American Scholar In Iran.

Posted on January 30, 2015

by Jerry Alatalo

aaa-29Alphabet Executive Director of the MIT Center for International Studies John Tirman appeared on Iranian network Press TV’s “Face to Face” recently to talk about the Middle East. In answer to the woman interviewer’s questions about ISIS and where it gets its funding, he responded that it came from a variety of sources.

Starting around three years ago, according to Mr. Tirman, the Middle East’s Gulf monarchies including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and perhaps others directed financial support to ISIS and other terrorist groups to topple the nation of Syria under Bashar al-Assad. He describes ISIS as “well-funded and well-organized”, whose other sources of funding includes a sophisticated online presence for both raising money and recruiting.

Tirman believes that ISIS was able to overrun large areas and cities in Iraq in the summer of 2014 because the regions they operated in were weak in both law enforcement/military and absent strong government institutions. On the topic of what drives young men to consider then join ISIS, he points to a number of factors.

Motivation from religious beliefs that most Islamic scholars would reject at once

Seeking some form of “adventure”

An option for receiving a paycheck after living in regions of high unemployment and economic downturn

Tirman apologized, then said unfortunately some ISIS recruits join for the violence carried out by the terrorist group

John Tirman told the interviewer that he “is not optimistic” that peace will come to the Middle East any time soon, given the horrendous conditions in Libya, the ongoing 4 year-old war and violence occurring in Syria, and the “continuing standoff” between Israel and the Palestinians. He finds it very difficult to find any positive near term solution for the wars occurring in the Middle East, however Mr. Tirman does find reason for hope if the current US – Iran – P5+1 nuclear negotiations are successful.

There is a possibility that ISIS could fall rapidly if they lost control of the Iraqi city of Mosul, recruitment efforts became prevented or stopped, and/or if somehow an alternative to joining ISIS became developed giving young people a reason not to join the terrorist groups.

Mr. Tirman sees that perceptions by many around the world about Iran have evolved to the point where the Iranians are increasingly being seen/recognized as a force for positive potential developments in the region, and he further stresses through repeating how important he feels about reaching a successful agreement on the P5+1 nuclear talks.

Finally John Tirman conveys his belief that the United States should withdraw militarily from the Middle East; that there is a strong argument for “rethinking” on US military intervention. He sees the current situation as one where there is a need to create new relations with nations of the Middle East by America – “rather than projecting military power”. As a first step in that new direction, according to Tirman, the US must end its insistence to “push the consequences of the Iraq War aside”.

Perhaps it’s time for American media programs to bring Iranians in the same scholarly league as John Tirman on the air for interviews. Maybe those same American media organizations would end up with far fewer reports on war and violence in the Middle East as a result.

That would be widely appreciated as some really good news. 


(Thank you to PressTV News Videos at YouTube)