Category Archives: Iran

Trump’s policy of destabilisation of Iran. But who ultimately is going to destabilise who?

Picture of Shah Ismail Safavi (Safawy or صفوی)  riding into Tabriz in front of his red coated Qizilbash militia to crown himself Shah in 1501 AD.

If, according this site, a US-Israeli war against Iran is out of the question, then what do Trump’s aggressive tweets against Iran actually amount to? It is not a hidden secret that the U.S. and Israel have been supporting anti-régime protesters for at least a decade, and that clandestine networks in Iran have been created by the US to provide Western media outlets with news stories about disruptions in Iran. Obama failed to shake the Iranian régime using those methods, which were partly designed to be a build up to a potential war.

Not that after the debacle in Iraq, such a war was ever realistic in international-diplomatic terms, but whatever potential was there became less and less feasible at time went on. In the final Obama days we find Iranian militias fighting against ISIS-DAESH in Iraq alongside US troops. Furthermore, Obama never said a word against the excesses of Iranian militias in Syria. Iran’s regional strength merely increased over the years, and its presence as a dominant force in four Arab capitals – Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Sana’a – was a stupendous testament to the inevitable unintended consequences of sheer idiotic unthinking policy. It was the total failure of the bellicose US/Israeli stance towards Iran, which led to Obama’s surprise phone call to Rouhani (as he was leaving the UN Building in Sept 2013 to take a flight back home after the General Assembly that year), which in turn would lead to the JCPOA (Iran nuclear) 5+1 agreement.

Having blithely withdrawn from the JCPOA, and begun a new campaign of sanctions and bullying against Iran, Trump is metaphorically at war with Iran now. But any casual observer of US policy in the Middle-East will understand that “bringing democracy” to Iran is hardly the priority of those (Israel, Saudi and UAE) who are currently driving Trump’s policy on Iran. Trump’s crazily aggressive tweeting and Pompeo’s pompous announcement of yet another anti-régime Farsi channel, bringing the total of anti-Iran channels broadcasting now to 301, only add up to a policy objective of destabilisation per se. Israel, Saudi Arabia, and UAE simply want to see Iran brought down to the chaotic level of Syria, and Iraq, in order to  “defang” it.

The problem they will find is that Iran is socially differently constituted to both those poor benighted countries. Just a little historical reading going back to how the Safavids reacted to Ottoman expansion (see picture above) and how that created the new type of (anti-Sunni, Shi’a) Iran that we have today, might not only give them pause for thought, but frighten them into altering their policies. However, policy makers dealing with this issue are not the reading type it seems. Nor are they thinking types either, for only a little research into Iranian methods of power-projection (demographic change through ethnic cleansing and formation of ideological militias) clearly evident in Iraq, Syria and Yemen today, demonstrates the brutal continuity of the Safavid system.

Smiling Iraqi politicians doing deals with Saudi Arabia, and Muqtada al-Sadr’s earlier visits to Mohamed bin Salman, seem clearly to have lifted Saudi expectations that they might be able to exert some new influence on the country. That is a pipe dream. Not only will Iraq stay firmly within the Iranian sphere of influence, but this site predicts that, as the US and Israel proceed with a policy of maximum destabilisation of Iran, Iran will respond by massively destabilising Saudi Arabia, sending a brittle self-undermining Saudi régime crashing, and bringing with it an accelerating end to US influence in the Middle East.

That is what Rouhani means when he says that, while blocking the Straits of Hormuz and thus causing the collapse of financial markets worldwide is quite within Iran’s power, it isn’t relevant to the current situation as it is playing out. There is no conventional war underway. Instead, we have a war of ideas, one where the US has long since lost its capacity and its power. The US having properly sullied, degraded and betrayed the ideas of the Enlightenment, it will be Safavid medieval ideas that will win the day.

We hear you! Bizarre US-Israeli strategy for régime change in Iran

It is clear that military action against Iran is out of the question for the US-Israeli axis, and that  harsh sanctions imposed against Iran and imposed with brute force against US allies around the world is the route that Trump and Pompeo are following. The idea is to destroy Iran’s economy and directly foment unrest to topple the Shia régime.

It is not a hidden secret that the U.S. and Israel have been supporting anti-régime protesters for at least a decade. Clandestine networks in Iran have been created by the US to provide Western media outlets with news stories about disruptions in Iran. This has involved smuggling satellite dishes into the country to receive radio and television broadcasts, while in Washington a coordination government office has been set up called Radio-TV Farda/Tomorrow.

