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Tag Archives: Iran

Disruptive Assassinations: Killing Qassem Soleimani

On the surface, it made not one iota of sense. The murder of a foreign military leader on his way from Baghdad airport, his diplomatic status assured by the local authorities, evidently deemed a target of irresistible richness. “General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” The words from the Pentagon seemed to resemble the resentment shown by the Romans to barbarian chiefs who dared resist them. “This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans. The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world.”

The killing of Major General Qassem Soleimani of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force in a drone strike on January 3, along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces, or Hash a-Shaabi and PMF Kata’ib Hezbollah, was packaged and ribboned as a matter of military necessity. Soleimani had been, according to the Pentagon, “responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more.” He was behind a series of attacks on coalition forces in Iraq over the last several months including attacks on the US embassy in Baghdad on December 31, 2019.

US President Donald J. Trump had thrown caution to the wind, suggesting in a briefing at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida that an option on the table would be the killing of Soleimani. The Iran hawks seemed to have his ear; others were caught off guard, preferring to keep matters more general.

A common thread running through the narrative was the certainty – unshakable, it would seem – that Soleimani was on the warpath against US interests. The increased danger posed by the Quds Force commander were merely presumed, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was happy to do so despite not being able to “talk too much about the nature of the threats. But the American people should know that the President’s decision to remove Soleimani from the battlefield saved American lives.” (Pompeo goes on to insist that there was “active plotting” to “take big action” that would have endangered “hundreds of lives”). How broadly one defines the battlefield becomes relevant; the US imperium has decided that diplomatic niceties and sovereign protections for officials do not count. The battlefield is everywhere.

Trump was far from convincing in reiterating the arguments, insisting that the general had been responsible for killing or badly wounding “thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill may more… but got caught!” From his resort in Palm Beach, Florida, he claimed that the attack was executed “to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.”

Whatever the views of US officialdom, seismic shifts in the Middle East were being promised.  Iraq’s prime minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi demanded an emergency parliamentary session with the aim of taking “legislative steps and necessary provisions to safeguard Iraq’s dignity, security and sovereignty.” On Sunday, the parliament did something which, ironically enough, has been a cornerstone of Iran’s policy in Iraq: the removal of US troops from Iraq. While being a non-binding resolution, the parliament urged the prime minister to rescind the invitation extended to US forces when it was attacked by Islamic State forces in 2014.

Iranian Armed Forces’ spokesman Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi promised setting “up a plan, patiently, to respond to this terrorist act in a crushing and powerful manner.” He also reiterated that it was the US, not Iran, who had “occupied Iraq in violation of all international rules and regulations without any coordination with the Iraqi government and without the Iraqi people’s demands.”

While the appeals to international law can seem feeble, the observation from the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnès Callamard was hard to impeach. “The targeted killings of Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Humandis are most [likely] unlawful and violate international human rights law: Outside the context of active hostilities, the use of drones or other means for targeted killing is almost never likely to be legal.” To be deemed lawful, such targeting with lethal effect “can only be used where strictly necessary to protect against an imminent threat to life.”

The balance sheet for this action, then, is not a good one. As US presidential candidate Marianne Williamson observed with crisp accuracy, the attack on Soleimani and his companions had little to do with “whether [he] was a ‘good man’ any more than it was about whether Saddam was a good man. It’s about smart versus stupid use of military power.”

An intelligent use of military power is not in the offing, with Trump promising the targeting of 52 Iranian sites, each one representing an American hostage held in Iran at the US embassy in Tehran during November 1979. But Twitter sprays and promises of this sort tend to lack substance and Trump is again proving to be the master of disruptive distraction rather than tangible action.

Even Israeli outlets such as Haaretz, while doffing the cap off to the idea of Soleimani as a shadowy, dangerous figure behind the slayings of Israelis “in terrorist attacks, and untold thousands of Syrians, Iraqis, Lebanese and others dispatched by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Quds Force,” showed concern. Daniel B. Shapiro even went so far as to express admiration for the operation, an “impressive” feat of logistics but found nothing of an evident strategy. Trump’s own security advisers were caught off guard. A certain bloodlust had taken hold.

