The new man in Iran is one Hassan Rouhani, a Muslim cleric and now President of Iran. He replaces the renowned rabblerouser Ahmadinejad. This will please many but will it really make any difference I wonder? The world appeared to believe every word spoken by Ahmadinejad, or at least the worlds media believed this, but he was, like the new man, merely a front. The real power lies with the Mullahs and Ayatollah Khameni makes the decisions, not the President. While demanding an end to Israel filled the press the words lacked substance, there was no movement within Iran to do this merely eye catching words that pleased the general Arab population but not their leaders. Talk like that allied to building nuclear weapons, no matter how many scientists Mossad bump off, does not make for peaceful co-existence.
Rouhani already talks well. He has convinced the leadership, with whom he has worked for many years, that he is a conservative, he has convinced the populace that he is a reformer, and now he will no doubt spend time making the West feel he is a man with whom they 'could do business.'
We fail to understand Iran. There are many who see this proud nation as just another Arab block. Mad Islamic types who threaten the world while controlling the oil. Whether this lot are mad I will leave you to ponder but one thing is sure, they are not Arabs. Iran, or Persia if you prefer, sees itself as one of the two big nations in Asia, China being the other. Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the rest are less than a hundred years old, Persia goes back all the way to Cyrus the Great two thousand five hundred years ago! This is one small but pertinent attitude far too many fail to grasp. Persians are not Arabs and are more than willing to indicate the difference.
In Persian minds Cyrus was the first leader, in spite of the arrival of Christianity and then Islam and all those passing years this belief is still found in their psyche. The West gives the impression this nation can just be kicked around, but as Saddam found, even though aided by the US and others, that is not so. The fear caused by the arrival of the late Khomani in 1979 has not departed some minds. While they fear a radical Islam arriving on their territory it has come in the back door through straight forward immigration policies allied to inept handling of the Middle East and later George W's needless Iraq invasion. Persia is not Iraq. While both were well educated nations Iran does not suffer from major sectarian rifts, all are Shia here, any attack by the West in any form will turn the entire nation against it, a land war here would be worse than Iraq! The Ayatollahs men died in their millions during Saddams war, yet they still came on. The young well educated who strongly oppose much of the present leadership will suddenly become loyal if attacked.
Rouhani talks of moderation, Rouhani has been around a long time and is no fool (he was part-educated in Glasgow, so he must have learnt something about the real world there!), Rouhani knows that he will have to offer something different to the people and to the world, but in the end the Ayatollah holds all the keys and he remains the front man, nothing more. He will also know how Rafsanji, a one time president, talked of change and now is banned from standing and has been roughly pushed aside. He may well be the 'right' man from both sides point of view but he will always have to be the Ayatollahs man or he will be removed.
At 11:40 this morning the house shook with what I later discovered was a sonic boom! I thought at the time it was either the neighbours dancing or thunder but would never have guessed at a sonic boom here. It just does not happen over the UK and RAF pilots, this one flying the Typhoon, are only given permission for breaking the sound barrier in emergency situations. One happened last year way 'up north' when a helicopter transmitted on the wrong frequency and caused an emergency situation response. Essex police and the MOD have claimed this incident was 'routine!' With hundreds of flights over our head or in fifty miles of us daily they refer to Typhoons going supersonic as routine? Aye right!
The only other time I heard such a sound was while in Israel where it can be a daily occurrence. I asked the Arab in the coffee shop what the artillery were firing at only to discover it was the fighter planes above. In a small nation some discomfort is to be expected, but I could do without that one! Today 'our boy' was right overhead having travelled across Hertfordshire and ourselves to get to wherever he was headed. Seventy odd years ago we had B 17s, Wellingtons, Lancaster's, Spitfires and the rest over our heads daily (Well not mine you understand) and I suspect their noise was worse than an occasional 'bang' just before lunchtime.
I wonder if we will ever discover the reason for the panic?