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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Tribute To Khomeini’s Iran

At a time when the American-British enterprise [politicians-media-intelligence] targets Iran, the PakNationalists forum, the meeting point of the Pakistani nationalist movement, publishes this special tribute to Iran and its people, exclusively written by a veteran Pakistani diplomat and a former ambassador to Beijing and Washington, Mr. Akram Zaki. Here is a unique and informed take on Iran's system of government. It shows how a few people at the top in Tehran revived the pride of a demoralized nation. Reading this will also provide perspective to the intense Am-Brit anti-Iran campaign.


By M. AKRAM ZAKI

Wednesday, 17 June 2009.


TEHRAN, Iran—It is a great honor for me to be invited to the brotherly Islamic country, Iran which is so close to my heart and which is loved and respected by the people of Pakistan. Iran and Pakistan are bound together by geography, culture, shared history and common faith. They also have a common destiny to live in freedom, with honor and dignity, rejecting all forms of foreign domination. We, in Pakistan, value Iran's friendship and seek to build a multi-dimensional and a comprehensive relationship with Iran. Together, we can safeguard regional peace and security and ensure progress and prosperity to our people.

It is a special privilege to have the opportunity of paying my humble tributes to the memory of the great Leader of the history-making Islamic Revolution of Iran.

Twenty years ago on June 3, 1989 the great spiritual, intellectual and political Leader of the Glorious Islamic Revolution,
Ayatollah Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini, having completed his earthly Mission, departed for his Heavenly abode, to rejoin Almighty Allah, whose divine message of love and justice he preached and practiced in this world. His grateful nation and people, whom he liberated from foreign domination and taught how to live in freedom with dignity and honor, remember the great Imam with gratitude and salute his memory. So do the downtrodden and oppressed of the world whose cause he supported.

I, as an admirer of the great Leader of the Islamic Revolution, add my humble tribute and salam.

A study of the life of Imam Khomeini reveals that the Divine Providence had carefully nurtured, prepared and groomed him from early life for the great role he was destined to play in his later years, after the age of sixty, when most men tend to phase out of active life.

He was born in a family of religious scholars and named Ruhollah. His father and mother were both from families of religious leaders. His father, Ayatollah Seyyed Mutafa Mousavi, died when he was only 5 years old, but his religious education was continued, initially, under his brother and later under a great teacher Ayatollah Najab Karim Yazdi at Arak and Qum.

During the 1960s, in a bi-polar word dominated by two super powers, engaged in a cold war to control the resources and the destiny of other countries, Imam Khomeini became a strong opponent of colonialism and imperialism, which he condemned on moral and ethical grounds. He especially resented USA's domination over Iran and became a strong critic of the Shah of Iran.

In January 1963, he started open opposition to the so called "White Revolution' and [the Iranian government's] programme of further westernistion. On the fate of the poor people of the Third World, including Iran the great Imam came to the conclusion, as written in his book Hikmat-e-Islami (Valyat-e-Faqih) that "The laws of society should be made up only of the Laws of God (Sharia) which cover all human affairs and provide guidance and establish norms for every aspect of human life."

Imam Khomeini's real turbulent political career had started on June 3, 1963, when he took a bold stand based on moral and ethical grounds. Michael Axworthy writes in his book, A history of Iran, the following:


"On the afternoon of 'Ashura (June 3, 1963), Khomeini delivered a speech at the Feyziyeh
madrasah drawing parallels between the infamous tyrant Yazid and the Shah, denouncing the Shah as a "wretched, miserable man," and warning him that if he did not change his ways the day would come when the people would offer up thanks for his departure from the country."

On June 5, 1963, (15 of Khordad), two days after this public denunciation of the Shah
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Khomeini was arrested. This sparked three days of major riots throughout Iran and led to the deaths of some 400. That event is now referred to as the Movement of 15 Khordad. Khomeini was kept under house arrest and released in August"

Coincidentally, his eventful and remarkable earthly political career also ended twenty six years later in 1989 on June 3.


Opposition to Capitulation

During November 1964, Imam Khomeini denounced both the Shah and the United States, this time in response to the "capitulations" or diplomatic immunity granted by the Shah to American military personnel in Iran.