Within Congress, the scent of a strategy did not seem to come through, despite some ghoulish cheers from the GOP. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and chairman of the House Intelligence panel, failed to notice “some broad strategy at work.” Michigan Democrat Rep. Elissa Slotkin, previously acting assistant secretary of defence and CIA analyst, explained why neither Democratic or Republic presidents had ventured onto the treacherous terrain of targeting Soleimani. “Was the strike worth the likely retaliation, and the potential to pull us into protracted conflict?” The answer was always a resounding no.

By killing such a high ranking official of a sovereign power, the US has signalled a redrawing of accepted, and acceptable lines of engagement. The justification was spurious, suggesting that assassination and killing in combat are not distinctions with any difference. But perhaps most significantly of all, the killing of Soleimani will usher in the very same attacks that this decision was meant to avert even as it assists Iranian policy in expelling any vestige of US influence in Iraq and the broader Middle East. It also signalled to Iran that abiding by agreements of any sort, including the international nuclear deal of 2015 which the US has repudiated, will be paper tigers worth shredding without sorrow.

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Pell appeal verdict unleashes a perfect storm for our Tory ruling class

Head bowed, a manacled cardinal is led hobbling out of court into a prison van, a shocking image calculated to rock our nation’s Tories to the core, last Wednesday, as Victoria’s Court of Appeal upholds Cardinal George Pell’s conviction on five counts of child sexual assault, for offences committed against two thirteen year-old altar-boys in a priest’s sacristy at St Patrick’s Church, in 1996 and 1997, whilst Pell was still Archbishop of Melbourne.

By Sunday, thank God and Rupert Murdoch, it’s all OK – at least, in Australia’s News Corp-led “mainstream media” as our corporate, oligarchical, media tribe is typically misnamed, whose stories quickly turn a convicted predator into an innocent victim. OK, too, in our progressive, post-modern, post fact, Trumpian universe of discourse, our collective, international pandemic of unreason led by lords of misrule from Boris to Bolsonaro to The Donald.

Bugger the facts, it’s the vibe that counts. As former PM Turnbull, pre-knifing by Scott Morrison, told Glyn Davis, Vice Chancellor of The University of Melbourne when Davis challenged Turnbull’s spin that all was rosy between town and gown. Davis dared air his heretical view that collaboration between business and university was crap.

“This is, by the way, you running against the vibe. You haven’t got the new zeitgeist. The new zeitgeist, Glyn, is to believe in yourself, is to have a go.”  Did Mal’s liberating ideology help spawn ScoMo’s “have a go to get a go”?

Bugger “police, the prosecutors, the courts, the jury system, the burden of proof and the entire rule of law. In its place is the new primacy of feelings: they feel Pell must not be guilty, therefore he is innocent. All else — most significantly, the fully tested testimony of the victim that they have never seen — gives way before their emotional need.” writes Crikey’s legal beagle, Michael Bradley. Above all, our establishment must protect one of its own.

Pell can’t be guilty: he’s part of the power elite, as untouchable as Casino King, James Murdoch. Pell’s protection is necessary to preserve the power of our monocultural bunyip aristocracy. However, it’s a secular crusade now, David Marr reflects. “Rome somewhere in the past few years lost the power” to protect men like Pell.

Above all, however, is the political purpose served by the all-consuming pseudo-debate over Pell’s innocence, a diversion adroitly exploited by a Coalition keen to soft-pedal its announcement that it is eagerly doing the US bidding; taking up gunboat diplomacy in the Persian Gulf because this will help “de-escalate tensions”.

