Headlines don’t matter

Who is the greatest beneficiary of the Iraq war? Iran, of course. Because of this, the Western media is now littered with alarming stories about the Islamic Republic’s alleged underhand dealings. Take today’s UK Observer:

A British company has been closed down after being caught in an apparent attempt to sell black-market weapons-grade uranium to Iran and Sudan, The Observer can reveal.

Anti-terrorist officers and MI6 are now investigating a wider British-based plot allegedly to supply Iran with material for use in a nuclear weapons programme. One person has already been charged with attempting to proliferate ‘weapons of mass destruction’.

During the 20-month investigation, which also involved MI5 and Customs and Excise, a group of Britons was tracked as they obtained weapons-grade uranium from the black market in Russia. Investigators believe it was intended for export to Sudan and on to Iran.

In case readers weren’t too sure of the political ramifications, the paper kindly offered this insight:

Politically, the allegations hold potentially huge ramifications for diplomatic relations between the West and Tehran. Already, tensions are running high between Iran, the US and the European Union over the true extent of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Iran refuses to suspend its nuclear programme in the face of mounting pressure, arguing its intent is entirely peaceful and solely aimed at producing power for civilian use.

There is no question that the conservative leadership of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is cracking down on dissidents like never before. This is clearly unacceptable. But it seems as if many in the Western media elite would like to see a US military strike against Iran, in the hope that the government would fall. Wishful thinking.

Spending time in Iran, and speaking to a wide range of people here, it soon becomes clear that the leadership of Ahmadinejad is loathed by a vocal minority of students, journalists and bloggers. The majority may well still listen to him, but his popularity is waning. Many contacts here openly chastise the ever-tightening restrictions on freedom of movement and freedom of speech. They fear a US attack, and some feel it’s more than likely in the next years, either under a Republican or Democrat leadership. But they know that any attack on the country would be disastrous for the people.

Is it too much to ask that the Western media portray this country as far more than a handful of extremist mullahs?

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