From Pepe Escobar:
I was in Tehran as part of a small group of foreign analysts, guests of the Majlis (Parliament) for the 6th International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada. No one in Trump’s circle would be caught dead in such a gathering – featuring parliamentary delegates from more than 50 nations, a de facto mini-UN. Yet what they missed at the impressive opening in a crowded, round conference hall was the center of power in Iran on display; Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani…
On Palestine, Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabi Berri offered a gloomy assessment of the three solutions now available; suicide; giving in; or running away from what’s left of Palestinian land. Later on down the hall I asked the deputy secretary-general of Hezbollah, the affable Naim Qassem, about the Trump administration’s hint of a one-state solution. His answer, in French: “One state means war. Two states means peace under their conditions, which will conduct us to war.”..
Blake Archer Williams, otherwise known as Arash Darya-Bandari, whose pseudonym celebrates the “tyger tyger burning bright” English master, gave me a copy of Creedal Foundations of Waliyic Islam (Lion of Najaf Publishers) – a sophisticated analysis of how Shi’ite theology led to the theory of velayat-e faqih (the ruling of the jurisprudent) at the heart of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I’m considering sending the book to voracious reader Steve Bannon.
Pyongyang was also in the house. The North Korean delegate had produced an astonishing speech, essentially arguing that Palestine should follow their example, complete with a “credible nuclear deterrent.” Later on in the corridors I saluted the delegation, and they saluted back. No chance of a bilateral though to expand on the unclear points surrounding Kim Jong-nam’s assassination.
Every time I’m back in Tehran I’m impressed with the open avenues for serious intellectual discussion. Once again Tehran proved to be unrivaled all across Asia as a theater to debate all crosscurrents involving post or counter-Enlightenment, or both.
I was constantly reminded of Jalal Al-e Ahmad, the son of a mullah born in poor south Tehran who later translated Sartre and Camus and wrote the seminal Westoxification (1962).
He spent the summer of 1965 at a seminar in Harvard organized by Henry Kissinger and “supported” by the CIA, and pivoted to Shi’ism only by the end of his life. But it was his analysis that paved the way for sociologist Ali Shariati to cross-pollinate anti-colonialism with the Shi’ite concept of resistance against injustice into a revolutionary ideology capable of politicizing the Iranian middle classes, leading to the Islamic Revolution.
That was the background for very serious discussions on how Iran (resistance against injustice), China (remixed Confucianism) and Russia (Eurasianism) are offering post-enlightenment alternatives that transcend Western liberal democracy – a concept rendered meaningless by neoliberalism’s hegemony.