Foreign Minister, Marise Payne keeps a straight face on ABC Insiders, Sunday; farcically claiming we are part of an “international mission” which is “modest, meaningful and time-limited”. In reality, we are offering Trump a blank cheque. It’s all about restoring “rules-based order and the rule of law”. No-one mentions the fact that we are about to break international law. Trump’s administration clearly hankers for the good old days when it ran Iran.

With British help, America overthrew Iran’s democratically elected conservative Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh’s nationalist parliamentary government, in 1953, to install Shah Reza Pahlavi, a dictator who gave 40% of Iran’s oil concessions to US oil companies. America supported the corrupt dictator until his overthrow by a popular mass movement in 1979. As punishment, the US backed Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in the Iran–Iraq War, 22 September 1980- 20 August 1988.

It is estimated one million Iranians died defending their country. Up to half a million Iraqis also lost their lives.

The international team comprises ourselves, the Great Satan, as Iran once called the US, Little Britain under Boris Johnson, a professional clown, now playing Albion’s accidental PM and Human Rights Watch pin-up, Bahrain, a state of unabated repression whose rulers’ crack-down on dissent has eliminated all opposition banned independent media and peaceful dissidents are roughed up, arrested, prosecuted and stripped of their citizenship.

Clearly, there’s a bit our government could yet learn from Bahrain and embedding our troops with theirs is a move guaranteed to bring mutual enlightenment, the rule of law and stability to a region where eighty million Iranians are starved of daily necessities from food to medicines as a result of forty years of US sanctions.

It’s possible, of course, that the sudden appearance of an Australian cruiser in January 2020 “for six months” or a P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft to the Middle East for one month “before the end of 2019” will prove immensely re-assuring to Iran’s government and cause citizens to hi-five and hug each other in sheer relief.

Aussie diggers posted to Bahrain, super-charged with ANZAC can-do, could repair the nation’s moral high ground.

Luckily for Morrison’s government, the Cardinal Pell in the Pokey show is the perfect distractor; a timely bit of cultural warfare guaranteed to upstage any grovelling capitulation to the whims of hawks such as Bolton or Pompeo who run demented Donald Trump and his mad, neo-con, anti-Iranian, administration.

Hard right hacks, Andrew Bolt, Miranda Devine, Bettina Arndt rush to defend Pell. Left out of the moral outrage are the 1900 child sex-offenders, identified in Australian Catholic churches, whose 4,444 victims were on average under twelve years old, according to the 2016 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to child sexual abuse. Eclipsed almost entirely, is the suffering of thousands of abused children; or how their lives were ruined.

And who knows how many victims there are in the sexual abuse of nuns by priests, abuse which Pope Francis acknowledged last February? Catholic women are speaking out, too, under the #NunsToo hashtag. In the meantime, a sanctification of Pell proceeds, by some of our best and finest reactionary media mavens.

Poor George, whose Dad, a Ballarat publican, David Marr reports, ran an SP book from the public bar of The Royal Oak, from 1953 to 1976, becomes, by mythic invention, an icon of apostolic poverty, humility, chastity and saintly compassion who will appeal to The High Court. The magical thinking of his backers has him acquitted already.

A man of such grace and standing (Peter Kidd, Chief Judge at his sentencing commented on his “staggering arrogance”, in committing crimes he thought he could get away with), will automatically be granted leave to appeal. But in the eternal interim, the very idea of a fallen Pell is a monstrous offence against nature.

Worse, the appeal judgement is a heresy right up there with Aurecon’s shunning of Adani, a move which resources High Priest, Matt Canavan says is as “weak as piss” before calling on the energy oligopoly to shun and shame Aurecon. The Australian and others in the stable eagerly recycle the lie of Pell’s unblemished record.

Yet there is no question that Pell is the reactionaries’ reactionary, a one-stop shop for any crusade against change.

Pell held that abortion was “a worse moral scandal than priests sexually abusing young people.” is Papal-royalty. Boys driven to take their own lives through homophobia only had themselves to blame, Pell maintained;

It is another reason to be discouraging people going in that direction. Homosexual activity is a much greater health hazard than smoking.”

