The Islamic Revolution has been a model of freedom

Nov 29, 2010 12:00 AM

“The Islamic Revolution of Iran has always been, from the beginning till now, a role model for all people in the world struggling for freedom and fighting against imperialism," the Middle East Expert Kris Janssen said.
Kris Janssen, from Belgium, lived 3 years in Cairo and learned Arabic and Middle East culture and customs. In the cause of his interest to the political subjects, continued Middle East studies and travelled to several countries like: Iran, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Syria.

Question: Mr Janssen special thanks for your coordination to have this interview.
For the first question, please say what do you know about Iran?

Answer: In 2008, I travelled a first time to the Islamic Republic of Iran, for a period of 4 weeks, to make a trip around your beautiful country and visit its famous historical sites and monuments. I loved your wonderful country and enjoyed its welcoming and friendly people and the beautiful historical and cultural places as the city of Esfahan, Persepolis, the capital Tehran, Shiraz, Yazd, Kerman, Mashad and Tabriz.
I visited your country a second time this year, 2010, to visit Kashan, Qazvin, Zanjan, Rasht and Ardabil and once again I was struck by the hospitality and friendship I experienced which does not reflect at all the hostile picture the Western media is depicting about the Islamic Republic. I hope to visit Iran again in 2011 or 2012.

Question: How does the wide public in your country know Iran?

Answer: Unfortunately, most people in Western Europe, the USA, and large other parts of the world get a narrow and one sided view about the Islamic Republic of Iran from their local media outlets because misleading media coverage as a result of the psychological warfare the West is carrying out against the Islamic Republic of Iran, or because of total ignorance.

Question: When did you hear the name Khomeini?

Answer: I remember to have heard a first time about Imam Khomeini during the events leading up to the Islamic Revolution of Iran in 1979 although at that moment I was only a boy of 10 years old.
Despite my young age, the events taking place in Iran during that time and the importance of Imam Khomeini in these events made a lasting impression.

Question: What do you think about the Islamic Revolution?

Answer: We should when we study Iran never forget that the specific Iranian situation and history is very complex and that the Islamic Revolution of 1979 is not an isolated sudden event but was the result of a long history of struggle by the Iranian people for freedom, independence and self-determination. It is this history that we always must bear in mind in explaining and analyzing socio-political changes in Iran and Iranian society.
The 1906 Constitutional Revolution Iran had its first revolution, followed by the creation of a parliament in the same year. Iran was in the early 20th century, the first Asian (and Middle Eastern) country, together with Japan, having a constitution and a parliament. During this period, the Iranian people already struggled for freedom and independence.

Iran was caught at that time between two superpowers, Britain and Russia, and hence the country was divided into two spheres of influence.
Southern Iran, the oil-rich provinces and the strategic Persian Gulf, fell under British influence. Northern Iran was sitting under the Russian sphere of influence.

Unfortunately, the Constitutional Revolution of 1906 and the struggle of the Iranian people for freedom and independence was betrayed by the former Shah of Iran, Reza Shah Pahlavi, the first monarch of the Pahlavi dynasty and father of Mohammad Reza Shah, the Shah who was ousted in 1979 by the Islamic Revolution1951-1953, the oil nationalization and Mohammad Mossadeq.
In 1951, the Iranian people were still struggling for freedom and independence, and fully supported the historic decision by the democratically elected nationalist Prime Minister Dr Mohammad Mossadeq to nationalize the oil industry.

Two years later, in August 1953, Mohammad Mossadeq was deposed by a coup organized by the CIA, the British MI5 and supporters of the Shah. The Shah, who had fled the country, returned to Iran and was from that moment on under full influence and in a state of total dependency towards the United States. Iran became the main ally of the United States in the region.
It is within this historical context that the Islamic Revolution of 1979 should be seen. The Islamic Revolution was a final answer of the Iranian nation and people against foreign aggression and interference, and represents the struggle for self-determination and independence.

The Islamic Revolution of 1979 is a turning point in Iranian history because from that moment on the Iranian people could decide about their own future in full independence.
And it is Imam Khomeini who led this Revolution and guided the Iranian people towards their final goal and dream of freedom and self-determination.

