Concrete web-magazine

5Dec/130

Irans nuclear ambitions – Unsafe at any speed

»The enrichment of uranium will proceed as before. [...] The Worlds powers have recognized Irans right to enrich uranium on Iranian soil.«

-Hassan Rohani following the conclusion of the talks with the USA

If the reactions of the European public were anything to go by, the deal with the Iran must have saved the world. There seemed to be a general consensus that ending the sanctions on the Iran is the goal to be achieved and Irans nuclear ambitions are generally ignored despite being at the center of the debate. German media in particular have attributed the new Iranian president Rohani almost saintlike qualities, painting the picture of a fundamental change in Iran.

However, if voices from the region itself are anything to go by, things look wildly different.

Israels opposition to the deal with Iran is well known and, considering Israels role as "jew amongst the nations", it' not too far-fetched to believe that the coverage of Israels opposition to an end of the sanctions is actually used to reinforce the positive image of the deal with the general public. If Netanyahu opposes it, it must be a good thing. To drive this point home, German journalists even resorted to anti-semitic imagery, portraying Netanyahu as the archetypical poisoner, who intends to kill peace itself.

What is commonly ignored is both Israels reasons for its outspoken opposition to the Iranian nuclear programm and the fact that other nations in the region have shown similiar strong opposition to the deal with Iran.

From all available information, we can probably conclude that Iran wants the atom bomb. Many parts of its nuclear developement would make no sense for a civilian, energy-producing goal. Iran is not only enriching uranium to a point only needed for the developement of weapons, it is doing so in underground vaults intended to inoculate the industry against foreign attacks. It furthermore has in the past rejected solutions that would have allowed it to develope a civilian nuclear industry but taken away the possibility of constructing nuclear weapons, for example the Russian offer to take over the task of uranium enrichment for Iran completely.

Israel fears a nuclear Iran because it is a threat to its own existence. The Iranian state doctrine is fundamentally antisemitic and the destruction of Israel remains an ideological and strategic goal of the government. While President Rohani has avoided openly anti-semitic remarks in the recent months, as those would have endangered the talks with the United States and the European Union, there was no fundamental change in Iranian government policy - its brutality evidenced by the more than 300 death sentences carried out since Rohani became President - and Irans Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini continued threats towards Israel which have a long tradition. Worryingly enough, this tradition includes a very specific argument for nuclear war with Israel:

"If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists' strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world."

- Chairman of Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani during a Quds-Day speech in 2001

But will the Iran risk its own destruction by the hands of Israeli nuclear bombs in retaliation for such an assault? One can only speculate. Public speeches of course do not reveal the full truth about a governments ambitions and the words may have been meant for the public, not as an actual intention for nuclear war with Israel. Despite the irrational elements of antisemitic ideology, the "all or nothing"-attitude which already had been Nazi Germany's downfall, the Iranian leadership is comparable to other Islamist movements in the sense that it is quick to sacrifice millions of its people for the ideological goals, but also very concerned with preserving its own status and power.

Still, Israels worries are understandable. Even the faintest possibility is still a threat to the millions living in a country so small that, indeed, one or two bombs could lead to the thorough destruction and the death of most its population. One or two bombs, that won't necessarily be fired from Iran itself and could just as easily be handed over to one of the Shiite militias under indirect control of the Iran, such as the Lebanese Hezbollah.

But, as noted before, Israel is not the only country panicking in the face of Irans nuclear ambitions. Saudi-Arabia has publically announced its intention to acquire nuclear bombs of its own from Pakistan, should Iran go nuclear. Pakistan possesses a sizeable nuclear arsenal that had been developen with Saudi-Arabias help.  Egypt and Turkey are likely candidates for developing nuclear bombs in response the Iranian ambitions as well. Furthermore, it was Saudi-Arabia that informed Israel of the talks held between the USA and Iran without consultation of the Israeli government. A remarkable event, considering that Israel had been the United States' most important ally in the region during the past decades.

As a consequence of the deal with Iran, the region will become less safe and the possibility of regional war is increasing - no matter how many times the negotiations with Iran are called "peace talks". Iran has strong hegemonial ambitions and ongoing imperialist designs for the arabic world. Next to Turkey it is the only country with the material base to do so: Israel is too small and too much of a Pariah for the Arabs to exert much influence over regional affairs. Saudi-Arabia and Qatar are both trying to influence political movements in other countries, for example by funding political groups or governments, but they lack the population for grander designs. Egypt, while a large state, is tied down in internal and economic unrest.

Irans national ideology and predominantly shiite religion adds a religious dimension to the hegemonial struggle with the Sunni states. It had been unable to bridge this divide by invoking Israel as common enemy. Iran is fighting covert wars in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq by funding militias and terrorist activity. While it has thusfar shunned open engagements with any regional powers, this may change if the country developes nuclear weapons that would shield it from repercussion for expansionist policies. Bluntly said: which country would want to assault a nuclear Iran, even it were to invade Iraq?

The Obama-administration meanwhile is pursuing a policy of disengagement in the middle east that, from a national perspective, has been long overdue. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been costly and yeilded no practical benefits for the US government while costing it large amounts of legitimacy. Its tightly knit alliance with Israel demonizes the USA in the eyes of anti-semites throughout the world and has jeopardized business opportunities with the Iran.

Likewise, Germany leads Europe into appeasement of Iran for very solid reasons. Much of the Iranian nuclear programm - just like other countries before - has been developed with German technology. While formally sticking to the sanctions of Iran, German industry had reportedly felt encouraged by politics to illegally evade the sanctions long before the talks with Iran started.

Iran is a large market, much larger than Israel and Saudi-Arabia. Furthermore, re-approachment with Iran may spoil relations with these countries, but it will not cause them to turn against their powerful, if unreliable, partners in Europe and America. Business wil proceed undisturbed. Indeed, it may actually improve, if the destabilized situation in the middle east prompts regional partners of the NATO to expand their arms-purchases.