Pell denounces concern about climate change as “a symptom of pagan emptiness” The Greens? “Anti-Christian”.

Pell’s perspective on accountability is clear in his view, given in 2014, that “the church’s responsibility to those abused by priests is comparable to the responsibility of a trucking company to a hitchhiker raped by a trucker.”

Monday, Pell’s media acquittal continues. The Australian’s Mirko Bagaric blusters… it debases the legal and democratic process for anyone to insist — as a few prominent commentators have in recent days — that it is impertinent to believe that Cardinal George Pell is innocent despite losing his case in the Victorian Court of Appeal.

News Corp’s contempt for the rule of law is as staggering as the propaganda it peddles to buy its monstrous power. Its defence of St George, moreover, reveals Australia’s follow-the-leader-media rushing pell-mell to fall in behind Papal knight Sir Rupert’s News Corp’s Cardinal-as-Victim story-tellers.

Part of this narrative involves appeals to sympathy for “an old sick man” “who might well die in gaol” as the current Archbishop of Melbourne, Peter Comensoli tells 3AW’s Neil Mitchell. Bizarrely, Comensoli maintains Pell is innocent – and the victim is telling the truth too. It was another priest who committed the sexual abuse.

Easy for a thirteen year-old altar boy to get one 190 cm priest mixed up with another.

The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian and the odd guest on The Drum hold that Judge Weinberg’s dissenting view is the only one that matters or proof that our legal system is broken and or grounds for High Court appeal.

Paradoxically, another part of the story is that Pell is Australia’s most senior cleric, internationally renowned, a pal of Rupert Murdoch’s, a tall poppy cut down in his prime. The facts suggest otherwise.

At the end, Pell’s power in the Vatican rapidly waned, despite a promising start in modelling austerity by big spending. Outrage broke out over his choice of a 5100 euro a month apartment requiring he spend 87,000 on new furniture; employing an assistant on a 21,600 a month salary and even 6,650 euros on kitchen sink fittings.

Somehow word got out to Italy’s L’Espresso weekly of detailed opposition to Pell’s financial reform; not helped by his Secretariat for the Economy racking up a half-million dollars in expenditures in the last six months.

True, Pell rose to become Cardinal, but Francis, shrewdly diverted the ambitious antipodean prelate into the Sisyphean labour of draining the swamp of the Vatican’s scandalous financial mess, an impossible task – and one fraught with peril, for anyone, let alone a boy from Ballarat, who knew neither Vatican culture nor the rudiments of diplomacy or tact, author of The Melbourne Response, another monumental failure of Christian charity and human compassion which capped compensation clerical sexual abuse victims at $50,000.

They saw him coming, a retired priest says on The Drum. Rubbed them up the wrong way say Vatican insiders. Francis himself believes “Behind rigidity something always lies hidden,” he says. “In many cases, a double life.”

But nothing may detract from the Tory postmodern narrative of St George The Martyr. A man as powerful as Pell, a priest who could command a character reference from a former Prime Minister, (gasp) just cannot be guilty. The Pell pillar must be protected or the entire edifice of conservatism may be revealed to be rotten to the core.

It’s a monstrous spectacle made all the more shocking, somehow, by technical glitches which cause the live broadcast to freeze, the court website to crash and by appellant judge, Chief Justice, Anne Ferguson’s funereal delivery which brings “all the drama of a dead wombat to reading a summary of one of the most important criminal judgments of the year”, reports seasoned legal commentator, lawyer and writer, Richard Ackland.

The Tory world is in turmoil. Right-wing hacks and flacks led by News Corp, nutcase Andrew Bolt, thresh about protesting victim Pell’s innocence, slagging off Victoria’s judiciary and declaring war on the rule of law.

“Never any hope of justice for George Pell. He was too big a scalp for the howling mob,” tweets Bettina Arndt.

