After the announcement of a possible agreement regarding Iran’s peaceful nuclear energy program and the economic sanctions imposed on the country by the United States, the US media has escalated its confused and distorted coverage of the Middle East. Falsehoods, half-truths, and incomplete presentations of events in the region are being promoted by the major voices in US political discourse.
For example, when it was announced that Russia would formally end its ban on selling sophisticated military hardware to the Islamic Republic of Iran, US media went into a frenzy of condemnation. The implication was that somehow Russia was committing an outrageously immoral act by “arming Iran.”
In all the media reports, the context of this change in Russian government policy is being overlooked. Iran is preparing to defend itself. It is purchasing Russian weapons in the context of increasing hostility from neighboring states already locked and loaded with huge arsenals of weapons from the United States. The US-aligned Gulf states have exponentially increased their military capabilities over the last decade, presenting a great threat to the Islamic Republic of Iran and its allies.
Right now, US-made missiles are raining over Yemen, killing civilians by the thousands. The media admits that US military officials are directing and overseeing the Saudi attacks. The weapons that this repressive, autocratic kingdom has been stockpiling — and is now unleashing against civilians in Yemen — have been purchased exclusively from the United States. The Saudi regime now has the fourth largest military budget in the world.
The Saudi monarchy is not alone in its rapid acquisition of US arms. The United Arab Emirates and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, not to mention Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman, have been rapidly expanding their already vast arsenals of weapons, according to a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The surge of high-tech weapons purchased by the Gulf state autocracies has come exclusively from the United States, and US military contractors like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are making billions. Let’s not forget that one of the top military contractors is General Electric — the direct owner of the TV network MSNBC.
Iran is not threatening its neighbors by purchasing weapons from Russia, and Russia is not escalating tensions or endangering the world by selling weapons to Iran. Both countries are responding to a decade of military escalation and provocation from the US and its allies in the region. As instability in the region grows more intense, Iran is preparing to protect itself from any possible attack, no matter how large.
The US Arms Tyrants and Terrorists
The fear of foreign attack on the part of the Iranian people is not paranoid or delusional, but based on real events currently taking place. Iran’s US-aligned neighbors are not simply purchasing their increasing arsenal of weapons for display purposes. The US-aligned Gulf states have been transferring their military hardware directly to the Free Syrian Army, the Al-Nusra Front, and other extremist groups that seek to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic.
The US and its allies are funding a relentless campaign of terrorist violence intended to overthrow the Syrian government. Foreign fighters from across the planet are brought to Syria to bomb schools, kidnap children, and carry out other crimes against humanity.
The war in Syria would cease immediately if foreign support for the terrorists were cut off. The population within the country has declared support for the government in an internationally monitored election, and defeated the insurgents numerous times on the battlefield. But the violence continues as over 200,000 Syrians have died and over 3 million have become refugees.
In the context of an extreme escalation of militarism in the region, does it not make sense that Iran would purchase weapons from Russia — to prevent the chaos and violence from spreading within its borders?
In addition, Russia has already seen its allies in Syria reduced to civil war and chaos. Does it not make sense that they would want to help Iran defend itself from facing such an onslaught?
The real scandal in the region is not Russia’s new trade arrangement with Iran, but rather the cozy relationships of the United States, supposedly a champion of democracy, with a slew autocratic, repressive Gulf states. These states are openly aligned with takfiri religious extremist factions that murder Shias in Iraq, and wage a campaign of violence in Syria.
Even the Islamic State or ISIS, so blasted by US officials, is deeply entrenched within these US-aligned regimes. The Twitter corporation has revealed that the top country of origin for pro-ISIS social media activity is Saudi Arabia. It has long been recognized that the majority of the billions of dollars in ISIS bank accounts have also been transferred from within the Saudi Kingdom.
But unfettered by their violations of basic human rights, and support for takfiri terrorist groups, the US coddles and props up these regimes. In addition to selling weapons to these autocratic Gulf states, the United States actually has military bases in many countries throughout the region. These military bases serve as a means of propping up Wall Street-friendly oil principalities, shielding them from the rising discontent among their populations.
