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The reasons why America loves Iran

A gas flare on an oil production platform [REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/]
A gas flare on an oil production platform in Iran [REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/]

The US State Department denied a report that was issued last week by a respected international institution that alleged that a secret agreement would allow Iran exemptions that would facilitate the continuance of their nuclear programme. But who would believe them?

Iran has violated the agreement that it signed with major powers last year to freeze its nuclear programme "in order for the world to be a safer place" as US President Barak Obama made clear at the time. Iran has since not been penalised in any way for testing long range missiles or for violating human rights every five minutes, both within and without Iran.

Sentencing people to death in Iran is much easier than getting an abortion in Texas. It sends tens of thousands of its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) soldiers, which has been deemed a terrorist organisation, outside of its borders. Despite all of this, representatives of European countries still travel there with their highest value businessmen to rediscover Iran's old hotels.

Iran has also resumed its production of petroleum energy and has plans to open three branches of an Iranian bank in Germany. $400 million in cash were just received in a boxed shipment from Washington in exchange for the release of four hostages, a request that Washington had initially denied only to later retract and turn a blind eye to.

For that reason, one cannot turn a blind eye to the exceptions that the US makes for Iran, especially when the latter has been known to exceed the quota for uranium production that was previously agreed upon by the agreement between the two parties. One must also note that the Institute for Science and International Security (abbreviated ironically as Daesh) participated in the negotiations of the 5 +1, therefore giving the agreement more legitimacy.

So why does the American administration exhibit all of this favouritism towards Iran? Why is the US so keen on allowing Iran to return to the bosom of the international community, even though it has yet to change and has no plans for doing so?

I believe that there are four reasons that could explain this and all of it relates to Saudi Arabia and its neighbouring Sunni world (unfortunately, it now time to surrender to the use of such speech), as a review of US policies has enabled Iran to maintain and execute its aggressive agenda. Meanwhile, Riyadh and the Sunni world are criticised over ever little thing after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. This has led to children having the audacity to organise conferences in Grozny that excises the Saudi Arabian project from the wider context of the Sunni majority, a majority which is now under a very real attack.

One reason for all of this is that Iran has a plan. The second reason is that Iran has a number of important cards it can bring to the table. Thirdly, Iran and its zone of influence speak with one unified voice and fourthly, and finally, the US currently has a problem with the "Sunni World".

The project:

Iran's project for the region is obvious. There are people who are deliberately defending it, lives are lost in its name, even in the name of defeat, and this is the Western world's stance towards Iran. The West criticises Iran but it also recognises its project, which has now become an expected outcome for the region.

One clear example can be taken in the case of the Syrian Revolution and the people's fight for freedom, which the Western world now sees as nothing more than a "Saudi-Iranian conflict" that can only be solved by listening to both sides. There is a sense of recognition that both sides are taking their interests into account, especially Iran, which has sent tens of thousands of its men to fight there.

The Syrian people's cause and their struggle for freedom has completely disappeared, despite the fact it is the Syrian people who are affected by this conflict and despite their being ruled by a dictator who is in confrontation with the rest of the Arab world and the United States. The Syrian conflict has been transformed into a conversation regarding "regional balances" and "the importance of allowing the Saudis and the Iranians to engage in direct dialogue that would solve the problems of every side." It is only then that we can allegedly reach a peaceful resolution in Syria. Then you have long op-ed editorials that talk about a so-called Sunni-Shia conflict dating back more than thirty years. Such slogans can be taken as serving a bias that favours Iran, which alternatively should be treated as a war criminal in Syria.

The Americans have admitted to the Iranian role in Iraq, for example, despite the sensitive history that exists between them. Iranian militias went against the American rules of engagement at every instance in which it entered a Sunni village. Upon American arrival, US forces found none other than the Iranians there and decided to cooperate with them, which proved the dominance of the old American mentality – he who has the gun has the upper hand.