Much of the middle-east has been rendered useless for the global economy. The unemployed and unproductive populations of countries like Syria may die in protracted civil wars and the rest of the world will sit idly, as long as the governments in the region and the many militias participating in the wars compensate the loss of civilian consumer demand with demand for military products and as long as the access to ressources like oil remains secure. Considering its their only source of income, warring factions will likely ensure it does in order to pay the bills of their arms dealers.

1Aug/130

“If they all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”*

Each year, on the last friday of Ramadan, groups affiliated to the Iranian government and opponents of the Israeli state are gathering for Quds Day. For them, it is a display of strength of a global movement against the existence of an Israeli state and Zionism - for us, it shall be an incentive to take a closer look at the Iranian opposition to Israel.

The first Quds Day was called for in 1979, when the Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini was cited by the Iranian newspaper Ettelaat with a call to all muslims and all islamic governments to unite against Israel and "hack off the hands" of the "usurpators" and their supporters. Iranian state doctrine is deeply rooted in antisemitic thought, repeated calls to violence against jews are the more harmless expression of this sentiment, though: Iran funds numerous groups throughout the world who engage in violence and terrorism against Israeli citizens and often, jews in general.

On 18 July 2012, a suicide bomber on a bus in Burgas, Romania, killed six people, five of them Israelis - the bus was carrying forty-two Israelis from the airport, where they arrived in a flight from Tel-Aviv, to their hotels. Early on during the investigations, the Lebanese Hezbollah was implied and the method of assault pointed to an Islamist background. By July 25th of 2013, two Hezbollah operatives had been identified as suspects: Malid Farah (also known as Hussein Hussein), and Hassan al-Haj. The Hezbollah was founded by followers of Ayatollah Khomeini and is, to this day, receiving funds by the Iranian government.

Such deadly attacks on unsuspecting tourists should be evidence enough that not a political opposition to jewish settlement policy or the military occupation of Palestinian territories are motivating Iran and its allies, but an antisemitic hatred on the jewish people themselves. It furthermore unmasks the cynical argumentation brought forward by many of their supporters in the west when asked about the missile attacks on Israel, which are indiscriminately raining down on civilian and military targets alike, that the opponents of Israel merely don't have the money and technology to target the military and government more precisely. The truth is that any jew is regarded as viable target.

If, however, more proof is needed that Iran, Hezbollah and similiar groups are not fighting for the Palestinian people, but for their own ideological goals, that Palestine is a mere front to stage a war against the existence of a jewish state (and the presence of jews on "muslim land" in general) we can take a short look to Syria: last month, Palestinian sources reported of a massacre conducted upon Palestinians by the Syrian army, who reportedly attacked the Al Yarmouk district of Damascus, an area of the city comprised predominantly of Palestinian refugees. Syria is a close ally of Iran and the government forces have been backed up by Hezbollah fighters, whose military wing is said to be stronger than the Lebanese army. Apparently, the lifes of Palestinian refugees count only as a bargaining chip against Israel.

The strength of Irans attacks upon Israel, not just verbally, but even by direct support for acts of terrorism against Israeli citizens worldwide, is not strictly rational. Iran has no border with Israel. Israel is not threatening Irans existence or its citizens, it is not occupying Iranian territories or competing with Iran for ressources or regional influence. In fact, Israel and jews in general tend to appear in only one form in official Iranian ideology: as the great evil. Jews are given the role of powerful manipulators and evil shadow government of the western states, much in the way western antisemites have done it before. This is, of course, a projection and attributing all the damage of capitalism to a jewish conspiracy is a popular ideological explanation precisely because it is so simple - in a world where not even those involved with the financial market understand it anymore.

"If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice, I do not say the Israeli." - Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah Leader

Iranian state doctrine was, from the beginning, deeply antisemitic because it allowed them to tie older, religiously motivated prejudices, with giving an answer to the question "who is to blame" for all the hardships of modernity, of capitalism and imperialism. Antisemitism was furthermore popular, because it tied so neatly into the national rebirthing mythology the Iranian clericals had developed: they sought to unite the muslim people in a reborn Caliphate, invoking a mystified past not unlike Fascists in Europe had done before. Israel and the jews gave them a common enemy, someone who, in the ideological worldview of the Mullahs, threatened all muslims alike.

Thusfar, it didn't work out so well. Common opposition to Israel failed to bridge the gap between Sunni and Shia Islam. In 2010, a suicide bomber from the Sunni Taliban attacked a Quds Day rally, killing at least 65 people. Meanwhile, domestic support for the Iranian governments anti-Israeli policies waned. A year earlier, in the aftermath of the disputed 2009 elections, protestors used the Quds Day to stage anti-government protests. Amongst the slogans used was "No to Gaza and Lebanon, I will give my life for Iran.” Especially the younger generations are turning out to the Quds Day rallies in ever decreasing numbers, with a growing sentiment that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not related to Iran.

Still, this year again, thousands will protest against the existence of an Israeli nation in neatly gender-seperated protest marches. Amongst them in the west, again, will be a self-proclaimed political left, who believes the Iran a viable partner for the sole reason that they, too, are blaming Israel for all the hardships of the middle east. From the Venezuelan government, who is claiming to build a "Socialism of the 21st century" and deems Iran a strategic ally against the US, to anarchist fringe groups in Europe and the US, who simply don't know better because, really, they don't care much about Arabian politics and just seek allies against their own governments.

Either of them would be well advised to stay away from association with the Quds Day, because all it stands for is a renewed attempt at exterminating jewish existence.

*The title is a direct quote from Hassan Nasrallah, current leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah.