Media Scaremongering Over Iran Needs to Stop

The latest sensationalised headline flashed across my timeline last week,  “Iran’s Supreme Leader thinks America created Isis” and so the never ending media battle over Iran’s image in the west wages on.

The relationship between Iran and the West has been one of long-standing contention. It started way before the 1979 Islamic Revolution which resulted in the famous American hostage crisis. The troubles between the two started with the 1953 CIA-MI6 coup of the democratically elected Iranian President Mossadeq. For what possible purpose would the freedom fighters of the West wish to depose a democratic president you ask? Obviously the most typically Western grievance, Mossadeq wished to nationalise Iran’s oil and share its wealth with the country, rather than it all being funnelled to the UK and US.

Over 50 years on, with Iran still the only theocracy in the world and under the ultimate control of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Western relations have barely progressed. There was a possibility of easing of tensions in the aftermath of 9/11, when Iran showed compassion and sympathy for America with candlelit vigils in the streets of Tehran, promising to provide search and rescue missions for American pilots, and were key in the formation of the new Afghan government. Though these positive steps were soon completely obliterated when President Bush included them in his axis of evil State of the Union speech in 2002.

In recent months the media scaremongering over Iran’s nuclear programme is once again a topic of controversy. Talks in Geneva have become difficult and unmovable, but rightly so. The media tells us Iran is a stubborn aggressor who demands nuclear weapons. However in reality, under the 1968 Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which many Western states are party to, Iran is well within their right to enrich uranium to a certain level. They have stated time and again they do not wish to produce nuclear weapons, as it is against their Islamic code, they simply want to enrich uranium for civilian purposes.

It would be appropriate to point out here that under the NPT the countries which had existing nuclear arsenals at the time of signing were under instruction to disarm their weapons over time. Yet 40 years on and America still has 7,315 nuclear warheads with no sign of completely disarming any time soon. So this violation is ignored, yet Iran’s right to enrich uranium is viewed as a threat to the world and must be quashed.

A few weeks ago it was reported that a US plane landed in Iran carrying at least 100 American passengers. Immediately the Twittersphere erupted into pandemonium and news sources ignited with exaggeration over false reports about the plane being ‘forced to land’ by Iranian fighter jets. With comments such as “glad I’m not on that plane”, “let’s hope it doesn’t last for 444 days this time” and “American hostages” bandied around. In reality, there was just an issue with the flight plan and after providing the American passengers with food and drinks the issue was cleared up and the flight was on its way to Dubai.

Once again, the media feels the need to create this mass hysteria and unfounded controversy surrounding Iran. In fact the country can be viewed as a more rational actor than many other states the West is allied with and possibly even the West itself. The last official military engagement by Iran was the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, which was initiated by Saddam Hussein, who invaded Iran just after the Revolution. Since then, there have been countless American engagements, which could portray them as a more dangerous state than Iran. the obvious example being the invasion of Iraq in 2003 on the grounds of false information over the presence of WMDs. Nevertheless, time and again Iran is viewed as an irrational actor on the world stage.

I am in no way condoning a lot of the human rights violations Iran commits. The most recent example being the imprisonment and lashings of young Iranians in Tehran, who recorded themselves singing the Pharrel Williams song Happy in public. However, if America can be allies with Saudi Arabia who beheaded 19 people at the beginning of August for charges such as “sorcery”, does the possibility of making peace with Iran seem that impossible?

Iran is a relatively stable country in an ever changing and volatile region. The West would be wise to make peace and formal relations with such a state if they wish to ever reduce their presence in the Middle East, rather than continually scaremongering and hyping tensions over unnecessary and unfounded allegations.

By Lizzie Roberts

Please note, I chose this feature image [Credit: John] as it ironically came up first when I searched “Iran”. It is of old anti-American graffiti which was all over Tehran after the 1979 Revolution. A lot of it was taken down and painted over during Khatami’s Presidency. 


2 thoughts on “Media Scaremongering Over Iran Needs to Stop

  1. You miss out in iran’s foreign policy the support of groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, who have cut down the leaders of democracy in lebanon, assassinations of peaceful iranians abroad who dared to criticize the leadership the mob rule of the government in 2009 which ended the green revolution and the support of the Assad regime which iran was a key backer when syria was left out in the cold of international relations. Also you’re wrong about America breaking the law when it comes to nuclear weapons, America is sanctioned to have nuclear weapons by the NPT and in 2010 obama signed a new start treaty with russia to limit the number of operationally active nuclear warheads.
    You also ignore the fact that America has dramatically reduced their stockpile of nuclear weapons from the cold war which is fulfilling their obligations.

    I don’t think America wants to ally itself with bad regimes, but in the need for real politik in the 21st century it has to. I personally would much rather America wasn’t linked with Saudi Arabia or other countries in the area with gross human rights violations. But what you’re calling for is for greater support and relations with a theocracy whose notions of human rights and free expression simply don’t exist. I don’t know why you would want a country like that to be allied with or made stronger. What America and other countries should be working towards is not allying themselves with dictators and bad regimes but seeking to remove them with a democratic alternative which respects the rights of the people. It is one of the key reasons why I supported and still do support the invasion of Iraq. Not only was America removing a brutal dictator but they were also stopping a regional threat in the form of Saddam who was shopping for nuclear materials even if he hadn’t got his hands on a bomb yet. America shouldn’t be seeking to making awful regimes (like Iran’s) even stronger for too long it has been in this business and it does have to end, simply extending this policy and endorsing awful regimes will only lead to more trouble in the long term.

    With all due respect the media headline which you linked to wasn’t scaremongering, it was pointing out that the supreme leader claimed that ISIS was created with US support. Twitter is not part of the media and to use it to back up your argument i think is wrong. Iran may seem like a stable country but like any country where democracy doesn’t exist that stability is fragile, look at the 2009 revolution and look at Assad’s regime for example. It seemed impregnable from the inside but within months it’s ability to control things disintegrated.

    On Iran and nuclear proliferation the simple answer is we don’t know at what point the Iranians have enriched to, we do know they have enriched far beyond their needs for civilian use and that in the past they have had designs for a nuclear weapons programme as documented by the IAEA. The IAEA have been denied access to nuclear sites for years now and therefore we do not know what they are up to. I believe this is also breaking sections of the NPT in denying access to the IAEA. I don’t think America has scaremongered about iran and iran is certainly a rational actor, but iran in possession of a nuclear weapon is something which has to be stopped at all costs. Iran’s domestic and international abuses cannot be let go at a whim.

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