By Mehrnaz Shahabi
The most aggressive posturing and accusations against Iran, yet issued by Washington, signal the rapid closure of the window of opportunity for peace which opened up following the release of the US’ National Intelligence Estimate in December 07 concluding that there was no evidence of a nuclear weaponisation programme in Iran. This revelation which was concordant with the IAEA’s own repeated assessment over 5 years of intrusive inspections, and which had been held from publication by the Vice President Cheney for over a year with the aim of altering its key findings, put a spanner in the frightfully accelerating wheel to another war and a potential inferno in the Middle East and beyond.
However, it seems that the war camp led by Cheney have regained the lost ground and are furtively peddling for war before Bush leaves office next January. Bush’s speech to the Israeli Knesset, 15th May, evoking, once again, the spectre of the world war, likening Iran to 1938 pre-war Nazi Germany, and rebuking Obama’s willingness for dialogue with Iran on par with “appeasement of Hitler”, followed by the reporting of the Israeli army radio of behind the doors expressions of intent by the US to attack Iran before the end of his term, has sounded the alarm bells across a wide spectrum of political observers and analysts.
According to Col. Sam Gardiner, a specialist on military strategies, the raising of “message volume” of anti-Iran rhetoric points to the administration’s policy direction of ratcheting up towards war on Iran. This view accords with the New York Times’ revelation in April of Pentagon’s illegally shaping of political climate through the use of contracted or bribed military analysts, who “under the guise of objectivity”, act as a “Trojan Horse” for Bush administration’s agenda via media outlet.
The volume and breadth of accusations against Iran which have risen steadily since the resignation in March of Admiral Fallon, the Ex-Head of the US Central Command, and a major bulwark against attacking Iran, sharply intensified in the 2 weeks prior to Bush’s visit to Israel and provided the background and the pitch to his warring address to the Knesset. “Iran is a regional threat” (Rice, 30th April) killing American servicemen and women inside Iraq (Gate 29th April), as the policy … approved to highest level of that government (Hayden, CIA chief, 30th April), hell bent on developing nuclear weapons (Gate 29th April) whose pursuit of nuclear weapons and pursuit of terrorism is the perfect nightmare that is a threat to Israel and the rest of the region”. (Mullen 1st May)
In relation to the massive military build-up in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, Adm. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, described this as a “reminder” to Iran that Pentagon was preparing for “potential military Course of action” whilst simultaneously (1st May) acknowledging, in response to questions, that in relation to the allegations of the Iranian government role in the instability in Iraq, there was “no smoking gun which could prove that the highest leadership is involved”. However, threats of bombing the Iranian Revolutionary Guards bases near the populated capital, Tehran, have intensified. The legislative groundwork for such attacks were laid in Kyle-Lieberman’ Amendment to the Defence Authorisation Bill last September.
Patrick Clawson and Michael Eisenstadt from the Washington Institute of Near East Studies, an APAC’s offshoot, are persuading the western public that an attack on Iran could be “a whole lot more successful than most experts currently think”.
Amidst mainstream media’s accompanying chorus to the drum beats of war, Andrew Cockburn reports (Counterpunch, 2 May) that several weeks ago Bush secretly authorised “a covert offensive against the Iranian regime that, according to those familiar with its contents, is “unprecedented in its scope”. This revelation has been totally unreported by the mainstream media. And so is silenced the most important news of the silent ‘confession’ by the US military, reported in LA Times on 10th May, that the alleged Iranian weapons found in Karbala and which were due to be exhibited to the press as the long awaited evidence of Iranian supplying arms to Iraqi militia, were not Iranian! That press conference was quietly cancelled and in the same week, the US army spokesman, Maj. Gen. Bergner, for the first time, did not mention Iran in his reporting on violence in Iraq. Gen. Petraeus too, who on his May 22nd appearance in front of the Senate Arms Services Committee was due to provide evidence of Iran’s destabilising role in Iraq, chose not to elaborate.
It is now evident that not only has the US not produced a shred of evidence for its accusations of Iranian involvement in Iraq, but that the allegations have been based on lies. But, the mainstream media has a job to do and is not interested! Another case of astonishing silence is the discovery of a clip video from the former Defence Secretary, Rumsfeld, in the process of investigation into Pentagon’s illegal manipulation of media – itself blanketed out. In this, Rumsfeld, in the presence of those same military analysts who sold the war in Iraq, says that the American public having voted the Democrats to power could benefit from “suffering another terrorist attack” .
With the aid of this powerful propaganda machine and regardless of the findings of the NIE and the IAEA, the labeling of Iran’s nuclear energy programme as a weapons programme, has continued by Israel, by the US and by its western allies, including the UK. The IAEA-Iran workplan which was concluded in February, clarified all the outstanding issues in relation to Iran’s nuclear programme which were claimed to be the basis of the reporting of Iran’s file to the Security Council and the subsequent resolutions. The demand for suspension of enrichment has been a temporary one contingent upon the clarification of these same issues. The continued demand for the suspension of uranium enrichment is therefore unjustified. Dr El-Baradei, the IAEA Chief, confirmed on 7th May that the investigations concerning the US alleged weaponisation studies – introduced a week before IAEA’s concluding report in February – are “making good progress” and reiterated in the meeting of the World Economic Forum in Egypt on 8th May, that the international community has no evidence of the military nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.
Significantly, Iran in its “Package for Constructive Negotiations” with the 5+1 (Security Council+Germany) presented to the Security Council on 13th May, proposes the formation of international partnerships to enrich uranium in different countries including Iran. This comprehensive package as well as cooperation and collaboration in nuclear security and peaceful nuclear technology, includes areas of international and energy security, nuclear disarmament, anti-terrorism, anti-narcotics, economy and trade, environmental protection and sustainability, democracy, and social justice. The Iranian package stresses on the need to proceed on the basis of partnership and mutual respect and rejects the US-European “two-track” approach of incentives and threats as non-constructive. This package as well as offering an opportunity for peace and addressing issues of global concern, is a litmus test of the will for peaceful and just resolution of genuine issues of concern or intent for colonial aggression and plunder. Sir John Thomson, the former senior British diplomat, has welcomed this option reminding the Brown government of the failure of the current western policy towards Iran. (The Guardian 23rd May).
Meanwhile, the Israeli Prime Minister, Olmert, illegally, immorally and with total impunity, calls for international air and sea blockade of Iran. The current accusations and threats against Iran are in clear violation of the United Nations Charter. The tragic death of over a million Iraqis and thousands of coalition soldiers must be a dire warning to politicians and journalists alike that the consequences of a possible war on Iran would be even more catastrophic, not only for the people of Iran, but globally. In the case of a military attack on Iran, not only the perpetrators but also the various collaborators of this crime would be punishable as war criminals.
Undoubtedly, the Brown Government’s increasing unpopularity in polls and its recent mayoral and by-election failures, reflect, in no small measure, the disaffected Labour voters who have turned away from a Neo Conservative stooge Labour government. The Brown Government must take heed of the advice of the Church of Scotland which in a resolution on 15th May “strongly urge the British government to do everything in its power to discourage the American government from undertaking any form of military strike against Iran … And if the Americans ignore that advice, then Britain must make clear its strong opposition for such a move, either by the USA as a strike or by Israel as a pre-emptive move against Iran”.
Mehrnaz Shahabi is a peace activist and independent journalist. She is on the editorial board of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran
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