Iran — Global Issues

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Iran has had a turbulent historical past in simply its latest previous. From a democracy within the Nineteen Fifties, Iran appears to have moved backwards, from an authoritarian regime (backed by Britain and the US) that overthrew the democratic one, to a non secular fundamentalist regime toppling the authoritarian one and taking an anti-US stance.

The US ended its assist for Iran and as an alternative supported Iraq in a brutal conflict by way of the Eighties towards Iran the place over 1 million folks died. Extra just lately, Iran was described as being a part of an “axis of evil” by US President George Bush, as a part of his “conflict on terror.”

The US has additionally accused Iran of pursuing the event of nuclear weapons, whereas Iran says it’s only pursuing peaceable growth. Internally, actions in direction of average insurance policies and democratic values are gaining traction, however not with hardliners in energy making an attempt to carry on. This part seems into these and associated points.

Transient Put up World Warfare II Overview

US and Britain Overthrow Democratically Elected Chief in Nineteen Fifties and Set up the Shah

Iran was distinctive within the area for having efficiently resisted colonialism, primarily by the British Empire and Imperial Russia. Within the Nineteen Twenties, Reza Shah Pahlavi staged a coup towards the ruling dynasty and launched into a modernization drive, constructing business, railroads, nationwide training, and so on. His autocratic rule nevertheless, was disliked.

Throughout World Warfare II, in an effort to stop a possible pro-Nazi coup orchestrated by the Axis powers, the Soviet Union and Britain invaded Iran securing the petroleum infrastructure. Seeing the Shah’s son as being extra supportive, the Allies compelled the Shah to step apart. Iran turned a serious route of arms from Allies within the west, to the Soviets through the conflict.

In 1951, a pro-democracy nationalist, Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh rose to prominence in Iran and was democratically elected as Iran’s first Prime Minister. In 1953, the Mossadegh authorities selected to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian Oil Firm (later renamed to the British Petroleum Firm, now often called BP), which managed of the nation’s oil reserves, feeling that proceeds from oil ought to be used to put money into the event of Iran, quite than siphoned off as income.

This was a dangerous transfer by Iran, for they might risked the wrath of the British who stood to lose a whole lot of energy, wealth and affect gained through management of such a serious vitality supply.

Nonetheless, this transfer to nationalize such an business must be taken in context: This was at a time amid international emotions of nationalism, with each burgeoning and fledgling actions to oust former colonial rulers who had weakened themselves through the Second World Warfare as they fought one another. The “third world” had seen its likelihood to interrupt free, and so emotions of nationalism and revolution have been ripe around the globe.

Iran was one of many few early profitable democratic regimes, although growth could be a problem. Nationalizing the oil firm was due to this fact a part of this drive for non-alignment away from the superpowers’ affect.

For Britain, this was one other “nail within the coffin” of their as soon as nice empire that stretched throughout the globe. Having “misplaced” their prime jewel, India, a number of years earlier, their world standing was unofficially decreased and now not have been they the good empire. Shedding different locations around the globe should have been fairly stunning and disappointing to those that nonetheless held colonial attitudes. Nonetheless, that they had partnered with a brand new energy that had risen through the Second World Warfare: the US.

As defined within the Management of Assets part in additional depth, the US now took on a task to assist rework the worldwide system into one which it may dominate but in addition assist rebuild Europe to stave off a rising “Communist menace.”

Moreover, as J.W. Smith places it (see earlier hyperlink), the “populations on the periphery of empire who supplied their low cost sources [were] taking the rhetoric of democracy critically and breaking free,” which alarmed historic colonial empires.

Breakaway nations posed the menace that they might aspect with the Soviets, quite than be related to the West, as a result of emotions of anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism.

Different nations, whereas breaking away from colonialism, might not have essentially defected to the Soviet aspect, however might have tried an impartial type of growth.

Iran’s nationalizing of the oil firm signaled such a menace, for it was essential to Britain’s wealth. Like so many different nations all through the world within the Nineteen Fifties, 60s and 70s and even 80s, in style regimes that have been, or confirmed, democratic tendencies have been handled with suspicion, for worry of “going Communist.”

Typically this worry could be used as an excuse to become involved in these nations for different causes (often financial and geopolitical ones, to proceed the traditions of imperial adventures and colonial aspirations of management and dominance).

Therefore, the US and Europe supported and tolerated so many dictatorships, for puppet regimes have been simpler to manage and manipulate, and so they may put their very own populations so as, quite than US and Europe resorting to (too many) costly wars. After all, the place it was deemed essential, as all the time occurs all through historical past, navy may could be employed (Vietnam being one vivid instance).

After Mossadegh’s announcement of the nationalization of the oil business, Britain responded with an embargo. The embargo had critical results on the financial system, thus permitting criticism towards Mossadegh to fester. Convincing the US of a communist hyperlink, Britain managed to get the US to comply with take care of Iran. Operation Ajax, a CIA-backed plot, allowed the Shah’s son, Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, to overthrow Mossadegh.

This operation concerned a whole lot of unlawful propaganda out of the country (sadly not unusual), which Dan De Luce, of the British newspaper, the Guardian summarized:

The CIA—with British help—undermined Mossadegh’s authorities by bribing influential figures, planting false stories in newspapers and frightening road violence. Led by an agent named Kermit Roosevelt, the grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, the CIA leaned on a younger, insecure Shah to problem a decree dismissing Mossadegh as prime minister. By the tip of Operation Ajax, some 300 folks had died in firefights within the streets of Tehran.

The crushing of Iran’s first democratic authorities ushered in additional than 20 years of dictatorship underneath the Shah, who relied closely on US help and arms. The anti-American backlash that toppled the Shah in 1979 shook the entire area and helped unfold Islamic militancy, with Iran’s new hardline theocracy declaring timeless hostility to the US.

Dan De Luce, The Specter of Operation Ajax, The Guardian, August 20, 2003

For roughly a quarter-century, Iran suffered repressive and autocratic rule by the Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlevi. He was seen by the West favorably for he had a Western training and preferred many elements of “modernism” (although not democracy, it will seem).

Shah’s authoritarianism results in Islamic Fundamentalists Overthrowing Shah

The Shah’s rule appeared paradoxical for some. Whereas he supported ladies’s rights, extending suffrage to them, he additionally supported royalists in Yemen’s civil conflict. He maintained shut diplomatic relations with each Saudi Arabia and Israel. He additionally instituted land reform which wrestled away land from some elites, with the thought of redistributing it to small farmers.

Nonetheless, corruption and lack of ample land precipitated resentment amongst many farmers. The Islamic clergy additionally noticed numerous sources of their energy diminishing, as clergy have been additionally required to go examinations, and as household and academic techniques underwent adjustments.

Nonetheless, quite than democratizing, the Shah instituted one-party rule, stating considerations and fears of a communist celebration taking energy. His authoritarian rule precipitated a lot controversy. The non secular clergy have been due to this fact capable of collect a whole lot of assist.

