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Raising temperature against Iran 'nothing new,' says academic

London, Feb 12, IRNA - "Raising the temperature against the 'Persian menace' is nothing new," according to an Iranian academic based in the UK.

"We are periodically subjected to rhetorical flourishes, particularly when allies wish to reaffirm their loyalty to one another," says Ali Ansari, an associate fellow at the London's Royal Institute of International Affairs.

In an article for the New Statesman magazine, he referred to the so-called threat of Iran again looming large over the horizon just three years after the country was notoriously branded by US President George W Bush as a member of the "axis of evil."

"In his most recent State of the Union address, Bush reminded the world that the Islamic Republic was the primary sponsor of state terrorism," Ansari added.

The US president also let it be known Iran would in "no way be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons technology."

"Thus, as (US Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice engineered US bridge-building with "old Europe" (and the EU in general), a natural consequence of this process of healing was for everyone to heartily join in a condemnation of Iran," he said.

The Iranian academic, who is also a Reader in Modern History at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, said it was an "age old stereotype, which sees the Persians as cunning, interfering, manipulative, and essentially mendacious."

It was "a prejudice which precludes any meaningful dialogue or negotiation," he said, but argued that such demonisation of Iran could not be further from the truth.

Ansari first of all first deconstruct the claim that Iran poses a military threat to the stability of the region or, indeed, the world, by saying its last war of aggression was launched by a Persian monarch nearly 300 years ago in 1739.

Since then Iran has been much more of a victim culminating with Iraq's invasion in 1980. Even then, the Iranian academic suggested that Tehran was misrepresented and wrongly blamed as history has proved, while Iraq enjoyed the support of most of the world.

As a further example, he referred to the arrest of a former Iranian ambassador in Britain last year, pending extradition. "But despite two months of incarceration, no evidence was forthcoming, and he was released," he said.

"Given the importance of this allegation, and the ten years that the authorities had to collect evidence, this is a curious absence," Ansari said.

... Payvand News - 2/12/05 ... --

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