Question: What was the effect of the Islamic Revolution in the World?

Answer: The Islamic Revolution of Iran has always been, from the beginning till now, a role model for all people in the world struggling for freedom and fighting against imperialism. Although the Iranian Revolution has an outspoken Islamic character, its scope for the rest of the world goes much further because of its anti-imperialistic element.
We see in the last couple of years a strengthening of bilateral ties between the Islamic Republic of Iran on the one hand and a lot of Latin American countries (Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Cuba, Brazil) and African counties on the other hand. This is of course no coincidence.

A big ant imperialistic movement is going on in these countries. Although these countries have another cultural context, their aspirations for freedom, independence and self-determination are universal.
Just as Iran and the Iranian people fought for their freedom against the iron fist of aggression by the superpowers, these Latin-American and African countries are now carrying out the same struggle against the same superpowers.

The role of the Iranian Revolution as an example of struggle for freedom is especially important and clear in the region itself where the Palestinian people are suppressed and their lands have been stolen by the Zionist movement.
In Iraq where an ancient culture has been destroyed by American imperialist aggression and where millions of innocent people are killed for oil and strategic geographic influence, or in Lebanon, a small peaceful country which does not represent any danger or aggression, and which has been the victim of continuing aggression itself by the Zionist entity and of shameless interference in its internal affairs by the United States and other imperialistic Western powers.

Question: As you know about the effect of Islamic revolution in the region, after a long period of peaceful talks and negotiations between Mahmood Abbas and Netanyahu, the Zionist regime resumed settlement and did not pay attention to peaceful talks.
What is your idea and analysis about these talks and the future of it?

Answer: Very simply said, there is no future in it. As a matter of fact, one can ask oneself the question if peace talks ever took place because the Zionist regime was never really interested in just peace and never took place on the negotiating table with pure and honest intentions.
The state of Israel is a Zionist state set from the beginning on expansion and imperialism. Just last month, October 2010, the Israeli Knesset passed the new Citizenship Law requiring all foreign non-Jewish citizens wishing to become Israeli to pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state. Also, despite many promises and nice words, the Zionist state has never stopped building illegal settlements in the occupied areas.

How can we speak about "resuming" settlement if there was never a halt? Even "slowing down the speed" of settlement is misplaced here as they increased the settlement rate just before they made a promise to slow down, so they only pretended to slow down but in practice they never halted building settlements or slowed down.
Also on the Palestinian side one can ask himself who Mahmood Abbas really represents. His term as President of the Palestinian Authority (which is no substitute at all for a Palestinian state) ended in January 2009.

So, it is only fair to say that his present time representing the Palestinian people as President of the Palestinian Authority is illegal. In January 2006 legislative elections were held and to great surprise of the outside world and to the Zionist state Hamas was the big winner of these elections and won a majority in parliament.
When it became apparent that no party would form a government with Hamas, Hamas itself decided to form a government. This government took office in March 2007, led by Ismail Haniya. After it became clear that preparations were under way to instigate an armed coup by Mahmood Abbas' Fatah movement, the coup being engineered by the United States and Israel. To neutralize Hamas, Hamas took the initiative and acted to safeguard its position in Gaza. At the end, one can place big questions about the legitimacy of Mahmood Abbas representing the Palestinian people at the negotiating table.

Another question raised is if the concept of the two-state-solution is still a viable solution to resolve the situation. More and more experts and activists, including me, come to the conclusion that the de-facto situation on the ground with all the illegal settlements being build and the remaining Palestinian territories completely divided into small not viable islands has made a two-state-solution unrealistic.
We see much more potential in the creation and development of a single democratic and secular state where Jews and Arabs live together (as they have always done before the creation of the Zionist state) on an equal base with the same rights and opportunities and where religious background (being Muslim, Jew or Christian) does not play a role.

Question: What is your point of view about the political atmosphere in Egypt? How do you see and predict the presidential and parliamentary elections in Egypt?