The excesses of the Shah’s authoritarian rule fueled what ultimately turned the Iranian Revolution of February 1979 which noticed his overthrow.

Nonetheless, one autocratic regime was changed by one other. This revolution, led by Ayatollah Khomeini, ushered in rule by a conservative non secular clergy, the mullahs, and noticed Iran develop into the Islamic Republic of Iran.

A documentary on PBS in 2000 (sadly I don’t recall the title) revealed that many individuals had supported the revolution and overthrow of the Shah, together with many ladies, indicating how dangerous life was underneath the Shah. They have been nevertheless ultimately disillusioned by the non secular clergy that they had supported for not fulfilling many guarantees they thought they might. Many ladies interviewed regretted how their lives had develop into extra oppressed, for instance.

Iranian college students held US embassy personnel hostage for over a yr, accusing them of making an attempt to overthrow the revolutionary authorities and reinstall the shah. Khomeini inspired the hostage disaster, quite than cease it, and this episode marked the start of thorny relations with the US, who feared Iran not a lot militarily, however from its potential potential to export Islamic revolutions everywhere in the Center East, threatening the “stability” that the US had created for itself.

Neighboring Iraq additionally noticed a possibility to achieve extra energy, as Khomeini had disbanded the as soon as mighty navy.

Simply as Christianity has many branches, equivalent to Catholicism and Protestantism, so too does Islam, with Shia and Sunni Muslims. Moreover, culturally, Iranians are usually not Arabs like Iraqis are, and traditionally, Iraq (as Mesopotamia) and Iran (as Persia) had usually been concerned in conflicts, wars, and territorial disputes. The Eighties seemed set to proceed that sample, as many of those these cultural and non secular variations contributed to their terribly pricey and harmful conflict of the 80s, often called the Persian Gulf Warfare.

Iran and Iraq Warfare Leaves Each International locations Shattered

Iran and Iraq have had border disputes for hundreds of years. These finally spilled right into a horrible conflict from 1980 to 1988 that witnessed all kinds of conflict crimes from either side. This conflict price 1 million casualties in Iran alone, and over $1 trillion between the 2 nations.

The US and the Reagan regime supported Iraq after which ruler, Saddam Hussein, as a result of Iran’s Islamic Revolution had seen their favored “puppet regime” in Iran overthrown. Offering navy, financial, and political help to Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s military waged a protracted conflict.

Either side attacked one another’s oil tankers (and even tankers belonging to nations not concerned within the battle—Iran attacked different Arab nations’ tankers for instance). Each additionally attacked every others’ cities, and as has been totally mentioned now within the construct as much as the US conflict on Iraq, Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons (weapons of mass destruction) towards Iran.

Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, maybe with ambitions to be the main Arab nation and have a robust Center East centered round Iraq, had been favored by the US on this conflict who have been joyful to disregard Iraqi conflict crimes, as from their viewpoint, defeat of Iran was paramount.

Later, Hussein’s ambitions to unite Arab lands underneath one massive nation (with him as ruler little doubt) was one of many considerations raised in 1991 after he overstepped his bounds (as a dictator subservient to US ambitions within the area) and invaded Kuwait. US raised the specter of a Hitler or anti-Christ sort of pressure within the area, that needed to be quashed.

As David Gowan famous in his e-book, World Gamble, (Verso, 1999) and J.W. Smith in his work on Financial Democracy, (IED Press, 2006), this was an instance of 1 energy (the US) not tolerating one other energy (a probably enlarged Iraq or a united Arab folks) for it threatened entry to essential sources—a serious supply for US world dominance. Having served its use, Iraq was to stay subservient once more, or face repercussions.

Political activist, Stephen Shalom, lists a time-line of the Iraq conflict from the attitude of US curiosity and notes the next key occasions:

When Iraq invades Iran, the U.S. opposes any Safety Council motion to sentence the invasion. U.S. quickly removes Iraq from its record of countries supporting terrorism and permits U.S. arms to be transferred to Iraq. On the similar time, U.S. lets Israel present arms to Iran and in 1985 U.S. gives arms instantly (although secretly) to Iran. U.S. gives intelligence data to Iraq. Iraq makes use of chemical weapons in 1984; U.S. restores diplomatic relations with Iraq. 1987 U.S. sends its navy into the Persian Gulf, taking Iraq’s aspect; an overly-aggressive U.S. ship shoots down an Iranian civilian airliner, killing 290.

Stephen Shalom, America and Center East—Why do “They” Hate Us?, ZNet, December 12, 2001

What’s attention-grabbing concerning the above is that the US appeared to be concerned in pitting either side towards one another. The Iran-Contra scandal (US promoting arms to Iran and utilizing proceeds to fund guerrillas in Nicaragua) revealed extra murky goings on, that even noticed Israel being the conduit for the arms gross sales (mentioned additional beneath).

Internationally, different actors additionally backed totally different sides on this conflict: the US, France, UK, Germany, many Arab nations (together with Egypt and Saudi Arabia), China and the Soviet Union all backed Iraq in numerous methods, from offering chemical weapons, different navy tools, financing, and extra. Assist for Iran got here from Syria, Libya, North Korea, Cuba, and Yugoslavia. (One can see how some wars since have mirrored these “sides”. Iraq later overstepped its bounds and fell out of favor with the US, which is now well-known.)

Commentators observe that many Iranians look again to this era with anger and disappointment at Western involvement towards them and for not doing something to cease the chemical warfare, and in impact being remoted internationally.

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Relation with Israel

Outdoors Israel, Iran has the most important Jewish inhabitants within the area. Many main figures in Israel have come from Iran initially, as nicely.

Below the Shah, Israel loved a very good relationship with Iran. Nonetheless, with the Islamic Revolution, the ruling clergy and Israel have had a extra hostile relationship with Iran not recognizing Israel.

But, even throughout this non-relationship, Israel was used as a conduit by america to promote weapons to Iran as a part of the Iran-Contra scandal (mentioned additional beneath).

In more moderen years, because the US has stepped up criticism of Iran’s nuclear program as being a nuclear weapons program (mentioned additional beneath), Israel has deliberate for the potential of taking out numerous missile and different targets in Iran.

Though it has not admitted it formally, Israel is extensively believed to have 200-400 nuclear weapons and is the one nuclear energy within the area. Prior to now it has bombed an Iraqi facility suspected of being a part of a nuclear weapons program.

Israel’s battle with the Palestinians and the overflow into South Lebanon gave rise to militant opposition, Hezbollah maybe being probably the most well-known amongst them. Thought to be a terrorist group by many countries, Iran and a few others really feel it is a corporation preventing a reliable trigger and has actively backed Hezbollah.

