The WSWS, Iran’s economy, the Basij & Revolutionary Shi’ism: an 11-part series – by Ramn Mazaheri for The Saker Blog – (WSWS)

GOLDENTRIANGLE-RUSSIAIRANCHINA

by Ramn Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

In February the WSWS published a three-part series in response to my criticism of their inflammatory coverage of the protests last winter in Iran, and also to try and rebut the entire concept of “Iranian Islamic Socialism”.

I have waited a few months to read it and respond, but I present this 11-part series in order to: explain the undeniably socialist nature of Iran’s economy, give the first leftist examination in the West of the Basij, and to explain how the religious-cultural roots of revolutionary Shi’ism ultimately creating modern Iranian Islamic Socialism.

I apologise for not responding sooner. However, may I please defend myself by reminding that I had just published a 5-part series which gave a People-centered re-history of the Russian Revolution, was on the brink of publishing a 3-part series which analyzed the structure of the fascinating leftist project in Northern Syria, was preparing an 8-part series which aimed to totally contradict the Western perspective on Mao, the Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap Forward and much else regarding Communist China, and in between I was in Cuba covering their elections from a decidedly leftist perspective (in short: vote cobblers!).

And I also had to do my usual daily hack journalism for PressTV to support the French working class, the Iranian taxpayer and that extremely selfish part of any social class: me, and my opportunist’s desire to pay my bills! And then Ramadan started…but that’s no excuse for not rolling down my sleeves and getting to work on this series – at least it never has been for working-class Muslims. (And contrary to popular belief: Ramadan never hurts, but always helps.)

I also wanted to wait and see what Washington would do with the JCOPA agreement on Iran’s nuclear energy program, as that would dramatically affect any discussion on Iran. Unsurprisingly, the US has maintained their centuries-old policy of not keeping their policies.

I also waited because I focused on a possible silver lining: the obvious injustice of Washington’s decision has – I hope – increased receptivity towards new ideas which analyse Iran sympathetically, instead of so very antagonistically.

Therefore, this series aims to include four things: a response to the WSWS, and one one which provides new ideas, not a mere back-and-forth arguing over the same points of contention; a historical and structural analysis of the Iranian economy, from it’s unique never-colonised era of the Shahs to the modern era, with its totally unique (revolutionary) economic aspects; an analysis of a cultural phenomenon and institution which cannot be ignored, but about which there is almost total Western ignorance – the Basij; and finally an explanation of the religious, philosophical and cultural roots of revolutionary Shi’ism, the dominant ideology of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the modern Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran is in good company: they are unsupported by the WSWS, along with everyone else

When it comes to differences we must start at the end and work backwards, reverse-engineering ourselves into mutual comprehension and cooperation: In the end, the problem is that no revolution exists or has ever existed which was good enough for the WSWS to support, excepting only the Russian Revolution.

So Iran is not alone to be a leftist country which is left hanging at the time of Western “soft war”, as Iran was last winter. In many years of reading the WSWS I have never seen them express genuine support for Iran, Cuba, China, Eritrea, North Korea…anywhere.

What the WSWS does – and what they only do – is condemn capitalism and imperialism. They do it very well, and I’m certainly glad they do it. But we all surely see how such a one-sided approach produces imbalance, and thus a host of subsequent errors.

The WSWS also is politically partisan – they champion the Socialist Equality Party. Iran must be an original sinner to the WSWS, having had their revolution 30 years before this party’s inception. I don’t know what their plans are for starting an Iranian Socialist Equality Party, but they should definitely read this series before launching their recruitment efforts. (And they should be aware that calling for the downfall of the nation is unacceptable and undemocratic sedition which will not be tolerated, much less accepted and then elected.).

“The task of revolutionary socialists is to politically arm the working class in Iran with a socialist and internationalist strategy.”

Daste shoma dar nakoneh – thank you for your troubles (literally: May your hand not hurt). I mean those thanks quite sincerely! But, this series will show how Iranian revolutionaries in the working class – and religious class, and lower class, and other classes – have already shown how very well-armed they are with socialist and international strategies.

The WSWS fails to grasp this.

Their 3-part series also shows that they misunderstand Iran on many fundamental levels. This series hopes to clarify some of their errors.

And since they do not understand it – how can they praise it? Ok, don’t praise us, but I go back to my original complaint in this journalistic back-and-forth: the WSWS was piling on Iran alongside the capitalist-imperialists they swear are not their allies. Never allies…except when it comes to Iran?

However, the WSWS would, in their ivory tower journalism, prefer to see an Iran destroyed in the delusion that destruction from looming imperialists would fantastically result in the world’s first Trotskyist state! It’s not that I begrudge the WSWS their idealist fantasies – I have plenty of my own – but I remain disappointed at their choice of targets, because the fall of Iran would have so many negative ramifications for the anti-imperialist movement in the Middle East, and thus the global anti-imperialist movement, and it certainly would be the cruelest loss for Islamic Socialism, which is taken quite seriously in the Muslim world even if atheistic Trotskyism cannot tolerate the very thought of it.

But those two paragraphs are a boring recap of our old arguments and subjects – I promise new ones from here on out.

The tone readers should expect from this series is one of respect, professionalism & goodwill, and not egoistical sniping or the self-aggrandisement of myself or Iran. The narcissism of small differences is seemingly the biggest obstacle leftists have to overcome, and such tones would be proof of such divisive narcissism. The WSWS, as I said from the very beginning, is on the right side of very many issues in a very brave and admirable fashion.

But if I may permit myself only one snipe in order to show my humanity, much like how every Iranian carpet purposely contains one mistake in order to show that only God is perfect:

I noticed that the WSWS did not fail to reprint and directly quote every single word of praise I gave them, LOL?

That’s not very Iranian of ya, FYI! Maybe you shouldn’t get a big head, because ornately lavishing excessive praise on anything in sight is simply what Iranians are culturally compelled to do, LOL!

However, I do not consider this a very serious snipe at the possible self-aggrandising of the WSWS, because they had the exceptional good manners to acknowledge my compliments as “generous”. And also because I meant every word of praise, and I still do: The WSWS is a real fighter against the imperialist aims of Washington, Paris, London, Tel Aviv and other rabid capitalists.

But the WSWS’s claim, just after kindly acknowledging my inadequate generosity, that they are “the pole of socialist opposition to imperialist aggression and war” is a bit too much – they are only “one pole”.

Despite their fine, informative articles the WSWS has not changed my position nor my support for Iranian Islamic Socialism, which is also one pole of socialist opposition to imperialist aggression and war.

What the WSWS may not realize is that Iranian Islamic Socialism is something which was created entirely without any help from me, but sprang from the Iranian working class. (Or the Iranian 99%, or the Iranian 99% minus the so-called “talented 10th”, or the Iranian People, or the “Iranian proletariat plus their housewives” – as you like, the meaning is clear.)

What the WSWS series has done is mainly this: helped educate people about the role of Iranian communists in the 1979 Islamic Revolution; this series also hopes to educate people about certain uniquely Iranian concepts, structures and facets of history which were greater motivating forces in the 1979 Islamic Revolution than the communist Tudeh Party.

The reason for the first article in their series was to, “…reject their attempts to blackguard opposition to rampant social inequality and capitalist austerity as imperialist subversion.”

The WSWS has taken the reason for opposing the protests which Iran broadcast to other nations as if it was the same reason they broadcast within Iran. That is not the case.

Yes, the government talked about the obvious foreign involvement, but within Iran they also acknowledged repeatedly and loudly that the economic reasons for the protests were justified. Indeed, many politicians made much hay over it. Few Westerners imagine than Iran has a vibrant media, but I can assure everyone that many journalists and politicians had a field day over the protests, raking parts of the government over the coals.