Answer: Unfortunately, I am not too optimistic about the political and economical situation in Egypt. Political life in Egypt has been very centralized around a single person, President Mubarak, his clan and family and a political party build around his person.
In many respects, Mubarak's rule is still a continuation of Anwar El Sadat's rule. President Hosni Mubarak has been in power since the death of President Anwar El Sadat in October 1981 which is almost 30 years now. Since then he has built a power-base around him by patronage and family ties.

All political life has been concentrated around the National Democratic Party (NDP) with all other political parties and forces marginalized or silenced by repression and imposing a state of emergency since Sadat's assassination in 1981.
The Egyptian economy is marked by widespread corruption and mismanagement and is very dependent on American financial aid. This economical dependency also results into a political dependency. Egypt's foreign policy is dictated by the United States which explains it's subservience to Israel and in many ways it's betrayal of the Palestinian cause. It is very clear that the Egyptian people do not support or approve the foreign policy of the Mubarak regime but because of political repression they have no say in these matters.

A huge economical rift has also grown between the Egyptian people and the political and economical elite around Mubarak with the people getting poorer and poorer (also confronted with spiralling consumer prices for everyday goods as food and energy) and a small elite getting even richer.
On short term this difficult situation makes the Egyptian people look apolitical because their struggle to survive in everyday life takes all energy and leaves no space for other focus points like Palestine or Iraq for example, but I can assure you that they are well aware of the problems and injustice around them resulting out of imperialism and aggression.

In my view it is only a matter of time before things explode in Egypt. They are living on a social time-bomb. When you repress the people for 30 years and their economical situation gets tougher by the day, it is only a matter of time before they stand up and say enough is enough.
The people of Egypt realize that nothing will change anymore through democratic change. Although the parliamentary elections in Egypt are around the corner and the presidential elections will take place next year, the people firmly believe that things will stay the same and nothing will change as long as the economical and political power elite stays on top. The National Democratic Party will come out once again as the big winner of the parliamentary elections this year with all other political forces muted or boycotting the elections.

We have to keep in mind here that the Muslim Brotherhood is not allowed as a political party and only individuals are permitted to take part in the elections as independent candidates. Many members of the Muslim Brotherhood are arrested and in jail.
And when one reads that the official NDP-candidate for the 2011 presidential elections will probably once again be the then 83 year old Hosni Mubarak, even the elites are getting nervous about this joke.

Many NDP-elites are aware about the untenability of the situation and are trying to forward Hosni Mubarak's son Gamal Mubarak as the heir to power and as a continuation of the system to safeguard their political and economic power, but others are realizing that simply replacing Hosni Mubarak with Gamal Mubarak at this stage will fill the Egyptian people with repulsion as they have had enough hardship and misery.
This is why I think that the NDP will continue to endorse the old Hosni Mubarak once again, if his health permits, to win time and give the Egyptian mass media the opportunity to massage the Egyptian people's mind and prepare the ground for Gamal Mubarak to take over in a later time frame. All in all, the Egyptian political situation has become very volatile and a mass popular revolt can break out every moment.

Question: The situation in Iraq now sees that after 8 months a new government is at last in the make.
Why took it so long? What is the role of the neighbouring countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Syria? What are the main barriers to form a government in Iraq?

Answer: The situation in Iraq is very complicated but one thing must be kept in mind, Iraq is still an occupied country. When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 on a false pretext of weapons of mass destruction, the country and its social fabric was totally destroyed.
It was clear from the ontset of the war that the Americans were only interested in the Iraqi oil and in establishing a strategic power base to control the rest of the region, including Iran and countries of the former Soviet Union. It's all about oil, gas and energy streams.

All the talk about weapons of mass destruction or establishing a democracy in Iraq was a casus belli. Now, almost 8 years later, we know that the occupation was a disaster: For the Americans, as they did not succeed in getting control over the region, and for the Iraqi's as their country is destroyed.
But the motive of the oil, gas and energy streams is still valid. That's why I think that the Americans will never leave. They renamed some units by calling them instructors instead of combat troops and replaced regular army troops by private firms employing mercenaries.