Fred Halliday, a famous skilled on Center East affairs and professor of worldwide relations on the prestigious London College of Economics, had managed to speak to Hezbollah’s deputy head, and its political strategist, Sheikh Naim Qassem, who famous that Hezbollah regards the Iranian non secular chief, on this case Khamenei, as its final authority. “All main political selections relating to Hezbollah are referred to … Iran.”

The choice by Hezbollah to enter Lebanese politics in 1992, for instance, was decided by “Ayatollah Khamenei himself who took the ultimate choice, in favour of participation.”

Qassem additionally admitted serving to Hamas and Islamic Jihad inside Israel and Palestine, despite the fact that they’re Sunni Muslims, not Shi’a like Hezbollah. He additionally stated Hezbollah’s precise actions have been restricted to inside Lebanon, and the disputed space of the Shebaa farms close to the Syrian border. If true, Iran isn’t instantly supporting suicide bombers in Israel as some have claimed, although it may actually be oblique.

Nonetheless, Iran has always denounced Israel, and numerous rulers and main officers have introduced demise to Israel in numerous varieties. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s outrageous claims of wiping off Israel from the map and questioning the Holocaust is simply the newest episode, sadly.

But, recognizing the brand new geopolitical realities and since Ahmadinejad isn’t the actual supply of energy in Iran, as mentioned additional beneath, the ruling clergy had really provided peace and normalized relations with Israel and to place strain on Hezbollah to develop into a completely political unit, which the US refused.

The latest battle in Lebanon between Hezbollah and Israel, which noticed Israel undergo a humiliating defeat, on the one hand needn’t have occurred with hindsight, and alternatively, has strengthened Iran and Hezbollah’s affect within the area additional.

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US and Iran: Thorny Relations

As mentioned additional beneath, relations throughout and since Iran’s Islamic Revolution has been thorny to say the least. The Iran-Contra scandal revealed US promoting weapons to its personal enemy for different agendas. Extra just lately, as a part of the US “Warfare on Terror”, Iran has been labeled as being a part of the “Axis of Evil”, accused of creating nuclear weapons, and being threatening to different nations within the area, particularly Israel.

US armed Iran whereas supporting Iraq

Though the US has seen Iran as an avowed enemy because the Islamic Revolution, and the US inspired and supported Saddam Hussein’s lengthy conflict towards Iran, the Iran-Contra scandal revealed that the US offered arms to Iran.

This episode was one of many largest scandals in US historical past whereby the US offered arms to Iran and used proceeds to fund the Contras, a brutal anti-communist guerrilla group in Nicaragua accused of many crimes towards humanity and believed to be answerable for the deaths of some 30,000 folks.

However a few of these arms offers originated from the Iranian hostage disaster which had occurred throughout then-US President, Jimmy Carter’s watch, the place he misplaced a whole lot of reputation over it.

A documentary that aired on a British cable channel (can not recall particulars sadly) defined how Reagan, difficult Carter within the US presidential race, used a propaganda stunt that additionally helped him obtain in style assist. Reagan and George H. W. Bush had struck a take care of the Iranian mullahs to supply weapons in the event that they launched the hostages the day after he was sworn in as President, quite than earlier than, throughout Carter’s time period.

Investigative journalist for Related Press, Newsweek, PBS and others, Robert Parry, broke most of the Iran-Contra tales and is quoted right here for additional particulars and perception:

In trade [for the hostages’ release], the Republicans agreed to let Iran acquire U.S.-manufactured navy provides by way of Israel. The Iranians stored their phrase, releasing the hostages instantly upon Reagan’s swearing-in on Jan. 20, 1981.

Over the subsequent few years, the Republican-Israel-Iran weapons pipeline operated largely in secret, solely exploding into public view with the Iran-Contra scandal in late 1986. Even then, the Reagan-Bush staff was capable of restrict congressional and different investigations, maintaining the total historical past—and the 1980 chapter—hidden from the American folks.

The false historical past surrounding the Iranian hostage disaster additionally has led to the mistaken conclusion that it was solely the specter of Ronald Reagan’s tough-guy picture that made Iran buckle in January 1981 and that, due to this fact, the Iranians respect solely pressure.

The hostage launch on Reagan’s Inauguration Day bathed the brand new President in an aura of heroism…. It was considered as a case examine of how U.S. toughness may restore the correct worldwide order.

In impact, whereas Individuals thought they have been witnessing one actuality … one other reality existed beneath the floor, one so troubling that the Reagan-Bush political equipment has made maintaining the key a high precedence for 1 / 4 century.

The American folks must not ever be allowed to suppose that the Reagan-Bush period started with collusion between Republican operatives and Islamic terrorists, an act that many may view as treason.

Robert Parry, The Bushes & the Fact About Iran, Consortium Information, September 21, 2006

Parry continues to element how successive administrations have sought to maintain that data away from the general public.

(Given among the latest tensions between Iran and Israel, it will be pure to marvel why Israel would have agreed to ship US weapons to Iran. Parry notes that at the moment Israel, though detesting Iran, thought that being a non-Arab nation is perhaps a possible ally. It’s maybe a bitter irony that as we speak these two nations are maybe at full opposites, with Iran’s assist of Hezbollah because the latest disaster in Lebanon confirmed.)

US accuses Iran of being within the Axis of Evil

Into the late Nineties and early 2000s, there have been indicators of Iran shifting towards a extra average state, and growing democratization (although solely in probably the most earliest of varieties). Nonetheless, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist assaults, the US rapidly moved to an aggressive stance towards main nations it had lengthy disliked, and labeled Iran as being a part of an “Axis of Evil” making an attempt to invoke the ominous picture of Hitler and the “Axis powers.” On the similar time US President George Bush known as for a reinvigorated push for democracy (beginning with an invasion of Iraq, that has now seen the nation immersed in a civil conflict).

With Iran, nevertheless, this democratization push has had the reverse impact. By supporting outdoors forces and overtly indicating it will fund opposition forces inside Iran as nicely, the US helped push the Iranian ruling regime to a extra aggressive and authoritarian place. As such, the reformist Khatami fell out of favor with the ruling clergy who backed the extra hard-line Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president. (That is mentioned additional beneath.)

Forcing democracy from the surface has nearly by no means labored, and the expertise of Iraq clearly exhibits that (placing apart for the second whether or not the realpolitik agenda of the US is definitely democracy or different geopolitical goals equivalent to consolidating energy).

US accuses Iran of creating nuclear weapons

Iran, with Russian help, has been creating a nuclear program. Iran has lengthy insisted it’s for the event of nuclear vitality, not weapons, which the US Bush Administration had asserted, and the Obama Administration additionally maintains.

The US and another Western nations have questioned why Iran, with such massive oil and gasoline reserves would need or want nuclear energy. Iran has answered that it needs to diversify its sources, which has not satisfied the US.