The "status-of-forces agreement" allowed members of the U.S. armed forces in Iran to be tried in their own military courts. This was denounced as Shah's "capitulation" before the USA,

Imam Khomeini was arrested in November 1964 and held for half a year. Later, he was exiled. During the 14 years of his exile, he continued his struggle against the Shah regime and remained in contact with his people and continued to guide them through his tape recorded messages and speeches.

He enlightened their minds, illuminated their souls, fired their imaginations, aroused their emotions, lit the flames of freedom in their hearts and inspired them to fight with courage and determination, for their liberation from foreign domination and Shah's tyranny.

Finally, the Shah had to flee from Iran in January 1979, and Imam Khomeini returned home in triumph and received tumultuous welcome by teeming millions as the Savior and Supreme Leader. He laid the foundation of the Islamic Republic of Iran and began to consolidate the gains of the Islamic Revolution. Religious and Spiritual welfare of the people was declared to be the main purpose of the state.


Imam Khomeini defined politics as follows:

"Politics is that it should guide the society, find its way, consider all the interests of society, and guide them to that which is for their welfare."

"Politics means management of the country based on the religious and spiritual welfare of the people."

He built a new society based on Islamic spiritual, moral and ethical foundations. He also advocated that like politics, International relations should also be conducted on moral and ethical principles.


Foreign Policy Principles

Imam Khomeini attached great importance to truth, morality, justice, fair play and idealism. Ethical and moral values were regarded as very important in matters of foreign policy. He was an idealist. He advised that basic values and basic realities should be kept in view. Bridges can be built between ideals and facts. It is important to strengthen capability of living up to ideals.

He advocated an independent foreign policy, his formula regarding two power blocs led by two super powers was "No East, No West". Hence no reliance on great powers. Other important foreign policy principles of The Imam are:


  • Defending and maintenance of Islamic system, expansion of Islam
  • 'The establishment of Islamic community, and emphasis of unity and integrity of Muslims nations and Islamic integrity and unity.
  • Preservation of the existence and territorial integrity of the country, and observing the long-term interests of the system;
  • Opposition to arrogance, hegemonism and power politics,

    · Fighting against oppressor and supporting the oppressed.

  • Expression of sympathy to the downtrodden of the world and inviting them to unite with one another;
  • Strategic campaign against the regime occupying AL-QUDS
  • Harmonious coexistence and forging of equitable and friendly relations with countries of the world and negation of isolationism;
  • Introduction of Islam as a comprehensive, perfect and practical religion


Major issues of practical diplomacy will now be discussed briefly to show how these principles were applied in real diplomacy.


The Iran Hostage Crisis

On October 22, 1979 the United States admitted the exiled and ailing Shah into the country for cancer treatment. In Iran there was an immediate outcry with both Imam Khomeini and leftist groups demanding the Shah's return to Iran for trial and execution.

On November 4, Islamist students took control of the American Embassy in Tehran, holding 52 embassy staff hostage. This lasted for 444 days. In America, the hostage-taking was seen as a flagrant violation of international law and aroused intense anger and anti-Iranian feeling. In Iran the take over was immensely popular and earned the support of Imam Khomeini under the slogan "America can't do a damn thing against us".

Imam Khomeini took a bold stand against the United States. Pope John Paul wrote a letter expressing concern for the 'increase of tension' between the United States and Iran, asking the Imam to use his 'authoritative influence' to bring about a solution.

The Imam again acted with courage and, in his reply to the Pope, he relied on truth and moral and ethical principles. He told the pope that "our militant, noble nation took such cutting-off of relations as a good omen and celebrated it with rejoicings and illuminations" and that "the day will be dangerous for our people on which relations such as those existing during the former treacherous regime are re-established"

He then requested that the leader of the world's Catholics to uphold the truth and "warn the US government of the consequences of its tyrannies, imposition of force and plundering, and advise Mr. Carter, who is confronted with final defeat, to treat the nations, which want absolute independence and do not want to be affiliated with any power in the world, according to humane criteria, to follow the teachings of Christ (may God's blessings be on him) and not expose himself and the US government to further scandal."

The Imam also boldly stated the truth to the Pope that the US embassy was a den of spies and that some Christian priests were acting as spies, which was not correct even according to their own religion.