Could a Cardinal be so publicly undone? Could a high priest of our ruling elite, a fully-paid member of the board of Reactionary Australia Inc. be brought to heel? Could our rulers be held accountable? Perish the thought. Look at Crown.

The kid gloves are on in the federal government’s treatment of St James Packer’s Crown Casino where there is report from a whistle-blower that ought to be hair-raising. It’s a whale of a tale of high-rollers being fast-tracked through immigration, equipped with escorts before a restorative punt is followed up by a refreshing wildlife shoot.

Crown is a cathedral to our new age of mad depravity, infinitely more popular than any offering of the Catholic Church and more powerful. Crown’s backers rule our politics as the gun lobby does America’s, as former Victorian Premier John Cain observes.

Cain, whose government decided as early as 1983 that to build a casino would be to invite organised crime, warned of the power, grace and charm of casino lobbyists in 1990,  “Within three weeks of me going in August 1990, they had not only battered the doors down, but they were in the lounge room pissing on the furniture.”

Sensibly, heeding their mandate from silent Australians to leave no depth unplumbed, the Morrison government summons a toothless watchdog, no-one’s ever heard of.

Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI), a Clayton’s investigator, is agreed upon by both major parties, to allow our gambling lobby to continue to uplift the moral tone of the nation, growing jobs and building wealth, especially in the off-shore bank accounts of Crown Casino and its coterie of money-launderers.

Conspiracy theorists swarm to depict poor, vulnerable Georgie Boy as the innocent victim of a Gillard-leftist-Victoria Police-Nine News plot. In the midst of this fertile, national conversation, Scott Morrison shrewdly chooses to announce he’s just engulfed us in another US oil war which his BFF, another vainglorious lout, the dangerously demented Donald Trump is brewing up against arch-fiend Iran in the Straits of Hormuz.

“200 troops”, he says out of the corner of his mouth. “Limited to six months,” he says. “Or longer, as the case may be” he says, skipping away.  Marise Payne, repeats his de-escalation double-speak, almost word-perfect as so sundry other MPs as interviews are merely an excuse for the re-iteration of central minders’ talking points.

Happily, the week brings the anniversary of Scott Morrison’s hugely undistinguished year in office, after knifing Malcolm Turnbull in a double, double-cross. His government has no energy, no environment, no economic or climate change policies, no vision and no shame. But it’s cranking up Robo-debt to go after elderly age pensioners. That blessed surplus won’t accrue all by itself.

No-one in government fusses over the two thousand who die after receiving Robo-debt letters between July 2016 and October 2018.  It’s not difficult to envisage a link between their deaths and the debt letters.

Yet Morrison is now the best PM ever, according to the worst, “lying rodent” John Howard, the PM who did most to unpick the threads of a prosperous, progressive, cosmopolitan and egalitarian society and who lied to parliament and people that he had legal opinion to join the illegal US war in Iraq.

Howard also wrote a glowing reference for George Pell.

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Iran – the new Middle East superpower

By Mike Mizzi

In Israel’s Arutz Sheeva 7 news website today it was reported that the Gulf states, such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and others are going to purchase tens of billions, yes billions, of dollars of Israeli anti missile Iron Dome shield technology.

In a world used to extraordinary amounts of money being bandied around for all sorts of projects like buildings, skyscrapers, jets, missiles, tanks (and other means of destroying humans), such an amount may seem par for the course, but the real story here is the shifting of geostrategic power centres in the Middle East on a scale and at a speed which has left most observers and commentators breathless.

As reported in Arutz Sheva, Bahrani diplomat Khalid bin Mohammed al Khalif, told the British Sky News during a visit to London that his country together with other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are seeking the system to defend against “a growing arsenal of Iranian missiles”.

“Gulf States are currently in advanced talks with Israel to buy the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system to defend against Iran, Bahrain’s foreign minister revealed on Tuesday”.

