maandag 4 juni 2012

If Israel strikes Iran, the people of the Middle East will rally to the side of Iran

    
     

Het artikel “Ligt een nieuwe oorlog in het Midden-Oosten in het verschiet? ” stelt de gigantische opbouw van militaire macht in de regio van de Perzische Golf, langs de Iraanse kust, aan de orde. Een machtsontplooiing die duidt op voorbereiding op oorlog tegen Iran na de presidentsverkiezing. Een aanvalsoorlog die niet zal worden gedekt door een mandaat van de Veiligheidsraad en dus in alle opzichten indruist tegen het internationaal recht. Om de druk op de ketel te houden zei Pentagon-baas Leon Panetta op ABC News dat de VS “klaar” is om Iran aan te vallen. Het wachten is enkel op het groene licht van president Obama. Daarmee herhaalde Panette het eeuwige deuntje van de neoconservatieven, de Israel-lobby en de Amerikaanse media: Iran heeft morgen een kernwapen. “Dat zullen we verhinderen”, zei Panetta, of het Internationaal Atoomagentschap en 17 Amerikaanse inlichtingendiensten deze boodschap nu hebben ontkend of niet.

Men kan het optreden van Panetta dan ook alleen maar zien als een poging om de derde ronde op 18 juni in Moskou van de P5+1 gesprekken, op te blazen. Washington houdt immers vast aan de nul-optie: Iran moet volledig afzien van elke uraniumverrijking. Met zo’n opstelling haalt Washington tegelijk een kruis over het nucleaire non-proliferatieverdrag (NPV) dat ook door Iran is ondertekend. Anders dan wat Panetta beweert staat de internationale gemeenschap niet achter een nul-optie voor Iran: zowel de BRICS-landen als de Beweging van Niet-Gebonden Landen vinden dat Iran, net als elk ander land dat het NPV onderschrijft, het recht heeft een kernenergieprogramma uit te bouwen. Teheran heeft in de onderhandeling met de P5+1 in Bagdad zelfs zijn 20% uraniumverrijking ter discussie gesteld, om vast te stellen dat de rode lijn voor de VS, geen enkele verrijking, vast staat.

Zelfs in het onwaarschijnlijke geval dat Teheran afziet van elke unaniumverrijking en zijn nucleair programma afbouwt, dan blijft Iran nog zuchten onder Amerikaanse sancties. Die hebben immers vrijwel niets te maken met het Iraanse nucleaire programma. Waar het om gaat is een regimewissel. Op 25 mei heeft het Congres met resolutie 401-11 de toch al extreem zware sancties nog verder verscherpt. Die sancties blijven van kracht totdat president Obama het Congres bewijst “dat Iran alle politieke gevangenen heeft vrijgelaten, elk geweld tegen burgers heeft afgezworen, daar een transparant onderzoek naar heeft ingesteld en de verantwoordelijken heeft vervolgd, en vorderingen maakt met de instelling van een onafhankelijk justitieapparaat, elke steun aan internationaal terrorisme heeft stopgezet en de ontwikkeling van nucleaire, biologische, chemische en ballistische wapens heeft stopgezet.”

In het bovenstaande interview op het Russische satellietkanaal RT zet Brian Becker, nationaal coördinator van de A.N.S.W.E.R. anti-war coalition, de feiten nog eens op een rijtje. Iran schikt zich naar het Internationaal Atoomagentschap (IAEA), heeft geen kernwapens, bedreigt de buurlanden niet, is nog nooit een oorlog tegen zijn buurlanden begonnen. Israel daarentegen beschikt over honderden kernwapens en weigert, anders dan Iran, het non-proliferatieverdrag te ondertekenen. Het staat geen IAEA-inspectie toe. Er gaat geen enkele nucleaire dreiging van Iran uit. Voor Becker is de huidige crisis kunstmatig, puur een creatie van de Amerikaanse regering. De totale economische blokkade, onder het internationaal recht een oorlogshandeling, moet leiden tot regimewissel in Iran. Teheran vermijdt zorgvuldig elke provocatie die de VS en Israel een excuus voor militair optreden kan geven. Mocht Israel tot de aanval overgaan, dan wordt dat een strijd tussen de Islamitische Republiek en het Israëlisch-Zionistische regime waarin Iran massale publieke steun op de been kan brengen in de Arabische landen. En dat kan gevaarlijk zijn voor de regimes in die landen, regimes waar de VS nu juist zo op steunt.