We must remind the Americans that our Middle East is not the Old West, but it seems that we need a project that would overturn America's presence so that they would listen to us better.

Iran's negotiation cards:

Iran learned these particular tactics from Israel. Occupy then negotiate, build a settlement then negotiate, negotiate then sign an agreement and negotiate a second time to implement the agreement. Iran is using these exact strategies. It has two negotiating points: the Iranian nuclear project and the imperial expansionist project. The first is there so that the second can be realised and the second one is used in service of the first.

The above-mentioned model was exposed by the Wall Street Journal's Jay Solomon who said that he witnessed live negotiations between US and Iranian officials in Oman at around the same time that the Assad regime had been using chemical weapons against its own citizens in August 2013. Although they had reached an advanced stage, they exchanged messages that the negotiations could not go further should Obama choose to strike an Iranian ally!

The negotiations that went into the Iranian nuclear deal represent a suit of strong cards played by the Iranians to save Bashar Al-Assad. Obama compromised for Iran without considering the hundreds of thousands that would die afterwards or the American values that he would be required to defend.

Thus, they can use the Syria card in the same way they use the Iraq, Yemen or Lebanon cards and can carry out what appear to be compromises for the advancement of the Iranian nuclear programme.

As can be seen by reports published by the Institute of Science mentioned above, all that has actually happened is that some lights have been extinguished. Perhaps if we look to Iran in nine years we will find that it has fully developed and has found a way out from under the suffocation of Western sanctions. Their devices will be fully developed but their country will also be liberated and will be considered a strategic-economic partner to the United States and the European Union.

So what are the Iranian playing cards that we must emulate? Primarily, we need a unified voice.

When US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif in Geneva and negotiates with him regarding Syria and Iraq, he will hear the same answer that would be waiting for him in Baghdad on a subsequent trip. Moreover, it will be in line with a secret report by the CIA in Beirut, Damascus or Sana'a. There will not be a difference of opinion with regards to these matters.

Kerry will then go on a tour that would take him from Riyadh to Abu Dhabi to Doha to Ankara and then to Amman as he would consider this the opposing camp to Iran. When he asks them about their views on Syria and Iraq, it is guaranteed that he will not hear the same view points and unfortunately will see that one side is suspicious of the other. Disagreements such as these are what have reoriented the US towards Iran of late.

The solution lies in unifying our stances, at least when it comes to the Iranian issue. It was for this reason that the announcement of the Islamic Military Alliance in Riyadh was met with much optimism last year and yet the media's portrayal of each member of this alliance as suspicious of the other destroyed this optimism.

American sensitivity towards Sunni Islam:

The fourth and final reason may court controversy, but I believe that the US is sensitive towards Sunni Islam after the events of 11 September 2001. You can hear this weariness in the speeches of presidential candidates, in the media and in congress.

One of the main problems of Sunni Islam is that it appears to be an angry sect that is aggressive even towards its own community and its own majority. A good example of this was before a German court in Cologne when a number of Syrians were accused of supporting Ahrar Al-Sham, which is both a key movement working against Bashar Al-Assad and a group that many Sunni-majority governments consider to be a terrorist organisation. This causes much confusion and chaos whether it is intentional or not.

Stories such as these help to better explain this negative standpoint, which in turn causes the US to treat Islamic factions in Syria with much aggression and indifference. This is not the case for Shia groups like Abu Fadl Al-Abbas Brigades, Harakat Al-Nujaba and groups like Hezbollah, who have been known to practice terrorism. They will not be viewed in the same manner even if they shouted "Death to America!" as the West is convinced that such groups do not pose a real threat. By contrast, Kerry has suggested that the Houthis should be gradually incorporated into a national government in Yemen!

What is the solution to all this? I believe that time will tell, but what is more important is that we solve the first three issues I have mentioned above so that we too can have a project and a unified voice that we can negotiate with. Only then will the fourth problem be solved and only then will the US change its stance towards us.

Translated from AlKhaleejOnline, 11 September 2016.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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