Soviet Intervention in Afghanistan

Imam Khomeini regarded both super powers as evil. He had clearly laid down the policy "No East, No West". Hence no reliance on great powers.

In December 1979, when the former Soviet Union invaded a neighboring Muslim country, Afghanistan, Iran condemned the action and, like other nations, helped the Afghan people's struggle. Iran's stand was according to Imam's principle of "Fighting against the oppressor and supporting the oppressed." Iran, like Pakistan, also played host to millions of Afghan refugees, who were also fellow Muslims in distress.

The great Imam clearly foresaw that the Soviet Union was crumbling from within under the burden of hopeless war, it was destined to lose. President Gorbachev was making desperate efforts to save the Soviet Union through various reforms.

In December 1988, Imam Khomeini sent a delegation to Moscow to deliver his famous letter to Gorbachev. The Imam wrote:

"If you wish to put an end to the economic woes of socialism and communism by simply resorting to the core of capitalism, you will not ease the pains prevalent in the Soviet society," for communism will be relegated to the "museums of the world's political history, since Marxism cannot meet any of the real needs of human beings."

He told Gorbachev that the Western world only seemed more appealing compared to the crumbling communism of the East, and warned him "not get trapped in the prison of the West and the Arch-Satan, while pulling down the iron curtains of Marxist idealism.".

The Imam then offered to open a dialogue on the future of the Soviet people, urging Gorbachev , to rethink the Soviet policies on religion and state-mandated atheism, to free the churches and mosques, and to allow the calls to prayer to once again ring through the air.

The letter to Gorbachev and the meeting with Shevardnadze soon thereafter at Tehran are important because the Imam sets the terms of the dialogue, without making demands or conditions.


Iran-Iraq War

Shortly after assuming power, Khomeini began calling for Islamic revolutions across the Muslim world including Iran's Arab neighbor Iraq, the one large state besides Iran with a Shia majority population.

In September 1980 Iraq, with the help and encouragement from USA, launched a full scale invasion of Iran, starting what became later the eight-year-long Iran–Iraq War (September 1980 - August 1988). When aggression was committed Iran offered fierce resistance against the aggressor and by early 1982 Iran regained almost all the territory lost to Iraq. The invasion rallied Iranians behind the new regime, enhancing Imam Khomeini's stature and allowed him to consolidate and stabilize his leadership.

Although outside powers supplied arms to both sides during the war, yet the West wanted to be sure the Islamic revolution did not spread to Iran's smaller oil-exporting neighbors in the oil rich Persian Gulf.

The war continued for another six years. In 1988 Iraq launched deadly month-long missile attacks and used chemical weapons on Iranian cities including Tehran. The noble Imam made a distinction between Iraqi people and the hated Saddam regime; on moral and ethical grounds he did not allow Iran to bomb Iraq's cities. For the same reason Iran did not use chemical weapons either.

However, due to heavy losses in human and material terms, and mounting attacks by the American Navy on Iranian ships and oil rigs in the Persian Gulf, in July 1988, Imam Khomeini, accepted a truce mediated by the United Nations. When aggression started the Imam fought with full determination. When the real opportunity for peace presented itself, he chose peace.


Conclusion

The Islamic Revolution of 1979, led by Imam Khomeini has greater historical significance than the French Revolution of 1789, the Soviet Revolution of 1917, and is of an equal importance to the Chinese Revolution of 1949.

The French and the Soviet Revolutions were meant to bring changes within the Materialistic Western Civilization, which had been dominating other Civilizations for the last few centuries. The Chinese Revolution had a greater significance than the other two, because it meant the rise of a non- western Civilization to the status of an important player on the world stage.

The Islamic Revolution means that another non-western Civilization has emerged on world's political scene to play its distinct role. But real difference, which makes the Islamic revolution unique and more important, is the Spiritual dimension ie the Divine Law as its source and the Universality of its message. Today's mankind, tired of too much greed and exploitation, needs to seek happiness by rebuilding the Society on spiritual foundations.

Mr. Zaki is Pakistan's former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs a former Ambassador of Pakistan to Beijing and Washington. This article is extracted from a speech he delivered at the Third International Conference on Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini held at the Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS) in Tehran on June 2, 2009. Mr. Zaki can be reached at akram_zaki@hotmail.com


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