But Iran has been subject to an economic blockade for decades, and thus has been forced to tolerate economic protests since at least way back to 1992. Iran is not like Cuba which (likely due to their closeness to Miami) truly tolerates no protests at all excepting the Ladies in White. I suspect that the WSWS believes that the government actually tried to blame it all on “imperialist subversion” because this is was the main, self-centred, largely-ignorant theme of Western coverage of the protests.

The stated reason for their 2nd article was to remedy my lack of applying class perspective to my already-faulty historical analysis – faulty, because I do not give credit enough credit the communist Tudeh Party for their role in the revolution.

Too much Tudeh from the Trotskyists

Well, I know a little bit about the Tudeh – my uncle was jailed by the Shah in 1954 for protesting on their side!

The bulk of their 3-part series is devoted to describing Tudeh’s involvement, and all I can say is…they have a right to focus on what they wish. I thank them for giving time to present Iran’s history from a sympathetic perspective.

But I am not much interested in retelling the history of the Tudeh Party. Every Iranian knows the role it played; every Iranian sees the impact they made in government policy, even if they lost; and every Iranian knows why they absolutely deserved to lose, democratically, despite the efforts of people like my Amoo (uncle on father’s side).

After World War II, the communists were always confined to two small groups – the students ands the intellectuals. I think I can quite easily hang the WSWS with their own words:

“(Other Stalinist and Maoist parties in Iran) Like the Tudeh Party, they were taken unawares by the explosion of mass opposition to the Shah’s rule in 1978…

How could the communists be so unaware if they were truly a grassroots, mass movement? This quote shows how out of touch with the average Iranian the Iranian communists were, and why democracy forbid their victory.

To compare Tudeh to the the communists in 1917 Russia or 1949 China is absurd – even at the height of the revolution Tudeh had perhaps 5,000 members, after all. The Tudeh’s main influence was informal – by influencing discussion for decades – and not in a real, grassroots, tangible, organisation-driven – and thus truly revolutionary – way.

As far as students: One must know that there were not many universities in Iran until after 1979 – the idea that the students came from a broad cross-section of society, as they do now, is simply not true: middle- and upper-class families were privileged in university selection…clearly not enough to win or deserve democratic support of a nation.

Compare all of this with the mass grassroots presence of Islam and it should be clear how and why Islam was – and continues to be – democratically chosen to be Iran’s primary revolutionary force. It was the mosque which was the grassroots centre of revolutionary activity, and not the Tudeh Party local headquarters.

We should not underestimate the influence intellectuals have in shaping the talking points and water-cooler discussions of a culture, but during the Iranian Islamic Revolution Tudeh was a party for the intellectuals and not the People. That is not stating an opinion, but an obvious fact.

However, considering their much larger postwar role, their decades of political presence, and how they advanced the political modernity of Iranians, it is commendable and natural that the WSWS wants to tell their history. But the facts show that it is easy to exaggerate their influence among the average Iranian who, polls repeatedly show, overwhelmingly reject atheism to the tune of 95%. (Of course, most of the communists in Iran were devoted Muslims – this is a reality many Westerners cannot handle intellectually.)

The communists did not win – Iranian Islamic Socialism did.

(A similar (pro-Iranian yet) nationalist Islamic-communist coalition just won parliamentary elections in Iraq…and I am about as surprised by that as when I saw the sun come up last week during Ramadan. We should expect a very similar Iraqi Islamic Socialism to ensue…assuming Western imperialist meddling is eliminated, as it was in Iran, which is a rather hopeful assumption, I’ll admit.)

Given this fact of the Tudeh Party’s lack of grassroots presence and support, it makes the WSWS’s standard Trotskyist explanation of “when in doubt, blame Stalin” seem woefully inadequate when discussing Iran:

“It was the vacuum of working class political leadership created by the decades of betrayals by the Stalinist Tudeh party that enabled Khomeini to cast himself as the Shah’s most indefatigable opponent, and for he and his clerical followers to develop a mass following, extending from the bazaar to the urban and rural poor, between 1975 and 1979.”

This falsely implies that Khomeini came out of nowhere in 1975 and co-opted the revolution like some sort of political opportunist. That is terribly, terribly inaccurate.

Apart from actually being implanted for decades among the working class, many in Iran’s clergy had long ago abandoned the status-quo quietism which is what the clergy in Western Europe practices today. The two are simply not comparable; the Western tendency to assume a Western-oriented universality is not at all applicable, yet again.

Politically-progressive clergy in Iran were exiled, imprisoned and killed pre-1979, and the failure of Western leftists to acknowledge that the clergy can play a positive role in political liberation dooms, I believe, their chance to successfully implement any of their policies which have nothing to do with religion. Indeed – it is all or nothing with Western leftists, and they want to control God as well.

And this is perhaps the ultimate irony: Iranian socialists have said all this for years: It is possible to be Muslim and socialist!

The WSWS even quotes the marriage between socialism, the Tudeh Party and Islam…and yet they also deny that it happened?

Caught unawares by the revolutionary upsurge of 1978-79, the Tudeh Party emerged, in the aftermath of the February 1979 overthrow of the Shah’s regime, as the staunchest supporters of Khomeini, anointing him the leader of the “national-democratic revolution.” Kianuri, now the Tudeh General Secretary, hailed Shiism as “a revolutionary and progressive ideology which we shall never encounter blocking our road to socialism….”

Strong stuff from Tudeh’s Kianuri, but the WSWS apparently imagines that the Tudeh’s alliance with revolutionary Shi’ism was also one of political opportunism, when it was the loving marriage of socialism and Shi’ism after decades of courtship. Again, this concept breaks the rigid brains of Western leftists.

Iranian Islamic Socialism, unlike Tudeh, is not out of touch with the working class

This ideological marriage is something which has been discussed for decades in Iran already, and obviously formed the basis for the entire 1979 Revolution, but I will address it for modern readers in parts 9 and 10 of this series: Cultural & Permanent Revolution in Revolutionary Shi’ism & Iranian Islamic Socialism, and then ‘Martyrdom and Martyrdom’ & martyrdom, and the Basij. Regular WSWS readers may be especially interested in these concepts.

Why are these ideas largely not new, Ramin? Well, it’s because Iranians think about God, and they also think about socialism! Our brain does not explode by holding these two ideas in our head at the same time, nor are we hypocritical, nor doctrinally unsound – in our context (open-minded people) we even pass for normal!

Iranians for decades had been discussing how to marry socialism with Islam in a manner exactly similar to the historical progression of socialism in pre-1917 Russia. Both revolutions were nearly bloodless, and the reason is because the anti-reactionary forces had worked hard for decades to win over the People. Neither of these were “10 days that shook that world” – mere explosions of violence – both were “many decades of struggle that shook the world”.

Therefore, it should be easy to see: how Iranian Islamic Socialism has been preceded by decades of grassroots preparation, why it has taken such firm root, and why 40 years of near-total global opposition has been unable to dislodge it.

Iranian Islamic Socialism, however, does not pass for normal in modern global politics…and I’m very glad for that, considering what does pass for normal in the neoliberal, neo-imperialist age. This is good for Iran, but quite sad for the rest of the world.

But Iranian Islamic Socialism is not going anywhere, and its failure would be a reactionary-inspired human rights disaster no less lamentable than what befell the people of Russia after the fall of the USSR. And, LOL, not make Iran Trotskyism’s very long-awaited first victory.

Why do I use the phrase ‘Iranian Islamic Socialism’?

This is not haphazard – it is in this particular order for a reason.

“Iranian”: People have this absolutist idea that Iran aims to follow the Koran to the letter in every instance, and that Iranian society aims to be an exact replication of the time of Prophet Mohammed.

