Regular followers of Press TV in Britain will certainly have heard of Yvonne Ridley, a renowned British journalist, war correspondent, and TV host. She made the headlines on September 28, 2001 when she was arrested by Taliban members in Afghanistan while working for the Sunday Express. She converted to Islam after she was released by Taliban on October 9, 2001 and became an outspoken critic of Zionism and the mainstream media’s portrayal of the War on Terror. Ridley is a member of the National Union of Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists. She is a devoted philanthropist and humanitarian activist. Yvonne Ridley has written two books called “In the Hands of the Taliban” and “Ticket to Paradise.”
Ridley took part in an interview with me, discussing her viewpoints regarding the prospect of Iran-West relations, the expansionist policies of the Israeli regime in the Occupied Palestine and the popular uprisings of the Arab world widely known as Arab Spring.
Kourosh Ziabari: One of the recent events which stained the already blurred relations between Iran and the UK was the Iranian students’ assault on the British embassy in Tehran in late 2011. Some political analysts say that it was an undiplomatic action and Britain’s response in closing the Iranian embassy in London was natural. However, some others believe that it was an intrinsic consequence of the UK’s hostile policies toward Iran. What’s your viewpoint in this regard?
Yvonne Ridley: As the UK Government found out last year, when students get angry and in a destructive mode nothing will stop them. The Conservative Party headquarters in London was trashed and vandalized by angry students in the UK who felt they had been lied to over the increase in student fees. And they caused much more damage to the Tory Party HQ than the rampaging students in Tehran, yet no one accused the British police of turning a blind eye or encouraging acts of vandalism and violence. The UK Government was, however, outraged, but I feel it used the event as an opportunity to accelerate hostile relations between both countries.
KZ: Tensions between Iran and the West has been mounting in recent months, especially since the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its latest report on Iran’s nuclear program. What’s your prediction for the future of Iran-West relations? Do you foresee any chances of reconciliation and restoration?
YR: The tensions are predictable and there is a weary feeling of deja vu among anti-war activists who fear the worst between Iran and the West having witnessed a similar buildup of hostilities over non-existed WMD in Iraq during Saddam’s rule.
KZ: Israel, the U.S. and their European allies have repeatedly threatened Iran against a preemptive military strike. Are these war threats realistic or merely media propaganda aimed at intimidating the Iranians? Why doesn’t the UN take any decisive action against the states who propagate such threats and spread fear?
YR: The UN is weak and in the sway and influence of America, but I doubt if there will be a military strike, for several different reasons. The USA is struggling in Afghanistan against the Taliban, a bunch of ill-equipped fighters in flip flops and shalwa khameez, so there is no way it would tackle Iran, which has a strong army, is armed, and will retaliate. Furthermore, there are tens of thousands of U.S. and other western civilians, oil workers, missionaries and NGOs in Iraq, and if one single strike touched Iranian soil, there is a very real danger 10 million or so Shiite in neighboring Iraq will rise up against westerners. This could manifest itself in another disastrous hostage situation similar to the one in Iran from which the USA has still not psychologically recovered.
KZ: The U.S. and its European allies are persuasively lobbying around the world to convince the economic partners of Iran join the global sanctions, especially the newly proposed oil embargo against Iran. Will these sanctions bear fruit for the U.S. or it will backfire? Will the economic pressures finally bring Iran to its knees?
YR: Iran is not marginalized or as isolated as the U.S. and UK would want. Several countries in the Euro-zone rely on Iran for cheap oil, while Russia, China, Brazil, Venezuela and other countries in South America have expressed solidarity with Iran.
KZ: President Barack Obama had promised during his presidential campaign that he would pursue a policy of detente and tension easing with the Muslim world, especially Iran, and follow the path of diplomacy and “change” to resolve Iran’s nuclear controversy. But we saw that he followed the path of his predecessor and even talked of the option of a nuclear strike against Iran. What’s your idea about his approach toward the Middle East in general, and Iran in particular? Has he fulfilled his promise of change?
