by Mehri Honarbin-Holliday (Campaign Iran)
In recent weeks, Israel’s relentless discourse of immanent military attacks on a variety of sites in Iran, including the channels for refined oil returning to Iran and nuclear installations, have dominated the world press. In the US this week, the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has told the pro Israeli lobbyists in the Bush administration that the military option against Iran remains on the table. This is despite his promises of offering a discourse of diplomacy through “meaningful concessions” during his campaign to become the first black president in the US. The map below shows how Iran is surrounded by US military bases, except from the north because of Russia’s presence, and how the countries which are not a direct military base are either occupied by the US forces, or are tied to the US dollar as clients for vast quantities of military equipment, or receive US dollars to sustain regimes which favour US Imperialism.
The Iranian nation meanwhile suffers on multi levels.
The promise of military attacks deeply exacerbates the existing uncertainties and demoralises the nation. This is just one of the elements poignantly outlined and reflected on this week by the Iranian academia in an open letter to the world asking for Long-lasting Peace. They put it to the world that Iran suffers profoundly from the negative impacts of this ‘virtual war’, directly damaging internal political developments, bringing massive inflation, promoting economic stagnation, and bearing ever tighter political, technical and scientific restrictions. They suggest that the US and the world would do better to place attention on Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons and the likelihood of extremist groups gaining access to these deadly weapons, which would extend beyond its immediate neighbours.
The promise of military attacks further aggravates the lasting wounds of the imposed eight year war with Iraq. Iranian citizens in Ahvaz and its environs in the South East continue to suffer from the chemical fall out buried in the sands which in the summer sandstorms and summer heat contaminate the air. The US supplied Saddam Hussein with experimental chemical weapons during the war against Iran, and this fall out is currently taking the life of the elderly and the physically vulnerable.
The widely implemented unilateral US sanctions continue to have severe consequences. Economic hardships is damaging the nation, the economically vulnerable women who have to feed and shelter children, men and women who have to work very long hours in two or three jobs to provide the most basic needs of their families, students who need to pay for transport to get to their places of education, and those in the industry who are driven to bankruptcy because they cannot sustain the foreign currency exchange rates to acquire supplies from overseas. Regular daily power cuts bring disruptions damaging to the country’s infrastructures, the hospitals, the industry, educational institutions as well as limiting the flow of life in the urban space and domestically in homes, whether in the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter.
Why should Iran and the Iranian nation be punished so savagely by the Imperialist West? Is it not because Iran refuses to be subordinated in the manner the US expects of Iran’s neighbouring countries illustrated in the map above. Is it not because Iran desires to remain sovereign of its destiny rather than succumbing to the US’s expansionist designs for Iran and the region? Does this not refresh our memories of the late 1940s and 1950s when for the love of oil and specific geopolitics the US directly influenced a coup d’état and ousted the democratically elected prime minister Dr Mossadegh in favour of the Shah. In Iran today, there is no division between the Iranian government and the Iranian nation in wishing to remain sovereigns of their own affairs, and there is no division in when it comes to thinking and planning for the future generations’ need for new sources of energy. Like any self-respecting modern country Iran needs electricity to sustain supplies to the country’s infrastructures, the industry, and scientific laboratories. Iran needs to explore other means and possibilities, other sources of energy through nuclear development. There has been no evidence so far that Iran is developing nuclear energy for weaponry to attack the world; Iran has not attacked any country in the past 200 years.
Military attacks on Iran will have unprecedented and profoundly grave consequences for world peace. Military attacks on Iran will not be received quietly by the Muslim world whose boundaries reach the depths of the Far East as well as the Western world. Military attacks on Iran will mobilize profound hatred from Iran’s Muslim neighbours even if they are under the rule of the US. Any military attack on Iran will be a human catastrophe, and an ecological disaster, and a self-inflicting affliction for the West. As the Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi has said in an interview with the Guardian:
“Undoubtedly a military attack on Iran would worsen human rights in the country. Look at Iraq – now the fundamentalists have a pretext for their extremism- no one talks about freedom of speech or human rights. People just want a safe shelter. Do you think that since the US troops arrived in Iraq that the Iraqi people have become prosperous?”
The Bush administration in its last shameful months, the misguided neoconservatives, and the Israeli government will do better to follow the European lead in seeking diplomatic solutions through a comprehensive diplomatic initiative which keeps channels of discussion open. Javier Solana, The European Union foreign policy envoy, has visited Iran representing amongst others Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China, to encourage Iran to suspend the enrichment of uranium offering a new package of incentives. These, some sources reveal, might also offer discussions about help and advice for safe nuclear development for civilian energy use.
As for Barak Obama, he’ll practically shoot himself in the foot if he attacks Iran when in office! He would do much better if he follows his own promise for change, and his own discourse of meaningful concessions.
See David Batty, Friday June 13, The Guardian for Shirin Ebadi interview
Ian Black, Saturday June 7 The Guardian