In the meantime Islamic Republic of Iran News Network (IRINN) reported Iran’s secret underground missile arsenal, was shown to the West by Russia’s RT News Agency. RT reports it is:

“Located at a depth of 500 meters under the mountains, the footage shows a very long tunnel which appears to be about 10 meters high. It is one of many missile bases in Iran, according to the Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace division.”
The Iranian spokesman goes on to say , “The Islamic republic’s long-range missile bases are stationed and ready under the high mountains in all the country’s provinces and cities,” he said as quoted by the Guards’ website.
“This is a sample of our massive missile bases,” he said, adding that “a new and advanced generation of long-range liquid and solid fuel missiles” will replace the current weapons in 2016″.

So the Arab Sunnis are getting understandably nervous at the Shia Iran’s new found confidence, which, when coupled with their recent nuclear arms deal with America has served to designate Iran as a serious new superpower in the Middle East.

No one knows what Iran’s true intentions are. Analysts and political pundits criticise Iran’s anti-American and anti-Israel rhetoric as simply that: As overblown as the “Death to America” and “ Death to Israel” chants seem the mentality behind them since the Iranian revolution, which toppled the Western backed Shah and ensconced the regime of the Ayatollahs, has changed very little. Understandable also is Israeli Prime Minster, Benjamin Netanyahu’s bellicose warnings of impending doom if Iran flaunts the UN, P5+1 brokered nuclear deal agreements and secretly builds a nuclear weapon. It already has the means of delivery with its latest intercontinental ballistic missiles which were successfully tested in February this year.

Long time Middle East and Islamic history authority Bernard Lewis, in his book From Babel to Dragomans, notes in chapter 31 that the Islamic revolution in Iran is a unique and singular event in history, is permanent and ongoing and like all other historical revolutions, sees itself as exportable, not only within the Muslim world but to all parts of the planet. Iran sees itself in direct competition to what the Ayatollahs and every Iranian president calls the Zionist Project, which they perceive to be centred in Israel and Washington DC. Not unlike the Communist revolutions of the last century, the Islamic revolution seeks world dominion and expanded territory, in a philosophically underpinned notion that Islam is not only a Middle Eastern religion but one that must be exported to all corners of the world.

Over the last few decades Iran has built itself a formidable military arsenal and coupled that to treaties and alliances which include Russia, Pakistan and China; all nuclear armed states and all in direct competition with Western capitalism.

In what seems to be a late realisation of Iran’s perceived intent and displayed capabilities the Gulf States have taken a defensive position thus far, with Israel’s Iron Dome capabilities now becoming a very attractive means of deflecting possible Iranian missile attacks.

Many commentators single out the fact that in 300 years Iran has not invaded any other nation. Maybe, but under the radical banner of the revolutionary Imams the time for that to change has perhaps come.

As Bernard Lewis says:

“The Iranian revolution expresses itself in the language of Islam, that is to say, as a religious movement with a religious leadership, a religiously formed critique of the older order, and religiously expressed plans for the new. Muslim revolutionaries look to the birth of Islam as their model, and see themselves in the struggle against paganism, oppression and empire”.

Iran’s notions of the US and its allies as “The Great Satan” are not mere rhetoric. It is a strongly held religious belief and underlies a system of domestic oppression that brooks nor counters any competition as brutal repression of what was called The Green Revolution showed.

Thus far there is no indication that Iran’s plans and outlook have changed, which is no doubt why the Gulf States have decided to employ an Israeli designed and built anti missile defence system. Just like the Russian Bolshevik Revolution made the Germans nervous enough to motivate an all out total war against Russia, Iran’s new ascendancy under the banner of its Islamic revolution has done the same in the region which it now seeks to dominate and radically alter. As the Russian Revolution produced a militaristic super power against which the US and allies employed the threat of nuclear annihilation, Iran has motivated the Gulf States to a rush of new alliances, particularly with their historical enemy Israel and employment of new technology to counter the Shia rise to power and influence in the Middle East.

