Much to the horror of Washington elites, Iran have been performing a key role in defeating Western-backed opposition terrorists in Syria, while participating in further victories against ISIS in Iraq. Iran’s growing influence in Iraq, a long-time massive oil producer, must be of particular concern to the United States. This may be a reason behind US President Donald Trump imposing sanctions on Iran last month.
One of the consequences of the devastating 2003 Iraq invasion was that the Americans (with allies) inadvertently created a Shiite-dominated state in Iraq. This led to closer ties to Iran with about 90% of Iranians regarded as Shiites. It is safe to assume that Iran’s increasing influence has been viewed with alarm too in Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Saudi Arabia, a major tyranny, have also played an unintended part in Iran’s rise – aided with huge US and British funding, the Saudis have perpetrated an ongoing and disastrous war in Yemen resulting in a grave humanitarian crisis there.
The Saudis have long since become bogged down – a new Harvard study suggests the war may be costing them around $200 million a day. Meanwhile, Iran have been stepping up their aid to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, “giving Tehran the opportunity to become more influential there than ever”.
The Saudis, with Western backing, have also strongly supported brutal opposition terrorists in Syria – such as in the four-year battle for the key city of Aleppo – another calamitous Western intervention that ended in defeat against President Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian army, with crucial Russian and Iranian support.
In 2014 Hillary Clinton acknowledged in an email later released by WikiLeaks that, “Saudi Arabia… are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region [Syria]”.
This critical evidence, never meant for public eyes, reveals that the US have been knowingly supporting ISIS and other terrorist groups – during Barack Obama’s eight years in office the US provided Saudi Arabia with over $50 billion of US-made arms and supplies. The principal reason for close US-Saudi ties is that the latter produce 13% of the of the world’s oil.
It also sheds light on why the “loss” of Iran during the 1979 Islamic Revolution was such a grievous blow to US planners. Iran have the fourth largest oil reserves in the world and are situated in one of the critical (and most troubled) regions on earth – Iran is bordered by Turkey, Iraq and Afghanistan with the Persian Gulf separating it from Saudi Arabia.
This can further explain why Iran have been at the end of such enormous Western propaganda campaigns – in US commentary Iran have been widely described as “the greatest threat to world peace”, outrageous claims based on no evidence.
In reality, polls of international opinion overwhelmingly attach that title to the US – as Robert Jervis, ex-president of the American Political Science Association, said: “In the eyes of much of the world, in fact, the prime rogue state today is the United States”. That is hardly a surprising conclusion if one examines the record.
It is revealing that the nations bordering Iran do not feel her to be a serious threat, instead ranking the US and Israel as the greatest dangers facing them. It could be argued convincingly that the US have mercilessly meddled in Iranian affairs since 1953. The coup in August of that year, led by the CIA with British support, overthrew the parliamentary government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh.
Mossadegh had been a long-standing critic of imperial policies which were robbing his compatriots blind – and, critically, he nationalised the oil industry in 1951. From the West’s point of view, Mossadegh had to go. He was replaced by the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who would rule until his 1979 toppling while compiling “one of the worst human rights records in the world”.
Not that such dire consequences for Iranians bothered the US or Britain who were content that independent nationalism was destroyed – and Western control over oil resources could continue unimpeded. That enormous luxury ended 38 years ago as Iranians rose up against the cruel dictatorship of the Shah.
The torture didn’t end there. Appalled at the loss of such a key ally, the US almost immediately instigated the bloody Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) as Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein, America’s loyal ally, invaded Iran.
US President Ronald Reagan even went to the extreme of blaming Hussein’s perhaps single most atrocious crime – the 1988 Halabja chemical attack that killed thousands of Kurds – exclusively on Iran.
Today paints a different picture, however. China, a growing US rival, have been investing heavily in Iranian infrastructure. In the east of Iran, Chinese labourers have been modernising the country’s principal rail lines and rebuilding bridges – with the longer term goal of connecting Iran to Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.
In western Iran, “railroad crews are working to link the capital [Tehran] to Turkey and, eventually, to Europe”. The possible connection to Turkey seems appropriate as Iran’s most senior general Mohammad Baqeri travelled to Ankara this week to meet top Turkish officials – the first reunion of its kind in the post-Revolution years.
Like China, Russia have also been invited to invest in Iran. In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier in the week, his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani said that, “I’m confident that relations and cooperation between Russia and Iran… will be further expanded. Tehran welcomes an active presence of Russian investors to participate and cooperate in key infrastructural projects”.
With US hostility to Iran increasing again under Trump, it seems highly sensible the Iranian leadership is aligning itself to Russia and China.