Radio Free Europe, another U.S. radio-TV network serving the US security state, reports that more than 70 percent of Iranians use the satellite dishes. The dishes are illegal in Iran and are consistently been taken down by police. Encouraging youth in Iran to rebel against the system is relatively easy for Western intelligence services, given the repressive laws in the country and the thuggish methods of the Basij  (paramilitary volunteer militia) who impose them.

While the covert support for Iran unrest has been going on for years, Obama had subtly refused to support publicly the protests in Iran. But there is a bizarre twist in Netanhayu and  Pompeo, in their deluded arrogance and crass stupidity, regularly shouting their – “We hear you!” – support for demonstrators, calling out good wishes and issuing professions of concern. These efforts at destabilisation are clearly no longer covert, thus fatally undermining the legitimacy of the protesting groups.

These protesters have recently focused on closing down the iconic Grand Bazaar, which played a pivotal role in the 1979 Iranian revolution. However, although bazaaris are clearly unhappy about the state of the Iranian Rial, they are not the ones to initiate the closures, lending an artificial flavour to the events. Furthermore, the absence of the female chador in the new protests and their obvious narrow demographic character (youthful, male, urban), is an indication that things are not the same as in 1979. Iranian society has changed dramatically since the revolution.

In Rouhani’s call to allow the protests to take place, and in the ability of Iranian institutions to absorb them, we see a maturing of the Iranian state. There is also considerable awareness within Iran of the realities of politics in the West. No scales on Iranian eyes! Moreover, the open support in the US and Israel for the protests needs no interpretation. It is having the reverse effect of throwing the vast majority of the population behind the state, which we see in the vast pro-government demonstrations that follow any protest. All that Trump, Pompeo and Netanhayu are achieving here is the destruction of the ability of Europe and Japan to trade with Iran, disadvantaging them economically even as US tariffs are being imposed on European and Japanese goods, while NATO is being sidelined, and NATO members vilified for not spending enough on arms.

The result of all this is that Europe and Japan will suffer economically while Iranian trade with China, Russia, Turkey and the UAE (as principals and as middlemen) will boom.

Iran wakes up to new choices: Pompeo’s bark aimed at whom?

Trump’s words upon pulling out of the JCPOA Iran deal were ‘that’s life’, the ‘Iranians have to learn what life’s about’, suggests a strongarm negotiating tactic. That this may be a reflection of a generalised Trump negotiating modus operandi is suggested by the fact that the Trump summit with Kim Jong-un is having its pre-conditions mollified. This is down to strong South Korean diplomatic intervention, which is establishing an important premise for the negotiations, namely that denuclearisation must inevitably be a gradual and scaled process. Imperiousness has given way to diplomacy.

But then came Pompeo’s bark during a speech at the Heritage Foundation, which talked about the ‘strongest sanctions in history’. Is that a continuation of the Trump ‘art of the deal’? The answer to that lies in establishing who Pompeo was actually barking at. It is most likely that it was a response to Europe’s knee-jerk rejection of Trump’s decision, and its disinterment of old laws intended to protect European companies from foreign (in this case US) sanctions. So it wasn’t really addressed to the Iranian people. By knobbling the Europeans, the White House expects to be able to achieve its end of suffocating Iran.

Iran isn’t North Korea though, and it doesn’t have a powerful US ally with a vested interest in the outcome (South Korea) intervening actively on its behalf to achieve peace. It does have many nations, however, that are adversaries of the US – China and Russia – that see Iran’s survival as important for their own independence and the success of their long-term projects. One US ally – Turkey – although this alliance is always ambivalent – is willing to brave US sanctions and take the consequences on the chin, for the same reasons. Despite the bible thumping, war-drum beating proclivities of the current White House, it is unlikely to take the US to fully-fledged war in the Middle East. It isn’t in Pompeo’s interests, nor in Trump’s, nor would the Pentagon (which understands the asymmetric military power of Iran) be enthusiastic, nor would Europe (across-the-board) be prepared now to provide the fig leaf of legitimacy that Bush acquired through Blair.

This doesn’t mean Trump won’t give Israel the backing and wherewithal to do what it wants in the Middle-East. But then, for years, Israel has been threatening to bomb Iran, and hasn’t done so, and this for many reasons that have been most eloquently spelled out in Gareth Porter’s book ‘Manufactured Crisis’ . Porter’s thesis that Netanhayu is a paper tiger, is borne out by Hassan Nasralla’s sober description of the essentially empty recent Israeli retaliatory strike that Lieberman was referring to when he said ‘we have wiped-out Iran’s military capacity in Syria’; the background to which events has been usefully summarised by Paul Rogers.