The game of chess originated from an Iranian medieval game known in Persian as chatrang. But in the geostrategic game it has entered into since the revolution, Iran has kept its pieces well hidden and in reserve. Since the testing of ICBMs in February and the current display of its vast missile arsenal hidden underground, it looks like more than ever, Iran is willing to allow the pieces to fall. How they fall is what other players in the Middle East are trying to understand and counter. A missile defense shield looks like very good value after all as far as the Gulf States are concerned and if they have to buy it from the much hated Israelis the trade off has been one where they consider Iran a far greater threat. The rise of the Iranian superpower seems unstoppable. As many medieval knights knew, a good shield is a worthwhile counter against a javelin. It could be the Arabs only real hope.

 

A Short Aside on Iran and the Nuclear Deal

There’s been much talk around Iran, the United States, and the role of the two in the continuing instability in the Middle East of late, and I felt that perhaps it was time to have a little look into the wider context of the current drama and extricate some key points for consideration.

Iran, like the overwhelming majority of countries in the world including our own, has human rights issues. These are worth noting, as without awareness of them we are liable to form an inaccurate image of the country.

Of course, our images of the country will be inaccurate regardless of how we approach forming them, so we must be careful not to confuse our talking here with the actuality of life in Iran and the wider context of complex political manoeuvring.

Iran’s government is comprised largely of what we would term Islamic extremists, effectively theocrats with extremely conservative moral and social ideological positions. These repressive elements within the judiciary, security and intelligence forces retain much wider powers than equivalent positions in our country. 

In 2014, Iran executed more people than any other nation barring China, and executed the largest number of juvenile offenders. The country is one of the biggest jailers of journalists, bloggers and social media activists in the world. Their treatment of women is despicable in many cases, in keeping with other Islamic theocracies such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

While Iran has not directly attacked another nation, the quality and amount of their military equipment has been undergoing a steady increase since the 1960’s. This is likely due to US influence after the coup of ’53, the reason being that after the Shah was overturned in ’79, there was a 60% desertion from the military.

Iran now supports various armed military groups in the region, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and various Kurdish groups. Interestingly enough, Iran had been at loggerheads with the Taliban long before the United States, supporting the Northern Alliance for over a decade against the group and nearly declaring war on them in 1998.

Now, on to the coup. In 1953, the then democratically elected Mohammad Mossadegh was deposed in a plot by the CIA. Mossadegh had sought to audit the books of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP, British Petroleum) and to change the terms of the company’s access to Iranian petroleum reserves. As with most acts of socialism by small developing nations, the United States saw its role to step in, as Noam Chomsky puts it, destroying the virus before it can spread. It’s worth noting that the virus is democracy in this case, and in most others.

In August 2013, 60 years after, the CIA admitted that it was involved in both the planning and the execution of the coup, including the bribing of Iranian politicians, security and army high-ranking officials, as well as pro-coup propaganda. The CIA is quoted acknowledging the coup was carried out “under CIA direction” and “as an act of U.S. foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government.”

The coup involved assassinations and the use of Nazi and Muslim military groups in the area.

The result of this contemptuous behaviour towards a newly democratic nation coming to grips with what that meant, practically, for its citizenry, was to seed a deep anti-American sentiment in the public mind. It is noted as being instrumental in the 1979 revolution, which replaced the “pro-Western” government with an “anti-Western” Islamic republic.

The current prevalence of human rights abuses in Iran, and the relationship thereof to extreme interpretations of Islam, can be seen as an almost direct result of US foreign policy. It’s almost daft to see it otherwise, when you consider the above factors. To believe that this is more a religious or “Iranian” issue is to greatly exaggerate the power of religious and political life in Iran pre-intervention.

Now why would the United States bother to set up an elaborate coup in the first place? What do they have to gain from the political and social destabilisation of Iran? Well, it seems pretty obvious. Iran had traditionally been one of the strongest and most progressive of the Arab nations, and was increasingly moving towards socialist policy, democratic governance and the kind of nationhood that sees the natural resources of the land as belonging to the people of the nation, rather than foreign moneyed interests.

