Interviewer: Pooya Mirzaei
PEJOURNAL – In the time that Iran is going to start a new century based on its calendar, and also Iranian Islamic Revolution is in its fifth decade of victory, we aimed to analyse the past, present, and the future of Iranian Islamic Revolution through dialogue with contemporary historians, thinkers, philosophers and politicians. In this series, our first interview is with Doctor Abbas Salimi Namin, a contemporary Iranian Historian and Intellectual. Below you can find the complete text of dialogue with Dr. Salimi Namin:
First question that I have is, as a thinker who studies especially in the historical part, how do you see the perspective after 42 years, I mean, if you want to peruse 42 years in the historical parts as an observer, how do you see the Iranian Islamic revolution?
Doctor Salimi: thank you very much for paying attention to this very important subject. To answer your question, I should say that although these 4 decades are not a long time, but we are witnessing many changes in the field of software and hardware infrastructure of the society in Iran. These changes can make a great power in the region. In the past we were not allowed to produce thought even.
I mean, we didn’t have permission to make any changes in the software. After the Islamic revolution we believed that we could have progress in technology and could achieve great results out of our investments. I don’t want to say that before the Islamic revolution, we didn’t have active thinkers. But those active thinkers were against the Pahlavi regime and had hardships and difficulties.
We had thinkers like doctor Shariati and Ayatollah Taleghani, they were really active too, but because they were on the way which was against the common belief that Iranians cannot manage and organize their country, and they need and depend on the west for their domestic affairs and cannot deal and tackle their problems, had to pay cost, but they had production too.
But the Islamic revolution caused the overthrow of that regime which humiliated and didn’t let the majority of people produce thought. Just people who walked out of the regime and were against them were active, otherwise the rest of the people accepted that Iranians cannot solve their problems without the West.
In this not long time, there is vast progress in the software changes. Now, people who are really far from capital can have high-tech productions and it is true in the field of software. Despite all the sanctions that we have had within this short time, we have big changes in hardware too, I mean we could make suitable infrastructures that if the sanctions are gone, we will see a huge jump in it, I mean, infrastructures in transportation, in energy, in health, in education. Sanctions will be lifted; the west follower current inside the country will be weaker.
This current inside the country doesn’t let us to see the future better and this current will be alone someday, or the west will have to lift the sanctions. After lifting the sanctions over Iran, we see how great changes we have in infrastructures, so with these explanations, I can say that the future of Iran will be clearly bright and fruitful. Maybe now we are struggling with daily stuffs, but the ones who view us from out of the country and think about Iran as a big threat for themselves can see these enormous progresses in software and hardware and think that Iran is a threat.
Although there are some people who say we cannot work without west, the majority of people say no.
Someday it was a stereotype that we Iranians are liars, robbers, and all the humiliation we accepted. Doctor Mosadegh said that he had a meeting with a Western official and from the beginning of the meeting he started saying that Iranians are robbers. Doctor Mosadegh said to him: How do you import your goods to Iran? He answered that they give them to some Iranian business men, and they give goods to some people who are poor to pass the goods by donkeys.
Doctor Mosadegh asked: Have anything bad ever happened to your goods? He answered: NO.
These people who are carrying goods are really poor but never have even a blink on your goods. After that, Mosadegh said to him: “should I say how many robberies you had in my country?” You had been taking our oil for many years. The west took our oil and gave to Iranians little money, but now they have made a long pipe line to Iraq secretly and robbed our oil, and they did not even pay that little money to us. They looted us for many years, and they humiliated us to accept that. Fortunately, there have been many changes in this field.
Now not only we do not have any differences with them, but also in some cases we are better than them and can be more active and productive than them. Many of our thinkers and business men have got to this point that we are better than them. As you look and notice in the field of medical, we have progressed a lot which is not unbelievable to many people.
Withing these for decades we have developed in the field of medical a lot. This is not the only case. In the cases of other fields, it was not possible unless we made a revelation and made this belief to change the situation. This belief that we cannot is a wrong belief. This fake belief is still being heard.
Razmara said in the parliament, “we cannot even make small soap for washing ourselves, so how could we be able to manage the oil industry inside the country?” It was a dependent current of thought to the west which with full power wanted to impose their ideas and humiliate us and they shouted out not secretly. They shouted in the parliament and in front of the people that Iranians do not deserve to control and manage their country.
As soon as Iranians could get a good situation to put despotism out of their country and in a short period of time make the oil industry national, at that time the best industry was the oil industry, and Iranians did their best to manage this industry. Nowadays, they put all these heavy sanctions over Iran, we could have the best and most complicated technologies in our country, and we produced them. Due to these software and hardware changes, they don’t have any options but to lift sanctions or this current of Western thought will be too weak that they cannot do anything and will lose its validity.
Now this Western current is a really critical subject in order to make us not being able to use situations and opportunities. In this way we cannot make sanctions weak. When a country like Russia gets involved in troubles with Turkey and bans Turkish goods, and then Russia officially announces to Rohani’s administration that our vegetable market is vacant and fully in your hands. But the current of west thought did not pay attention to this while the Russian market was a vast market and how big changes it could have for us, but they did not use this invitation and opportunity.