What they fail to realize is that Khomeini was unequivocal: the imperatives of the state must take precedence over the needs of Islam.

He made it completely clear: good temporal governance on behalf of the inhabitants of the country must take precedence over Shariah, and may God forgive us. This debate was public and went on for years during and after the Iranian Cultural Revolution (one of only two official cultural revolutions ever) and yet it is still not appreciated by non-Iranians.

In these public and democratic debates over what the new Iran “should be”, what won out was an idea often associated with Abdolkarim Soroush: “religion” and “religious knowledge” are two different things; the former is sacred and immutable, the latter evolves and changes so that societal solutions can be found. Make no mistake: The Islamic Republic of Iran is based on the latter – religious knowledge which is used to promote democracy, pluralism and equality and Islam.

Obviously, many of the more religious did not like making religious injunctions secondary to politics, but the idea of a government designed to promote only Islam simply did not win out, just as the Tudeh did not win out democratically. It does not mean these ideas are not present, however, as Iran is a democracy – religions proponents are well-represented in Iran, of course.

Are there traditionalists who want the former – yes: they want “Islamic Iranian Socialism”. The 7th century Revolution of Islam was a political revolution in large part because Prophet Mohammad ended tribalism, and by extension nationalism. Thus, many want just “Islamic Socialism”. But they have a very tough convincing job to do, considering Khomeini opposed them, and that we have had decades of subsequent hardening of this “Iran is based on religious knowledge and not religion” concept; but they certainly have many of supporters among the Iranian people. I realize that on a global level the idea that Iran is insufficiently Islamic may seem surprising, but on a domestic cultural level it remains a genuine issue. It is also a guaranteed-acceptable method and safety valve for Iranians to criticise their government whenever they are having a bad day, LOL.

Regardless of that, I think many have not taken this long-standing reality into account when they talk about Iran’s government, but it should radically reorient anyone who doesn’t realize what is the top priority of Iran’s Islamic democratic government: the nation.

And, of course, we should remember that those who want “Islamic” first are not anti-Iran in the slightest – they just want more religion in Iran.

Therefore we see that Iran is definitely “nationalist” above all, like China or Cuba, and the opposite of the formerly independent nations of the European Union and especially the Eurozone.

This is all why “Iranian” is the first term.

“Islamic” comes second, because it has clearly and democratically been placed there. We see that Iran’s system is truly not the fundamentalist, everything-is-religion government it is portrayed as – it is clearly a modern system, based on nationalism, is an edifice built upon the most modern ideas of governmental structure available in 1979, and all while being hugely inspired by Islam.

“Socialism” is the final term, and the most contentious, mainly because socialism has yet to shake its original association with destructive, undemocratic, state-enforced atheism.

Socialism is clearly based on two fundamental precepts: empowering the long-oppressed with democratic rights, and massive state-organised economic redistribution, which is anathema in capitalism. Thus, socialism is both a structure of government and an economic policy. Therefore, Iran certainly has socialism.

Calling Iran ‘capitalist’ is misinformed, duplicitous, lazy or all 3

Part Three of the WSWS’s series is dedicated to Trotskyist propaganda – indeed, this is what the final part of every single WSWS article does (and I admire their ideological discipline). But that means deliberately denying realities and subverting the commonly-held definitions of words. This required me to write Part 2: How Iran got economically socialist, and then Islamic socialist.

The reality is that some of the Tudeh Party’s socialist ideas were indeed integrated into policy – the proof is clear from their years of cooperation with other revolutionary groups, but also quite easily found in the pudding which is Iran’s state-run, welfare-state & redistribution-and-not-profit-oriented economy.

Iran’s economy is something which is rarely appreciated properly and not because the WSWS is purposely obscuring accepted definitions: it is because Iran has a unique (revolutionary) structure which is not easily comprehended. This is the impetus for part 3, What privatisation in Iran? or Definitely not THAT privatisation.

I do not believe that Iran – nor China, nor Cuba, nor a few others – can be talked about as “bourgeois” states when they have had and have sustained anti-bourgeois revolutions: new rules regarding discussion of them must therefore apply. I think those nations are revolutionary because they have fundamentally changed their class structures, and thus makes Trotskyism anyone else unable to answer “in advance” which classes will bring democracy and socialism.

This is the reason why I have included something which I think may be unprecedented in a Western language: an objective analysis of the Basij, which is what is discussed in parts 4-7.

While few Westerners know or can explain why or how the 1979 Revolution handed 10-15% of the entire Iranian economy in the hands of charities (the bonyads, or state charity cooperatives, explained in Part 2) I think it is impossible to understand Iran without understanding the 10+ million member organisation the Basij. The WSWS series makes no mention of it. Therefore, I have made a 4-part sub-series on this institution.

In Part 4 I compare them with the only parallel I can find in the modern world: Structural similarities between Iran’s Basij and the Chinese Communist Party. The idea that the Basij is some sort of neo-Nazi Brownshirt militia is total nonsense, and I think readers will be interested to see the many parallels between the CCP and the Basij.

The reason I think it’s important to talk about the Basij now is: because it could reduce the chances of war.

Non-Iranians need to realize that any foreign invasion of in Iran implies the mass, grassroots involvement of the Basij. Certainly not all of them, as only a small percentage of this volunteer group are involved daily in security operations (contrary to popular belief), but very certainly invasion would involve a lot of them. I think that if people learned about the solidity of this group – whether one condones or condemns them, and I remain 100% objectively neutral in my examination and refuse to either condone or condemn them on my part – one must simply accept that they are a huge force to be reckoned with in any war.

However, there is quite nearly zero scholarship of the Basij. What little exists is sensationalist nonsense or based on the decades-ago beginning of the Basij during wartime. Hopefully the four-part sub-series clarifies the Basij, and it is certainly the first leftist analysis of the Basij available in the West.

However, not everyone wants to understand modern Iran via discussing in detail their economy and their socio-political institutions. Therefore, Parts 8-10 attempt to do describe Iranian Islamic Socialism via religion and culture.

Part 8 talks about the “Cultural Revolution” of Imam Ali and Part 9 talks about the “Permanent Revolution” of Imam Hussain, via historical-political examinations of their lives in the Revolution of Islam.

Islam, unlike Christianity, was indeed a sweeping political revolution: therefore, these two religious figures of the early Islamic era can also be viewed in a completely areligious and historical-political fashion; the post-revolutionary culture & era, while having been initiated by Prophet Mohammad, is thus incredibly similar to the post-revolution eras of other global revolutions such as the Russian & Chinese revolutions.

The ideas represented by Ali and Hussain are so firmly lodged in Iran’s collective unconscious and current political reality that, like the Basij, they simply must be understood – and they provide quite superb revolutionary models for non-Muslims, too!

Part 11 explains the Iranian Islamic Revolution via the greatest Iranian movie of all-time – The Death of Yazdgerd – which is also the greatest political movie of all time.

That is a very bold statement, but merited. If I may say so humbly: Iran is widely considered perhaps the greatest pound-for-pound cinema-producing nation; so if we also consider that Iran has produced one of the the greatest political human dramas since the advent of cinema, is it not out of the question that they also produced the greatest political drama within cinema?

This relentless moral machine-gunning of the institution of monarchy – something which every society can relate to, adding to its genius – is truly unparalleled in film, and it is even available with English subtitles for free on Youtube here. For a fascinating and whirlwind two hours – and to see what your ancestors endured (unless you have a royal lineage) – I encourage you to watch it.

The 11th and final part discusses the future of Iranian Islamic Socialism in the context of a (possibly) post-JCPOA world.

I hope readers find this series informative and enjoyable. I also hope it will answer many questions about modern Iran which are shrouded in mystery for non-Iranians.