By using these private firms they privatized the war, reducing the number of American military casualties and create a false sense as if the occupation is coming to an end. In reality the occupation is still going on and will go on in the future too.
A new American embassy was officially inaugurated in January 2009 and it is described as the largest and most expensive embassy in the world. They are not going to build this embassy when they genuinely intend on leaving the country at the end of 2010.

As I mentioned before, with the invasion of 2003 the Americans not only destroyed the country but also the social fabric of Iraqi society. We have to make a difference between legitimate resistance groups, fighting the American occupation and terrorist groups, as for example al Qaida, spreading terror against Iraqi society.
Although the United States made a lot of accusations against Iran interfering in Iraqi affairs and supporting and arming Iraqi insurgency groups, on those grounds the facts speak for themselves. The majority of groups spreading violence by blindly killing Iraqis are infiltrating Iraq from Saudi territory with the Saudi government having a dubious role in this. The Saudi regime is afraid of increasing Iranian influence in the region and is at least turning a blind eye towards these terrorist groups trying to destabilize Iraq.

Iran on the other hand is only benefitting from a stable and peaceful Iraq. Trade between Iraq and Iran is surging and the majority of Iraqi society, as a mainly Shania society, has very strong cultural ties and bonds with Iran and the Iranian people. These growing ties between Iran and Iraq are being followed with great suspicion and chagrin by the Saudi regime and the American occupiers.
Concerning Turkey and Syria, also these two counties have everything to win by having good relations with Iraq. As neighbouring countries they are keen on stable borders and peace and tranquillity in Iraq.

Also Syria has been the victim of American accusations harbouring terrorists but in practice the Syrian government has done everything possible to secure the 600 km long border with Iraq. Relations between Damascus and Baghdad have improved dramatically since the fall of Saddam Hussein and these improvements in political relations are mirrored in booming economical relations too.
The same story can be told about Turkish-Iraqi relations. Also Turkey has a keen interest in a stable border with and government in Iraq. And also Turkey has much to win by expanding trade ties with Iraq.

So why should these countries harbour terrorists or destabilize Iraq? These are ridiculous accusations based on nothing. On the contrary: Iran, Syria and Turkey only want peace in Iraq and good bilateral relations as this would also be to their advantage.
That it took so long to form a new government in Iraq after the parliamentary elections of March 2010 has everything to do with a fragmented society as a result of almost 8 years of occupation and destabilizing elements which are clearly infiltrating Iraq from Saudi Arabia and not from Iran, Syria or Turkey. But now a political accord has been reached I hope the future looks more positive for Iraq and the Iraqi people. I rather prefer to see the establishment of a stable Iraqi government supported by a broad political platform coming out of 8 months of negotiations as by a hastily cobbled together government without political support by all sides of the Iraqi political landscape.

Question: Lebanon is a strategic country in the Middle East.
What are the main causes that can boost the conflicts in Lebanon? How do you evaluate the future of Lebanon and the "Special Tribunal for Lebanon" ore more popularly, "Hariri's court"?

Answer: Lebanon is a very sensitive country in the Middle Eastern region with different population groups and religions living together in a small area. When something happens in Lebanon, even the slightest incident, the fear of the civil war (1975-1990) always sticks its head up again.
But most of Lebanon's problems do not have their origin inside the country but are a result of interference in Lebanese affairs from the outside. I am sure that no Lebanese wants a return of the bloodshed of the civil war and feel the moral obligation to find compromises and common ground on issues where there are divergent opinions, to avoid conflicts spiralling out of control.

The real problem of Lebanon is outside interference in its political affairs by Western forces (mainly USA, the Zionist regime, United Kingdom and France), recurrent military aggression from the Zionist state and the absence of a solution for the Palestinian people.
The demographic imbalance as a result of the influx of Palestinian refugees has been one of the factors contributing to the conflict which sparked the Lebanese civil war between 1975 and 1990. Till today there are hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees (several generations) still living in refugee camps waiting and aspiring to return to their homeland which has been stolen and occupied by the Zionist entity.

