Following the 2003 Iraq invasion, Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld reflected, “The world has witnessed how the United States attacked Iraq for, as it turned out, no reason at all. Had the Iranians not tried to build nuclear weapons, they would be crazy”.
US President Donald Trump has recently decertified the JCPOA – the nuclear deal – with Iran. Furthermore, he has imposed fresh sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian military.
Two months ago, Iran President Hassan Rouhani said his country may restart their nuclear programme “within hours”, if any more American sanctions were implemented. Considering Iran are again coming under the spectre of attack from their old nemesis, such developments may prove inevitable.
It stands as the signal America, with its aggressive militarism, has sent to the world: Develop nuclear weapons if you want protection from us. It is a message North Korea have long since heeded. The DPRK would surely have been attacked by now, had they not armed themselves with nuclear warheads and masses of artillery.
American threats to North Korea and Iran constitute a violation of the United Nations Charter. The US was one of the key signatories behind the UN’s creation in 1945. During the time since, they appear to have regarded it as a mere ceremonial duty.
The opening lines of the Charter state it is designed to, “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war… to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights… and of nations large and small”.
Among the common charges laid at Iran’s door by the West is “fuelling instability”. In simple terms, this means disregarding American wishes. As ISIS rampaged through northern Iraq in 2014, it was Iran who first came to the aid of the besieged Kurds. Actions like this have been called “destabilisation” and “supporting terrorism”.
Iraq was attacked by the US in 2003, leaving a scale of ruin that Iraqis compare to the Mongol invasions of the 13th century. In the West this was titled “democracy promotion” or “stabilisation”. Not neglecting to mention up to a million Iraqis who died, in an attack which also set the groundwork for ISIS’s emergence.
Meanwhile, of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, UN atomic watchdog chief Yukiya Amano said last month, “The nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under the JCPOA are being implemented. The verification regime in Iran is the most robust regime… currently existing. We have increased inspection days in Iran, we have increased inspection numbers… and the number of images has increased”.
This is resounding proof that Iran are meeting every requirement asked of them, unlike others. Once more, it is the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia who are taking the lead in discounting international law.
In doing so, they are furthering their isolation in the global arena. The five other powers that primarily hammered out the nuclear deal – China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain – have said they will stand by it regardless of the American position.
The true reasons behind this renewed hostility to Iran are unspecified of course. Iran are becoming an increasing influence in the Middle East, a growing rival and deterrent to Israel, for instance. Iran also performed an important role, allied to Russia and the Syrian Army, in defeating Western-backed opposition terrorists in Aleppo.
Other causes of concern are Iran’s “support for terrorism”, as President Trump has reiterated, echoing his predecessors’ words. This mainly refers to Iran’s backing of Hezbollah and Hamas. Both these organisations came into existence because of US-led aggression in the Middle East, abetted and supported by Israel or Saudi Arabia.
This Western-directed terror greatly outweighs anything attributed to either Hezbollah or Hamas. Hezbollah, for example, have played a role in the retreat of ISIS – having fought the extremists over three years in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. The duo are also staunch enemies of Israel, therefore of the US.
Nor can Iran, along with Hezbollah and Hamas, even compete with Saudi Arabia when it comes to sponsoring Islamic terror. ISIS themselves are an offshoot of Saudi religious fanaticism and its broadening of the jihadi message.
What’s more, Iran – the earth’s fourth largest oil producer – have never been forgiven for removing themselves from American control 38 years ago. Much as a gang underling must be taught lessons for betraying the Mafia don, Iran have been mercilessly punished. Those living in Cuba can back up Iran’s claims with their own half century of evidence.
Even American intelligence recognises Iran’s strategic doctrines are defensive, and that they pose no major military threat. Last year the US arms budget was 50 times greater than Iran’s. Yet in Western circles, Iran are often viewed as the “gravest threat to peace”, despite no record of having outright invaded another country.
One of the major ironies is how American actions this century have aided Iran’s cause. Fourteen years after the Iraq war ended, the New York Times laments that, “Walk into almost any market in Iraq and the shelves are filled with goods to Iran… Turn on the television and channel after channel broadcasts programs sympathetic to Iran. A new building goes up? It’s likely that the bricks and cement came from Iran. And that’s not even the half of it”.
The root cause behind such outcomes – the devastation left behind by the US-led invasion – are unmentioned in the Times article. Iraq had long been a Shiite majority country, but before the 2003 attack it was governed by a Sunni minority. The Americans wiped out the elite Sunni rulers, inadvertently pushing Iraq close to Iran, also a Shiite majority nation.
With American hostility towards Iran again increasing, it is striking that China, in particular, have become a key ally of the Middle East country. Today, China represent both Iran’s largest export and import market. From 2000 to 2014, China’s share of Iranian exports grew from 4% to a significant 49%, mostly in crude oil. During that 14-year stretch, China’s share of imports to Iran rose from 5% to 45%.
Closer Sino-Iranian military ties have also developed. In 2012, for the first time, Chinese warships appeared in the Persian Gulf for a joint exercise with the Iranian navy.
Under President Rouhani (in power, 2013-present), relations have stepped up another level – with an overall 70% increase in trade with China, who view Rouhani favourably. Last year, China and Iran agreed to increase trade to $600 billion over the next decade.
China have also become a major supplier of advanced weapons to Iran. This includes anti-ship cruise missiles, Land Attack cruise missiles, providing scores of sophisticated J-10 fighter jets to Iran, etc. The J-10 fighter is “roughly comparable to American’s lethal F-15 in battle”.
In November 2016, a military cooperation agreement was signed by China and Iran, with joint military drills having occurred in June this year. Iran’s then Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan said, “The upgrading of relations and long-term defence-military cooperation with China, is one of the main priorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s defence diplomacy”. It also poses another major deterrent to Iran’s enemies.
One can assume the above developments are viewed with horror by those in Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.