The international community grapples once again with the imminent prospect of a “nuclear deal” between the US (P5+1) and Iran before the extended deadline of November 24 arrives. Meanwhile, the neo-cons and fundamentalists from both sides have begun undermining and harming possible breakthroughs. Through mutual agreement the lingering stalemate may be resolved, ending the fraught sanctions and opening trade and diplomatic relations.
Political normalisation ought to be anchored on the mutual respect for sovereignty, security and socio-economic and political aspirations of both nations. The deal, although not ideal for any party, is nonetheless far better than the lingering status quo or other alternatives on offer.
Despite common misconceptions by the public and deliberate media misinformation in the West, Iran has exceeded its international commitment mandated by the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) for its peaceful nuclear development program. Transparent surveillance, complemented by unannounced and frequent inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have remained in effect for years. Although some skeptics refute the need for nuclear technology in a fossil fuel rich country, Iran insists on sustaining its nuclear enrichment programme not only as a source of energy but also as a symbol of national pride. Iran further asserts that religious decrees (Fatwas) in place would also prohibit military use of nuclear technology. Some inside and outside Iran opine that the nation’s unwavering insistence on nuclear technology is to receive security guarantees from the West and the US that it would not be overthrown. In 1953, Operation Ajax, sponsored by the CIA, covertly overthrew a democratically elected nationalist lawyer Dr. Mohammad Mosadegh and reinstated the absolute monarch Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on the Peacock Throne.
Mosadegh was able to single-handedly defend the sovereign rights of Iran by nationalising its oil and gas reserves, which in turn, led to a domino effect of similar nationalisations reverberating in the Near East and the world.
More recently, the brutal International sanctions led by the US has resulted in the formation of multi-layered “ghost” governments and black market linchpins. The US has inflicted economic suffering on the ordinary Iranians. All this has in essence intensified political repression of the Iranian grassroots who have struggled for socio-religious and political reforms, economic development, democracy and freedom, civil liberty and civil society, security, equality and justice, and peace under the rule of law within the past 150 years with little progress.
Sanctions have apparently become the paramount existentialist threat to the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) regime. One might argue that the IRI has thus far endured the impact of sanctions through promotion of patriotism, self-reliance, anti-American mantras, and proliferation of black markets which has gravely undermined the state of the economy and social safety net, especially since 2006. Prices for essential food and energy commodities have skyrocketed to a critical point when a pensioner can only sustain a family for just a few days per month. The inflation rate is over 25%. Unemployment and underemployment, even among college graduates, is up to 50% by some accounts. Drug addiction, especially among the youth, has doubled every five years since 1979. Repression of basic human rights is flagrantly pursued by government agencies and sinister organs resulting in thousands of tortured political prisoners of conscience, many exiled, and the execution of several hundred per annum which has earned Iran a comparable ranking alongside China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and the US. The flooding of low quality imports through the black market has reduced, and in some instances eliminated, domestic productivity. The mass exodus of the most educated and those with large capital, are just some of the other outcomes of US sanctions and the IRI government’s misguided policies.
Certainly, a small fraction of the insiders closely aligned with the IRI’s inner circles have become immensely affluent, driving luxury cars in Tehran and keeping secret bank accounts abroad. However, the majority of Iranians are hard pressed to sustain themselves at a bare minimum of life necessities. Paradoxically, the more fundamentalist elements of the IRI, who led a triumphant all-out campaign against the US, are now frightened with the prospect of diplomatic normalisation and the loss of power.
The Sunni Majority/Shiite Minority divide that has persisted subtly since the advent of Islam, has now been blown up disproportionally and exploited by the US and its so-called allies, especially the despotic Sheikhs and self-proclaimed Kings of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, and the UAE. Is it not ironic that the Taliban, Al Qaeda and now ISIS were conceived and continue to be financed today by the US or one of its regional allies. The region has now been infested by some of the harshest fundamentalist Sunni radicals imposing crusade-style wars in reverse, that the IRI and their lackeys, such as the governments of Syria or Iraq, now appear more mainstream!
Moreover, it comes as no surprise that according to independent reliable sources, Israel as a non-signatory to NPT convention and IAEA protocols, has acquired and developed up to several hundred transcontinental nuclear warheads. Israel has the audacity to pump up its most effective lobbying machinery in the US, orchestrating opposition to, and instigating war against, any possible nuclear deal with Iran. Is it not bewildering that Israel continues to annually receive several billion dollars from US taxpayers and benefits from American technologies? Is it not hypocritical that while Israel uses Iran as escape goat, it continues to belligerently deny its flesh and blood brethren, the Palestinians, the rudimentary and legitimate international rights of sovereignty and self-governance? And finally, is it not baffling to note that despite the rhetoric of Saudi Arabia and other Arab regimes claiming to be the guardians of the Palestinians, these same countries join Israel in opposing Iran?
Anti-rapprochement lobbying in Iran is bad as in the US, if not more so, since many theocratic autocrats and shadowy government organs feel threatened by a potential loss of their power if a deal with the US/West were to materialise. They cannot accept an iota of space conducive to socio-economic and religious reformation, power sharing, democracy and freedom, equality and fairness and justice for all under the rule of law. Considering the energy self-sufficiency of the US, one would hold onto a glimmer of hope that the US foreign policy in the Middle East vis-Ã -vis Iran will be premised more on mutually equitable trade and mutual respect, rather than being taken hostage by Israel or Saudi Arabia. By the same token, fundamentalists in today’s IRI, frightened as their hawk brethren in the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia, will resort to any means to circumvent any possible nuclear deal and mutual rapprochement.
Iran, formerly referred to as Persia by the West, is an ancient country with a continuous form of government for nearly three millennia and with human archeological settlements dating back twenty thousand years. Iran, with its territory spanning from South and Central Asia to the Caucuses, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia and North Africa for most its antiquity, constitutes thirty countries today. Currently Iran, 750,000 square miles in area, stretches from the shores of the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf. Iran is culturally rich with a diverse people and geography, natural and human resources, flora and fauna. The collective contributions of Iranians in the arts, sciences, trades, technology and literature toward the advancement of civilization, is well documented and indisputably recognised worldwide. And yet, the people of Iran have endured and been subjected to some of the harshest humiliations and disenfranchisements by not only their neighbours and the western pre-/post-colonial nations but, far more painfully, by their own theocratic power grabbers within the past 35 years.
If and when sanctions are removed, the trade flood gates locked for thirty five years and estimated to be worth well over a trillion dollars, will open. Properly managed, this would bring prosperity and modernisation to Iran and allow international investors and prospectors to enjoy the bounty as well.
Rachel Eliasi Kohan, born in Iran in a diverse family comprised of the Shiite and Sunni Muslims, Jewish, Armenian Christian and Zoroastrian lineage, has, as a naturalized American, resided in the U.S. for thirty five years. As an independent thinker, she has come to believe in the universal humanism and equal justice for all.
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This post was written by Rachel Kohan