I did not intend for this series to begin publication on Eid Al-Fitr – the day after the end of Ramadan – but that is an auspicious coincidence!

But as somebody smarter than me once said: We may disagree on what goes on beyond the sky, but here on earth our political choices should be quite morally obvious by now.

Eid Al-Fitr Moborak! Happy End of Ramadan!

***********************************

This is the 1st article in an 11-part series which explains the economics, history, religion and culture of Iran’s Revolutionary Shi’ism, which produced modern Iranian Islamic Socialism.

Here is the list of articles slated to be published, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

The WSWS, Iran’s economy, the Basij & Revolutionary Shi’ism: an 11-part series

How Iran got economically socialist, and then Islamic socialist

What privatisation in Iran? or Definitely not THAT privatisation

Structural similarities between Iran’s Basij and the Chinese Communist Party

Iran’s Basij: The reason why land or civil war inside Iran is impossible

A leftist analysis of Iran’s Basij – likely the first ever in the West

Iran’s Basij: Restructuring society and/or class warfare

Cultural’ & ‘Permanent Revolution’ in Revolutionary Shi’ism & Iranian Islamic Socialism

‘Martyrdom and Martyrdom’ & martyrdom, and the Basij

‘The Death of Yazdgerd’: The greatest political movie ever explains Iran’s revolution

Iran détente after Trump’s JCPOA pull out? We can wait 2 more years, or 6, or…

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

 

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Pompeo: US Will ‘Not Allow Iran to Develop a Nuclear Weapon’ – By SPUTNIK

A Ghadr-H missile, center, a solid-fuel surface-to-surface Sejjil missile and a portrait of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are displayed at Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran

© AP Photo / Vahid Salemi

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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The United States is monitoring media reports about Iran’s plans to build up its nuclear capacity, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

“We’re watching reports that Iran plans to increase its enrichment capacity,” Pompeo wrote in a Twitter post on Wednesday. “We won’t allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran is aware of our resolve.”

Iranian state media reported earlier in the day that the government has ordered to start operations to boost uranium enrichment in light of the recent US decision to re-impose sanctions on Tehran.

Pompeo called Iran’s actions another representation of Tehran’s “foolishly squandering its resources.” Therefore, protests in the country come as no surprise, the US secretary of state concluded.US President Donald Trump announced in May that the United States would pull out from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump also decided to restore wide-ranging sanctions on Iran, including secondary sanctions against financial institutions of third countries doing business with Tehran.

The JCPOA was signed in 2015 by Iran, the European Union and the P5+1 group of countries — China, Germany, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.The deal stipulated the gradual lifting of the anti-Iranian sanctions in exchange for Tehran maintaining the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.

Putin chastizes Macron over Iran sanctions on video: You’re not sovereign, you’re “like obedient little children” – By Michael Bateman (Russia Insider)(SOTT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin is applauded by his French counterpat Emmanuel Macron after delivering a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia May 25, 2018.

© Grigory Dukor / Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin is applauded by his French counterpat Emmanuel Macron after delivering a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia May 25, 2018.

There has been much talk of Macron behaving like the leader of a sovereign nation recently, but we don’t buy it.

To us, he still has the manner of a schoolboy trying hard to ingratiate himself with grownups. Plus, he is distinctly effeminate.

He obviously didn’t get to where he is on his own merits, rather he was put there by people who are probably not very effeminate.

Putin is a plain-spoken, no BS kind of guy, so this exchange was entertaining.

Macron was trying to say that France is a sovereign nation, which is obviously not true – just look how cravenly they toed the Israeli line in joining in on the recent attack on Syria, Macron spouting the lies dictated to him by his masters. It was pathetic and embarrassing.

Here, Putin gently explains to Macron that he is mistaken.

In the video, Putin’s words are mistranslated as: “You paid like the dearest ones”, which loses all the punch of the original Russian. What Putin actually said is “You paid like ‘milenki’, the sense of which can be better conveyed with ‘obedient little children’. We corrected it in the transcript below.

The translation comes from Putin’s Press Office, which is run by Mr. Peskov. Leave it to government bureaucrats to blow Putin’s best one-liner of the weekend. Mr. Peskov, it is time you hired native English speaking translators who actually speak English. The quality of the translations coming from your office are frequently quite awful, especially when quoting Putin.

The president of France attending his first day of work with his mother Sorry, but this is very, very strange

Transcript:

Macron:

Concerning international security, I would like to assure Vladimir, that I am not afraid since France has an army

that can protect my country

but I have a strict obligation in relation to other European allies

and I think that this kind of the European security architecture is our responsibility.

In any case, we will not turn our back to anyone, and will not do it at the expense of other European countries.

I will do it this way since I am not afraid and I will fulfill my obligations

Putin:

Unfortunate…

Of course, one shouldn’t be afraid but the practice says differently.

Look, we are all dealing with Iranian issue, there were already cases of implementing American sanctions against European companies

9 billion dollars fine was paid by PBNP Paribas French bank, then Deutsche bank for violation of the unilateral sanctions

And what happened? You payed it like obedient little children

the same happened with a Japanese bank

This practice should stop.

This is unacceptable, this is what is all about.

So, if this continues… What is good about it?

This is what destroys the existing world order.

We, nevertheless, need to agree with our American partners on any other rules of conduct

This is extremely important because this is something that underlies our today’s discussion.

Trust. Either there is some or there’s no.

If there is no, then nothing good will come out it

Then, it will be like I said in the speech, nothing except force will rule, and this can lead to a tragedy at the end.

Comment: Putin is adept at dealing with duplicitous weasels like Macron:

US State Department Tells Syria What It Can and Can’t Do on Its Own Soil – By Peter Korzun (Strategic Culture Foundation)

US State Department Tells Syria What It Can and Can’t Do on Its Own Soil

The US State Department has warned Syria against launching an offensive against terrorist positions in southern Syria. The statement claims that the American military will respond if Syrian forces launch an operation aimed at restoring the legitimate government’s control over the rebel-held areas, including the territory in southwestern Syria between Daraa and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Washington is issuing orders to a nation whose leadership never invited America in in the first place! The very idea that another country would tell the internationally recognized Syrian government that it cannot take steps to establish control over parts of its own national territory is odd and preposterous by any measure.

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said Washington would respond with “firm and appropriate measures.” But does the US have any legal grounds for responding with any measures at all? What is it actually doing in Syria? And wait a minute … President Trump recently solemnly promised to leave! Indeed, there is no justification for the US military presence, especially after the Islamic State ceased to be a factor influencing the events there, once that force had been reduced to insignificance. It would have been totally routed a long time ago if America had not intervened, allowing the remnants of the militant group to survive. Wasn’t it President Trump who said many times that the only justification for the US presence in Syria was the need to fight the Islamic State and nobody else? Wasn’t it he who happily declared the final victory over the terrorist group? That mission has been accomplished and yet… the US is still there, issuing warnings and instructions that others must comply with or else.

The statement calls on Moscow to use its influence with the Syrian government to prevent the liberation of the captured areas in accordance with last year’s de-escalation agreement between Russia, the US, and Jordan. Moscow has also called on Washington not to destabilize Syria with missile and air strikes and to do something about the humanitarian catastrophe in southwestern Syria, but is anyone listening? Last month, Russian President Putin said in a statement that any cooperation with the US in Syria had been suspended after the April attacks, which the Russian government viewed as an act of aggression against a sovereign state. It was not Moscow who started the whole thing, rendering all previous arrangements null and void. Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on April 18 that Washington was ready for an armed clash with Russia in Syria. This statement did not go unnoticed in Moscow.

Although it is a guarantor of the de-escalation zone in southwest Syria, what has the US done to prevent the rebels from attacking Syrian forces and staging all kinds of provocations?