The BBC requested eight commentators for his or her views concerning the Iran nuclear problem. One in every of them was Radzhab Safarov, director of Moscow-based Heart for Iranian Analysis, and an advisor to the Russian State Duma chairman. Safarov stated that Russia “isn’t fearful about allegations that Iran may possess know-how of twin nature” as a result of the “Iranian nuclear program has a very peaceable nature, and there’s no proof on the contrary.”

He additional notes that if Russia suspected a covert nuclear weapons program, Russia would “have blocked this mission and suspended co-operation with Iran on this discipline, as a result of it will have been towards its personal pursuits” as their widespread border within the Caspian sea would “threaten Russia’s nationwide pursuits” within the space.

Safarov, additionally makes an attention-grabbing remark: “I don’t suppose any nation has a proper to intrude with the Iranian nuclear program, as a result of it’s a fully inner affair.” That is of curiosity for a number of causes:

  • The “interference” is going on as a result of Iran is regarded by the Bush Administration as an enemy, a part of what they name the “Axis of Evil”. If it was a nation on extra pleasant phrases it’s attainable {that a} extra affordable method to deterrence could be adopted quite than the hostile method presently seen (and likewise leaving it to Europeans to try negotiated options). Some restricted help has even been given to pleasant nations. For instance, US help is presumably occurring with Pakistan presently. The US has additionally helped Israel up to now (as have the French).
  • Alternatively, simply because the Bush Administration claims Iran is deceptive the world about its nuclear program, may the Bush Administration be making claims to pursue its personal political and financial agendas towards Iran?

Stephen Zunes, writing for International Coverage In Focus, is extremely important of the US place on Iran:

Having already efficiently fooled most of Congress and the American public into believing that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had an energetic nuclear weapons program, the Bush administration and congressional leaders of each events are actually claiming that it’s Iran that has an energetic nuclear weapons program. As with Iraq, the administration doesn’t look too kindly on those that query its assumptions.… When the IAEA printed an in depth report in November 2004 concluding that its in depth inspections had revealed no proof of Iran pursuing a nuclear weapons program, the Bush administration responded by trying to oust the IAEA director.

In the interim, the Iranians have been capable of avert a disaster by way of negotiations with representatives of the European Union (EU). Iran agreed to droop its uranium enrichment and processing applications till a everlasting deal is reached, which the Iranians hope will even embrace political and financial concessions from the Europeans.

… [Controversial US Ambassador to the UN John] Bolton has argued for “sturdy” navy motion by america, if the UN Safety Council fails to impose the sanctions that Washington calls for.

The Bush administration’s efforts haven’t acquired a lot assist, nevertheless, partially due to U.S. double requirements. America has blocked enforcement of a earlier UN Safety Council decision calling on Israel to position its nuclear services underneath IAEA trusteeship. Washington has additionally quashed resolutions calling on Pakistan and India to eradicate their nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

… [Despite US criticism] america continues to be obligated underneath the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty to permit signatory states in good standing to have entry to peaceable nuclear know-how. Sarcastically, this provision selling using nuclear vitality was initially included within the NPT largely due to Washington’s need to advertise the nuclear energy business.

Stephen Zunes, The U.S. and Iran: Democracy, Terrorism, and Nuclear Weapons, International Coverage In Focus, July 26, 2005

Below strain from the US, in September 2005, the UN nuclear physique answerable for monitoring compliance with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Worldwide Atomic Power Company (IAEA) discovered Iran to be non-compliant in its NPT obligations and most member states voted to threaten Iran with referral to the UN Safety Council in November.

It didn’t occur, as Iran and the EU led efforts for additional negotiation.

Spin, “Diplomacy”, and Use of Worry

As award-winning Indian journalist, Siddharth Varadarajan, has written within the Indian every day, The Hindu (the place he’s deputy editor), there was a whole lot of spin and diplomatic manipulation behind the scenes to get the vote towards Iran. In his report back to the IAEA Board of Governors on September 2, 2005, Director Normal Mohamed ElBaradei famous that ‘all of the declared nuclear materials in Iran has been accounted for, and due to this fact such materials isn’t diverted to prohibited actions.’ Dr. ElBaradei stated, nevertheless, that the IAEA was not but ready to conclude that there have been no ‘undeclared’ nuclear actions happening in Iran—a requirement that stems not from the safeguards settlement however solely from the Extra Protocol that Iran stated it will voluntarily adhere to in 2003.

It was regardless of that, and with US strain, Varadarajan notes, that the IAEA Board of Governors voted to seek out Iran in non-compliance and that non-compliance is outlined as diversion of safeguarded materials for prohibited functions, one thing Dr. ElBaradei had explicitly dominated out.

If the IAEA’s incapacity to make such a declaration have been to develop into grounds for reporting a rustic to the Safety Council and threatening it with sanctions, Varadarajan additionally provides, a minimum of 106 nations—as emphasised by the European Union final yr—must be put within the dock as a result of they’ve both not signed or not but ratified or applied the Extra Protocol.

As Varadarajan warns in one other article, claims as ridiculous as some that surfaced through the Iraq conflict build-up, are showing once more about Iran as a part of a propaganda effort. Examples he cites embrace the Iranian laptop computer found with incriminating proof of a nuclear warhead, and even the US spinning Iran’s clear disclosure of some data to the IAEA as a discovery by diplomats near the IAEA of what seemed to be the design for the core of a nuclear warhead, despite the fact that the IAEA didn’t discover this. As a substitute, this was “leaked” as “information!”

US lies and exaggerates about extent of nuclear growth

An episode in September 2006, appeared to replay occasions two years earlier. Though already quoted additional above, part of Stephen Zunes’ report is repeated right here: “When the IAEA printed an in depth report in November 2004 concluding that its in depth inspections had revealed no proof of Iran pursuing a nuclear weapons program, the Bush administration responded by trying to oust the IAEA director.”

In September 2006, the IAEA repeated this discovering. The US responded with exaggerations and lies to counter the impression of the IAEA’s evaluation:

A US Home Intelligence Committee report claimed that Iran’s nuclear growth program was way more superior than what the IAEA and its personal US intelligence had proven. (How it will know higher was not clear.) The Washington Put up reported that the IAEA despatched the panel a letter decrying its latest report on Iran as “outrageous and dishonest” and that it contained at the very least 5 main errors.

Phyllis Bennis, from the Institute for Coverage Research, summarizes a key instance of lies:

The Bush administration actions geared toward constructing assist for conflict towards Iran stay. A senate report on Iran, drafted by a high assistant to UN-bashing John Bolton, claimed amongst different issues that Iran was enriching uranium on the degree of 90%—the extent wanted for nuclear weapons. It was such an egregious lie that even the often cautious UN nuclear watchdog company, the IAEA, responded with a harsh rebuke, indicating that they’re watching Iran’s enrichment, and that it remained within the 3.5% vary wanted for fully authorized nuclear energy—not near 90%.

