Friday, October 3, 2008

A review of Islamic revolution- Part 5

In an interview with VOA in March 2008, Hossein Faraji, a former staff of Iranian National Radio and TV who worked as member of Persian broadcasting service in “Deutsche Welle” of Germany, spoke about Sadegh Ghotbzadeh. Mr. Hossein Faraji said that he knew Ghotbzadeh from school years when they were classmates and was surprised when he called Paris one day to speak to someone named “haji Sadegh” and the person who spoke to him turned to be no one but Sadegh Ghtobzadeh, a friend from school days. Mr. Faraji had been given mission by his office in Germany to go to Paris and see the Khomeini’s camp up close and prepare a report. He was invited by Ghotbzadeh to go to Paris and, when he went there, he could see that Ghotbzadeh was the most influential person in the circle of people around Khomeini in Paris and everyone came to him if there was any issue.

Let’s leave Ghtobzadeh here as we will be talking about him a lot more but for now, let’s go back a few years to look at the source of some issues which had severe effect on Iran-US relations so that the idea of an “alternative” solution to Iran’s “problems” became very attractive for American governments of both parties.

Growing needs for funding different development plans after initial success of the 1963 reforms under name of “White Revolution”, had created an urge to find new resources and more capital to support such growth. Some people claim that late Shah was “inspired” by American government during J.F. Kennedy to implement such reforms but this is very far from truth. While American administrations, including Kennedy’s, have always had certain demands from Shah in the name of “reform” but there has never been a blue print for such reforms other than recommending use of certain people (i.e.: late Dr. Amini) to form the government. During Amini’s government, Mr. Arsanjani, the minister of agriculture initiated a land reform program, which faced strong resistance by big Landowners and caused a lot of problems for the government. At the same time mishandling of educational system by Mr. Derakhshesh, minister of education, had caused a lot of problems in the country resulting in widespread dissatisfaction with government, that was growing very fast.

Absence of the parliament, which was dissolved by Dr. Amini in the beginning of his government as a precondition for him to form the government, had created a chaotic condition with large deficit and increasing unemployment and other problems, that was getting out of control quickly. As a result, Dr. Amini was dismissed and Asadollah Alam replaced him. About a year later, Shah introduced his own reform with 6 articles which became known as white revolution later. The reform bill was put to referendum and approved by the people. A few months later Khomeini declared his opposition to the reforms and confrontation of Khomeini’s followers with government began.

As reforms moved forward, the government came under more pressure to find new resources to fund different plans. US government which apparently supported reform programs was not willing to provide any more funding even during Dr. Amini’s government. Iran had no choice but to push for more revenue from oil companies and this matter became increasingly annoying to US government. Even though they told Iranian government that they did not have any control over oil companies but continuously advised Iranian government to exercise moderation in their negotiations and requests from oil companies to avoid any issues because otherwise Iran’s relations with the US government would be affected! From the other side, while refusing to accept Iranian oil through a government to government deal, they advised Iran not to seek such solution with others either because they won’t be able to market their own oil so Iran had no choice but to sell its oil through the oil consortium.

The oil problem in relation between Iranian and US governments was so severe sometimes that in one case even a possible “showdown” with Iranian government, over its request for $1 billion verses $900 millions which consortium had accepted, was debated in state department! Iranian government of course was not aware of this matter while counting heavily on friendship of United States and its leaders but they finally got what they wanted and even more. In year 1971, Henry Kissinger, the National Security Advisor to President Nixon, had a conversation with the Shah that was reported by American embassy as follows (which shows the degree of trust that Shah had in Americans):

“Dr. Kissinger asked whether the Shah felt the people of the Near East needed to fear some sort of US-Soviet deal that would work to their disadvantage. The Shah said he did not feel so because the US is not the kind of nation to sell out its friends.”

This conversation happened during the times which Iranian government was vigorously working to increase its revenue from oil exports for funding ambitious industrial developments and expansion and modernization of its military. Intense negotiation with oil consortium had caused even some unfriendly exchanges between Shah and US embassy over the concerns of United States regarding supply of oil to NATO and European allies. United States government always stressed on continuous flow of oil to the allies and more importantly, the NATO and at the same time recommended that development plans to be implemented in slower pace to avoid “issues”.

Shah had his own reasons not to comply with that request while pressing Americans for more advanced military equipments but from the communication documents of US government, it was obvious that this story could not continue for long.

to be continued...