Understanding Iran - a country in imminent danger


Remember the days before the 2003 Iraq war, or before the first Iraq war back in 1991 for that matter?  The feeling of complacency shattered by the breaking news that the bombing had started?  Many of us feel that same way today about a US military strike against Iran - not after the disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan, surely?  Well, this time the peace movement must launch a pre-emptive strike for peace.  This was the message of the guest speaker at our October meeting, Iranian Abbas Edalat, professor of mathematics at Imperial College.  In view of the threats against his country Abbas decided to devote his sabbatical year to organising CASMII (Campaign Against Military Intervention in Iran), to raise awareness in the US and British public of the real danger to Iran.   (Visit the website www.campaigniran.org.)


He started with an historical overview.  After the nationalisation of oil was threatened by the Iranian government in 1951, a coup d’etat was organised by Britain and France, backed by the US, to overthrow the elected government and install a compliant puppet Shah.  US president Ford convinced the Shah that Iran needed nuclear power, despite the presence of vast oil reserves.  Cheyney and Rumsfeld then urged that Iran needed 22 nuclear reactors!  The Shah's dictatorial reign, during which it was dangerous even to think dissident thoughts, ended in 1979 with the revolution that brought Khomeini to power.  In spite of Iran actually assisting the US in overthrowing the Taliban in Afghanistan after 9/11, Bush’s 2002 speech listed Iran as part of the ‘axis of evil’.  The shock and anti-US feeling generated proved the death knell of the ‘reformist’ movement, perceived to conciliate and aid the US.  They lost the next election.


With the US remaining in the background, Europe is pressing Iran to give up its rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  Abbas noted that the NPT allows construction of peaceful nuclear plants.  Iran has not been in breach of the NPT in enriching uranium to 3.5% - weapons grade is near 90%. There are today 64 countries in the same nuclear position as Iran, but Iran alone is being targeted.  Note the very different US approach to India, a non-signatory to the NPT, a country that has actually made nuclear weapons, and the obvious double standards on Israel, which the US supports militarily despite its nuclear stockpile - probably the fourth largest in the world.  There is no desire for genuine negotiations. Oil is the hidden agenda.  Destabilisation is seen as an aim.  (Rumsfeld once said that he would prefer his country to have a dozen weak enemies than one strong friend.)


Despite the growing unpopularity of the terrible situation in Iraq, the US may really go to war with Iran. The US journalist Seymour Hersh has recently revealed the long-held neo-conservative plan to attack Iran. The hope that bombing might cause a civilian uprising against the Iranian government is naïve.  President Bush repeatedly states that ‘all options are open’.  He has not even denied that tactical nuclear strikes are contemplated.  Professor Edalat does not rule out the possibility of an ‘act of desperation’ before the coming US elections.  There is ‘an unholy alliance’ between Zionists and Christian fundamentalists that disregards reality.


For 250 years Iran has not threatened or invaded any country.  It has declared categorically that it will not attack Israel. Abbas categorised President Ahmadinejad’s remarks concerning the holocaust as ‘stupid’, and out of line with the reality in Iran.  The regime is not anti-semitic, and there is an Israeli population there living in peace.


The way forward?  Concentrate on bringing peace to Israel/Palestine.  Disengage, stop trying to dominate. War would be an obvious catastrophe, yet given the track record of recent years, it may happen if there is insufficient public resistance.


Harry Davis