Phyllis Bennis, Threats of Warfare in Iran, U.S.-Pushed Violence Surges within the Area, ZNet, September 30, 2006

The US Home Intelligence Committee report additionally tried to taint the IAEA head, ElBaradei by saying he eliminated a senior inspector that had raised considerations about Iran’s program and that there was an unspoken coverage of stopping inspectors on the IAEA from telling the reality about Iran.

The irony maybe is that it was the US Home Intelligence Committee that was stopping the telling of reality to the American and world public. Not solely had that inspector not been eliminated, however the IAEA responded that the unspoken coverage was an “outrageous and dishonest.” Coverage analyst Carah Ong has extra particulars, and the Washington Put up reposted the IAEA letter .

And maybe as one other warning of a looming propaganda marketing campaign, Bennis notes, “Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon has just lately opened a brand new Iran Directorate whose job description seems similar to the 2002 function of the now-closed Workplace of Particular Plans, discovering or creating intelligence materials that may very well be used to justify conflict towards Iraq.”

(See additionally Democracy Now! information headlines for September 14, and an interview with historian and Center East exerprt, Juan Cole, for extra on the Home Intelligence Committee report controversy.)

US and IAEA have to date been unable to show Iran is creating nuclear weapons

US initially supplied Iran nuclear know-how

Some may additionally marvel how Iran managed to get the flexibility to develop nuclear services within the first place. It might be smart to maybe assume that after the autumn of the Soviet Union nuclear know-how might have been extra simply obtainable and that how Iran received it.

Nonetheless, paradoxically maybe, it was the US that gave Iran the nuclear know-how within the Sixties and Nineteen Seventies when the Shah dictator was put in by the CIA, and was seen as an ally for the US within the area (till the Shah was overthrown by an Islamic Revolution, when the USA supported Saddam Hussein towards Iran).

Stephen Zunes, in the identical above-mentioned article additionally notes the US’s function in serving to Iran up to now:

Misplaced in Bush’s present obsession with Iran’s nuclear intentions is the truth that america—from the Eisenhower administration by way of the Carter years—performed a serious function within the growth of Iran’s nuclear program. In 1957, Washington and Tehran signed their first civil nuclear cooperation settlement. Over the subsequent 20 years, america supplied Iran not solely with technical help however with its first experimental nuclear reactor, full with enriched uranium and plutonium with fissile isotopes. Regardless of the refusal of the shah to rule out the potential of Iran creating nuclear weapons, the Ford administration accredited the sale to Iran of as much as eight nuclear reactors (with gas) and later cleared the sale of lasers believed to be able to enriching uranium. Surpassing any hazard from the mullahs now in energy, the shah’s megalomania led arms management advocates to worry a diversion of the know-how for navy functions.

The Washington Put up reported that an initially hesitant President Ford was assured by his advisers that Iran was solely within the peaceable makes use of of nuclear vitality regardless of the nation’s monumental reserves of oil and pure gasoline. Sarcastically, Ford’s secretary of protection was Donald Rumsfeld, his chief of workers was Dick Cheney, and his head of nonproliferation efforts on the Arms Management and Disarmament Company was Paul Wolfowitz, all of whom—as officers within the present administration—have insisted that Iran’s nuclear program have to be assumed to have navy functions.

Stephen Zunes, The U.S. and Iran: Democracy, Terrorism, and Nuclear Weapons, International Coverage In Focus, July 26, 2005

Rumsfeld, Cheney and others have questioned Iran’s want for a nuclear program, as Zune notes above. They argue that Iran has sufficient oil and due to this fact doesn’t want nuclear vitality. Subsequently, they are saying, Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear program have to be for navy functions.

Scott Ritter, former UN Weapons Inspector, and outspoken critic of US overseas coverage with reference to the Iraq invasion, can also be important of the coverage towards Iran. In an interview with Amy Goodman from Democracy Now!, noting the identical as Zune does above, Scott Ritter provides that Rumsfeld and Cheney’s criticism of Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear program doesn’t maintain, as a result of they agreed through the Shah’s reign that Iran’s vitality reliance on oil was not sound, economically, and that civilian use of nuclear vitality instead was acceptable. This opinion has modified solely as a result of the Islamists have come into energy, not due to the assumption that Iran doesn’t want vitality diversification.

US, India, and Iran

Including India into this relationship exhibits additional problems every nation has in its overseas coverage aims, and self-interest.

India, one of many rising nations, whom many suppose will likely be among the many strongest in a number of many years, is already extraordinarily thirsty for vitality. It has lengthy had ties with Iran in some type or one other. India has one of many world’s largest Shia Muslim populations (Iran having the most important).

India additionally has potential pure gasoline offers with Iran price billions of {dollars}. The US additionally sees India as an ally of their conflict on terror, and this was particularly so when the earlier authorities, the precise wing Hindu celebration, the BJP, have been in energy. The US has lengthy disapproved the Iran-India vitality deal.

US main Congressmen have warned India that it should select between “the Iran of the Ayotollahs,” with its oil and gasoline, and the “democratic West,” with its superior nuclear energy know-how. For now, India appears to have gone for the latter.

It could be that India has calculated that jeopardizing the multi-billion greenback pure gasoline take care of Iran will likely be price it if the US helps with nuclear energy stations as an alternative. That might be comprehensible within the context of India’s rising nuclear standing and its warming relations with the US on this matter.

Certainly, quite a few globally attention-grabbing developments have taken place relating to Indian nuclear energy. For instance:

  • US President George Bush described India as “a accountable state with superior nuclear know-how” thus admitting it to the “nuclear membership.”
  • India has only recently determined to pursue non-proliferation quite than a worldwide nuclear disarmament coverage which it has lengthy held. (The distinction could appear refined, however is enormously vital: non-proliferation means stopping others getting nuclear know-how whereas those that have already got it formally can get to maintain it. In different phrases, it’s a means to keep up an imbalance in energy, in step with the thought of being in a “nuclear membership” and likewise the identical place that the US has taken.)
  • This comes within the context of Indian makes an attempt for everlasting member standing on the UN Safety Council, which the US appears to be backing.
  • The US is contemplating supporting India’s nuclear growth.

For some additional evaluation on that angle, see for instance the next

In September 2005, India selected to vote alongside the US and European Union in referring Iran to the United Nations Safety Council (although in November when the US and EU seemed to again down, India declared it will oppose additional referral, which cynics see because the Indian’s authorities’s transfer to save lots of face from home criticism about doing what the West tells them, quite then following their very own overseas coverage). India once more voted towards Iran in 2006.

US lets Europe negotiate with Iran

The US has been joyful to permit Europe a hand at negotiations with Iran. Outcomes seem combined, nevertheless, with either side all the time indicating that some room for compromise is feasible. Extra just lately, into October 2006, media shops have been reporting that as talks between the 2 have been faltering on getting Iran to droop its nuclear enrichment, the potential of UN sanctions have been drawing nearer.

