Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Iranian Poison

When Ayatollah Khomeini announced his decision to end the war with Iraq in 1988, he likened the step to “drinking a chalice of poison.” Today, Iranian schoolgirls are actually being poisoned in Iran as part of the effort to end the ongoing protests there.

Nearly 900 Iranian schoolgirls have been subjected to respiratory poisoning in several schools in cities across Iran, and three narratives about these mass poisonings have emerged.

Some Iranian officials and media outlets affiliated with the regime claim the attacks may have been perpetrated by “religious extremists” seeking to shut down girls’ schools, especially after several incidents were seen in Qom, where the first of these attacks had been perpetrated.

It is said that others believe that some want to close all schools, especially girls’ schools. In the second scenario, the opposition is allegedly behind the attacks, which it is perpetrating in order to fuel discontent and galvanize protests. In the third scenario, “foreign enemies” are behind attacks.

Iranian propaganda is operating as usual, then. The rhetoric around “religious extremists” is meant to signal to the West that Iran also suffers from extremism. The rhetoric around the “opposition” addresses those who have remained silent amid these demonstrations. The rhetoric around “foreign enemies” addresses and galvanizes the social base of the mullahs.

Going back to these mass poisonings, they point to dangerous threats that deserve our attention. Indeed, the regime in Tehran is now trying to push a narrative of “religious extremists,” replicating its narrative of “extremists” and “moderates” - the most notorious lie it has told since the Iranian revolution.

Here, this is not a question of the difference between the mullah regime and the regime of the Taliban, which has forbidden girls from receiving an education in Afghanistan. Instead, it is a question of how the mullah regime differs from these “religious extremists” being accused of poisoning Iranian schoolgirls. In my view, there is no difference; they are both part of the system.

The other threat, here, arises when we contemplate the damage that these “religious extremists” who have poisoned defenseless Iranian girls could do to the region if Iran had had nuclear weapons.

It suffices to ponder what these “religious extremists” whom Iran had mobilized into militias have done to the people of Syria - chemical weapons were deployed against defenseless Syrians around 38 times during the war.

Thus, the mass poisoning of young Iranian girls is tangible evidence of the lengths that the mullah regime is willing to go to defend its power. These atrocities are being perpetrated against the Iranian people, so we can only imagine what the regime would do with nuclear weapons.

Over the past four decades, the regime has never hesitated to use illegitimate means to realize its ends. It has done so to consolidate its power and expand its influence throughout the region, from Yemen to Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria.

All of this tells us the Iranian regime’s day of reckoning must come. It is long overdue, and the time has come for the international community to take a stand against the mullahs, who have been committing crimes that defy reason for too long. The drones it sent for use against Ukrainians and poisoning Iranian girls are the latest examples.