The judgement that Iranians are split over how to respond to Trump’s position and Pompeo’s bark, is a false description of the choices facing Iran. The Korean situation doesn’t involve any of the deep ideological bitterness between the people of the Middle-East and Israel/US, and none of the legacy of many recent wars and interventions there. Korea is an old war frozen in time. The choice Iran faces is between simply riding out the Trump administration(s) without changing anything, on the one hand, and actually making a nuclear bomb, on the other. Likely they will opt for the former, and seek to develop Iran economically without the West. So just as nothing will change from the Israeli side, nothing will change from the Iranian side. On the other hand, if the US ramps up pressure further, Iran will begin using its influence across the Middle East against its interests.

What will happen now is that the Iranian economy will merge deeper into the Chinese and Russian projects, which will help those countries widen their markets, and develop new products (commercial airliners, electronics, oil field services) that Iran needs and which those countries have been working on developing for years. With each passing day, trade between non-Western countries increases and as of 2009, has crossed the 50% mark in terms of the value of global trade.

 

Ignore the tough talk – Trump’s Iran policy will be much like Obama’s

 

Gareth Porter writes

The first public pronouncements by President Donald Trump’s administration on Iran have created the widespread impression that the US will adopt a much more aggressive posture towards the Islamic Republic than under Barack Obama’s presidency.

But despite the rather crude warnings to Tehran by now ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn and by Trump himself, the Iran policy that has begun to take shape in the administration’s first weeks looks quite similar to Obama’s.

The reason is that the Obama administration’s policy on Iran reflected the views of a national security team that adhered to an equally hardline stance as those of the Trump administration.

Flynn declared on 1 February that the Obama administration had “failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions” and suggested that things would be different under Trump. But that rhetoric was misleading, both with regard to the Obama administration’s policy toward Iran and on the options available to Trump going beyond that policy.  Read full article here

Kerry’s speech and the vanishing mirage of the two state solution

The two state solution was a figment of the Western mind conjured up and carefully maintained to assuage its conscience about the Frankenstein monster it has created and nurtured in the Middle East these past 65 years. Kerry’s speech on UNSC Resolution 2334 has set out the stark fact that Israel can no longer be considered a democratic state, even in the delusory ruminations of Western politicians.

That’s fine in the sense that it is in tune with the new neo-fascist zeitgeist and incoming Trumpism.  What’s not fine is that the aggressive reaction of Israel to this clearing of the air is laying the ground for a new regional and international counter-reaction and a new conflict, the sparks of which the incoming Trump administration seem dead set to fan into all-consuming flames.

Bush Jr brought us Iraq, Obama Syria and now Trump, Israel-Iran: a new a deadlier conflict for 2017 for which Iran is preparing with deadly seriousness. UNSC Resolution 2334 is a kind of ‘non est mea culpa‘ from a dying liberal internationalist ideology, which is – if you consider the wording of the resolution carefully – entirely absorbed with the past:

The Security Council,
Reaffirming its relevant resolutions . . . Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, . . .
Condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem . . . .
Expressing grave concern that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines, . . .
Recalling also the obligation . . .  for the Palestinian Authority Security Forces to maintain effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantling terrorist capabilities, including the confiscation of illegal weapons,
Condemning all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction,
Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders . . .
1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, . . . constitutes a flagrant violation under international law . . .
2. Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory. . .
3. Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations;
4. Stresses that the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-State solution . . .;
5. Calls upon all States . . .  to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967;
6. Calls for immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation and destruction, calls for accountability in this regard, and . . . for the strengthening of ongoing efforts to combat terrorism, including through existing security coordination, and to clearly condemn all acts of terrorism;
7. Calls upon both parties to act on the basis of international law, . . .  to observe calm and restraint, and to refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, with the aim, inter alia, of de-escalating the situation on the ground, rebuilding trust and confidence, demonstrating through policies and actions a genuine commitment to the two-State solution, and creating the conditions necessary for promoting peace;
8. Calls upon all parties to . . .  launch credible negotiations on all final status issues in the Middle East peace process . . . ;
9. Urges . . . the intensification and acceleration of international and regional diplomatic efforts and support aimed at achieving, without delay a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions . . . and an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967; and underscores in this regard the importance of the ongoing efforts to advance the Arab Peace Initiative, the initiative of France for the convening of an international peace conference, the recent efforts of the Quartet, as well as the efforts of Egypt and the Russian Federation;
10. Confirms its determination to support the parties throughout the negotiations and in the implementation of an agreement;
11. Reaffirms its determination to examine practical ways and means to secure the full implementation of its relevant resolutions; . . . .
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