YR: This latest U.S. president, given a Nobel Peace Prize because he was not George W. Bush, is a one-term president. He made many promises on the road to the White House and broke more than 60 percent of them. He is, sadly, a man who promised to deliver so much and failed. He escalated the war in Afghanistan, was forced to retreat from Iraq—make no mistake, the departure of American troops in Iraq was reluctantly done, and the soldiers left in one of the quietest U.S. exits in history.
KZ: What has been, in your view, the main stimulus behind the revolutions of the Arab world? We know that corrupt regimes had existed in countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and Yemen for many decades, but the nations of the region revolted against their rulers all at once. What’s the reason in your view?
YR: The people lost their fear in the tyrants, most installed and supported by the West; and as they grew stronger they began to rediscover their Faith in God and as they got closer to their Faith they became stronger as they held on tight to the Rope of Allah.
KZ: Will the chained revolutions of the Arab world, especially the revolution in Egypt, weaken the status of Israel in the Middle East? What about the U.S.? Political commentators believe that if the revolutionaries in Bahrain and Yemen achieve their goal, the United States will lose two of its strategic allies in the region. What’s your take on that?
YR: The U.S. was caught out by the Arab Spring, but since the CIA missed the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is hardly surprising that there was a huge intelligence failure in this area. Israel is unusually mute because it is very concerned over what is going to manifest from the revolutions and it can no longer rely on the USA to crack the whip and make the tyrants pull their people into line. The U.S. has already lost its control in the region, and should Yemen and Bahrain succumb to the will of the majority, then it will lose strategic allies.
KZ: It seems that the United States will not lift its unconditional support for Israel, at least in the foreseeable future, and Israel will be able to continue its repressive policies in the occupied lands, with regard to the subjugated people of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. What’s your assessment regarding the current state of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Will the Arab League supported initiative for peace help solve the crisis?
YR: My belief in this solution has been the same for more than three decades, much longer than I’ve been a Muslim. The Palestinian people will be victorious because they have time and patience on their side. In 50 years’ time their children will ask: “Was there really a state called Israel?” Israel is on a permanent war footing and not one single country can survive in that situation forever. I’ll give the Zionists another decade before it implodes.
KZ: Israel is the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East and it’s not a signatory to Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well. The United States has not allowed a comprehensive investigation of the nuclear facilities of Israel so far, and Tel Aviv regime is continuing to develop nuclear bombs in its underground installations. Isn’t the nuclear program of Israel a threat to international peace and security?
YR: What nuclear weapons? Israel says it has no nukes! Of course the world knows they are lying, thanks to the heroic Christian convert Mordechai Vanunu, who is still being persecuted for telling the world about the Zionist state’s deadly arsenal of nuclear weapons. The poor man has served his sentence, but he is still not allowed to leave Israel, where he is under continuous surveillance. The vindictiveness of the state knows no bounds when it comes to this man.
KZ: And finally, let me ask your idea about the Occupy Wall Street movement. Why has such a revolutionary movement taken shape in the U.S.? What are the major grievances of the protesters? What’s your idea regarding the government’s treatment of the protestors?
YR: A number of American people have woken up to the injustices of capitalism* and what is being done in their name by the U.S. Government. This wonderful movement has captured the imagination of many, and while they are taking their fight to the streets of the USA and the West, there is another army that the USA should really be concerned about: Anonymous. They are leading the battle in cyber-warfare and are showing that when the people rise up and they begin to lead, the leaders become increasingly irrelevant. Watch this space.
[*Editor’s note: While many commentators have blamed “capitalism” for the financial crisis, the economic system in the U.S. is not free market capitalism by virtue of the fact that its monetary system is a government-legislated private monopoly over the supply of money and credit; the crisis is a product of the Federal Reserve system, which is antithetical to a free market economy.]