Iran has a proud heritage as an independent nation for much of its long history. The Achaemenid Empire, Saleucid period, the Parthian and Sassanid Empires all reference a proud history, with the Median empire dating back to at least 728 BCE.
The long history of human civilisation in Persia has resulted in a very varied ethnic composition to the country. The Shi-ite branch of the Muslim faith forms the vast majority of religious views, with 75-80% of the country speaking a variety of forms of Iranian (known as Farsi). The ethnic composition currently is Persians 61%, Azeris 16%, Kurds 10%, Lurs 6%, Arabs 2% Baloch 2%, Turkmen and Turkic tribes 2%,
Iran with its unique cultural and ethnic identity, has therefore always strongly resisted foreign occupation forces, ranging from the Turkish Ottomans to the Russians, British, and finally the Americans by proxy.
Since the Revolution in 1979, which saw the overthrow of the Pahlavi dynasty, (a hereditary dictatorship installed by the British and Americans to manage oil distribution), Iran has become both a democracy and theocracy. Voters are able to vote for an “approved” list of candidates in each election whose appropriateness is vetted by the Supreme Council of mullahs. Thus the range of candidates in Iran is circumscribed by the candidates’ apparent moral and religious rectitude, rather than, as in the US, and increasingly other Western countries, by the size of the bank balance backing the candidate. While levels of imprisonment, torture, and arbitrary execution remain high, they appear to be significantly lower than in the heyday of the revolution, and proportionally less than the Saudis across the Gulf. There is solid evidence from surveys undertaken in Iran by independent surveyors that the current Iranian system of government has the support of significant majority of the population; perhaps particularly so because it is a unique and indigenous product of Iranian culture and community, and not one imposed by other foreign cultures and governments.
Since the Pahlavi Shah was deposed and the American Embassy occupied by Iranian student revolutionaries, the US and its allies have imposed tighter and tighter levels of sanctions on Iran; supposedly for its development of nuclear weapons, but undoubtedly because the current government does not share the commercial and power block interests of the US, UK, Israel and its Saudi anti-Shi-ite backers. These sanctions have both created opportunities for considerable Iranian scientific and industrial innovation, but also restricted sales of its petrochemicals and other exports via Western banking systems (predominantly the Swift electronic transfer process). These commercial trading blockages have also resulted in a very high inflation rate and lack of access to some essential goods like pharmaceuticals; particularly radio-isotope anti-cancer drugs.
New systems of both banking transfer and use of non US dollars are however now being developed by the BRIC nations to circumvent the monopoly on international commercial transactions by US allies. These alternative international transactions method are naturally a cause of significant anxiety to the US and UK who have traditionally monopolized the methods and systems of monetary transfer across the world-a source of both great wealth and power to both countries state and commercial financial entities. How drastic the response by the US, UK and the EU and its ‘international’ institution, the IMF, to attempt to stop these new systems developing further is unknown at this point.
Despite much Western hype about the so-called “green revolution” at Iran’s last national elections, support for the current system of government remains high, and a sense of national Iranian pride and solidarity in its unique culture and independence is strong. Iran appears increasingly supported by both the BRIC countries and the non-aligned nations in its struggle to remain outside Western commercial and cultural domination.
Aside from Iraq’s fragile national entity and the tottering predominantly Alawite Syrian regime, Iran remains the one substantial Shi-ite state in the Middle East; something that is anathema to the extremist Salafist Sunni hereditary dictatorships in Saudi Arabia and Qatar across the Persian Gulf.
Given the advanced state of Iranian scientific research and its industrial capabilities, it would be extraordinary for Iran to have taken 54 years to develop its nuclear weapon capabilities; with the initial technology being supplied by the Americans to the Shah in 1959 . Israel and the US media have been crying “wolf’ about an Iranian nuclear programme since the Iranian revolution, despite all declarations from Iran that it has no intention of producing nuclear weapons. That declaration is in sharp contrast to Israel, which has stockpiled a massive nuclear weapon arsenal but continues to deny its existence and refuses to sign international nuclear protocols (with the full support of the United States).