What about the 12,000-strong Southern Front that has amassed in southern Syria preparing for an assault on Syrian forces? Is that not a violation of the agreement in regard to the de-escalation zone? They plan to capture Daraa and turn it into the capital of a would-be quasi-state supported by the US and Israel. A false-flag chemical attack cannot be ruled out. The militants have some experience staging such provocations. The logistics for this force involve crossing the Jordanian-Syrian border under the guise of providing humanitarian assistance. Has any de-escalation agreement given a green light to such activities?

The situation could have been discussed during the recent Astana meeting, but the US was conspicuously absent while encouraging military preparations in the province of Deir ez-Zor.

The US warning coincides with the news that the US is going to recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory. And any “foreign” presence there — such as Iranian, for instance — would be viewed as a threat to Israel’s sovereignty, and of course America would be ready to help its old friend and ally. The Heights are Syrian land. They were captured during the 1967 war and illegally annexed by Israel in 1981. That move has not been recognized internationally but the US is ready to defy the rest of the world. It’s not the first time. The embassy in Israel was moved to Jerusalem, the Iran deal was unilaterally torn up — the list of examples illustrating US scorn for international opinion can go on.

Despite its stated intentions to leave, the US warning shows that it will stay in Syria for a long time and its future plans have little to do with the Islamic State. The goal is the partition of Syria, with large swaths of its territory remaining under America’s control, including the Daraa province. The US absence at the Astana meeting confirmed its plan to stymie the ongoing Russia-led peace efforts in favor of seeing Syria divided and using other venues for peace talks in order to diminish Russia’s influence, isolate the Assad government, and squeeze Iran out. Step by step, America’s uninvited intervention in Syria is exacerbating the situation, increasing the risk of a wider conflict. If this plan to create a quasi-state in southern Syria goes through, this will be the beginning of the reshaping of the Middle East in accordance with Washington’s vision for the world at its best.

In Face of US Threats, Iranians I Met Remain Calm and Confident in Their Strength – by Miko Peled ( MINT PRESS )

A woman walks her dog past a mural depicting a nefarious Statue of Liberty on the wall of the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, May. 8, 2018. Vahid Salemi | AP

Unlike the drama one sees in the media, responses in Iran to the international saga unfolding are mostly calm: “We have been there before and we survived, we shall survive again.”

TEHRAN, IRAN — The look on people’s faces when I mention that I had just returned from visiting Iran is priceless. Even if the trip had been a terrible failure, it still would have been worth it just to see these expressions of confusion, disbelief and sometimes disdain at the mere mention of a visit to Iran. The trip was not a terrible failure; quite the opposite in fact. It was a reminder that looking at the U.S. from the outside, and in this case from a country that has all but been declared an enemy of the U.S., one has the advantage of a very different perspective; and America, led as it is by Donald Trump, seems petulant and dangerous and possessing far too much power.

Naturally, wanting to hear first-hand what Iranians thought about current affairs played a big role in my decision to embark on this trip. It happened that it came about shortly after Trump’s declaration that the U.S. is pulling out of the Iran agreement and that sanctions were going to be reinstated. Though some people had suggested that I cancel the trip, I felt that this made the trip all the more important and interesting. The U.S. pulling out of the Nuclear Agreement and reinstating the sanctions will have a major effect on the country and its people, so hearing directly from the people who are affected by these policies was invaluable. Furthermore, since Iran is a Muslim country, I wanted to hear what Iranian people thought about the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel.

Once in Iran, the first impression I had was of calm and cleanliness all around. The edge, the smoking and intensity that one experiences in the Middle East and to a great degree in Europe were not present, or at least not evident; and one does not see billboards advertising cigarettes and certainly not alcohol. As for the Iranian people’s attitudes toward Iran’s predicament, no one I spoke to seemed particularly worried about the U.S. and Israel, and most people projected a calm confidence that was surprising and at the same time reassuring.

Responses to the reinstatement of the sanctions and the warnings of an attack from Israel ranged from dismissive to confident that Iranians can handle whatever the future holds for them. Perhaps this is because, as Muslims, Iranians see these challenges as part of God’s confidence in them: as the passage from Surat El-Isra suggests, La yukallifu llahu nafsan illa wusaha – which loosely translated means, God only places upon us burdens we are capable of carrying.

 

Washington demands total capitulation

However, as one reads the recent list of demands placed on Iran by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, it is clear that the U.S. is not interested in an agreement with Iran but rather wants to see total Iranian capitulation. The list includes demands that will turn Iran into a servant of Israel and the U.S.; it requires that Iran turn its back on its allies, like Hezbollah and Hamas, and relinquish its role in Syria and Yemen. Iranian support to groups that resist Israel and the U.S. is characterized by Pompeo as supporting terrorist groups. However, Hezbollah, which maintains resistance to Israel and secures Lebanon’s southern border from Israeli incursions, has just won a major political victory in the Lebanese general elections. Iran is also known to support Hamas, which also maintains resistance to the Israeli occupation and oppression in Palestine.

One particular demand, which would have been funny had it not been so tragic, is to “respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi government,” where the Shi’a cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr had just won an important victory. Pompeo’s demands include that Iran must “end its threatening behavior against its neighbors, many of whom are U.S. allies, including its threats to destroy Israel and its firing of missiles at Saudi Arabia.”

 

The critical role of Europe’s backbone

In response to these demands, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei’s set conditions that would allow for the agreement to remain. These conditions were aimed mostly toward the European partners to the agreement, who say that they are committed to the deal — although large European companies, like French oil giant Total and the Danish shipping company Maersk, seem to be running like rats fleeing from a sinking ship, worried about harming their business connections with the U.S.

Understandably, Iran is asking for assurances that the European partners to the agreement pull their weight and not let the U.S. destroy the Iranian economy. European powers should protect Iranian oil sales from the U.S. sanctions and continue buying Iranian crude. As U.S.-controlled banks are likely to jeopardize any trade with Iran, European banks should safeguard trade with Iran. Besides these, Iran is asking that France, Germany and the U.K. avoid asking for a new agreement on Iran’s ballistic missile programme or its regional activities, such as its presence in Yemen, Iraq and Syria.

Unlike the drama one sees in the media, responses in Iran to the international saga unfolding are mostly calm: “We have been there before and we survived, we shall survive again.” Iranians are confident in their military and, in the event of an Israeli attack, they feel they will be able to defend themselves. More than anything, the U.S. pulling out of the agreement is seen as a test for the Europeans. Will the European countries show backbone and stand up to the U.S., or will they cower? Iran, having withstood the test of time, will withstand this too.

Top Photo | A woman walks her dog past a mural depicting a nefarious Statue of Liberty on the wall of the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, May. 8, 2018. Vahid Salemi | AP

Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

‘Our path’: Iran announces plan to stay in Syria as Pompeo issues unprecedented threats – By Tyler Durden Russia Insider (SOTT)

Map of Syria and Iran

It’s not up to Uncle Sam but up to Syria and Iran alone

After last Thursday’s relatively brief meeting in Sochi between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad wherein Putin stressed that it is necessary for all “foreign forces” to withdraw from Syria, there’s been much speculation over what Putin actually meant.

Many were quick to point out that Assad had agreed that “illegal foreign forces” should exit Syria – meaning those uninvited occupying forces in the north and northeast, namely, US troops, Turkish troops and their proxies, and all foreign jihadists – while most mainstream Western outlets, CNN and the Washington Post among them, hailed Putin’s request to see Iran withdraw from Syria.

Whatever non-Syrian entity Putin intended to include by his words, both Syria and Iran gave their unambiguous response on Monday: Iran announced it would stay in Syria at the request of the Assad government.

