FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Demystifying Iran

For several decades, relations between the U.S. and Iran and between Iran and the West have been shrouded in a cloud of misconceptions and prejudices. They have done nothing to achieve a peaceful relationship with that country, and only led to a permanent state of distrust that can lead to war at any moment. Some basic facts need to be restated.

The present conflicting relations can be traced to a large extent to a fateful day, 19 August 1953, when both the United Kingdom and the U.S. orchestrated a coup that overthrew Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh. The reason: Mossadegh was trying to audit the books of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), a British corporation, to change the terms of that company’s access to Iranian oil.

Following the refusal of AIOC to cooperate with the Iranian government, the Iranian parliament voted almost unanimously to nationalize AIOC and expel its representatives from Iran. The anti-government coup that ensued led to the formation of a military government under General Fazlollah Zahedi. That government allowed Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to rule the country as an absolute and ruthless monarch.

60 years after the coup, the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) finally admitted that it had been involved in both its planning and the execution of the coup that caused 300 to 800, mostly civilian, casualties. That fateful coup was behind the anti-American sentiment not only in Iran but throughout the Middle East.

I wonder how we, in the United States, would have reacted if China and Russia, for example, would have plotted to overthrow a democratic American government, leaving a chaotic situation in its wake.

However, U.S. interference in Iranian affairs didn’t end there. In September 1980, Saddam Hussein started a war against Iran that would have devastating consequences for both countries. The war -the longest conventional war in the 20th century- was characterized by Iraq’s indiscriminate ballistic-missile attacks and extensive use of chemical weapons.

The war resulted in at least half a million and probably twice as many troops killed on both sides, and in at least half a million men who became permanently disabled. The U.S. actively supported Saddam Hussein in his war efforts with billions of dollars in credits, advanced technology, weaponry, military intelligence, and Special Operations training.

Pentagon officials in Baghdad planned day-by-day bombing strikes for the Iraqi Air Force. According to the U.S. former ambassador Peter W. Galbraith, Iraq used this data to target Iranian positions with chemical weapons. Despite the brutality of these attacks, Iran didn’t respond in kind.

In 1984, Iran presented a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council condemning Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons, based on the Geneva Protocol of 1925. The U.S. instructed its delegate at the UN to lobby friendly representatives to support a motion to abstain on the vote on the use of chemical weapons by Iraq. Given these facts, can we be surprised that Iranians have a deep resentment against the U.S.?

However, rather than following a policy of appeasement, Republican senators and some Democrats are intent on derailing an agreement with Iran that goes contrary to the U.S.’s own political and economic interests in the region. And they have a faithful ally in Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Where do these actions lead us to? Although President Barak Obama has said that he will veto any new sanctions on Iran, there is the risk that by not reaching an agreement with Iran in the next few months hardliners both in the U.S. and in Israel will press for an attack on Iran. Such an outcome will spell disaster for the region and eventually for the whole world.

The U.S. should take advantage of the momentum now created by the progress –albeit slow- in the negotiations and try to have Iran’s full cooperation on important problems such as IS, Syria, Afghanistan and the Taliban. Hossein Mousavian, a former spokesperson for Iran’s nuclear negotiation team has recently declared that a secret cooperation among Teheran, Washington and Moscow led to the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria.

Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. recently said that, probably besides the people of Israel, the Iranian people are the most pro-American people in the region. Iranians, frustrated by a continuous state of belligerence between Iran on one side and the U.S. and Israel on the other, are desperate for a normalization of relations that will open for them new economic and professional opportunities. The advantages of reaching an agreement are clear and so, regrettably, are the disadvantages.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award and a national journalism award from Argentina. He has written extensively on Iranian issues.
More articles by:

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

November 20, 2018
John Davis
Geographies of Violence in Southern California
Anthony Pahnke
Abolishing ICE Means Defunding it
Maximilian Werner
Why (Mostly) Men Trophy Hunt: a Biocultural Explanation
Masturah Alatas
Undercutting Female Circumcision
Jack Rasmus
Global Oil Price Deflation 2018 and Beyond
Geoff Dutton
Why High Technology’s Double-Edged Sword is So Hard to Swallow
Binoy Kampmark
Charges Under Seal: US Prosecutors Get Busy With Julian Assange
Rev. William Alberts
America Fiddles While California Burns
Forrest Hylton, Aaron Tauss and Juan Felipe Duque Agudelo
Remaking the Common Good: the Crisis of Public Higher Education in Colombia
Patrick Cockburn
What Can We Learn From a Headmaster Who Refused to Allow His Students to Celebrate Armistice Day?
Clark T. Scott
Our Most Stalwart Company
Tom H. Hastings
Look to the Right for Corruption
Edward Hunt
With Nearly 400,000 Dead in South Sudan, Will the US Finally Change Its Policy?
Thomas Knapp
Hypocrisy Alert: Republicans Agreed with Ocasio-Cortez Until About One Minute Ago
November 19, 2018
David Rosen
Amazon Deal: New York Taxpayers Fund World Biggest Sex-Toy Retailer
Sheldon Richman
Art of the Smear: the Israel Lobby Busted
Chad Hanson
Why Trump is Wrong About the California Wildfires
Dean Baker
Will Progressives Ever Think About How We Structure Markets, Instead of Accepting them as Given?
Robert Fisk
We Remember the Great War, While Palestinians Live It
Dave Lindorff
Pelosi’s Deceptive Plan: Blocking any Tax Rise Could Rule Out Medicare-for-All and Bolstering Social Security
Rick Baum
What Can We Expect From the Democrat “Alternative” Given Their Record in California?
Thomas Scott Tucker
Trump, World War I and the Lessons of Poetry
John W. Whitehead
Red Flag Gun Laws
Newton Finn
On Earth, as in Heaven: the Utopianism of Edward Bellamy
Robert Fantina
Shithole Countries: Made in the USA
René Voss
Have Your Say about Ranching in Our Point Reyes National Seashore
Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail