Iran: The lesser of two evils
The United States is in a quandary over the pending nuclear agreement with Iran. US President Barack Obama badly needs to have a deal finalised before the end of his second term, which is rapidly approaching. The American president wants to leave the White House with some positive legacy in foreign affairs. At the moment, he has none.
Yet this agreement, which many who have been following the saga agree, will hardly be worth the paper it will be printed on. Iran will sign but then proceed to do whatever it wants to do, as it has always done. Full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes.
The mullahs will say they have a slightly different version than what the Americans have. They will blame the translation, the nuances of the meanings of certain words in English as opposed to Farsi, and so on.
As long as the ayatollahs remain in power in Iran, as long as the mullahs continue to rule, Iran will continue to be a source of trouble in the Middle East.
Make no mistake about it; Iran plans to become a nuclear power. The decision to acquire nukes was reached during the eight-year war with Iraq, during which the Islamic Republic lost about 500,000 men and nearly lost the war.
At that point Iran made up its mind: It would never again allow itself to fall into such a vulnerable position; it would become a nuclear nation. The invasion of Iraq by the United States in 2003 removed any and all doubt in Tehran of the need for nuclear deterrence.
Iran is a nation of Shia Persians surrounded by Sunni Arabs with whom they have been in conflict in one way or another for several centuries. Furthermore, Iranians — or Persians — have always seen themselves as the dominant factor in the region. The last monarch, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, had the title of shahanshah — king of kings. Ironically, after toiling hard during his first term to portray Iran as a sponsor of terrorism, Obama is trying to convince the American people (and himself) that Iran can be a valuable partner in the war against the Islamic State (ISIS). And indeed the Iranians can and they will because they are right up there with all the others whom ISIS is targeting.
In today’s turbulent Middle East, Iran remains the lesser of two evils but, nevertheless, Iran remains as dangerous as it ever was. Yet, for a month now, the US State Department has been defending Iran from suggestions that it was on the verge of violating a requirement to reduce its low-enriched uranium stockpile under a 2013 interim nuclear agreement with major powers.
Low-enriched uranium can be further enriched to make fissile material for an atomic bomb, and one of the main goals of any nuclear deal is to restrain Iran’s production of it.
Washington also deflected criticism of continued Iranian violations of UN sanctions and reports of attempts to illicitly procure nuclear technology usable in activities the West wants it to suspend.
The Obama administration says it is aware of suspected breaches but they are not covered under the interim accord, which was signed in November 2013 and has been extended three times.
US presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton, addressing a hand-picked audience at a July 3rd Dartmouth College campaign event, said that even if the United States were to finalise a deal with Iran, there would still be problems with Tehran. Clinton called Iran “the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism”.
Iran has done a lot of bad things in Syria and across the Middle East, and still does, lamented Clinton. It’s holding American citizens, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who is on trial for alleged espionage.
Iran is an authoritative theocracy where people are arrested and jailed for speaking their minds; where torture and summary executions are common; and where the mullahs continue to meddle in the internal affairs of Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
In the troubled Middle East all terrorists are not created equal. Some are more dangerous than others. At present, the primary threat is ISIS. It is the most radical, the most brutal and the most dangerous. But one must not forget the “lone wolf” that is Iran hiding under mullah’s robes.