So this current of west thought in our country will be alone and weak just because of the disgrace of the west, and the way will be opened some day. We are at the point where the west has to go away and leave us alone. I mean, they cannot make serious obstacles for our nation.
Thank you very much, I am using your talks and presentation and you explained everything obviously. Another question was about the subject of the region. How much do you think movements in the region have been affected by Iranian Islamic revolution, in case that we can see that one of the most important subjects that westerns are trying to face with Iran and accuse Iran is regarding our countries activities in Middle East region, while we don’t want to talk over it here, but we know other countries in the region interfering in the Middle East subject too. Actually, Iran does not interfere with, and these are effects of the Islamic revolution. How do you see the effect of the Islamic revolution on the movements in the Middle East region, especially in the last two decades?
Doctor Salimi: I should explain briefly about this interfering in the region. If something happens around our country naturally it has some difficulties for us. It is not in this way that if we have an unsecure situation in Iraq or a dictator system comes to Iraq as a leadership, we don’t get any bad effects from them. So, if we don’t allow Americans not to bring a person like Saddam Hussein to Iraq or a group like ISIS, this is not interfering, and all countries which take care of their people will do this.
And they shouldn’t let to have any critical situations around the country. As you know they made Saddam Hussein powerful while the Islamic revolution was growing up and the west made him a big cause for making problems to our country. And how they support Saddam Hussein and how they turned and changed Iraq policy from the Soviet Union, and all countries of the Soviet Union welcomed the Islamic revolution EXCEPT Iraq.
Libya, Algeria, Syria, they welcomed the Islamic revolution of Iran. The only country that did not welcome the Islamic revolution was Iraq, actually not only didn’t welcome it, but also made lots of troubles for Iran. So nowadays it is a duty for the Iranian administration to check out what is going on around Iran until some critical situations can be prevented and we don’t get in to troubles. This is really unusual that countries from thousands of mills bring military forces here. It is interfering, but Iran is helping other countries to have a peaceful life. Something that we do is we don’t let Americans and other countries make the region unsecure.
This is not interfering. This is exactly thoughtfulness. Actually, it means preventing other countries from interference. If we had allowed these groups which had been made by Americans, Israelis and British to come to this region, we wouldn’t have had even one peaceful day. Every day we would have had bomb blasts, every day we would have riots. You see how effective it could be, and if they could gain power, it would be really difficult for us. This process is in Afghanistan and other countries around the Persian Gulf. This is our duty to take care of what is going on around our country. And before something is going to happen, we prevent it.
So, as we can see, Although the Iranian Islamic revolution is really effective in the region, but some countries which are against Iran sometimes refer to the ex-regime in Iran and its power and will to interfere in their countries. Accordingly, there are many questions about that, was this real or not?
Doctor Salimi: This subject is basically different. Pahlavi sent military forces to Eritrea because there was an anti-American movement, it was not related to Iran or because an anti-Iranian movement was developed in Eritrea. As you see, ISIS officially announced their last goal is Iran.
In fact, they announced Iran as their real enemy.
Doctor Salimi: But the poor people in Eritrea handed guns because of Western colonizing. Were they related to Iran? They didn’t say any bad slogging against Iran. They were some poor people who had been looted for many years by Americans, and couldn’t tolerate this situation so they started demonstrations. They were suppressed by Pahlavi. Actually, Pahlavi served to the United States. It is very different when we don’t let to have insecurity in the region. It means that we prevent a person like Saddam Hussein, grow up in the region.
Not only it doesn’t serve the west, but also it helps people in our country and other countries around us, and our own society has security. It means not only our boarders with Iraq is secure but also it is open for cultural, financial, social trading, and actually they have super achievements for our country when we don’t let to ISIS to settle in Iraq and it results solving problems by Iranian policy between Iran and Iraq after long time interference of USA & Britain that made relationship between Iran and Iraq worse.
And as you see, if the USA stays away and doesn’t interfere, the relationship between Iraq and Iran is getting better day by day. The west did use strong policies until Iran and Iraq couldn’t have any friendly relationship.
While we have lots of historical & cultural points in common.
Doctor Salimi: So, it showed that Iranian policy played well in these subjects. I believe that we will have a good relationship with Saudi Arabia. It means that in Saudi there will be some changes which will make them find out to return to Iran. It means that Saudi should use internal human sources and potential for being independent, and they should use regional potential and regional potential is one of the elements of supporting national power.
So, one day the nation of Iraq found it out, and it is natural that there would be great changes between the two countries. In the near future Saudi will find it out, you shouldn’t have any doubt. Until when can a dictator regime perform against the benefit of a nation? Something that Saudi is doing is against people.
The Saudi regime is from a minority of people.
Doctor Salimi: Yes, and they don’t care about people’s benefit, and they just notice their interest, and they think their benefit is under the USA and Israel’s benefit. Because instead of buying fruit from Argentina, they can purchase from Iran, and it has national benefits for Saudi because it is cheaper and the quality is better and they can start trading with neighboring countries which have the cheapest transportation. Iranian international policy is a way that it supports the glory of nations. And now many people have found it out that Iran is not looking for imposing and issue, but Iran is trying to support them until they can choose what they want.