Europe, and different UN Safety Council members have tried to supply political and financial incentives in return for Iran’s promise of a long run moratorium on enrichment.

The issue has been that technically, Iran has a proper to make use of nuclear know-how for civilian functions and so their enrichment program (which, as acknowledged above, is nowhere close to the degrees wanted for weapons growth), is authorized and they also argue that they need to not must cease it first in an effort to have talks.

US conflict with Iran?

Iran seems in information headlines extra ceaselessly. For instance,

  • The above considerations are sometimes headline tales;
  • The British have accused Iran of supplying among the weaponry utilized by Iraqi insurgents;
  • ElBaradei (head of the IAEA) gained the Nobel peace prize and so threw extra protection onto Iran;
  • The Bush Administration continues strategies in direction of regime change.

And so forth. Whether or not all which means the western populations are being “softened” for a extra adversarial function towards Iran stays to be seen. Nonetheless, there are fears that we’re shifting nearer to such a horrible chance. For instance, Parry, talked about earlier, additionally notes that “The Time journal cowl story, launched on Sept. 17, and a brand new report by retired Air Drive Col. Sam Gardiner—entitled The Finish of the ‘Summer season Diplomacy’—clarify that the navy possibility towards Iran is shifting quickly towards implementation.”

Scott Ritter, talked about earlier, argues in that very same interview that the US agenda is to have regime change in Iran, and it’s not excited by talks. Even Iran’s proposed peace and talks with Israel (detailed additional beneath) are rejected, in order that regime change coverage may be pushed.

The US has additionally just lately entertained the considered a naval blockade, and has deployed warships to the area. Numerous media stories have additionally indicated different navy maneuvers within the area that numerous analysts really feel is the ominous onset of attainable conflict, or, if the world is fortunate, is simply navy posturing.

Author and analyst of Center East affairs, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, writes an in depth article noting the navy buildup across the Japanese Mediterranean and Persian Gulf by NATO, the US and Israel.

Investigative journalist, Seymous Hersh, writes within the New Yorker,

The Bush Administration, whereas publicly advocating diplomacy in an effort to cease Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has elevated clandestine actions inside Iran and intensified planning for a attainable main air assault. Present and former American navy and intelligence officers stated that Air Drive planning teams are drawing up lists of targets, and groups of American fight troops have been ordered into Iran, underneath cowl, to gather concentrating on information and to ascertain contact with anti-government ethnic-minority teams.

Seymour Hersh, The Iran Plans, The New Yorker, April 8, 2006

As well as, the US seems to be supporting guerilla raids towards Iran, although this appears to be on a small scale right now.

Phyllis Bennis, in an interview with Democracy Now! notes:

[There have been] new tales which have come out within the final couple of days in Time journal and elsewhere, indicating that there have actually been orders getting ready to deploy U.S. Navy warships in direction of Iran with the objective being not essentially a direct navy strike, however quite a naval blockade of Iranian oil ports, which, in fact, represent an act of conflict. In that scenario, … Iran is aware of, its authorities and its folks know, that that’s an act of conflict. Most Individuals don’t know {that a} blockade is taken into account an act of conflict. And if Iran responded militarily, which sadly could be their proper underneath Article 51 of the UN Constitution calling for self-defense rights, the Bush administration would very possible name that an unprovoked assault on peaceable U.S. ships and would reply militarily, claiming to be responding in self-defense.

Phillis Bennis, UN Normal Meeting Hears Bush, Ahmadinejad Commerce Criticism, interview with Democracy Now!, September 20, 2006

Again to high

Iran’s actual insurance policies and actions complicate Bush’s place

Though the Bush Administration has ignored it, and most mainstream media shops sometimes don’t discover points past reporting what officers say, Iran’s precise place on nuclear weapons, on Israel, and different problems with the area, affords some problems to the official line. For instance,

  • Ahmadinejad doesn’t maintain a lot energy; the Supreme Chief does
  • The Supreme Chief issued a fatwa towards Nuclear Weapons, saying it was not Islamic
  • Iran really provided peace talks with Israel
  • Iran even condemned North Korea’s nuclear missile check

Moreover, the US issues in Iraq have strengthened Iran’s affect, and the nuclear weapon debate happens inside that context.

Ahmadinejad doesn’t even have a lot energy. Supreme Chief does

When the hard-line Ahmadinejad got here into energy, his rhetoric—ridiculous and outrageous at instances (equivalent to questioning/denying the Holocaust may have taken place throughout WWII, and eager to wipe Israel off the map)—proved a boon for Bush insurance policies and propaganda efforts.

The day Ahmadinejad proclaimed that Israel will at some point be wiped off the map, shortly after he was sworn in as President of Iran, journalist Lindsey Hilsum, for the British mainstream outlet, Channel 4 Information, famous that Ahmadinejad holds no energy; it’s the mullahs that decision the photographs, and he might have stated all this simply to point out to them that he’s a hardliner, and that it shouldn’t be taken critically, for others have stated it up to now.

That has not stopped the Bush Administration and war-supporting mass media shops. The media, along with the Bush Administration repeatedly level to Ahmadinejad’s outrageous statements as proof that Iran is an uncontrolled state, however all the time fail to say that he holds no energy or affect on such selections.

Within the Democracy Now! interview with Scott Ritter talked about earlier, Ritter famous what Hilsum stated, but in addition famous that Iran’s Supreme Chief had additionally issued a condemnation of nuclear weapons:

  1. Amy Goodman:

    Scott Ritter, one of many stuff you discuss in your e-book is that no consideration has been paid to the Supreme Chief’s pronouncement within the type of a fatwa, that Iran rejects outright the acquisition of nuclear weapons.

  2. Scott Ritter:

    Properly, once we say “Supreme Chief,” to begin with, most Individuals are going to scratch their head and say, “Who?” as a result of, you see, now we have a poster boy for demonization on the market. His title is Ahmadinejad. He’s the fool that comes out and says actually silly vile issues, equivalent to, “It’s the objective of Iran to wipe Israel off the face of the world,” and he makes ridiculous statements about america and so on. And, in fact, man, he—it’s a discipline day for the American media, for the Western media, since you get all of the little sound bites on the market, Ahmadinejad, Ahmadinejad, president of Iran. However what folks don’t perceive is, whereas he can vocalize, his finger isn’t on any button of energy. For those who learn the Iranian structure, you’ll see that the president of Iran is nearly a figurehead.

    The true energy in Iran rests with the Supreme Chief. The Supreme Chief is the Ayatollah Khamenei. He’s supported by a corporation known as the Guardian Council. Then there’s one other group known as the Expediency Council. These are the those who management the navy, the police, the nuclear program, all of the devices of energy.

