Iran’s problems after the Natanz attack

Iran’s real problems are domestic. Most certainly, nuclear weapons will not solve them, and neither will missiles nor the expansionist project of its sectarian militias.

Wednesday 14/04/2021
An Iranian woman walks past a wall of the former US Embassy, with an anti-America mural on it, in Tehran. (AFP)
An Iranian woman walks past a wall of the former US Embassy, with an anti-America mural on it, in Tehran. (AFP)

Regardless of the nature of the attack on Iran’s main uranium enrichment facility, Natanz, and the extent of the damage it caused, Iran has yet to answer the new – old question.

Is it a normal country that cares about the welfare of its people, or not? Is the “Islamic Republic” governed by logic or by illusions?

The White House’s announcement that the United States has nothing to do with the attack on Natanz points to the Biden administration’s desire to strike a deal with Iran for a return to the agreement related to its nuclear file.

Such a stance by the US administration reflects goodwill on its part, but it does not hide the inability to restrain Israel, which has its own agenda regarding the Iranian’s nuclear dossier.

Iran may have to admit first that the world has changed.

But this is rejected by the regime in place, until further notice, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the Iranian people recognise this.

That majority is tired of a system that has nothing to offer but misery and poverty.

Iran may also have to admit that the world is not ready to provide it with money in order to continue its expansionist project, which threatens the stability of the entire region.

Above all, Iran cannot ignore the fact that the two countries on which it relies for its expansionist project, namely China and Russia, maintain more than good relations with Israel.

Likewise, both China and Russia have interests in the entire region that go beyond Iran.

They cannot ignore these interests stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Gulf, in addition to Europe, the United States itself and Africa.

America remains the largest trading partner of China despite the competition between them, which has now intensified.

The world of the year 2021 has nothing to do with the world of 2015 when the agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme was signed between the “Islamic Republic” on the one hand and the group of five plus one, meaning the five permanent members of the Security Council in addition to Germany, on the other hand.

Take Iraq, for example.

Iraq was at that point under the direct hegemony of Iran. A major change has occurred in recent years thanks to the Iraqi people’s realisaton that Iran’s hegemony is not a solution and it cannot indefinitely continue.

Iran did not find anything to offer to any country it sought to dominate, be it Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, or Yemen.

In short, the passage of time has revealed an Iran, mired in Syria where it does not dare respond to the successive Israeli strikes.

As for Lebanon, all that Iran has succeeded in doing is bankrupting the country, displacing its people and utterly destroying its institutions.

The Lebanese are suffering from hunger and poverty because of Iran, which insisted on installing Michel Aoun as president.

Then there is Yemen. It is difficult to find a single positive word to describe the Iranian influence, which has deepened the Yemeni tragedy at every level.

Mention can also be made of the Iranian presence in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas, an Iranian ally.

What did the Palestinians gain from Iran other than pushing them to commit suicide and turn Gaza into an open-air prison for two million Palestinians?

The Iranian expansionist project has only served Israel, whose Iranian agenda is the one that clearly rules the day, despite the White House’s distancing itself from the attack on Natanz.

It was noteworthy that the attack, which Western and Israeli sources described as a “cyber attack” with a possible role for the Israeli “Mossad”, took place at a time when US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin was visiting Israel.

This has led the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Akbar Salehi, to say in a statement that the incident in “Natanz” was the second since last July and was the result of a “terrorist” act.

Salehi added that “Iran reserves its right to respond to the perpetrators of this act.”

Before that, the spokesman for the Parliamentary Energy Committee, Malek Shariati Nayasser, referred to “sabotage or infiltration.”

This is dangerous talk that needs clarification, given that it reveals the presence of Israeli cells inside Iran.

How can Iran respond?

There are two paths ahead. The first is to continue to utter inflated and meaningless words, as proven after the US assassination of the commander of the “Al-Quds” Corps, Qassem Soleimani, on January 3, 2020, and after the Israelis assassinated Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh near Tehran.

The hot Iranian rhetoric about an “earthshaking response” to America and Israel coincides with the continued destruction in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

There is another path for Iran.

This path is that of reconciliation with itself, based on logic and conviction that its expansionist project has no future..

A country that does not have a large productive economy cannot play roles that exceed its size.

Following this path would mean accepting the fact  that the American return to the agreement regarding the Iranian nuclear file cannot be separated from Iran’s behaviour in the region and from its ballistic missile programme.

In the end, what has changed in the region between 2015 and 2021 also  includes Israel’s presence in the Gulf region first and its ability to maintain its own agenda regarding Iran, secondly.

America is not in a hurry.

America cannot enter a confrontation with Israel for the sake of Iran.

Moreover, the US under the Biden administration, has its own concern, which is the Chinese concern.

There is no American foreign policy at the present time other than the policy of confronting China, with which Iran recently signed an unclear strategic agreement for the next quarter of a century.

Is there anyone in Iran who has enough courage to deal with reality instead of continuing to escape from that reality to focus outside the borders of the “Islamic Republic”, ignoring where the real problem of Iran resides? Not sure.

Iran’s real problems are domestic. Most certainly, nuclear weapons will not solve them, and neither will missiles nor the expansionist project of its sectarian militias.