As long as the Palestinian case is not resolved and the injustice (occupation of Palestine) erased, the demographic imbalance continues to play a role in Lebanese society.
The West has always been pressuring Lebanon and other Arab states as for example Jordan to give the Palestinian refugees full citizenship of the host country but this is not acceptable as it would imply an indirect surrender to the Zionist entity by giving up the right of return to the Palestinian homeland.

Although Lebanon is a very small country, it has huge strategic importance as it is a frontline state, bordering the Zionist state, and because of its location on the Mediterranean. This important strategic location makes it very vulnerable to Zionist aggression.
Lebanon has been the victim of continued Israeli aggression. There is the 1978 South Lebanon war (code-named Operation Litani by Israel) which was an invasion in Lebanon up to the Litani River carried out by Israel in March 1978. Protests from the Lebanese government led to the creation of the UNIFIL peacekeeping force.

On the 6th of June 1982, Israel invaded Southern Lebanon once again and is still occupying until today some parts of Southern Lebanon, as for example the Shebaa farms.
On 12 July 2006 Israel started another war against Lebanon carrying out massive airstrikes and artillery fire on targets throughout Lebanon, an air and naval blockade, and a ground invasion of Southern Lebanon. The conflict killed over 1,500 people, mostly civilians, severely damaged infrastructure and displaced about 1 mm people. Normal life across much of Lebanon was disrupted. A United Nations-brokered ceasefire went into effect on 14 August 2006.

Besides the 1978, 1982 and 2006 wars there were also the other ongoing hostilities and violations of Lebanon's territorial integrity by Israel. As a defence against these continuing Zionist aggressions against Lebanon, the mainly Shania resistance group Hezbollah was established in 1982, as a response to the then Israeli invasion of Lebanon, to defend Lebanon in absence of a strong Lebanese army.
Till today, Hezbollah has been the main pillar of defence and resistance against Israeli aggression. When Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006, its main goal was to destroy the Hezbollah movement but Israel failed miserably. The war ended in defeat for Israel and since then Hezbollah has only become stronger and a more formidable force to be reckoned with.

On 14 February 2005, Rafic Hariri, Lebanon's former Prime Minister, was killed along with 21 others, when explosives equivalent of around 1,000 kg of TNT were detonated as his motorcade drove near the St George Hotel in Beirut. Since the assassination of Rafic Hariri, Israel and its Western backers have done everything possible to misuse the killing of Hariri and the set up of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), charged with investigating the assassination, to try to imply Syria's and Hezbollah's involvement in the killing although not a single credible evidence has been delivered.
This clearly shows that the STL has been hijacked by Israel and its Western allies as an instrument not to investigate the Hariri killing (for which is was set up) but to use it as a political tool to harm Syria and Hezbollah, two major powers bordering the Zionist state, which have never been giving in to pressure to abandon the ideals of freedom and justice.

I see the hijacking and misuse of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) as a continuation of the 2006 war where Israel failed to destroy Hezbollah by military power. Israel is now trying to neutralize Hezbollah politically on the international level and is also trying in the same time to instigate internal conflict between the different Lebanese political groups hoping to turn this conflict in an armed strife against Hezbollah to offset their own failure in the 2006 war.
But here again Israel is underestimating the rationale of the Lebanese people and the unity, above all political disagreements, when it comes to resistance against Israel and the defence of the Lebanese lands.

Question: One of the most important problems is the security in Afghanistan.
What is your idea about peaceful talks to the Taliban and is it productive? How do you see it?

Answer: When the question arises "should we talk to the Taliban or not?" I think it is important to evaluate and analyze how much the Taliban are part of Afghan society. Are the Taliban really still a substantial and representative part of Afghan society or has it become a marginal phenomenon?
I ask myself this question because I believe that only the Afghans can determine their own future, not the USA or any other external power. And if one declares that only the Afghans themselves can determine their future, it is necessary to determine if the Taliban are a relevant part of Afghan society or not.

At the same time we must not forget the crimes committed by the Taliban, especially with regard to the rights and status of women, as a result of their extremist and radical views. I think it is morally wrong to accept a return of these atrocities to happen.
But if we accept that the Taliban are still part of Afghan society, maybe we should analyze where the Taliban stands for nowadays. Maybe there are different factions within the Taliban; a radical faction and a moderate faction. And if there are different factions, which faction is dominant?