“Should the Syrians want us, we will continue to be there,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi declared from Tehran, cited by Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency. “Nobody can force Iran to do anything; Iran has its own independent policies,” Qasemi said, in response to a question referencing the widespread reports that Russia desires Iran to withdraw forces from Syria.

“Those who entered Syria without the permission of the Syrian government are the ones that must leave the country,” he said further in a clear reference to the some 2000 US troops currently occupying Syrian-Kurdish areas in the northeast and eastern parts of the country.

As we noted in the aftermath of Israel’s May 10 massive attack on multiple locations inside Syria which marked the biggest military escalations between the two countries in decades, Russia has appeared content to stay on the sidelines while Syria and Israel test confrontational limits; however, Russia is carefully balancing its interests in Syria, eager to avoid an uncontrolled escalation leading to a direct great power confrontation.

But increasingly Israel’s patience appears to be wearing thin after Prime Minister Netanyahu’s oft-repeated “Iranian red line” warning has gone unheeded. In multiple summits with Putin going back to 2015 (the two have met over 6 times since then), Netanyahu has repeatedly stressed he would not tolerate an Iranian presence in Syria and further signaled willingness to go to war in Syria to curtail Iranian influence.

“Iran is already well on its way to controlling Iraq, Yemen and to a large extent is already in practice in control of Lebanon,” Netanyahu told Putin in one especially tense meeting in August 2017, and added further that, “We cannot forget for a single minute that Iran threatens every day to annihilate Israel. Israel opposes Iran’s continued entrenchment in Syria. We will be sure to defend ourselves with all means against this and any threat.”

Israel’s uptick in military strikes on Syria attacks on sites purported to be Iranian bases housing Iranian assets have intensified exponentially over the past half-year, nearly leading to an unprecedented breakout of region wide war during the May 10 exchange of fire, wherein Israel claimed to have been attacked by Iranian rocket fire.

The fact that both Iran and Syria can so openly and confidently announce Iran’s intent to stay in Syria means Damascus sees itself in new position of strength after both shooting down multiple Israeli missiles and simultaneously firing rockets into Israeli occupied Golan territory a response perhaps very unexpected by Israel’s leadership which had grown accustomed to attacking the Syrian army and its allies with impunity.

Meanwhile, Damascus announced Monday that all suburbs around the capital have been fully liberated from al-Qaeda and ISIS terrorists, marking the end of a years long insurgency in and around the capital. As Al-Masdar News noted, “The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is in full control of Damascus city and its countryside for the first time since the advent of this conflict.”

Yet the pattern which has emerged over the past few years has been that every time the Syrian Army emerges victorious or carries overwhelming military momentum, Israel or the US launches an attack.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rejected Pompeo’s bombastic demands and vowed to continue “our path,” insisting that the US could not “decide for the world.”

Rouhani’s words, as quoted by ILNA news agency, were as follows: “Who are you to decide for Iran and the world? The world today does not accept America to decide for the world, as countries are independent … that era is over… We will continue our path with the support of our nation.” This continuing escalation of rhetoric will likely only ensure Iran becomes even more entrenched in Syria, but it will be interesting to see how Russia responds diplomatically.

We’ve already seen Israel’s “diplomacy” in the form of repeat missile attacks, but how much will Russia and Iran sit back and take before enforcing their own red lines against Israel and the West?

Source: Zero Hedge

Comment: See also: ‘Who are you to decide for Iran and the world?’ Rouhani rejects Pompeo’s Iran demands

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US And Israel Holding Global Economy Hostage in Showdown With Iran – By Corey Schink (Sott.net)

Iran currency

Squeezing Iran’s economy

For decades now the US and Israel have waged regime change across the Middle East and North Africa. In the chaos that ensued Iran underwent a transformation that naturally expanded its influence. Now, upset with the consequences of their actions, the US and Israel have a new plan: take the global economy hostage in order to force Iran to abandon that influence. As usual, Russia is doing its best to manage the West’s insanity while maintaining course for a more sane future.

On May 1, 2018, hours after Netanyahu issued his bizarre ‘Iran lied’ powerpoint presentation, and a week before Trump ditched the Iran deal, Netanyahu and Putin had a phone conversation. During this chat Putin stressed the deal’s importance for international stability, reiterating that it must be “strictly observed by all parties.” Not one who’s prone to taking ‘international stability’ into account, Netanyahu had other ideas.

A week later, Trump announced that the US was backing out of the Iran deal, which effectively meant increasing instead of decreasing its economic stranglehold on the country. Speaking to the Heritage Foundation, Secretary of State Pompeo stated that these will be the “strongest sanctions in history,” and that the US will “apply unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime”. It is now clear why Merkel and Macron were so desperate to talk Trump out of this decision.

Prior to the (re)imposition of sanctions, the EU was Iran’s top trading partner. After Obama eased sanctions, European companies were chomping at the bit to renew business, and did so in earnest. From 2013 to 2017, the EU’s trade with Iran grew dramatically, with imports growing 89.7 percent, and exports nearly 20 percent, with last year’s trade volume reaching $23.5 billion.

Now several major companies – namely Peugeot, Boeing, Airbus, and Shell – are at risk of losing either billions in deals or, if they maintain business ties, the loss of a lifeblood of American credit and the imposition of onerous fines. EU officials are talking tough, but it seems their hands are tied both by the constitutional charter of the EU (which stipulates that they must follow NATO’s lead in foreign policy) and the practical effects of being cut off from American finance.

But that’s just Europe. As The Hill reports:

China’s trade with Iran was worth more than $37 billion in 2017 – it exported $18.59 billion worth of goods, a growth of 13 percent year-on-year. China accounted for about 21 percent of Iran’s exports; the United Arab Emirates, 14 percent (worth over $5 billion); Iraq, 14 percent (worth over $5 billion); South Korea, 9.5 percent (worth over $3.4 billion); and India, 6 percent from January to October 2017.

There is the possibility that certain companies may apply for ‘waivers’ that allow them to continue trade with Iran. However Trump remains mum about whether or not he’ll authorize them, and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, has stated that any licenses allowing Airbus or Boeing to sell to Iran will be revoked. To put it bluntly, the US and Israel have planted a bomb in the global economy and, though they intend it to take out Iran, there are many, many bystanders who stand to suffer significantly.

But if this is ‘Art of the Deal’ thinking, then what is it that they want? Trump might want higher oil prices for American oil companies and a better position for US companies dealing with Iran. The pressure on foreign businesses will no doubt provide leverage in other negotiations. But it was Pompeo who spelled out the heart of the maneuver: regime change. In his speech to the Heritage Foundation, Pompeo laid out the Deep State’s demands, stating that, “We are open to new steps with not only our allies and partners, but with Iran as well, but only if Iran is willing to make major changes.

Here are their suggested changes:

  1. Iran must declare to the IAEA a full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear program, and permanently and verifiably abandon such work in perpetuity.
  2. Iran must stop enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing. This includes closing its heavy water reactor.
  3. Iran must also provide the IAEA with unqualified access to all sites throughout the entire country.
  4. Iran must end its proliferation of ballistic missiles and halt further launching or development of nuclear-capable missile systems.
  5. Iran must release all U.S. citizens, as well as citizens of our partners and allies, each of them detained on spurious charges.
  6. Iran must end support to Middle East terrorist groups, including Lebanese Hizballah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
  7. Iran must respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi Government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration of Shia militias.
  8. Iran must also end its military support for the Houthi militia and work towards a peaceful political settlement in Yemen.
  9. Iran must withdraw all forces under Iranian command throughout the entirety of Syria.
  10. Iran, too, must end support for the Taliban and other terrorists in Afghanistan and the region, and cease harboring senior al-Qaida leaders.
  11. Iran, too, must end the IRG Quds Force’s support for terrorists and militant partners around the world.
  12. Iran must end its threatening behavior against its neighbors – many of whom are U.S. allies. This certainly includes its threats to destroy Israel, and its firing of missiles into Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It also includes threats to international shipping and destructive – and destructive cyberattacks.

