Is Iran really our enemy

Who is the enemy now? The crisis plunges the Iranians into a dilemma

In the conflict between the USA and Iran, the scenarios change so quickly that it is impossible to hear or see. The Iranian writer Shahriar Mandanipur describes the deep dichotomy of a population that ultimately has nothing to say in the spectacle.

Marshall McLuhan later replaced the idea of ​​the “global village” with that of the “global theater” with good reason. On this stage, however, we ordinary people play almost no role; Politicians and regimes perform their comedies, grotesques and tragedies for us. The pieces are written behind the scenes, they are constantly being modified and censored in order to block out disturbing truths.

“To play along or not to play along” - that is not the question for us, but a problem that comes to life. So: Curtain up on the US-Iranian conflict show.

The Scarecrow

A story by the Iranian writer Hushang Golschiri, who died twenty years ago, will serve as a prelude. In it, villagers prepare a hideous scarecrow to keep the ravens out of their fields; but soon the scarecrow takes control of her imagination. The villagers believe she is a monster that will kill them one by one.

Gifted satirist

Shahriar Mandanipur introduced himself to the German-speaking audience in 2010 with the novel "Censoring an Iranian Love Story". The sparkling satire, washed with all the waters of literary postmodernism, culminates in the extensive moral role reversal between censor and writer. Mandanipur, born in Shiraz in 1957, has taught at several American universities since 2006. His novel "Augenstern" will be published by Unionsverlag in mid-March.

This is exactly how the politics between America and Iran work: You make sure that your own nation perceives the enemy as a monster. But although the Iranian regime has been painting the US on the wall as the "great Satan" for forty years, the attitude of the population does not necessarily reflect this view. At least the young generation has long been living in an Iranian-Western mixed culture. And the Iranians are quite good at lulling dictators to safety and lulling them to sleep, only to suddenly grab them by the crown or the beard.

Most Iranians have had enough of the Islamic state of God and want to live in freedom. But this is also where your dilemma begins. They would really like support, but at the same time their national pride cannot stand the thought of any form of invasion or humiliation. And not without reason: American and British secret services ensured that the elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh was overthrown in 1953. The memory of this staged coup is still very much alive; many Iranians are of the opinion that their chance for democratic development was destroyed at that time.

On the slaughter

The next act begins with the Iranian proverb: "A chicken can be slaughtered just as much for a wedding dinner as it is for a meal." The Iranian regime and Donald Trump will escalate and shut down the current conflict according to their needs, but when the show is over, the Iranians are likely to be the slaughtered chicken. If the worst happens, they not only get poorer, but also lose what little freedom and human dignity they have left.

Because if a conflict intensifies, oppression, state terror and censorship in Iran will become even more cruel. This is shown both by looking back at the time of the absurd Iraqi-Iranian war and by recent experiences. When people took to the streets en masse last November after the increase in the price of petrol, the regime first blocked the Internet and then began to ruthlessly crush the protests. The death toll is estimated to be in the hundreds, and thousands have been arrested.

The secret graves in which the tortured and murdered are buried remain silent; the rivers and lakes in the country now and then reveal their corpses. So it happens that despite the constant anti-American propaganda, despite the escalating tension and the impending war, some demonstrators in Iran shout: It is a lie that America is our enemy. Our enemy is here.

Clearance sale

Let's extend the scenario to the world stage. The countries of the Near and Middle East seem to have freed themselves from their former British dominance in decades of struggle. But the conflict between Iran and America is now providing not only the United States and Great Britain, but also other countries with an excuse to send their warships to the Persian Gulf.

Russia and China also fish in Iran's troubled waters. Russia has appropriated most of the Caspian Sea and has been allowed to use an Iranian air force base for combat missions in Syria several times. China, currently Iran's largest trading partner, also has solid interests to represent there.

Sale! Sale! America will attack us, from now on 50 percent discount on Iranian soil and Iranian life! 70 percent! We will destroy Israel and America, 100 percent discount! - Or are you already working on another script behind the scenes? Rumors are circulating here and there that secret agreements are taking place between the Trump administration and negotiators in the Iranian government.

It was around a millennium ago that the great Iranian scientist and poet Omar Khayyam wrote the following verses: "They talk about you and me behind the veil / But it divides - nothing more about you and me."

Life in contradiction

It looks bleak in Iran, and if war should break out, it was darkest night. But then I think again of the epiphany of the contradictory in my homeland. On the day of the winter solstice, the festival Shab-e Yalda takes place there - we celebrate when the night is the longest and darkest. But Shab-e Yalda is actually the feast of birth. We eat pomegranates and light large fires - knowing that the days are now getting longer and brighter again.

Translated from the English by as.