from the pro-US Saudi policy.
Of course there are similarities in their experiences with the Empire that people in the Middle East and socialist south can bond over. The desire for more friends in a hostile world is understandable. But as the embarrassing episode in Tehran described below shows, they new axis of evil has a ways to go to even get on the same page, let along threaten anyone. But of course, the Western press failed to pick up on this disaster and instead focussed on the new steel and cement factory Iran is helping to build. Be afraid America, be very afraid.
POLITICS-IRAN: Islamist, Socialist Revolutions Don't Mix
By Kimia Sanati
TEHRAN, Oct 3 (IPS) - An attempt to rope in the son and daughter of the Argentine revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara to forge a parallel between Iran’s Islamist revolution and the socialist revolution in Latin America through a four-day conference has ended in fiasco.
After Aleida Guevara protested from the podium against perceived distortions of her father’s ideology by the first Iranian speaker, Haj Saeed Ghasemi, the four-day ‘Che Like Chamran’ conference, that started Sep. 25, was aborted and the Latin American guests whisked away.
‘Che Like Chamran’, the title of the conference, was chosen for the alliteration in the names of the two revolutionaries and because both Che and the Iranian, Mostafa Chamran, fought alongside revolutionaries in other countries. But the similarities end there, no matter what the organisers intended to promote.
Organised by the student militia of Tehran University, the conference was attended mostly by counterparts from various other universities as well as members of hardline student groups such as the PJSM that strongly support President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s policies. These groups regularly organise demonstrations and protest rallies against the US and other western countries.
But Ghasemi, who is associated with Iran’s Esteshhadiyoun (volunteers of suicide operations) must take credit for scuttling the conference. Referring to a translated version of a Che Guevara book that he held in his hand, he said Che Guevara was religious and believed in God. "The people of Cuba, Fidel (Casro) and Che Guevara were never socialists or communists. Fidel has several times admitted that he and Che and the people of Cuba hated the Soviets for all they had done.’’
''Today communism has been thrown into the trash bin of history as it was predicted by Ayatollah Khomeini," Ghasemi told the conference and added that the only way to save the world was through the ‘’the religious, pro-justice movement’’.
An indignant Aleida (Guevara), however, started her own address "in the name of the people of Cuba". "We are a socialist nation," she asserted. She also said the people of Cuba were grateful to the Soviet Union and there had never been any discord between the two nations, as mentioned by Ghasemi. She advised him to "always refer to original sources instead of translations to find out about Che Guevara’s beliefs".
"My father never talked about God. He never met God. My father knew there was no absolute truth,’’ Aleida said, responding to Ghasemi’s speech. The coverage of her address by state-sponsored news agencies like ISNA was brief and excluded most of her contradictory remarks.
"Belief in socialism is considered a crime in the Islamic state, punishable by death. Ahmadinejad’s slogans against the West and the U.S., his pro-justice rap, and his promises of economic assistance bring them here -- much to our disappointment," she (an Iranian leftist student leader) said. "Daniel Ortega and other leftist leaders too must clarify their position about their relations with Iran. We feel greatly betrayed when for their countries’ economic benefit they choose to support extreme rightists, fascists like Ahmadinejad," she added.
Following Aleida’s outspoken address to the conference, the organisers took flak from their own comrades. "It is appreciable to commemorate Che Guevara as a revolutionary figure. Otherwise, our former perspectives on his ideas, methods and attitude are still the same. We are Muslims and he is non-Muslim. The difference will always remain," Mohammad Sedaghat, the leader of Student Militia of Shahed University was quoted by ISNA as saying.
Labels: iran socialism hugo chavez che