Aug 30, 2012

Smothered in smog that's created by the CIA

In 2005, I made a short visit to Tehran to visit a few friends. Tehran is the smoggiest of all capitals and when its severe air pollution that’s caused by petrol produced locally hits the city, it becomes unbearable. Schools were closed, the government expressed its concern and only a small number of cars were permitted to move in the city.

I spent 10 days in Tehran, in a city that was shrouded in darkness and poisonous air - it was really suffocating. One day I was in a taxi with other three other passengers going from downtown to uptown or “Tajrish.” On our way, everyone was complaining about the air pollution and why the government does not do anything.
A former University teacher who is retired and now driving a taxi blamed the United States and especially the CIA that has control over Tehran’s air. He said, the U.S. has this ability to put some tools in the sky to divert the direction of wind to somewhere else and stop letting people suffocate from a poisonous air in Tehran.

I heard this from many people in Tehran and surprisingly people did not blame the government or the flow of cheap oil to the capital.

Considering this as an example that how people in Iran, Afghanistan, and many Middle Eastern countries look to the U.S., it complicates the situation to understand others’ impressions of the U.S. and how they look at the U.S. Unfortunately they are full of rumors sometimes. I had a few Iranian classmates who believed that the UFO is a CIA agent that travels at the speed of light.

Before coming to the U.S., I realized that there is a huge gap of misunderstanding between people in the Middle East and the West in general. The reasons could be the lack of information, cultural clash and most importantly the public’s perception of U.S. influence in the Middle East that make people have hostile and negative attitudes.

Seven years ago, the internet was not that popular and many people did not have access to the internet; only a few hundred thousands had access. Today, Iran has 36,500,000 internet users, the highest number in the entire Middle East. Iran has been ranked the third country in the world for the blogsphere. In a country where media is strictly controlled by the government, these blogs are the potential sources of the news, not only for the people to understand the outside world but also educate others about their politics, culture and society.

Today, when I look at Iran and Afghanistan, I have a better understanding of these two countries. When you are inside the country the information flows and there is no one to critically look at the events but it’s obviously easy to judge something when you are not involved and from a little distance you can clearly understand what is happening.