His list might sound, to the informed reader, like a series of Israeli hallucinations. But what it really boils down to is the complete and unequivocal curtailing of Iran’s influence in the region. How, then, to proceed?

Well on May 18th, Putin and Assad had a ‘surprise meeting’ to discuss a draw-down of foreign troops on Syrian soil. In discussing this, they each shared a significantly different view of the situation. In matters of geopolitical importance, one expects that words are chosen very carefully. With that in mind, the informative difference between Assad’s and Putin’s version of ‘drawing down foreign troops’ was revealed when Assad spoke of the removal of all ‘illegal foreign forces’ while Putin explicitly states that ‘all foreign forces’ need to evacuate the country – presumably including Iran:

“We affirm that with the achievement of the big victories and the remarkable successes by the Syrian Arab army in the fight against terrorism and with the activation of the political process, it is necessary for all foreign forces to withdraw from the Syrian Arab Republic territories.”

Iran responded in an unexpectedly hostile manner to Russia’s statement:

“No one can force Iran to do anything, Iran is an independent country that determines its own policies,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi told reporters at a daily press conference Monday.

“The presence of Iran is at the invitation of the Syrian government to fight against terrorism and defend the territorial integrity of Syria, and will last as long as the Syrian government wants Iran to help it,” he added. “Those who have entered the country without the consent of the Syrian government must leave Syria.”

As was pointed out on Behind the Headlines recently, Russia does not want an expansionist Iran. Russia’s intentions have been made clear in word and in deed: they want to shore up Syrian and Iranian defenses in order to re-establish a balance of power in the region. As far as a nuclear-powered Israel goes, Putin made it abundantly clear that any use of nuclear weapons on a Russian ally would be met with an instantaneous response from Russia.

Naturally Iran is loathe to cede any strategic gains she has made to those who daily call for her annihilation. Instead she’s staking her strategy on continued economic relations with Europe in order to offset the effects of the sanctions. The European Commission has set in motion the legal and financial processes necessary to protect companies working in Iran, increasing overall economic partnership, and making it easier for the European Investment Bank to finance those projects.

We see in these developments, again, the ‘immovable object’ at loggerheads with the ‘unstoppable force’. The first round of US sanctions take effect in August, when the US will sanction Iran’s automotive sector, its metallurgical and steel industries, any significant transactions of Iranian rials, any US dollar banknotes purchased by Iran, and any facilitation of Iranian sovereign debt.

In November the US will up the ante and sanction all of Iran’s port operations, its petroleum transactions, energy sector, any insurance plans, any foreign financial transactions or messaging services with Iran’s Central Bank.

Is the US as powerful as ever? Can it actually enforce an economic siege of Iran? Who will get what they want: Trump’s ‘shiny, new Iran deal’; or the Deep State’s regime change?

On the way to answering those questions, some rather interesting events are likely in store.

Corey Schink

Corey Schink was born and raised in the Midwestern United States, where he worked on farms and as a welder, musician, and social worker. His interests in government, philosophy and history led to his writing for SOTT in 2012 and to becoming a SOTT editor and Truth Perspective co-host in 2014. He now resides in North Carolina, where he enjoys the magnificent views of the Appalachian Mountains.

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Pyramid of Lies’: Investigative Journo Accuses US of Fabricating “Iran Crisis” – By SPUTNIK

In this April 9, 2009 file picture Iranian technicians work at a new facility producing uranium fuel for a planned heavy-water nuclear reactor, just outside the city of Isfahan, 255 miles (410 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran

© AP Photo / Vahid Salemi,File

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Commenting on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s threats to introduce unprecedented sanctions against Tehran, eminent independent investigative journalist Gareth Porter has blamed Washington for trying to tarnish Iran’s image in terms of peaceful atomic development.

Prominent independent investigative journalist Gareth Porter, author of the book “Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare,” underlined in a written interview with Sputnik that “the whole Iran crisis being recreated by the Trump administration is based on a pyramid of lies.”

He recalled that in his book he specifically depicted “how the Bush administration gladly fell for a disinformation campaign by Israel using a set of fabricated documents to show that Iran had tried to mate a nuclear weapon with its Shahab-3 missile.”

READ MORE: Iran to Face ‘Very Severe Consequences’ If Restarts Nuclear Program — Trump

“We know they were fabricated because the drawings in question showed a reentry vehicle shape that we now know Iran’s Defense Ministry had abandoned years before those drawings were dated, according to the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency],” Porter said.

He also recalled that both former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei and his predecessor Hans Blix voiced doubts about the “‘false evidence’ [of Tehran obtaining a nuclear weapon] that remain at the center of the [Iran] crisis.”

READ MORE: Iran Has Failed to Hide Nuclear Weapons Program, White House Claims

On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to slap the strongest sanctions in history against Tehran, which he said would make Iran battle to “keep its economy alive.”

His statement comes a few weeks after President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He also promised to reinstate the sanctions against Iran that were lifted as a result of the agreement.The JCPOA, which was inked on June 14, 2015, envisages gradual lifting of the anti-Iranian economic sanctions in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear program and allowing inspections to ensure that the nature of the program is purely peaceful.

The views and opinions expressed by Gareth Porter are those of the analyst and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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EU Slams Pompeo’s Iran Strategy: It Won’t Make Region Safer From Nuclear Threat – By SPUTNIK

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) react during a plenary session at the United Nations building in Vienna, Austria July 14, 2015.

© REUTERS / Leonhard Foeger

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s promise to slap the “strongest sanctions in history” on Tehran after Washington’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal has prompted an outcry from European officials.

The EU’s foreign policy Chief Federica Mogherini, commenting on the possible unprecedented sanctions against Iran pledged by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has warned that there is “no alternative” to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal.

“Secretary Pompeo’s speech has not demonstrated how walking away from the JCPOA has made or will make the region safer from the threat of nuclear proliferation or how it puts us in a better position to influence Iran’s conduct in areas outside the scope of JCPOA,” Mogherini stressed.

READ MORE: Fate of Iran Nuclear Deal Lies With EU, Russia, China — Analysts

She recalled that the Iran nuclear deal is “the result of more than a decade of complex and delicate negotiations”, touting the JCPOA as “the best possible outcome, striking the right balance.”

“This deal belongs to the international community, having been endorsed by the United Nations Security Council. The international community expects all sides to keep the commitments they made more than two years ago,” Mogherini pointed out.

READ MORE: Peace With a Price: Iran Promises EU to Adhere to Nuke Deal on One Condition

She also underscored Iran’s adherence to the JCPOA, reiterating that the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed ten times that Iran had delivered on “all its nuclear related commitments” in line with the deal.

UK: ‘Prospect of a New Jumbo Treaty’

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers’ summit in Argentina that the exit from the Iran nuclear deal would be a catastrophe.

While Johnson was quoted by Beijing as saying that the “sides should make efforts in order to let the deal live, the Chinese forein minister emphasized his country’s firm stance on the issue and affirmed readiness to work with all interested parties.

Just hours before Pompeo’s speech on Iran, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson declared that Washington’s plan to tighten the screws against the Islamic Republic won’t work.

“If you try now to fold all those issues — the ballistic missiles, Iran’s misbehavior, Iran’s disruptive activity in the region and the nuclear question — if you try to fold all those into a giant negotiation, I don’t see that being very easy to achieve, in anything like a reasonable timetable,” Johnson said.