Scott Ritter, Goal Iran: The Fact Concerning the White Home’s Plans for Regime Change, interviewed on Democracy Now!, October 16, 2006

Iran Supreme Chief issued Fatwa towards nuclear weapons

On August 9, 2005, on the assembly of the Worldwide Atomic Power Company (IAEA) in Vienna, Iran’s supreme chief, Ayatollah Khameni, issued a fatwa, “holy order” which forbade the stockpiling, manufacturing, and use of nuclear weapons.

This was hardly talked about by most mainstream media shops, not often making headlines, whereas criticism of their nuclear applications did. Some, such because the BBC and CNN nearly talked about it however as subtexts to different articles, equivalent to a query and reply sequence on the nuclear standoff, and of Iran breaking seals at a nuclear plant.

(A weblog entry posted main quotes from the fatwa, as reported by the Islamic Republic Information Company (IRNA), however the hyperlink to the IRNA article is now expired, sadly.)

What’s comprehensible, particularly from the Bush Administration and its supporters, is that this fatwa is more likely to be handled skeptically. It’ll is straightforward to dismiss this as a lie or a smokescreen that can take them down the trail of nuclear weapons at a later stage. (Though additionally it is not clear how possible it will be for an Islamic cleric to problem a fatwa underneath false pretenses.) It might be exhausting to know for certain, as a result of underneath worldwide regulation, Iran has the precise to pursue nuclear enrichment for peaceable functions, equivalent to nuclear vitality. Brazil just lately introduced it will be enriching uranium, for instance. Nonetheless, as a result of it’s not seen as hostile as Iran is by the US and UK, it’s not perceived as a harmful transfer.

Iran has really provided peace to Israel. US refused

As famous above, Iran’s Ahmadinejad actually hasn’t helped himself along with his unacceptable name that Israel have to be “wiped off the map.” Such claims have “broken Iran’s standing internationally at a time when the nation badly wants assist,” says the BBC, additionally including that Iran has “blamed the overseas media for blowing the disaster out of proportion and accused the West of seizing on this problem to strain Tehran over its nuclear program.”

Nonetheless, as talked about additional above, Ahmadinejad doesn’t maintain a lot actual energy or name the photographs. As a substitute, the Supreme Chief, the Ayatollah, does. And, as Ritter provides within the above-mentioned interview, it’s the “Expediency Council” that controls the devices of energy.

What could also be of shock to many readers is that not solely is Ahmadinejad’s view a distraction, however the actual management of Iran really provided peace talks with Israel again in 2003. Moreover, the US refused it.

The International Coverage group, Simply International Coverage particulars this additional:

In 2003, in a secret memo to the U.S. authorities, Iran provided to make peace with Israel, oppose assaults by Palestinian teams on Israel inside its 1967 borders, and strain Hizbollah to develop into a peaceable political celebration. The Bush Administration refused to reply and continues to claim publicly that Iran needs to destroy Israel and sponsor terrorist teams. The provide, which possible nonetheless stands, instantly contradicts these statements. Under is a few press with extra particulars. The episode calls into query the Administration’s truthfulness and motives with regard to Iran…

Iran, Simply International Coverage, Accessed October 1, 2006

(Simply International Coverage’s article cited above additionally gives hyperlinks to different articles that discover this in additional depth.)

Historian and nationwide safety coverage analyst, Gareth Porter, reported this initially for Inter Press Service on the finish of Might, 2005. He additional famous that,

The 2-page doc contradicts the official line of the George W. Bush administration that Iran is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the sponsorship of terrorism within the area…. the doc is a abstract of an much more detailed Iranian negotiating proposal.

The Iranian negotiating proposal indicated clearly that Iran was ready to surrender its function as a supporter of armed teams within the area in return for … an finish to U.S. hostility and recognition of Iran as a reliable energy within the area … [and] “abolishment of all sanctions.”

An Iranian menace to destroy Israel has been a serious propaganda theme of the Bush administration for months…. However in 2003, Bush refused to permit any response to the Iranian provide to barter an settlement that might have accepted the existence of Israel.

Gareth Porter, Iran Proposal to U.S. Supplied Peace with Israel, Inter Press Service, Might 29, 2005

Porter additionally notes that Iran continues to be excited by making an attempt to get a take care of the US, “regardless of the U.S. refusal to answer the 2003 proposal.” Though some conservative extremists (who backed Ahmadinejad of their earlier election) could also be towards it, many different conservative Iranian officers assist the thought.

The conservatives have been sad not with the thought of a take care of america however with the truth that it was a supporter of the reform motion of Pres. Mohammad Khatami, who would get the credit score for the breakthrough.

Gareth Porter, Iran Proposal to U.S. Supplied Peace with Israel, Inter Press Service, Might 29, 2005

Inner politics in each the US and Iran is due to this fact a attainable hindrance to peaceable relations. Porter notes, for instance, that the “final authority on Iran’s overseas coverage, Iran’s Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was ‘instantly concerned’ within the Iranian proposal, in response to the senior Iranian nationwide safety officers” however that Kahamenei has additionally “aligned himself with the conservatives in opposing the pro-democratic motion” that Khatami was leaning in direction of.

Some might observe that given Iran provided to try to get Hezbollah to develop into a political unit quite than a navy one as a part of a take care of the US, then why has it not performed so anyway? Sadly, on this planet of realpolitik, every nation seems out for its personal pursuits. Why would Iran do that if it may’t get something in return? Clearly, Iran needs to be acknowledged by the US, and is ready to go a good distance to take action. Nonetheless, this additionally highlights that each the US and Iran is perhaps hypocrites. They each declare ethical excessive floor, but, they each select to show away from peace if it fits their agendas.

Why didn’t the Bush administration embrace this [peace offer]? As a result of that results in a technique of normalization, the place america acknowledges the legitimacy of the theocracy and is prepared to peacefully coexist with the theocracy. That’s not the Bush administration’s place. They need the theocracy gone. They may do nothing that legitimizes that, nothing that sustains peace. They rejected peace.

Scott Ritter, Goal Iran: The Fact Concerning the White Home’s Plans for Regime Change, interviewed on Democracy Now!, October 16, 2006

Iran condemns North Korea’s nuclear weapons check

When North Korea introduced a nuclear weapons check originally of October 2006, Iran publicly condemned it. Iran coverage analyst on the Heart for Arms Management and Nonproliferation, Carah Ong, famous in her weblog that the response of Iran’s International Ministry Spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini on state-run tv stated:

Iran’s place is evident and Iran on precept believes in a world freed from nuclear weapons. Iran is hopeful that negotiations on North Korea’s nuclear actions can go forward within the curiosity of each North Korea and the worldwide group.

Mohammad Ali Hosseini, October 2006, Iran Responds to North Korea’s Nuclear Weapon Check, quoted by Carah Ong, October 10, 2006 [the original source she cites is no longer available on-line]

If Iran was intent on creating nuclear weapons and if their fatwa towards it was a lie, one would have anticipated then to at the very least keep quiet on the matter. (Alternatively, Iran may very well be making an attempt to name the world’s bluff!)

