Motahari: Anti-Americanism Of Iran’s Leaders Confuses Ends With Means
Ali Motahari, a former deputy speaker of Iran’s parliament and son of a well-known ayatollah killed in 1979, has published an article saying that Iran has made anti-Americanism a strategic goal at the expense of developing the country.
Writing in Etemad Online, a reformist website, in a piece published Tuesday [December 15], Motahari, a social conservative critical of policies supported by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, writes that negotiations with the United States do not mean “surrender” and assails those arguing Iran should not trust Americans even in a post-Trump era.
Ali Motahari is the son of Ayatollah Morteza Motahari, a religious fundamentalist during the reign of Mohammad Reza Shah who joined the 1979 revolutionary movement and gained influence before he was assassinated in May 1979 by a leftist Islamist group.
In his article, Ali Motahari argues that trust means little in politics, citing the Prophet Mohammed negotiating with his enemies: “Did the prophet trust them?”
Motahari writes that the revolutionaries of 1979 did not initially cut diplomatic ties with the US – an outcome that came about after American diplomats in Tehran were taken hostage and Washington reacted by severing diplomatic ties. Motahari suggests that Iran’s main dispute with the West was and is Palestine, but that relations with Europe have been maintained while anti-Americanism became a goal in itself.
Much of Motahari’s article concentrates on the notion that Iran’s leaders have confused means and ends – with disastrous consequences.
“Struggle against America was supposed to be a means for us, not an end, but now it has turned into a goal by itself,” he writes. “Some think that negotiations with America mean the end of the revolution and we always need to have a big enemy to keep the fire of the revolution alight, without knowing that the revolution itself is a means not an end…In these 40 years the goal of building a developed and exemplary Islamic state and unity among Muslim countries…has turned into the goal of destroying America and enmity with Muslim countries that have a positive disposition toward the US.”
In a veiled reference to the Persian Gulf Arab states, Motahari writes that creating fear among Muslim countries has pushed them toward Israel and “prevented the development of [Iran], to the degree that countries such as Turkey and the UAE [United Arab Emirates] that were miles behind Iran in the past are now miles ahead of us.”
Motahari is clearly aware of sentiments expressed daily by Iranians, among each other and on social media, criticizing and making fun of Khamenei’s repeated mentions of “the enemy” or “enemies” in his speeches. “The people have a right to ask themselves why in these 40 years we did not achieve progress and prosperity, although in some technologies we achieved good results,” Motahari notes.
Motahari urges negotiations with the US as and when American attitudes change. He says that during Barack Obama’s presidency, Iran wasted opportunities because it was led by “slogans,” presumably referring to reports of Obama officials suggesting wider talks, perhaps leading to restored formal diplomatic relations, rather than restricting focus to Iran’s nuclear program.
Instead, Saudi Arabia and Israel have taken advantage of Iran’s poor relations with the US to build influence in Washington, Motahari writes, while Tehran is left weaker in arguing the case for Palestine: “If the revolution’s goals are better served by having relations, should some people still sabotage efforts aimed at restoring ties?”