On September 7, the Canadian government told Iran’s ambassadors in Ottawa they had five days to leave the country. The closure was a surprise since it didn’t occur on the heels of any triggering event by the Islamic Republic of Iran. John Baird, Canada’s highest ranking foreign minister, said the ending of diplomatic ties happened because Iran constitutes “the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today.” Baird went on to site Iran’s support for terrorist groups like Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as Bashar Assad’s mortifying regime in Syria.
Most newspaper pundits claim Iran’s historical intransigence is the basis for the decision to pull out, but offer no reason for why Iranian diplomats were asked to leave at this particular moment in time.
I approached a friend who happens to be a professor of Middle East politics at York University, Sabah Al-Nasseri, for more insight into the situation currently unfolding. He explained the most overlooked factor in all of this is the wife of Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay, Iranian-Canadian Nazanin Afshin-Jam.
As both founder of the federal Conservative Party and responsible for a highly important cabinet post, MacKay has significant influence within the government. His wife is a well-known model, singer and human rights activist.
When I spoke with Prof. Al-Nasseri, he suggested that because Afshin-Jam puts her head next to MacKay’s on the pillow every night, she has more access to this key figure than even the closest senior adviser. Since their wedding ceremony earlier this year, her influence has combined itself with MacKay’s clout within the government, offering a plausible explanation for the recent policy choice.
One should never underestimate the power of the wives of elected officials.
The Canadian government’s inarticulate explanation of their policy shouldn’t play aid to the interpretation that Iran is a hapless victim here. Not only did the current Iranian government rig the 2009 election to ensure their continued dominance but they have openly murdered Iranian-Canadian citizens, committed homicidal aggressions against their so-called enemies in countries where they had good diplomatic relations and continue to flirt with nuclear weaponry. The popular protests in Iran in 2009 were a catalytic event in the Arab Spring.
Consider the sinuous pattern of aggression against neighbours exhibited by the unelected leadership of the Islamic Republic.
1979. When the Islamic Republic was established, dozens of U.S. diplomats were held hostage, a flagrant violation of many international accords, treaties, and codes of international behaviour. Canada and the U.S. entered into a joint covert operation to rescue the hostages, which is the basis for Ben Affleck’s new movie, Argo.
1989. The Iranian government openly suborned the murder of Kashmiri-English author Salman Rushdie and his associates for publishing the Satanic Verses on Valentine’s Day in 1989. (It’s a very good and captivating book I might add) Rushdie went into hiding for nearly a decade. An edict ordained by the religious authorities in Iran, a Fatwa, meant in this case an open contract for murder, which claimed the lives of two of the book’s translators and 34 more in an uncontrollable spat of mob violence in Turkey. Rushdie has just published his memoir called Joseph Anton, which was his assumed identity based on the names of his favorite authors Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekov.
1992. In Berlin a group of exiled Kurdish-Iranians (a severely oppressed minority in the country) were eating at the Mykonos restaurant before attending a conference of the Socialist International. They were massacred by the gunfire of hired agents of a special ministry established inside the Iranian government to avenge those who opposed the rule of the nearly-dead Ayatollah. See Roya Hakakian’s Assassins in the Turquoise Palace.
2003. A Montreal-born photojournalist named Zahra Kazemi was taking pictures of an Iranian prison that held many participants in a student protest. She was taken into custody and three weeks later was said to have “died.” An exiled physician of the Iranian military claimed she was raped and beaten to death by Iranian officials.
2010. While visiting their sick mother in Iran, two Iranian-Canadian brothers were taken into police custody. One was sentenced to death for espionage and the other was killed in police custody.
2011. The Iranian government again suborned the murder of the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S. by attempting to hire Mexicans to do the job. Although they failed, Saudi Arabia is still Iran’s chief competitor in the international oil market.
The regime in Iran is a confused and homicidal para-state of unelected religious figures in black robes. They arose to the apex of Iranian society by hijacking a popular, secular revolution in 1979. This “Supreme Council” then entrenched its power under a religious decree by the first Ayatollah, the velayat-e-faqih, the guardianship of the jurist. This admixture of unchallengeable religious dogmas and legal code has made Iran a state where an unelected group of men hold all Iranians in a childlike relationship of ward to parent. And we know we can’t bloody well elect our own parents.
In Iran, they run elections that are “neither free nor fair,” according to Farid Hekmat of the Human Rights and Democracy Library.
The UN currently has Iran under a strangulating set of economic sanctions that are designed to weaken the regime and help in its eventual overthrow by internal democratic forces.