Vultures, Wolves and Sharks Around Iran
The Islamic Republic of Iran is run by a group of theocrats whose power is total. Its government states officially that “Next to the Leader, the President shall be the highest official State authority who is responsible for the implementation of the Constitution and, as the Chief Executive, for the exercise of the executive powers, with the exception of those matters that directly relate to the Leader.”
The U.S. Public Broadcasting Service, a non-profit media organisation that is admirably independent (which is why the Trump administration tried to destroy it) summed up the Iranian political system by noting that “On the surface, the U.S. and Iranian governments have much in common: a president who is popularly elected, a boisterous legislature, and a powerful judiciary. The obvious difference lies in the fact that Iran is an Islamic theocracy, and that one man, the Supreme Leader, exerts ideological and political control over a system dominated by clerics who shadow every major function of the state.” In other words, it is a dictatorship, just as are, for example, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Brunei and Egypt, all of whose leaders are notable allies of the Trump administration.
But no matter the despotism of the Iranian mullahs, it is an independent country that presents no threat to the United States, no matter what might be claimed by Washington extremists. The Tehran regime has blustered and uttered unrealisable threats, but it is absurd to imagine that it is menacing the sacred “Homeland”. Even the risk assessment by the Department of Homeland Security, could only come up with a warning that the Iranians are hell-bent on carrying out cyber attacks, election interference, terrorism, and spreading disinformation on Covid-19. There was no evidence of any of this, but Washington isn’t well-known for providing hard facts to back up allegations made against the enemy of the moment. (Witness, for example, the verbal antics of its near-psychotic president concerning his electoral defeat.)
Iran’s major international mistake has been to adopt a relentlessly anti-Israel posture. In May, for example, the head loony, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, proclaimed that “The Zionist regime is a deadly, cancerous tumour in the region. It will undoubtedly be uprooted and destroyed,” which was a very stupid thing to say, and proved to be a red flag to the many bulls in the arena. Khamenei threw open the gates to a surge of anti-Iran propaganda and military manoeuvring of which the latest fandango has been the gathering of vultures and wolves in Saudi Arabia on November 22 when, as noted by the Washington Post, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu “met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.”
This was a week after U.S. Central Command announced the move of F-16 strike aircraft from their base in Germany to the United Arab Emirates, with the 9th Air Force Commander saying that “deployment of the 480th Fighter Squadron demonstrates the U.S. Air Force’s agility and CENTCOM’s commitment to allies and partners to bolster security and stability in the region.” Adding to stability, on the day of the Netanyahu/bin Salman/Pompeo meeting CENTCOM despatched a B-52 bomber task force to the Middle East, “to deter aggression and reassure U.S. partners and allies,” which is presumably the objective of the USS Nimitz Carrier Battle Group which was deployed to the Persian Gulf on November 25.
It is now the Pentagon’s practice to “bolster stability” by being openly threatening to whatever country is considered to merit its attention, and Washington’s policy in this regard meets with the full approval of Israel, which is the fiercest drum-beater of the anti-Iran cabal, in addition to being America’s most favoured nation.
While there is unlikely to be hard evidence that Israel assassinated Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh on November 27, the Guardian reported that “Fakhrizadeh was identified by Israel’s prime minister in a 2018 public presentation as the director of Iran’s nuclear weapons project. ‘Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh,’ Benjamin Netanyahu said during the presentation.” Well, his name was certainly remembered by someone, and Iran’s Supreme Leader has no doubt that “the mercenaries of the oppressive Zionist regime” [of Israel] were responsible for the killing, which was most expertly conducted.
Responsibility for such ventures as assassination is naturally denied most vehemently by any country or agency named as the suspected perpetrator, but it is interesting to pose the age-old question Cui Bono? – who actually benefits from the murder of Fakhrizadeh?
Iran’s nuclear development has long been a very sore point for Israel, which itself has an undeclared and internationally illegal arsenal of nuclear weapons. One of President Obama’s most significant achievements was formulation and adoption of a nuclear restriction deal with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action of 2015, under which, as noted by the BBC, “Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.” The agreement could hardly have worked more effectively, as “Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the global nuclear watchdog, continuously monitor Iran’s declared nuclear sites and also verify that no fissile material is moved covertly to a secret location to build a bomb. Iran also agreed to implement the Additional Protocol to their IAEA Safeguards Agreement, which allows inspectors to access any site anywhere in the country they deem suspicious.”
There was absolutely no evidence that Iran was in any way contravening the Agreement. On 6 March 2017 the Director of the IAEA stated that “The Agency has been verifying and monitoring the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for more than a year. In January, the Agency verified the removal of excess centrifuges and infrastructure from the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant to the Fuel Enrichment Plant at Natanz, where they are now stored under Agency continuous monitoring… The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. Evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran continue.”
But as with almost everything else achieved by President Obama, Donald Trump called it “the worst deal ever.” He ditched an admirably sensible treaty that would have bolstered stability more effectively than any of his F-16s, B-52s or carrier strike groups that are now menacing Iran. And on 22 November Israel’s Netanyahu declared that “There must be no return to the previous nuclear agreement. We must stick to an uncompromising policy to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.”
It is hoped that the Biden administration will ditch Netanyahu and re-engage with Obama’s nuclear agreement, in spite of the new team in Washington being most supportive of Israel’s posture and policies about international affairs.
The vultures, wolves and sharks have surrounded Iran, and perhaps it is too optimistic to hope that they will be replaced by doves of peace.