When an opinion piece begins with "We humans...", it is meant to appeal to our collective sense of the values we hold dear. But when the writer is Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, it may be seen more as an attempt to mask the inhumane face of the regime whom the author is serving.
When I read Salehi's seemingly innocent and well-meaning comments in The Washington Post, offering the Islamic Republic's assistance in solving the crisis in Syria, my first thought was: How dare you?
We live in a strange world in which the spokesperson for a regime which has been fostering discord in other countries lectures the rest of us about peace in the Middle East. It is a world in which a country that brutally suppressed a genuine reform movement informs us that it supports such movements elsewhere.
It is a world where Salehi preaches:
"Some world powers and certain states in the region need to stop using Syria as a battleground for settling scores or jostling for influence."
So "some world powers" must "stop using Syria as a battleground" but another --- Iran --- can use it as a transit hub for support to groups in Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories.
"The only way out of the stalemate is to offer Syrians a chance to find a way out themselves."
Where was Iran "offering Syrians a chance" during the past 17 months of protests, when it gave one-sided support to President Bashar al-Assad against those labelled foreign-supported "terrorists"?
"Why should seeds of discord continue to be planted when the situation can be resolved rationally, through wisdom and providence?"
Was it wisdom when the Islamic Republic massacred thousands of its own people in the 1980s? Was it rational to kill scores and imprison and abuse thousands more in 2009? Let me ask you bluntly, Mr. Salehi: was it God that told you to ask grieving families of young Iranians for money to get the bodies of their sons and daughters back? You can't preach what you don't practice at home.
Two years ago, the Islamic Republic's security forces picked up and detained many opposition leaders to maintain the Supreme Leader's power. Yet here is Mr. Salehi telling the rest of the world how his government can bring peace in Syria by inviting like-minded countries to the negotiating table:
Taking [Kofi] Annan’s six-point plan into consideration, Iran looks forward to bringing like-minded countries together to implement three essential points: Ensure an immediate cease-fire to stop the bloodshed, dispatch humanitarian aid to the Syrian people and prepare the ground for dialogue to solve the crisis.
I hereby announce Iran’s readiness to host a meeting of countries committed to immediately implementing these steps in hopes of ending the violence. As part of our commitment to resolve the crisis, I also reiterate our willingness to facilitate talks between the Syrian government and the opposition and to host such a dialogue.
Nowhere in this fluff-a-thon full of name-dropping and moral high-grounding is there even the slightest hint that Iran is ready to accept any responsibility for its dirty deeds in Syria.
I believe Mr. Salehi when he asserts that the Islamic Republic is not part of the problem in Syria. I think it may be the heart of the problem. The Islamic Republic's continued assistance to Bashar al-Assad's regime for its manoeuvres over Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and Lebanon is a key reason why Damascus has had the strength to withstand internal opposition for so long.
The fact that Mr. Salehi is out literally begging everyone --- anyone --- to find a solution to the problem diplomatically is pretty much an admission of the Islamic Republic's inability to keep the balance of power in favor of Assad and his inner circle.
A while back, this might have had some impact, when most of the world still gave Mr. Salehi's bosses the benefit of the doubt and accepted them as the legitimate government of Iran.
That was before 2009. It is evident now that Salehi represents a political mafia that is trying to save one of its capos from being forcefully removed from his turf. That is no condition for diplomacy, and it is certainly no ground to preach to us about "wisdom and providence".