Maybe the moderate wing within the Taliban has gained the upper-hand and maybe we should explore the possibility to talk with the moderates within the Taliban and to reintegrate them within the broader Afghan political process, as part of a national reconciliation process?
So the two main questions I ask myself is whether the Taliban are still a relevant part of Afghan society and if the more moderate camp within the Taliban is dominant compared to the radical elements within the movement. We should investigate and study this comprehensively and make discussions based on the outcome of this study.

Question: What is the extent of Islamic and Quran activities in your country?

Answer: There is without any doubt a large Muslim society in Belgium as well as in other Western European countries. This is for a large part explained by a huge sociological change which took place since the 60's of last century when a large migration movement took place at a time when Europe was at the zenith of its (past World War II) economic growth and welfare and we were in dire need of cheap manual labour to feed this economic growth.
Most of these immigrants, when talking about the Belgian situation, came from Morocco and Turkey although at a later stage there was also an influx of people from other Muslim countries in the Middle East and Asia, as for example from Iran, but these numbers are much smaller as compared by the aforementioned Moroccan and Turkish communities.

That said, I think that the organizational structures of the Muslim communities in my country are rather weak. There is still a lot of work to do in improving the intra-Muslim interaction between the different Muslims communities in Belgium as well as in improving and building stronger relations between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities of my country.
Besides the traditional Muslim societies in Belgium as a result of early and present migration, there is also the phenomenon of conversion. We see this more and more taking place, non-Muslim people converting to Islam, because they are looking for an alternative to the ultra materialistic and individualistic society we became and they found this alternative in Islam.

Another phenomenon which takes place as a result of socio-demographic change is the blending of cultures because of marriage which also leads in some cases to conversion.
Although these phenomenons are still rather limited, I do not exclude the possibility that they will grow in the not too far future.

Question: Why has the wave of Islam phobia increased in the West? What can we do to bend this trend? What to do for showing real Islam?

Answer: The wave of Islam phobia has increased without doubt due to the coloured coverage of our media when reporting about Islam and Muslim culture as well as a result of widespread ignorance. In many cases, this coloured news coverage is a deliberately political choice to put Muslim culture and countries in a bad light.
As mentioned before, the best way to bend this trend is to continue communicating in an open dialogue and a politically correct way making clear the objective facts so that intelligent people willing to listen can make their own judgments in an informed way.

Question: What was your fellow country people reaction to the news of Quran burning in America?

Answer: The issue of Quran burning in the United States was mentioned here in the news but briefly and not much attention was paid to this particular incident. But when talking about the incident in more general terms in the context of the need to have respect for other cultures and religions, I still believe that most people here agree with the necessity of mutual respect and sharply condemn these actions.
There will always be a hard core of fanatics who try to stir up emotions between different cultures and religious societies but I believe that this is a minority and that the vast majority of people want dialogue and respect.

Question: Despite widespread propaganda against Islam, how do you predict the future?

Answer: Because of technological and scientific progress, the World has become a much smaller place. When contacts between different cultures and religions have always existed, these contacts were limited in the last couple of centuries because of the geographic distance separating these cultures.
Although we should never forget the intense interaction between Christianity and Islam in earlier periods when Muslims were present in, for example, Andalusian Spain or the rich exchange of scientific knowledge which took place between our Antique Greek heritage and the extensive contributions of Muslim scientists to world knowledge. With the world becoming smaller, the need to live together in mutual respect has increased and more people become aware of this.

Also more and more people are becoming aware of the illusions of the "American dream" and see the consequences of a materialistic and individual ideology stretched to the limits where people are used and treated as objects to contribute to the increase of wealth of certain individuals and not society as a whole. The political lies and military aggressions to continue this illusion are getting clearer every day and people will start to look for alternatives based on humanity and solidarity.
This is where I think we will get to the point of a renewed dialogue of cultures based on mutual respect such as we have known in earlier times and where the results of this dialogue were to the benefit of all humanity. At a certain point we will start to learn again of each other's strengths and apply these strengths to improve society as a whole.

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