Tuesday, 13 February, 2018

“Death to America” means “Death to American Foreign Policy”


An assistant professor of world studies at the University of Tehran says ‘death to America’ slogan doesn’t mean what Americans think.

In an interview with the USA Today, Foad Izadi said that the slogan “means death to American foreign policy” and Iranians “have problems with the American government, not the American people.”

“In fact, Iranians are friendly to Americans. When you walk around town, and people see you’re an American, everyone wants to take care of you.” The U.S. newspaper quoted Izadi as saying.

 He added: “[Death to America] expresses the anger many Iranians feel about U.S. policy toward Iran. Iranians remember that the U.S. overthrew the legitimate government of Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953 and supported the dictatorial Shah who followed.”

In contrast to what Iranians interpret of the slogan, that chant is cited by conservative U.S. politicians as proof that Iran remains hostile and can’t be trusted to implement nuclear accords.

According to the USA Today, those two sharply different understandings of the chant parallel a wider disagreement between Iran and the U.S. over foreign policy in the Middle East. The U.S. sees Iran as an aggressive power, supporting terrorism in the region. Iran calls the U.S. a superpower that threatens military attacks on Iran and its allies.

Izadi says Iranian leaders fundamentally distrust U.S. policy in the region, citing the Afghanistan war, the occupation of Iraq and current U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s bombing of Yemen.

“These are serious mistakes,” he said. “Iran thinks this part of the world is on fire because of U.S. foreign policy.”

Analysts point out two possible areas of U.S.-Iran cooperation: Syria and Iraq.

In Iraq, a de facto alliance exists because both Iran and the U.S. are waging war against the Islamic State, Izadi said. He doubts, however, that Iran will accept a formal alliance.

Iranian leaders “don’t want to be seen as cooperating or collaborating with the U.S.,” said Izadi. “The U.S. image in this part of the world is quite negative.”

Iran, the U.S. and other world powers agreed last month in Vienna to unprecedented inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities in return for lifting sanctions that have badly damaged Iran’s economy.

An opinion poll shows that 57% of Iranians support the Vienna accords. The administration of President Hassan Rouhani intends to carry out the agreement, according to Iranian experts.

But Iranian conservatives won’t stop chanting “death to America” anytime soon.

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