Iranian blogosphere reacts to Obama's Peace Prize
by VAHID ONLINE
11 Oct 2009 22:37
The traditional anti-US groups in Iran, who view any event as an enemy conspiracy toward their country, this time too declared the granting of the award a political move, for what they called "covering up American complicity in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Gaza."
"Obama pledged to close Guantanamo in three months -- so why are the doors still open?" said Roshan. "He promised to withdraw troops from Iraq -- instead the military bases were just relocated outside of Iraqi cities. He added a surge in the hell that is Afghanistan. Obama also maintained an ugly silence about the women and children massacred in Gaza. Is this the resume of a defender of peace?"
But Obama's Nobel weighed more critically with the Iranian opposition.
Most Iranians appeared to favor improved relations with the world prior to June's tainted election. But judging from an exhaustive reading of the Iranian blogosphere in reaction to President Obama's win, the mood has shifted. After facing off with Iran's hardline government in mass protests, and witnessing scores of their compatriots killed or arrested, tortured and raped in detention, refusal to recognize the legitimacy of Iran's current government was the minimum support many Iranians looked to from other countries.
Out of 155 comments posted on Mir Hossein Mousavi's official Facebook page in response to the subject of Obama's Nobel, the majority of views were negative, given Obama's stance on events in Iran and his engagement policy with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"I'm sorry that a president who only 'watches' the atrocities in Iran, and shakes hands with the coup government, should win a Nobel," writes Nastaran.
"Why Obama?" asks Aftab. "He is best serving the interests of Wall Street. And his State Department just cut off funding for Iranian human rights activists!"
Weak legitimacy on the domestic front is in fact one reason that the Iranian government now seeks to engage with the international community. It seems that Barack Obama, who demonstrated on numerous occasions over the past year his resolve to improve ties with Tehran (and wrote a letter to Iran's Supreme Leader for this purpose), is not one to pass up the opportunity.
The awarding of the Nobel to Obama has raised a specific concern among the Iranian opposition: Will it prevent the US from stepping up pressure on Iran's government?
Interestingly, Iranian officials did not voice serious reactions to the news, contrary to custom. Only foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki noted that the honor may have come "too early" for Obama. In other words, if Obama continues along the line he is currently treading with the Ahmadinejad administration, Iran's government is likely to champion him as meriting the prize.
A large part of the opposition believes that this year's Peace Prize belonged to a figure symbolizing Iran's Green Movement, such as Neda Aga Soltan (the young woman shot down in protests) or Mehdi Karroubi (a presidential candidate who bravely disclosed sexual abuse in Iranian prisons). This notion did not escape Obama himself, who referred to Neda without mentioning her name in professing to share the award with "the young woman who marches silently in the streets on behalf of her right to be heard even in the face of beatings and bullets."
These words gladdened many Iranians -- yet others took the omission of Neda's name as a sign that Obama is still pursuing détente with Iran's current regime.
"Did he really mean Neda? Then why is he shaking hands with Ahmadinejad?" scolded Shahin.
"Your president is really good and we like him," a blogger going by the name of "Mr. Chocolate" wrote on FriendFeed in response to "Joe," "but [the] Nobel prize wasn't his right, it was Mehdi Karrobi's right!"
Some of the Iranian opposition did support the Norwegian committee's choice and consider it an overall advantage for the people of Iran. They agree with what Obama said in his speech -- that the award was granted not for his actions so far as president, but for the peaceful goals he envisioned and his executive potential as the President of the United States. Some thus view Obama's laureateship as an "ethical tightrope," pressuring him to deliver on his promises of global peace and to prevent war between two countries.
"This great man deserved this great prize. We should not judge exclusively in the context of US-Iran relations!" wrote Banafshe.
Iranians fear that a military strike would further entrench a security climate in Iran and furnish an excuse for the government to purge its political opponents as ruthlessly as it did in the 1980s.
Whether they approve or disapprove of the news, a point that regularly emerges in conversations with many Iranians is their belief that Iran -- perhaps as a perceived threat to global peace -- played a role in securing Obama's Nobel prize.
Copyright © 2009 Tehran Bureau