Iran’s newly elected president, Hassan Rouhani, has lost no time in trying to end the 34-year old political and economic siege imposed on his nation by the United States and its allies.
Ever since a popular revolution ousted the US-installed regime of Shah Pahlavi in 1979, Washington has sought to overthrow Iran’s Islamic republic.
Iran has been isolated, put under intense economic and diplomatic siege, become the target of subversion and the US-backed invasion by Iraq in 1980 that killed up to 500,000 Iranians.
The US challenge to Iran is always depicted for public consumption as an effort to stop Tehran getting nuclear weapons. Iran is routinely accused of supporting “terrorism” and subversion.
In reality, US hostility towards Iran is mostly about old-fashioned power politics. In 2003, US Secretary of State Colin Powell let the cat out of the bag by admitting that Iran’s acquisition of a few nuclear weapons would “limit” US ability to use force in the region.
Control of the Mideast is one of the pillars of US world power. The US has dominated the Mideast since 1945, as I detail in my book “American Raj – How America Rules the Mideast.” Islamic Iran emerged after 1979 as the most potent challenge to US regional domination and control of its energy.
Iran and US ally Saudi Arabia have waged a bitter proxy war in Afghanistan, Central Asia, and East Africa by arming and funding extremist groups. Syria is the latest example.
Washington and Israel have used the nuclear arms issue to isolate Iran and make it an outcast state, much as was done with Cuba in the 20th Century.
It’s easy to forget that nearly all of Iran’s nuclear energy industry is under very tight UN supervision, not to mention incessant monitoring by western intelligence agencies and Israel. By contrast, Israel refuses UN inspection and maintains a sizeable nuclear and chemical arsenal.
It’s also easy to forget that the original signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – the US, Russia, Britain, France (and later China) – have all violated the pact’s pledge to swiftly reduce, then eliminate their nuclear arsenals.
Iran is now making a major push to convince the world it has no nuclear weapons ambitions, starting with its spiritual leader, Ayatollah Khomenei who has issued a fatwa condemning all nuclear weapons.
So far, the US, strongly pressed by Israel, is responding cautiously but positively.
Israel has made it clear it wants the US to attack Iran and crush its nuclear and non-nuclear military capabilities. Equally important, says Israel, is the need to liquidate Iran’s scientific nuclear cadre of scientists.
My sources in Iraq report that since the US invasion in 2003, over 200 Iraqi nuclear scientists and technicians have been mysteriously assassinated. A number of Iranian nuclear personnel have also been assassinated by bombs, widely believed to be the work of Israel’s Mossad spy agency.
The logical course for the United States to follow is to welcome Iran’s overtures and restore normal relations between the two powers. An Iran aligned to the outside world is less likely to be troublesome than the angry, frightened, besieged Iran of today.
Furthermore, Washington has at some point got to accept that Iran is an influential regional power with its own legitimate interests. If Iran truly has no nuclear weapons ambitions, then the only reason for Tehran to suffer punishing sanctions is national pride. Iran needs economic growth, not pride.
If Washington really wants stability rather than just obedience, then it should welcome Iran’s overtures.
As for the near-war state between Iran and Israel, the crux of this confrontation is the lack of a Palestinian state. If Israel ever agrees to such a viable state, hostility with Tehran will sharply lessen. Recall that amidst mutual threats in the 1980’s, Israel quietly sold Iran $5 billion of US arms.
Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times, Nation – Pakistan, Hurriyet, – Turkey, Sun Times Malaysia and other news sites in Asia.