Sunday 16 June 2019

China and Russia key to Iran regime survival (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat

US financial sanctions would be rendered ineffective by Chinese purchases of crude oil, military strangulation of Iran would get broken by Russian weaponry.

Hewing to the State Department line in reporting events means never acknowledging that mistakes have been made. Blood-curdling reports purporting to show Saddam Hussein was still in possession of huge stocks of chemical and biological weapons, became a staple in important newspapers across both sides of the Atlantic during the months prior to the 2003 war against Iraq waged by George W. Bush. Every now and again, individuals were trotted out who would testify that Saddam was the primary global facilitator of Al Qaeda, and even that he had the keystone role in planning and carrying out the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. To this day, tens of millions within the NATO alliance believe both in Saddam’s imaginary WMD mountain, as well as in his non-existent links with the terror groups that carried out the first major attack on the continental US since the war of independence with the British during 1775-1783. There were repeated declarations from officials in Iraq that the country’s WMD stockpiles had been destroyed, and yet the fiction persists that Saddam Hussein “pretended to have WMD” during the pre-war period when in fact he did not. Another example of lockstep reporting occurred during the 1990s, when President William Clinton made it a policy priority to force India to concede the Kashmir valley to the ultra-Wahhabi groups that were—and still are—active in that region. Clinton was among the most anti-India US Presidents ever, but that did not prevent the Lutyens Zone (with its customary masochism) from idolizing the man when he arrived on a short visit during the final months of his second term as President of the United States. The frenzy among the Page 3 set to physically get as close to him as possible was even greater than the rush of the Page 3 set towards the dressing room of Pakistan test captain Imran Khan during his tours in India. During the 1990s, whether it be the BBC or CNN, almost daily reports were carried about the glorious “freedom fighters” of Kashmir and the hateful Indian state. The fine print, about the “freedom fighters” wanting to convert Kashmir into a version of what Afghanistan became under the Taliban, went unread. The murder and forced expulsion of the Pandit community from the Kashmir Valley, as well as the organised takeover of their lands as well as the destruction of most of the temples in the vale, went unreported by those desperate to protect the “human rights” of terror groups to indulge in inhumane conduct. Once when the carnage in Syria, caused by the arming of ultra-Wahhabi groups by the GCC and its Atlantic Alliance partners, began its doleful course, a contribution on why Bashar Assad was, despite his numerous flaws, preferable to the armed groups seeking his overthrow was posted on the website of a prominent institute for Middle Eastern studies in Washington for only a few hours before it was taken down. Freedom of expression ended for those supervising that institute, soon after views the opposite of those being touted by the establishment of the day began to be aired.
It is now Iran that is the focus of Saddam-style Atlanticist media horror stories. The UAE is correct in assuming that the rash of mysterious attacks on ships in the Persian Gulf is state sponsored. But which state? Not Iran, but a rival state that seeks to provoke a conflict between the US and Iran. Looked at from the angle chosen by National Security Advisor John Bolton, there is logic in pressing for a military strike against the mullahs in Teheran now, before they reach a more advanced level of sophistication in their nuclear and missile systems. Assisted substantially by the boycott of Iran by several countries, the mullahs in Teheran seem to be in no hurry to hand over authority to the elected government. Hence a post-JCPOA nuclear Iran would almost certainly remain under the control of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as little a friend of liberal values as anti-Assad Middle Eastern “freedom fighters” funded by regional elites together with NATO. These militias have busied themselves decapitating Christians, Yazidis and moderate Sunnis. Of course, that Christians are safe in Syria only in the territories still controlled by Assad (or the Kurds) remains a matter that goes unmentioned, just as the genocidal impulses of the “freedom fighters” in Kashmir went unnoticed during the expulsion of the Pandits in 1990. A rising drumbeat of allegations is being mobilized against Teheran, presumably to get public opinion within the Atlantic Alliance to accept without protest a military strike on the country. Both Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Mike Pompeo would prefer taking out the Iranian mullah regime now rather than allowing the country’s talented scientists and engineers to go the North Korea way and actually become a nuclear and missile threat not just to Israel but also to Europe. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif seems to believe that the Europeans (especially the charming Foreign Policy chief of the EU) will be persuaded to bypass US sanctions. If they do, it will be in a cosmetic and not in any substantive way. The security establishment in the EU has as big an interest in preventing an Iran controlled by the Ayatollahs from emerging as a nuclear power as do Bolton and Pompeo, the difference being that the latter are open about their preference. The intention of those behind the mysterious incidents against Gulf shipping is not to launch an all-out war just yet but to build public opinion to accept the justification for such a war. What is likely is a calibrated series of moves designed to weaken the resistance of the Iranian regime, so that within a few years, the people of that country may once again take to the streets in the hundreds of thousands in opposition to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the system of governance created by his predecessor, Imam Khomeini.
Whether such a strategy will result in an Iran war or not depends on Russia and China. Should Moscow boost the military fightback capacity of Iran by selling the country deadly weapons, and Beijing take advantage of US sanctions to fill its refineries with cut price oil from Iran, there would be scant chance of weakening to terminal exhaustion the regime in Teheran. US financial sanctions would be rendered ineffective by Chinese purchases of crude oil, and the military strangulation of Iran would get broken by Russian weaponry, which has managed to retain its deadly edge despite the weaknesses of the economy. The key to whether or not there will be war over Iran lies in Moscow and Beijing more than it does in Riyadh and Washington.

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