That Iran is not a free country is self-evident. How could it possibly be free when it exists in the crosshairs of US imperialism?
In this respect, it shares the same status as Venezuela, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Russia, and China – in other words Iran is one of a select group of countries that do not kowtow to the diktat of ‘Rome’. For strip away the obfuscation, the dissembling words proffered by the usual parade of well fed and handsomely remunerated Western ideologues, and the only reason, the single reason that Iran is being depicted as a “terrorist state” in which human rights are non-existent, is because under its current government it refuses to bow to Washington or its vassals in western Europe and the region itself.
This is not to suggest that the protests that have broken out across Iran have no basis in legitimate grievances. As British journalist and Middle East correspondent, Patrick Cockburn, points out in a recent article, “grievances [in Iran] are similar to those in other oil states where there is long-suppressed anger against corruption and inequality. Youth unemployment was 28.8 percent last year. The nuclear deal with the US and other major powers in 2015 reduced sanctions, but has not produced the benefits that many expected. A 50 percent increase in the price of fuel was announced in the budget in December. Egg and poultry prices recently rose by 40 percent.”
As night follows day, sudden price hikes of this magnitude are guaranteed to bring those impacted out onto the streets — and understandably so. People’s ability to survive, to feed themselves and their families, is a fundamental right that any government impedes or undermines at its peril. The problem for an economy such as Iran’s is that while it may assert political and geopolitical independence, they exist in a neoliberal economic reality, trading in a global marketplace dominated by economic nostrums devised in and which emanate from Washington.
As such, until Iran, along with its other dissenting counterparts, makes a decisive break with neoliberalism, which by necessity also means breaking with the dollar as the international reserve currency, it will always be vulnerable to global economic downturns and shocks, such as occurred back in 2008. More crucially, it will be vulnerable to the machinations of dollar diplomacy, whether delivered via Washington directly, or indirectly via the IMF or World Bank. Ultimately, there can be no independence from the ‘Rome’ until there is independence from its currency.
Neoliberalism is the economic arm of US hegemony. Yet as an economic model it has been completely discredited as a result of the 2008 financial crash and ensuing global economic depression. The so-called Arab Spring of 2011, which morphed into an Arab winter with the eruption of Salafi-jihadism in Libya and Syria, was the product of this aforesaid crisis of neoliberalism. And in the Middle East, one of the most serious symptoms of this crisis has been the very youth unemployment that has bedeviled Iran. This particular social malaise was indeed a key factor in the tumultuous events that engulfed Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria back in 2011.
Compounding Iran’s economic problems has been the sanctions regime imposed on it by Western governments, led of course by Washington. The much-heralded P5+1 nuclear deal, reached in 2015 between Tehran and member states of the UN Security Council plus Germany, is considered to have been the landmark achievement of Obama’s foreign policy, trading the lifting of economic sanctions in return for the guarantee that Iran’s nuclear development program would remain non-military in its objectives.
But lest we lapse into any romantic illusions when it comes to Obama’s tenure in the White House, we are obliged to recall that prior to the agreement the Obama administration had done its utmost to derail Iran’s nuclear program by nefarious means. US author and historian, Perry Anderson, reveals how the Obama administration “launched a massive joint US-Israeli assault on Iranian computer networks to cripple the development of its nuclear programme. A blatant violation of what passes for international law, the projection of the Stuxnet virus was personally supervised by Obama.”
This episode of US and Israeli covert actions in Iran, which also included the assassination of Iranian scientists working in the country’s nuclear program by the Israelis, should be borne in mind when we read various commentators dismissing out of hand allegations by the current Iranian government of Western involvement in the wave of demonstrations that have taken place during the current crisis. Too, no serious analysis of Iranian affairs today can abstract the role of the joint US-UK covert operation, Operation Ajax, that was mounted to topple the country’s democratically elected president, Mohammad Mossadegh, in 1953 in response to his decision to nationalize the country’s oil.
Replacing Mossadegh was Washington placeman the Shah. Over the next three decades Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to give the Iranian dictator his real name, set about plundering the country’s wealth for the enrichment of himself and his own, whilst keeping dissenting voices in check with his dreaded secret police and domestic security service, known by its acronym SAVAK, whose methods were a by-word for savagery even in a region where security services are notorious for their brutality. The point is that this history of Western imperialist intrigue in Iran and its internal affairs must be factored into the current crisis, as well as the overall state of the country’s development if we are to arrive at anything approximating to an accurate rendering.
Returning to the P5+1 deal, rather than the result of any Obamaesque reaching out to a former enemy, it was the product of realpolitik, recognition that Iran was just too tough a nut to crack militarily or by dint of economic sanctions, and that the received truth embraced by every US administration since the Iranian revolution of 1979 – namely that the Islamic Republic was a mortal enemy whose overthrow and destruction was non-negotiable – was no longer viable.
However in Donald Trump we are dealing with probably the most capricious US president the world has experienced, whose animus towards the Islamic Republic – to the manifest delight of both the Saudis and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu – is all-consuming. Trump has made known his opposition to the P5+1 deal, and at his behest, the US Treasury reintroduced sanctions against Iran, which came on stream in July.
The reasoning for the new tranche of sanctions has been given as “Iran’s malign activities across the Middle East which undermine regional stability, security, and prosperity. Iran continues to support terrorist groups such as Hizballah (sic), Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad that threaten Israel and stability in the Middle East. Iran has maintained its steadfast support for the Assad regime, despite Assad’s atrocities against his own people.”
In the upside-down world that passes for reality in Washington, we are expected to believe that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism when in truth its role in combatting terrorism in the region has been crucial. Sorry guys but such base and transparent solecisms simply will no do. And neither will the blatant attempt to turn the UN Security Council into a rubber stamp of US foreign policy.
The day that Trump’s otherworldly UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, blatantly abused the Security Council, scheduling a debate on events in Iran during which she took the opportunity to unleash a barrage of condemnation against the country’s government, irony died. Fortunately, Russia’s UN ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, was on hand to deliver a righteous slapdown. “If your logic is to be followed,” he told Haley, “Security Council meetings should have been called after the well-known events in Ferguson, Missouri, or when violence was used against Occupy Wall Street demonstrations on Manhattan.”