Hieronder een transcriptie van het interview.

What does the US want from tightening sanctions, it is even beyond tightening the sanctions now?

The US government has created an artificial crisis, that is first and foremost a manufactured crisis. Iran is complying with the IAEA, Iran does not have a nuclear weapon, Iran is not threatening its neighbours, Iran has not started a war with any of its neighbours. Israel on the other hand has hundreds of nuclear weapons and unlike Iran refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, does not allow IAEA-inspectors into its country. So there is not really a nuclear menace or nuclear danger from Iran. So what is the cause of the artificial crisis? The real goal is [that] the US government has embarked on a course of extreme economic aggression against Iran, with the hope that by creating economic suffering, economic isolation, economic misery, that part of the population will rise up or become disenfranchised with the government, so that the US can do as it has in history: carry out regime change.

The US denied that it is trying to carry out regime change in Iran…

We have to take that with a very big grain of salt, because we know that since 1979, the US refuses to have relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Why? Is it because Iran is a dictatorship? Well, it is actually a democratic government. It had democratic features far beyond some of America’s foremost allies in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia. Since 1979, Iran became an independent government. Before that, between 1953 and 1979, when the Shah was there, the Shah acted basically as a proxy, or a puppet, or a client of the American power.

So the US says: they are not carrying out regime change, but in fact everyone who is watching knows that it is indeed US policy to create pressure on Iran, carry out covert operations, economic sanctions. And now these new sanctions are not really like the old sanctions. They are saying to the rest of the world: if you dare do business with Iran’s Central Bank, if you buy Iranian oil, which constitutes half of Iran’s GNP, if you have any business with Iran whatsoever, you will not have access to American banks, American corporations, to the American market. This is in fact something like an economic blockade on Iran, and by international law an economic blockade is an act of war. And so we should understand it just like that.

So what do you think Iran’s response will be?

Iran so far has been very prudent, even though that they said that they would consider closing the Strait of Hormuz, that 6 miles stretch of the Persian/Arabian Gulf where 25% of the world’s oil supply goes through. And even though much was made of that in the Western media, in fact Iran has not done anything to give the US a pretext, an excuse, a provocation, that would allow the US, or Israel, to trigger a set of military actions. Iran, I think, is also telling its people that we, the Iranian government, are not panicked, that they are showing that they have a serenity, a calmness and a confidence, and they will weather the storm, but in fact economic sanctions are taking a bite in the Iranian economy right now.

The Wall Street Journal says that the US is planning a plan B, should Israel attack…

I think the Israelis try to pretend that Iran constitutes an existential threat to Israel. I don’t think that that is the case, even though Iran’s military has the capability to do great damage to Israel in the event of a war. Though Israel is a nuclear power, I think that the Israeli government has a practice of invasion and bombing of its neighbours in the Middle East. It carried out the bombing of Iraq’s nuclear facility in 1981, even though that was permitted by international law and subject to IAEA-inspections, in other words, a nuclear programme for civilian energy purposes. Israel came and bombed it. They did the same to Syria in the last few years, and they would like to carry out strikes against the Iranian government.

The Americans don’t want that right now. Even though they are happy to have Iran in a state of tension, they don’t really want Israel to become the main protagonist with the Iranian government by carrying out an unprovoked military strike. I am talking about the main sectors in the American establishment. Because that would then present a crisis, a struggle between the Islamic Republic on one side, and the Israeli-Zionist regime on the other. And in that case, Iran would be able to mobilize massive support throughout the Middle East for it. The US has a different tact. They want to keep Israel sort of in the background, looming, endangering, threatening, Iran in one way, keeping Iran in a state of tension, perhaps militarily, but have the economic sanctions do the bulk of the work. By carrying out economic and financial isolation against the Iranian government. They think long-term, that is the easier, the better way, the more effective way to carry out regime change.

