Iran celebrated the 36th anniversary of its Islamic Revolution last week to great fanfare, replete with speeches by high-level dignitaries and the usual – “traditional,” even – chants of “death to America.” Has anything changed since last year, when Iranians took to the streets to utter battle cries against the West in their celebratory zeal?
According to NPR’s Steve Inskeep, they have – in his view, the anti-American camp is facing staunch competition from the many Iranians who want more opportunities, business and otherwise, although the former US Embassy building still serves as a museum of hate for America, and still teaches that Washington staged 9/11 on itself.
So what else changed this year? Iran’s leaders continued to portray the West as the weaker party in the nuclear talks, forced into them by Iran’s nuclear prowess and the need for Iran’s help in the Middle East – and likely to grant Tehran the “’win-win’ outcome” it desires.
In other words, the nuclear talks are being used to fuel the patriotic fervor of the Iranian people, once again by painting the West as a predatory enemy – with some success. But is the media buying it, too? While ABC was busy explaining to the American public why the 1979 revolution even matters today, Al-Arabiya’s Camelia Entekhabi-Fard suggested that without a nuclear deal, Iran would not even be able to survive – and sustain its involvement in Syria and Iraq – for more than “a short period of time.”
Entekhabi-Fard’s critical tone was not really echoed outside of right-wing outlets. Al-Monitor and US News, meanwhile, featured a lengthy piece by Seyed Hossein Mousavian, who famously straddled the line (façade?) between media pundit, academic and Iranian official until he returned to Iran last year. Mousavian, described as a “researcher,” waxed poetic about the revolution and Iran’s rehabilitation after the war with Iraq – until the sanctions and “coercions” imposed by the West “thrashed” its prospects of economic success. And yet, he wrote, Iran emerged victorious, maintaining its independence and security, making “commendable strides” in “many areas” – from education to fighter jets to “impressive statecraft” (but not human rights, obviously). Have Iran’s podiums and the Western press ever sounded quite so similar?