Monday, 8 October 2007

Is Tehran the next target?

"The U.S. government may consider using an Iranian terror group to strike at the heart of the Islamic Republic"

Is the administration of George W. Bush, with the help of a pliant mainstream media, preparing the American public for his next big misadventure – an attack on Iran ?

The Bush White House has repeatedly accused Iran of having ambitions to join the nuclear weapons club, coloring their accusations with warnings of a "nuclear holocaust." But based on what? Where's the actual evidence that Iran is preparing to launch a nuclear Armageddon?

This article was first published by Ohmynews International on Sunday 7th October.

Speaking on PressTV's "Middle East Today" program on Saturday evening, Dr. Mohammad Marandi, the head of North American Studies at Tehran University said, "The Bush administration has never shown any evidence to show in any way that Iran 's nuclear energy program is anything but peaceful."

According to experts, the evidence simply does not exist. Marandi said Iran allowed International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors into all the facilities where the Americans accused Iran of hiding its nuclear weapons program, but in each case the atomic watchdog gave the locations a clean bill of health, saying there was no evidence whatsoever of a weapons program.

Iran now has a binding agreement with the IAEA, allowing the agency unfettered access to all its nuclear facilities.
Faced with the obvious - Iran has no nukes or nuke program - some experts are now saying the accusations were nothing more than a smokescreen to divert attention away from Washington's real intentions.

Dr. Elaheh Rostami-Povey, a development studies lecturer at the University of London and prominent anti-war activist told PressTV, "I think the U.S. has clearly failed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and of course in my view the whole agenda of the neocons in Washington was neither to get rid of Saddam Hussein nor to get rid of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan."

The idea right from the beginning, she said, was to win control of the entire region. "And their agenda goes beyond the oil issue, in my opinion they really want to have control of the whole region from North Africa to South East Asia, to have all the resources and also political power," she said.

But after six years in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq , it is clear that they have failed. "Now they are arguing that Iran has weapons of mass destruction, and their plan is to discredit the IAEA. The hostility of the past few weeks since the IAEA and Iran agreed on a comprehensive cooperation program is directed at discrediting the only institution that has the legitimacy to resolve the issue of Iran 's nuclear programs."

But really, this isn't the 18th century anymore, is it realistic that a country could still hold the same ambitions of conquest that were once the dreams of the old colonial powers? There are too many significant players these days, the Russians, the Chinese, the Indians!

"You know, the problem is," Rostami countered, "you and I are applying logic and rational thinking but unfortunately the neo-conservatives in the United States do not have that logic and rationale."

As we know, Rostami said, countries like India and China are rising as economic powers while the United States is declining, and that is why, through illogical and irrational behavior they think that they can have control of the region.

Speaking on an Arabic television channel a few days ago, President George W. Bush made efforts to calm fears that Washington was considering opening up a third front. He said speculation that Washington is planning a strike on Iran is empty propaganda. The president insisted that diplomacy is the only way to resolve the nuclear issue with Iran .

Well not the only one, officials were quick to point out that "all options" still remained on the table.

This is quite a departure from previous harsh rhetoric, and indeed runs counter to many reports from sources close to the center of power in Washington .

Marandi wasn't convinced by Bush's seemingly moderate tone.

"Well it is difficult to believe the current administration," he said, "they do have a tendency to say one thing one day and then something else the next."

The United States realizes that Iran cannot be attacked and invaded like Iraq or Afghanistan . And indeed, the United States isn't the country it was six years ago.

"The United States is in serious trouble, its economy is in trouble, the army is badly damaged, the morale of its soldiers is not exceptionally good."

At the same time, Marandi said, over the same period time Iran has grown much stronger. "So I think a reasonable administration would say that military action is meaningless."

Marandi said currently there is pressure on the hawks in Washington from pragmatists who understand the situation. "But I would not like to make predictions. This is not a particularly reasonable, logical or moral administration."

If the United States wishes to resolve its fears over Iran 's alleged nuclear weapons program, Marandi argued, then the logical step is to put pressure on Israel .

"I think if the American government is honest in this regard then it should put pressure on Israel to get rid of its weapons so that there will be no incentive for any other government or state to pursue them," he said.

Many analysts are suggesting that the Bush administration played the nuclear card, as they did with Iraq , but this time failed to convince anyone of their case. In addition, accusations that Iran is supplying Iraqi insurgents with weapons such as Improvised Explosive Devices and Explosively Formed Projectiles – weapons that have proved deadly to American forces – are also unconvincing. No solid evidence has yet been presented to support Iranian involvement.

Therefore, despite Bush's assertion that he is looking for a diplomatic solution, there are concerns that Washington hawks – led by Vice-president Dick Cheney and supported by former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton – are actively seeking another excuse to attack the Islamic Republic.

One such strategy could be the abductions of Iranian diplomats and businessmen in Iraq by U.S. forces, perhaps hoping to provoke Iran into some sort of retaliation.

"It is rather worrisome that the United States has allowed its forces to take such action against Iranians," Marandi said.

"The United States has shown no evidence whatsoever that any of the people it has taken hostage have been involved in any way with the insurgency in Iraq ."

The Iraqi government in Baghdad has demanded their release, but the U.S. military authorities in the country have ignored their pleas.

"The United States does not seem to wish to allow the Iraqi government to take an independent stand," Marandi said, agreeing that this cuts to the very heart of the issue regarding whether or not Iraq is in fact a sovereign state.

"Well it isn't is it?" he said, " Iraq is a country where the United States bombs civilian targets, despite protests by the Iraqi government. Private security companies attack civilians. The American government takes action against the wishes of the Iraqi authorities. So no, the Iraqi government is not independent, though it is the legitimate government of Iraq ."

Marandi says the U.S. simply does not want to give up the powers it has in Iraq because if they do so, this would be admitting defeat, and the Bush administration knows that history will show that it has been perhaps the worst administration in American history.

However irrational the Bush administration may be, experts say, they would still need to justify an attack on Iran to the American public, and indeed the world.

Was the recent naming of the Iranian Republican Guard Corps as a terrorist organization a step in this direction?. It has been suggested that naming the IRGC a terror organization may offer a thin veil of legality or legitimacy for air-strikes as part of Washington 's "war on terror."

In the meantime, the United States may be considering yet another alternative way to strike Iran – by using a militia group it currently labels a terrorist organization.

The Iran Policy Committee, formed in 2005, is a pressure group that aims to influence U.S. government policy towards Iran . The IPC fervently believes that regime change in Iran should be the policy of the Bush government.

And one of their more creative suggestions is removing the Iranian-opposition terrorist group Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MKO) from the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list. The committee then suggests the U.S. government arm and train the group in Iraq for insurgency operations within the Islamic Republic.

"The United States sees itself as being somewhat exceptional in the international community," Marandi said, "it allows itself to support terrorist organizations that have killed thousands of Iranians on the streets of Tehran and other major cities. The MKO spied for Saddam Hussein during the war. These terrorists were and are stationed in Iraq , in Europe and the United States ."

Marandi said this is very counterproductive, "It allows people to see the extent of American hypocrisy. This is a very dangerous game the Americans are playing."

The above article is based on Saturday 6th edition of "Middle East Today" on PressTV hosted by Chris Gelken

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