The US is puzzled over Israel’s intentions, so what if Israel does decide to attack Iran? A US official said it’s hard to know what’s a bluster, and what not, with the Israelis…

A lot of that is baloney and nonsense. The Israelis are the recipient, the benefactor of $3 billion a year in US military aid. If they do something that is completely contrary to what Washington wants, they will be on the very short end of the stick. The Israelis are not dictating and dominating US policy in this geostrategically important region. They have a big influence in Washington, they have a strong lobby, but when it comes to Iran, or when it comes to Iraq, the Israelis do not tell the US what to do, it’s vice versa. If Israel strikes now, if the conflict is presented that way, between the Islamic Republic and Israel, the people of the Middle East will rally to the side of Iran.

The assassination of Iranian scientists which Rick Santorum called half measures, the tightening of the sanctions, the coalition against Iran that the US is trying to build against Iran, what is Iran going to do to face all this pressure?

Iran has certain allies, too. Iran has Russia, and it has China, increasingly it has Venezuela and Cuba. In other words those governments in the world, in addition to Syria which has its own problems right now, the countries in the world that don’t want the entire world to be dominated by one power, the USA. They recognize that the existence of Iran as an independent government is something that is positive, meaning that if the US were to be successful in carrying out regime change in Iran, they would be emboldened to carry out further destabilizing efforts against other powers, including Russia and China by the way, even though they are great powers. Iran has allies, Iran is trying to show they can weather the storm, and also that they can rally their population, in spite of the fact that the visions that were revealed in 2009 after the presidential elections, the Iranian people as a whole don’t believe that they should be sanctioned. The Iranian people believe that they have the right to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes. Right now the Iranian government is trying to weather the storm.

What options do they have?

They have limited options. That is the big issue here. In the US nobody feels this issue. They don’t feel there is a war looming. They don’t feel the problem of economic sanctions. It’s the Iranians who are feeling it. It’s the tension, the pressure, the economic problems are all one-sided. This is like a great power, the 700 lb gorilla, who decides to sit wherever it wants to sit. It can create immense tension and pressure and economic suffering somewhere else without having to endure any political price. That’s the big problem.

As a peace activist and as someone who believes in human rights, I think we’ll see this more and more in the US, we are starting to concentrate our efforts to expose the fact that the US government is carrying out a different set of tactics, the same thing they did in Iraq. They carried out regime change in Iraq, not to make Iraq more democratic, more human rights oriented, but to dominate Iraq and they want to do that in Iran, and we need to have people outside of Iran stand up and say: “Iran should not stand alone in this”.

Does the presidential election have anything to say in what is going on and what is going to happen in Iran in terms of Washington-Tehran?

The presidential elections in the US definitely play a role in US policy towards Iran. That by the way has been the case ever since the Iranian Revolution. Iran has factored into US politics. In this case, the Republican candidates are sort of backing Obama and suggesting that if Obama is re-elected, we will have a nuclear armed Iran someday soon. It is not out of the question that Obama could opportunistically up the ante, or even escalate, or even allow some sort of limited military attack against Iran in order to show how tough he is and why he is not a liberal, or something. But I don’t think so.

This is a very big project for the Pentagon, for the CIA, and for the US establishment. I think it goes beyond electoral politics and I think the Obama administration and the Pentagon are having a carefully calibrated approach to that. With regime change, Republicans and Democrats share the same objective. One is more demagogically militant against Iran, they both share the same objective, which is: bring Iran back into the American sphere of influence, and I think the Republicans can’t move Obama that much because Obama has actually the backing of the Pentagon in terms of this particular approach. The Pentagon is down in Afghanistan, they really were pushed out of Iraq, they have a lot of military problems, a major full-scale war right now, which could happen even if they don’t intend it, by people climbing the escalation ladder.

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