In case you missed it, which you probably didn’t, tensions between Iran and the West are at an all time high. The only thing surprising about this situation is that it didn’t come about sooner: the US has over the last three years violated, then pulled out of the JCPOA; it has violated the 1981 Algiers Accords and labelled an official army branch as a “terrorist organisation”; severe economic sanctions have been enacted, indirectly quadrupling Iran’s inflation rate and creating unrest, with sanctions also being threatened against any country buying oil from Iran; Iranian airspace has also seemingly been violated.
However, the droning of Qasem Soleimani has been the offense which has pushed Iran to the brink of war, and it’s not surprising to see why: Soleimani, one of Iran’s most notable figures, was on a peace mission in Iraq, to seek a diplomatic rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, a Western ally in the region. Instead, the US seemingly arbitrarily claimed that he was an “imminent threat”, and had him murdered.
And the West have lied about Iran before. Recent accusations that Iran have been cooperating with al-Qaeda are scarily similar to the myths perpetrated about Saddam Hussein – in reality, Saddam was secular, Iran is fanatically Shi’a, and al-Qaeda violently opposes the both of them. Al-Qaeda does, however, tolerate the Wahhabi sect practiced by the Saudis, who, along with the UAE, have infamously aided al-Qaeda in Yemen and Syria.
In fact, whilst their internal domestic policy is indeed condemnable, authoritarian and reactionary, Iran’s foreign policy is actually more isolationist than we hear in the media: groups such as the Houthis or Hezbollah are more allies of convenience than puppets, serving as resistance movements against Saudi and Israeli hegemony. Reminder: Saudi Arabia once helped engineer and maintain an Iraqi invasion of Iran, and Israel likely possesses nuclear weapons along with its strong anti-Iran rhetoric.
The principal aggressor here would have to be Trump’s USA, who have platformed notable warhawks such as John Bolton, operate armed bases practically encircling Iran, and have attempted the overthrowing of over 50 foreign governments since the end of the Second World War. Trump himself has threatened to “obliterate” Iran and attack its cultural sites. In case you didn’t know, actions intending to wipe a culture off the face of the Earth have a name: genocide. Trump’s flirtations with genocidal rhetoric must be thoroughly acknowledged and condemned, even if they are absent-minded 3am tweets.
Meanwhile, Iran and its ally Hezbollah have outright promised their intention not to attack any American citizens. Ali Khamenei even went as far as to clarify that civilians were not included in the infamous chant, “Death to America”.
“Iran’s foreign policy is actually more isolationist than we hear in the media”
Why would the Iranian government want a war anyway? A war would mean their ousting, if not something far more disastrous for their citizens. We’re dealing with Rouhani, a moderate reformist, after all, not Ahmadinejad. War only would benefit a small few: multinational corporations, the governments they lobby, and a few opportunistic jihadist groups. The instability from past interventions, some in which Anglo-American soldiers have died, have caused even some of the most anti-Saddam or anti-Qaddafi activists to switch allegiances in hindsight.
But if you want more assurance of a hidden agenda at play, just see Trump’s reaction to Iraq’s sovereign decision to expel foreign troops. The sanctions, he said, which he would place on Iraq should they go through with this decision, will “make sanctions [placed on Iran] look somewhat tame.” Trump’s primary concern is not social justice, or Iran specifically, but any nation who dares to challenge Western, capitalist hegemony.
Image credit: Orly Orlyson via Flickr