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The Middle East – Why Iran Matters

Published 20 May 2018

On Tuesday 15 May, former AIIA president and senior diplomat, academic, author and media commentator Richard Broinowski was welcomed by a large audience at Glover Cottages. Drawing on his personal experiences in Iran, Richard discussed the recent political developments of the country and sought to dispel some of the misconceptions conveyed by Western media.

Richard served at the Australian Embassy in Tehran in the early 1970s. In April this year, he returned to Iran with a small group of AIIA members and travelled around the country, learning more of the nation’s current political ideologies and cultural heritage. Richard’s speech on Tuesday night reflected on this recent trip and intertwined some of his personal experiences along with his broader knowledge of Iranian politics.

During his speech, Richard provided a number of insights into the relationship between Western states and Iran, as well as Iran’s political objectives in the Middle East and the recent developments over the Iran nuclear deal. He made a solid case for the appointment of an Australian Defence Attaché in Iran in order to better monitor the realities of any threat Iran may pose; Australians should be more wary of the information that is portrayed by the Western media. Based on what he experienced, the lifestyles and standards of living of those living in Iran are much better than the media portray.

Richard commented on the double standards of the United States and Saudi Arabia which condemn Iran for ‘exporting terrorists’ whilst they simultaneously meddle in conflicts in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Israel. He argued that Iran doesn’t want to go to war with Israel, or any other nation for that matter, but does not want to acquiesce to Western involvement in the region. On the nuclear agreement, he considered that the decision by US President Trump to reject the deal was misinformed and dangerous. He hoped to see Iran work more closely with European nations to rekindle the agreement and create a fair outcome for Iran and a reduced risk of regional conflict.

Richard accompanied his address with personal photos of his trip as well as some Iranian political cartoons that depicted America as being corrupt and demonstrated the nation’s long-standing anger at US policy in the Middle East. In response to questions, he expressed concern about Israeli-Iranian relations and the potential for nuclear conflict. He welcomed the prospect of Australian relations with Iran becoming stronger in the future through trade.


Report by Isabella Svinos
AIIA NSW intern