Again to high

Strikes in direction of reforms, democracy?

Latest years have been seeing indicators of Iran shifting in direction of barely extra tolerant and liberal values. Any adjustments have been more likely to be gradual to permit easy, acceptable transition, else inner backlash from the extra exhausting line parts could be extra pronounced. Nonetheless, the US’s hostile stance to Iran has inspired the very exhausting line parts that the US says it’s towards to react.

Regime Change in Iran

Proof of US plans for regime change in Iran emerged after Al Qaeda terrorists blew up a residential compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in Might 2003. The US accused Iran of harboring these terrorists, which Iran denied.

The Washington Put up famous that regardless of Iran serving to the US in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist assaults, by turning over some Al Qaeda members (and being branded as a member of an “axis of evil”), and continuous conferences for “search-and-rescue missions and the monitoring down of al Qaeda operatives”, “U.S. officers had repeatedly warned Iranian officers that if any al Qaeda operatives in Iran are implicated in assaults towards Individuals, it will have critical penalties for relations between the 2 nations.”

In accordance with Reuters on the time, Iran did settle for that some Al Qaeda members may have slipped the considerably porous border between Afghanistan and Iran, and vowed to arrest them if they may.

The above Washington Put up and Reuters articles additionally famous that Bush administration officers appeared “able to embrace an aggressive coverage of making an attempt to destabilize the Iranian authorities” because of these bombings.

This incident might due to this fact seem as an excuse or catalyst for an earlier plan for regime change in Iran, a part of an excellent wider US geopolitical technique to keep up international dominance amid new challenges.

US Assist of opposition teams really undermines democracy additional

US coverage for Iran has concerned supporting opposition teams in Iran. A few of these are pro-democracy teams, whereas others are pro-monarchists, supporting the previous Shah’s son. Nonetheless, as early as Might 2003, the identical Washington Put up article additionally famous that,

State Division officers are involved that the extent of in style discontent [in Iran] is far decrease than Pentagon officers consider, resulting in the chance that U.S. efforts may finally discredit reformers in Iran.

… In July, Bush signaled a tougher line when he issued a strongly worded presidential assertion wherein he praised massive pro-democracy road demonstrations in Iran. Administration officers stated on the time that that they had deserted any hope of working with President Mohammad Khatami and his reformist allies within the Iranian authorities, and would flip their consideration towards democracy supporters among the many Iranian folks.

Glenn Kessler, U.S. Eyes Urgent Rebellion In Iran, Washington Put up, Might 25, 2003

Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service notes neo-conservative parts within the US pushing an Iran confrontation agenda, whereas Marc Perelman, writing within the Jewish every day, The Ahead, in 2003, observes how a coalition of hawkish elements from the US, Israel, and within Iran, have come together to support regime change in Iran with similarities to the build up to the Iraq invasion.

Support for Reza Cyrus Pahlavi, the exiled son of the former Shah, is supported by hawks in the US administration and some Jewish groups who see the former Shah’s reign as a “golden era for Jews,” Perelman adds.

Furthermore, an Iranian-Jewish described as an active hawk says that “support for Pahlavi among Iranian Americans may have less to do with deep pro-monarchist feelings than with his status as the most recognizable opposition figure among immigrants.”

Pahlavi has, according to Perelman, “expressed support for democracy while calling for a referendum restoring the monarchy.”

It is not clear therefore, if “democracy” is being used as a euphemism for continued authoritarian rule, but this time, favored by the US, as was the case with Pahlavi’s father.

The Pentagon and US State department have already started funding propaganda broadcasts into Iran, through outlets such as Radio Farda and Voice of America’s Persian TV. However, policy analyst, Carah Ong, also notes that Pentagon officials have lamented that US broadcasts into Iran aren’t tough enough on the Iranian regime and that their ideas are not working as planned because their broadcast outlets are not the main source of news for most Iranians.

Khatami has actually been pro-democracy but any reform attempts in such a country are naturally going to be very slow and difficult to achieve. An imposition of relatively quick massive changes will of course be met by resistance by those in power, and for a nation trying to be more democratic, it may unfortunately have to be a slow process so that it can get buy-in from those who fear of losing out. Of course the risk is that such attempts can be undermined as well, the longer it takes. It is not as simple as supporting democratic elements or very quickly ousting the existing regime because that may leave power vacuums that various groups may attempt to fill, as the Iraq experience has shown.

By funding opposition groups and calling for regime-change (while calling it “democracy-building”), the US makes such a task even harder, and risks actually undermining democracy because the ruling Islamic clerics will clearly see the opposition as lacking legitimacy, as policy analyst, Robert Naiman notes:

The notion of trying to undermine the Iranian government by funding opposition groups is both unethical and short-sighted. Groups and individuals who are known to receive such funding will be discredited politically in Iran. Indeed, prominent Iranian dissidents have rejected U.S. assistance, and have argued that the U.S. policy of confrontation hurts the democracy movement in Iran. Such activities by the U.S. appear to validate claims by Iranian government officials that their domestic critics are financed and inspired by foreigners.

In the context of modern Iranian history this is a powerful charge. In the 1950s a democratically elected government in Iran was overthrown by a military coup organized by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

The democratic government was replaced by a repressive regime that the U.S. helped keep in power for the next 25 years.

Robert Naiman, Iran House Votes to Undermine Talks with Iran—Will the Senate Follow?, Just Foreign Policy/ZNet, September 30, 2006

Unfortunately, this certainly seems to have been the case, as hardliners in Iran have responded to US aggressive policy by getting rid of the reformist president, Khatami, in favor of the hardliner, Ahmadinejad.

As Naiman, also notes, US policies are restricting the ability for negotiations between Iran and US. “Officials in Iran will ask, why bother trying to negotiate with someone who has an official policy of trying to overthrow you?”

Pro Democracy Reformist, Khatami, loses out to Hard-liner, Ahmadinejad

The previous leader of Iran, the reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, showed precursory signs to the long march towards democracy. For his elections, he campaigned on democracy, the rule of law, and inclusion of all Iranians in the political decision-making process. When he first became president, he won elections by a landslide, showing the popularity within Iran for potential reforms.

This obviously rubbed many hard-line conservatives in Iran’s political and religious establishment the wrong way, and he was unable to implement many of his reform policies. Towards the end of his term in 2005, growing disillusionment contributed to his losing elections against the more conservative Ahmadinejad, backed by many of the more extreme ruling clergy.

Unfortunately, as noted earlier, US policies did not help either. The US pressure on Iran (from the nuclear stance, threats of war, war on terror stance, and more) have, perhaps unwittingly (though surely, to some extent, predictably?), helped emboldened hard-line elements further, and thus the nation has moved further away from democracy.

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