Iran was in the position, through its actions, to symbolise the independence of the Arab people. If this were allowed to play out unchecked, it’s highly likely that Iran would have pulled trade with many of the foreign owned oil companies harvesting its resources, and that neighbouring nations would follow suit. It’s not unlikely that a unified Middle East, somewhat similar in form to the EU, could have occurred if the democratic and socialist processes at work in Iran were encouraged and allowed to thrive, as opposed to being violently cut short.

I think the nuclear deal with Iran is a positive outcome, especially for the people of Iran and surrounding countries, insofar as it is what it claims to be. If the deal is as it is written, then we should see a slow movement of the Iranian zeitgeist back towards their upstart democratic tendencies. It’s also worth noting that this deal is not, as some have suggested, a United States ultimatum but rather the dissolution of an existing one; namely that the United States was, insofar as I can tell, veto-ing any application to the wider community of nations, by Iran, to embark upon a nuclear program.

We also must distinguish a “nuclear program” from a “nuclear weapons program”, the two are not mutually exclusive and a country can have one without the other. The former is what Iran has been pushing for to meet their energy needs, and like any other sovereign nation, they have a right to work to provide for their people.

One other possibility, and one worth considering, is that the deal is pretext for military intervention in Iran. By allowing Iran to develop nuclear capability, the US can make a pseudo-moral argument based on effectively falsifying some form of panic about what *might* be around the corner now that Iran could arm itself with nuclear weapons.

The history of the the West and Arab nationalism is one fraught with misunderstanding, exploitation and greed, and it has its roots deep in the past. The decline of the Ottomans and the subsequent division of the Middle East along the economic preferences of Russia and Britain were formative developments in the creation of the current forms of radicalised Islam and the theocracies in the region. We can also look to the Grand Area Planning conducted by the US State Department during the war years to give us an outline of the intent of US interaction with the Middle East.

What we won’t find is an individual to bring us through this unscathed. Many are looking to world leaders to mitigate the situation in the Middle East, but I feel this is misguided. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is in an unprecedented position within the United States, having mass grassroots support for a platform of simple, direct socialism, and many see him as being potentially instrumental in reforming the conflict, however he’s just a man. There have been countless great men and women throughout history, reformers and revolutionaries who have changed somewhat the course of history, but the main problems of humanity remain: our callousness, our violence, out hatred, our pettiness.

These are not problems to be fixed by an individual, but symptoms of a crisis in consciousness. We have dulled ourselves, become robotic, conditioned, frivolous, and rarely do we really look within ourselves to clarify the nature of these characteristics, or our relation to them.

So then, to place the responsibility for change onto another we are effectively giving life to stasis, we are creating a resistance to change and binding it to time. How do we extricate ourselves from this following mind, and find the state of being from which genuine change can grow?

I want to put a question from Krishnamurti to you to consider while we discuss this issue:

How is it possible to bring about the creative release of the individual, not only at the beginning of his existence, but throughout life? 

That is, how is the individual to have abundant energy rightly directed so that his life will have expansive and profound significance? 

Heres his answer:

Our thinking at present is merely a reaction, the response of a conditioned mind, and any action based on such thinking is bound to result in catastrophe. 

To discover what is truth, there must be a mind that has understood itself, which means going into the whole problem of self-knowledge. Only then is there the total revolution which alone brings about a creative release, and that creative release is the perception of what is truth.

 


For those interested in further study, Noam Chomsky has many talks on the subject which I’ve drawn the majority of my understanding from. Wikipedia, as always, is invaluable if you follow the sourcing. Jiddu Krishnamurti was an Indian philosopher who contributed perhaps one of the most lucid explorations of human thought in history, and spoke frequently on the problems of violence and inhumanity in the modern era.

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