As you know, we help Iraq, but we never interfere in Iraq that we put an Iranian governor there. They have some disagreements among themselves, and we help them to solve their problems but we never humiliate them. But Americans at the beginning announced that they wanted to put their own military governor in Iraq. While we didn’t do that. We said the election should be held in Iraq, and we help them to be on the way to democracy. Democracy could support their nation and could help them to make their own country.
This is not something that the Americans and Israelis like. If nations learn how to interact with each other, Americans and Israelis cannot continue their policies. So, it is getting clear that interaction with Iran means helping to the glory of nations. And interaction with the USA means humiliation. These two policies are showing themselves clearly to people. When our power gradually grows up, it makes a pattern which challenges the western pattern. It supports self-siting, it supports living in peace, it supports the glory of nations.
In the case of Lebanon, despite serious pressure on Cristian currents to reject Hezbollah and consider Hezbollah as a terrorist group on the way to unarmed Hezbollah, why do not Cristian currents accompany them? Because they have not forgotten that for 18 years the Israelis have been settling there, and they humiliated them and distributed division among them. When Hezbollah was created in Lebanon, they have security and glory these days. But they didn’t have this before. Whenever the Israelis wanted to come to Lebanon, they came and did what ever they wanted like bringing helicopters and kidnapping anyone they liked. Lebanon didn’t have any will.
Another subject that Iran has been accused of by the west is thinking ideologically, but this sample of Lebanon shows that it is not in this way, and the message of the Iranian Islamic revolution is not ideological.
Doctor Salimi: we don’t impose our ideas on them at all. We have never said that we would help you in case so should accept our ideas. And we let them choose what they wanted. In the Yemen case it shows itself clearly. Yemen had a lot of changes inside before having interaction with Iran. When you went to Saudi in the 1980s, Yemenis people did the dirtiest works in Saudi.
For example, they did sewage disposal, and they were humiliated. Today Yemeni people confronted Saudi, and they got steam, and now they are proud of themselves. How long did it take to be this, a short time. In a short period of time, Yemen is standing before not Saudi but the USA. And military guns of the USA cannot do anything in Yemen. This brings a huge coat for the USA and increases Yemen’s glory. This pattern that Iranian Islamic revolution gives to other nations is exactly opposite of the Soviet Union and USA. When they colonized a country, they went to the parliament of that country and shouted you don’t deserve to control your country.
We in a short time see that Americans weapons get stuck by Yemeni people. As you can see, it is really different. We don’t interfere in Yemen; Yemeni people should solve their problems on their own. But something that we are looking for is giving steam to nations. Certainly, nations know their own problems, and they can solve them better than anyone else. And they can have security in their countries. Defiantly, Iran could give in a short time security and glory to nations. Whatever they want to advertise against Iran, no problem, let them do.
But in my idea, nations don’t pay attention to their propaganda and look at the reality. They can see that all countries gathered to each other and were humiliated by Israel. Hezbollah that we gave conciliation to them could confront with Israel. Those countries which were with SOVIET UNION, in the war that they had, they brought humiliation to nations. But what did we do? When Americans were in Iran, they humiliated us, but now we see great changes in Iran.
All countries say that Iran can overthrow all American strategies in the region. It means that now Iran has a great power that it didn’t have it before. So, this comparison is really simple that it will have great changes in the future, and it will change the situation of Iran wildly.
Our last question is exactly about the future. How do you see the future perspective after 42 years in the aspect of the Iranian Islamic revolution dialogue with all domestic and foreign effects?
Doctor Salimi: Everything depends on ourselves. If we deserve these to make a better life and have the best life for our nations, we should try to do that. We shouldn’t forget to reach the ideal life until we can fine away to be one step closer to the ideal life. We shouldn’t pay attention to attractions which distract us to get an ideal life, and we shouldn’t be affected by them. In my idea, in the future Iran will be a great power in the region and will make many changes inside and outside the country.
We should perform civilization in Iran, and now our country has developed a lot in many fields and other people from other countries come here to get medication services. I saw a friend of mine at the Isfahan airport who had been living in the USA for a long time, and I said to him: Why are you here? And he answered: I have brought my wife here to have an operation. I said to him why did not you have the surgery in the United States?
He said, in Iran we have better medical services. In Iran, medical services are cheaper and faster and, scientifically, it is better than in America. In my idea, we will have great revolutions in this field.
We cannot use any foreign medical instruments, it means that we are under sanctions, and we have to make medical instruments on our own. As you know countries do not make everything on their own. If the way is open for us to get some instruments from other countries, we will have a great jump. If we stand on Islamic revolution principals, we will go ahead, but if we put this flag down, another nation will raise this flag. I hope we deserve this, and I hope we can continue this way. We can return our glory and give services to other nations.
Thank you very much for dedicating your time to us.
Doctor Salimi: You are welcome.