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Britain as old Great Satan 25, June 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iran.
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Just a quick thought on my earlier article on Britain as the New Great Satan. I’ve spoken to a few people about this and had some interesting comments. I am well aware, though my title might have belied that, that Britain and Iran’s relationship goes back some distance and that Iran has a long, seething and passionate hatred for the UK. I’ve spent most of this year reading about the 17th, 18th and 19th century history of the Gulf and Britain’s involvement along with many other powers.

Whilst I do agree with some the sentiment of David’s comment that ‘Britain has ALWAYS been enemy number one in Iran’ I do feel that recently, at least, the empirical evidence disagrees. It is not Britain’s name that Iranian’s have been castigating as the Great Satan for the last thirty years in Friday prayers. It seems to me, moreover, that Britain as the arch-enemy is a straw-man, which has a nice, familiar and potent resonance in Iranian history. I don’t think for one second that Ahmadinajad et al really believe the the UK has been up to anything particularly nefarious in Iran. But that with America being so manifestly popular at the moment and a chance of detente potentially around the corner, they need to go to their back-up enemy, the British.

Ali Ansari from St. Andrews has a peice in the Times of London discussing briefly the background of the Iranian-British relationship. Also, David points to a fascinating article in Prospect Magazine. I think that this article must be taken, however, with a pinch of salt. The author is selling his book, after all, which – as luck would have it – takes something of a controversial tone repletajade with ornate, verbose language and somewhat clumsy ‘I was there reporting’.

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