Iran’s position on Israel has always been quite clear; Iran will not attack Israel unless it is attacked first, but believes that the Israeli state is an anathema to the region as a rascist and apartheid-like entity, and an oppressor of the Palestinian people who who have been forced from their lands and homes.. Iranian President Ahmadinejad (branded ‘crazy’ in the Western media -as all anti Western leaders are), never did say (as often quoted in the media) that Iran would wipe Israel off the map; he stated that the state of Israel had no future and would cease to exist in time. Iran has not attacked any other foreign country in the past 100 years, despite continued illegal threats and harrassment from Israel , the United States, the UK, and Saudi Arabia . It has however certainly used its proxies of Hamas and Hezbollah, and to an unknown degree, its informal military, the Revolutionary Guards, in the region to de-stabilise what it sees as anti-Shi-ite and reactionary forces and to support anti-Israeli occupation forces in Lebanon.
The Iranian “Supreme Leader” has repeatedly stated and issued fatwas to the effect that it would be morally wrong for Iran to possess a nuclear weapon. Such statements make it virtually impossible for Shi-ite Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon; to defy a fatwa by the Supreme Leader would be suicide.
Even the US “intelligence” community as late as 2011 reluctantly confirmed that Iran has no nuclear weapon development programme, but has continued to insist on its legal right (under international law) to develop nuclear fission capability for peaceful purposes. Iran is under no illusions that the continuing ongoing threats and sanctions by the Western community are about stopping a non-existent weapons programme: they are about regime-change.
Therefore US Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent statements in Jerusalem (8-4-13) (or El Quds as it is know in Moslem countries), warning Iran that his country would not hesitate to take military action if the diplomatic process failed to prevent Tehran from continuing its drive for nuclear weapons, is thus one more threat from the world’s superpower to a country that insists on its independence. The threats are of course entirely illegal and sanctionable under international law: but who would dare (yet) to prosecute the US?
However it should by now be self-evident to even the most dupe-able politician in the US or Europe; that the only way the Iranian population would accept a Western installed regime; as in the Gulf states, would be through massive all-out war and occupation.
While it is clear that US, Israeli and Saudi forces combined would annihilate most Iranian conventional military forces within days or weeks, causing millions of civilian deaths in its wake , the ongoing unconventional and “assymetric’ war would continue for years and likely decades, disrupting oil transit through the Gulf, eventually result in the overthrow of the Saudi regime, the disintegration of the Israeli apartheid state, and the collapse of other US client states in the region like Jordan. In the short to medium term, a victory against Iran by the mediaeval mysoginist Sunni Salafists running Saudi Arabia would also likely result in incalculable suffering to the millions of Shi-ites in the region.
But, despite all facts to the contrary, US Secretary of State John Kerry once again has supported Israel’s war rhetoric against Iran at a meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) on Monday.
“No option is off the table. No option will be taken off the table. And I confirmed you Mr. President that we will continue to seek a diplomatic solution, but our eyes are open, and we understand that the clock is moving,” Kerry stated.
While it is undoubtedly true to most Western observers that the Iranian state is an autocratic, religious based entity that uses executions and torture to control its adversaries, the same can of course be said for its US adversary, the Israeli state against its Palestinian population, and the Saudi hereditary dictatorship. Additionally, Iran’s democratic institutions are, from a Western cultural perspective, far in ‘advance’ of anything in the Western backed Gulf states across the Gulf. Women’s rights are also largely guaranteed in Iran, in contrast to the misogynist laws and values across the Gulf.
The only reason therefore why the West continues to threaten Iran, is that it represents an alternative, independent, third way of international power and relations in a region where Western predominance is vital to maintain the flow of oil to the West (despite the hype about shale oil) , and a potential threat to the continued existence of a “western” Israeli entity artificially planted in a sea of Arab and Persian nationalism.
Glenn Greenwald’s Podcast discussion with two of America’s leading Iran experts: the Leveretts
Two former officials of the US National Security State become the most vocal critics of US policy toward Tehran…
Or read the Leverett’s take on the issues directly here at Consortium News
Note their attendance at a student seminar with Noam Chomsky at MIT on Tuesday May 14th here
The Elephant in the Room: Militarism
by Jeff Cohen
I spent years as a political pundit on mainstream TV – at CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. I was outnumbered, outshouted, red-baited and finally terminated. Inside mainstream media, I saw that major issues were not only dodged, but sometimes not even acknowledged to exist.