Iran’s foreign minister speaks at SIPRI – and the media dont get it

Iran’s foreign minister speaks at SIPRI – and the media dont get it

Iran Collage # 1 by Jan Oberg

By Jan Oberg

August 27, 2019

On August 21, 2019, Iran’s foreign minister, Dr. Javad Zarif, gave a speech at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI.

Zarif spoke at length without a manuscript, in details and with references to facts and history of the region and the conflict’s history – based on a cohesive framework of theories, concepts and interpretation – which, taken together, places him in a category of his own among the world’s foreign ministers.

– lecture and discussion at SIPRI, Jan Eliasson to the left, Zarif to the right

The UN Security Council Resolution – 598 of 1987 – that Zarif refers to can be read here.

One should indeed be grateful to SIPRI for having invited him.

Politically correct, tired routine coverage by the leading Swedish media

Generally speaking, leading Swedish mainstream media have been promoting a negative view of Iran as well as Javad Zarif himself. The largest coverage has been about human rights in Iran, Iran as a threat and backer of terrorism, the death penalty, and the protests by a group of exile-Iranians who protested outside SIPRI’s building – about Iran being pressed economically and Mr. Zarif himself being in a weakened position. And about an Iranian journalist who defected during the delegation’s visit to Stockholm.

Media have also emphasized that Zarif is conducting a “tour of charming” and is himself a “very charming” and experienced diplomat – the subtle implication being that he can’t be trusted.

The Swedish Television’s point of departure is that he is a man under pressure trying to save the JCPOA – implying that he/Iran is negotiating from an underdog position – instead of saying that the US is the only one to have withdrawn from the deal, stepped up suffocating sanctions and that the EU has been unable to mobilize de facto support for the deal and stand up to its commitments – namely to step up its co-operation with Iran.

In this short podcast you can also hear the Swedish Radio’s Middle Eastern correspondent, Cecilia Uddén, say that Zarif is in Europe to collect support for Iran’s case and that, charming as he is, he even “does not at all look like the other aytollahs”… and that he never wears a tie or a turban… (!)

Here is Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet – both emphasizing in the headlines that he criticized president Trump – the Swedish Broadcasting (Sveriges Radio) – for readers here who happen to read Swedish.

None that I have seen have had the intellectual capacity to convey the detailed, elaborated and well-presented points that the foreign minister delivered at SIPRI.

None have looked into the wider framework of the conflict between Iran and the US/West since 1953.

None have pointed out that the withdrawal from the nuclear deal, JCPOA, by the US is a violation of international law because the deal is embedded in UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

Neither has it been mentioned that Iran has accepted the most comprehensive and strict inspection regime ever and that numerous reports – also American – document that Iran has fulfilled its obligations according to the deal.

None have questioned whether it is acceptable that the Iranian people – some 80+ million – shall suffer the consequences of hard, suffocating sanctions.

None has taken up that the US applies extraterritorial sanctions on allies – i.e. that it insist on US laws being applied by others, or they will be punished.

And of course, none have mentioned that Israel – as the only country in the Middle East – is a nuclear weapons power with a comparatively much larger military budget than Iran, is not a member of the NPT (Non-Proliferation treaty) and accepts no inspections on its territory.

In summary, the media coverage of Mr. Zarif’s visit to Sweden was yet another illustration that free Western media today basically defines their freedom as a freedom to be as ignorant, selective and biased as they please – and that omission, at least as much as fake, is a huge problem for media consumers’ chances to understand international affairs.

The public were certainly not serviced in terms of relevant, fair and diverse information. Instead, other interests – such as those connected with Western dominating values and governments and, thereby, Sweden’s own pro-US foreign policy orientation – were.

2 Responses to "Iran’s foreign minister speaks at SIPRI – and the media dont get it"

  1. F Jahanpour   August 28, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    Thank you for this clear defence of a decent man who is doing his best under very difficult circumstances, being under pressure both internationally and from the hardliners inside Iran.

    I am the first to admit that the human rights situation in Iran is not satisfactory and needs a great deal of improvement, as I have stated on many occasions in the past. It is also right that foreign journalists and politicians criticise human rights violations in Iran, some of them may be even doing so sincerely.

    However, the point that Zarif rightly makes is that their concern for human rights is selective. Iran’s human rights record does not compare with what is going on in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen which the United States and her Western allies have invaded on dishonest pretexts and sheer lies. In all those countries hundreds of people are being killed on a daily basis. Millions of people have been made homeless and millions are living as refugees in dreadful conditions in various refugee camps all over the world.

    Even compared to some of her neighbouring that have not been invaded, Iran’s human rights situation is better. Saudi Arabia beheads dozens of people for political and religious offences every year, and it is illegal to have a church or a synagogue anywhere in Saudi Arabia. Turkey holds the largest number of journalists in prisons for political reasons, and Israel’s apartheid policies towards the Palestinians and holding thousands of Palestinians, even children, prisoners have a worse human rights records than Iran. Yet none of them is criticised as strongly as Iran because they are US’s allies.

    Iran has got the largest university population in the Middle East, with some of her universities ranked among the best in the world. Millions of pupils attend free primary and secondary and even university education. Millions of people receive free medical treatment. Despite unfair and illegal US sanctions on Iranian people, still millions of Iranian workers go to work in the morning and return home safe and sound taking care of the basic needs of their families. Most of these critics seem to forget that wars and invasion are the worst human rights offences.

    At the moment, the United States is openly violating an international agreement endorsed unanimously by the EU and by the Security Council. It is openly calling for regime change in Iran. It has imposed extraterritorial sanctions on Iran which are hurting the ordinary people. Those who are sincere in their defence of human rights should raise their voices against US’s imperialist and aggressive policies and make sure that the JCPOA is implemented.

    At the same time, the best way to improve Iran’s human rights record is to engage her in dialogue and bring her closer to the West, as the JCPOA was doing.

  2. Bente Petersen   August 27, 2019 at 10:22 pm

    This Swedish reporting is outrageous and disgusting the lowest of the lowest. And some of the comments are displaying total stupidity!!!! Who do they think they are kidding… ?


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