He warned that after Washington’s exit from the Iran nuclear deal, “the prospect of a new jumbo Iran treaty is going to be very, very difficult.”

At the same time, he noted he is “not totally pessimistic about the situation.”

“In the end, there is a deal to be done that gives Iran a greater economic access to the West, but also constrains it. […] I think in the end, we will get back to the kind of additions to the JCPOA that we initially envisaged, but it may take a long time,” Johnson underlined.

Germany: ‘No Surprise’

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, for his part, said that Berlin had “taken into account the US position” and that “it did not come as surprise.”

He recalled that during his visit to Washington later this week, he will meet with Pompeo to discuss the issue.

READ MORE: ‘Concrete Decisions’: Europe Faces Up to Trump Amid Iran Nuclear Deal Row

“The situation has not changed for us. During its summit in Sofia, the EU gave a unified signal that we want to keep the Iran nuclear deal,” Maas pointed out.

He warned that “without this agreement we could run the risk that Iran could restart a nuclear program.”

Iran: ‘Unlawful Threats’

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has in turn used stern language when commenting on Pompeo’s speech.

“Iran rejects the allegations and lies in this so-called new strategy and condemns the US Secretary of State’s […] open interference in its internal affairs and the unlawful threats against a United Nations member state,” the Ministry said in a statement.

The statement described Pompeo’s remarks as a “naïve attempt” to divert the international community’s attention away from Washington’s violation of the JCPOA.

READ MORE: The End of Petrodollar Era? How Trump’s Iran Deal Undermines the Dollar

According to the statement, “the US government will be responsible for the consequences of any persecution as well as unlawful and violent actions against the Iranian nation.”

“The insignificant, insulting and secondary remarks of the new US Secretary of State and his unacceptable attitude to the great and civilized Iranian nation testify to the US government officials’ despair and helpless stance on the Iranians,” the statement read.

Washington’s New Iran Strategy

In his speech “After the Deal: A New Iran Strategy” at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, Pompeo pledged that the US would apply unprecedented financial pressure on Tehran via sanctions.

READ MORE: Why European Signatories Are Not Ready to Exit From Iran Deal

Warning that the “sting of sanctions” will not ease until Iran changes its course, Pompeo made it clear that the new sanctions will be the “strongest in history” and will make Tehran battle to “keep its economy alive.”

He warned that any entity conducting business with Tehran would be “held to account” by the US, voicing hope that the new anti-Iranian sanctions will be met with support from US allies beyond Europe.In early May President Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, in a move that sparked a cold snap in Washington’s ties with its European allies and co-signatories to the deal, including the European Union, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Iran, Russia, and China.

Iran in the crosshairs as the empire enters its mad dog days – By John Wight (RT)

John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. John is currently working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnWight1
 
Iran in the crosshairs as the empire enters its mad dog days
Mike Pompeo’s bellicose rhetoric against Tehran leaves no doubt that Washington has embraced the status of international renegade.

Pompeo’s speech, delivered in his capacity as secretary of state, evinced a blatant disregard for the integrity of international treaties and respect for international law. It also ensures that the last vestiges of credibility enjoyed by the US has now been shredded in the eyes of a world grown weary – weary of a Trump administration which, in its caprice and continual threats, is more redolent of a New York mafia crime family than a respectable and responsible government.

With Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – better known as the Iran nuclear deal – his administration has embarked on the path of conflict with Iran in conjunction with regional allies Israel and Saudi Arabia. Together they comprise an axis of aggression that imperils the stability of the region, with potentially grave consequences for the rest of the world given the succour such a regional conflict would give to extremism and global terrorism.

It also sets a dangerous precedent when it comes to arriving at a peaceful resolution to the on-going crisis in Ukraine and ensuring a successful outcome to the inchoate process of peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.

The Empire enters its mad dog days

Thus the dire consequences of the untrammelled power of what is an imperial hegemon in Washington have never been more manifest, with its drive to dominate and dictate on pain of war reflective of an empire desperate to arrest a decline, entering its mad dog days in the process.

Let us be clear: the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA has nothing to do with Iran’s compliance, which has been impeccable, and everything to do with Washington’s hegemonic agenda towards the region – a hegemonic agenda which precedes Trump.

In the way of this agenda are Iran, Syria and Hezbollah – along with Russia – which, if not on a formal basis certainly on a de facto basis, comprise an axis of anti-hegemony that needs to be broken. It is for this and no other reason that Trump, Netanyahu, and bin Salman are intent on forcing the issue with Iran, regardless of the likely catastrophic results.

They have lost in Syria, where the drive to topple the Assad government has been thwarted thanks in no small part to Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah – standing with the Syrian people and Syrian Arab Army – and in response they are intent on settling accounts.

Whither the transatlantic alliance

Another casualty of Trump’s demarche against Iran is the transatlantic alliance between Washington and its various European allies, considered by its proponents to be the unbreakable and irreplaceable fulcrum of democracy in our time.

The insouciance with which the Trump administration has been willing to disregard the stance of France, Germany and the UK on the Iran deal is revelatory; proof-positive that rather than any kind of alliance between friends and partners, the true nature of the America’s relationship to Europe and the EU is akin to the one that existed between Rome and its various satellites and client states during the halcyon days of another empire – which made the mistake of believing its power and existence was eternal.

This particular aspect of the crisis, involving the prospect of US sanctions being levelled not only against Iran but also British, French and German companies operating in Iran, is reflective of the extent to which neocon nostrums are in the driving seat of US foreign policy, with any lingering façade of propriety dropped in favor of raw imperialism.

Now more than ever the wheels have come off Europe’s slavish attachment to the supposed virtues of unipolarity, with the likes of Emmanuel Macron – the very embodiment of a confected liberal centrist, a leader for whom the word ‘opportunism’ was invented – left dangling like the proverbial flunkey after being kicked to the kerb by his lord and master.

The grievous reality of Europe’s hideous lack of independence from Washington – independence of the type that once minded Charles De Gaulle to declaim, “Yes, it is Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals, it is Europe, it is the whole of Europe, that will decide the fate of the world” –  has been laid bare. It presents Europe with a test. Does it wilt in the face of the Trump administration’s imperial arrogance and bellicosity? Or does it awaken and emerge, finally, from beneath Washington’s feet to play a positive and progressive role in world affairs?

Here it is hard to imagine leaders of the questionable calibre of Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron existing anywhere else other than beneath the feet of Washington, with Macron’s earlier boast of wielding influence over Trump when it comes to Syria now returning to haunt him. The reality is that French President Emmanuel Macron carries about as much weight in Washington as a fly’s wing.

Europe’s choice – unipolarity or multipolarity

Crisis is opportunity, they tell us, and this particular crisis presents the opportunity for a new alignment in Europe, forged on the understanding that the destabilizing factor in Europe is not and has never been Russia; that it is and has always been the United States. Economically, culturally, and politically, Europe’s identity has been progressively subsumed into a US identity, with its regressive and shallow paean to the cult of the individual, unfettered capitalism, and might is right.

Therefore the choice Europe faces is clear. It can either remain tethered to the mast of the sinking ship of unipolarity, or it can join Russia, China and the rest of the world in shaping a multipolar alternative, rooted not in the caprice of a president in Washington but instead in the principles set out in the UN Charter – specifically respect for national sovereignty and international law.

Returning to Iran, which now finds itself firmly in the crosshairs of regime change for no other reason that it refuses to bow to the writ of Washington, there is no longer any hiding place when it comes to taking sides. If those countries threatened by this eruption of US aggression do not hang together they will hang separately.

Hegemony demands its response in the shape of anti-hegemony. The future of generations as yet unborn depends on nothing less.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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