US Media Conceals Mass Uprisings
Throughout the Middle East there is rapidly rising discontent. Ignoring the Saudi-ISIS connection, the US media presents all the massive uprisings against US-aligned states as only the work of “Iranian proxies.”
In Bahrain, the Shia community is the majority of the population. Yet, the people of Bahrain live under a repressive, autocratic monarchy that singles out Shias for discrimination and degradation. Like many oppressed peoples throughout history, the Shias of Bahrain have joined with other sectors of the country’s population to revolt against the repressive, US-backed monarchy.
US media does not describe the people of Bahrain rising up against an absolute monarch as a struggle for democracy. It dismisses the forces of resistance in Bahrain as “Iranian proxies.” Are we to believe that the only reason people in Bahrain are rebelling, risking their lives in the street battles, and loudly demanding democracy, is because they have received orders from Tehran? Such an analysis of the situation in Bahrain is idiotic.
A similar situation exists in Yemen. The population of northern Yemen is in revolt against a US/Saudi-backed regime. Yemen’s former president ran unopposed as the Saudi-backed candidate in the country’s latest election.
The Ansar Allah organization, commonly called the “Houthis,” is at the center of a broad coalition of forces that oppose the Saudi/US regime, and want to write a new, democratic constitution. They have seized control of Yemen’s government buildings. Their allies include some Sunnis, some secular forces, the “Arab Spring Party” formed during the revolt of 2011, and other forces that oppose US/Saudi domination of the country.
US media, however, portrays Ansar Allah and their allies in Yemen as mere “Iranian proxies” and attempts to dismiss the conflict as simply an issue of religious sectarianism. In a recent BBC documentary, an Ansar Allah leader responded to a question about Iran by saying, “We also support Chavez in Venezuela.” He went on to say that the continued reference to Iranian influence on the Yemeni revolutionaries was intended to spread “sectarian division.” He also declared “There are no borders in our struggle. We will stand with the oppressed anywhere in the world.”
In Iraq, Shia Muslims are facing a campaign of terrorist violence from ISIS and other takfiri extremist groups. These forces, many of which are funded via Saudi Arabia, consider Shia Muslims to be apostates, and call for them to be slaughtered. Shias in Iraq have formed armed militias to protect themselves from this campaign of violence, much of which is being carried out with funding and weapons from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Again, US media refers to Shias, who want to defend themselves from being slaughtered, as somehow only “Iranian proxies.”
Are we to believe that Shias are defending themselves and their families from people who want to slaughter them only upon orders from Tehran?
Recently, forces in the US have declared that all Iranian support for the Shia community should be processed through the Iraqi government — a government established by the US invasion. It should be obvious why such a demand is unreasonable, especially after Iraq’s former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, who was friendly to Iran, has been deposed.
Iran has come to the aid of the Shia community in Iraq, whose people are enduring a horrific campaign of violence and attack. This is not “expansionism” or “aggression,” but an effort to aid those who are under attack and who share their religious faith. It is also done to prevent the Iraq-Iran border from becoming a base for direct attacks on Iran, an explicit goal of the takfiri extremists targeting Iraqi Shias.
Standing with the Oppressed
With the outrageous assertion that all forces in the Middle East who are resisting oppression by US-aligned monarchies or slaughter by takfiri extremists are “Iranian proxies,” the US media is asserting that the Islamic Republic of Iran is “expansionist” or “funding terrorism.” This is shallow, Cold War-style analysis. One is reminded of how Martin Luther King, Jr. was declared to be a Soviet agent by the US right wing, because the USSR shared his objection to racism in US society. Throughout the 20th Century, the response to any mass political movement in the United States was that it was funded by “Moscow Gold.” These obviously false allegations eventually became the subject of popular mockery and ridicule.
It is obvious to any student of history that human beings naturally resist injustice and hostile circumstances. “Outside agitators” or “foreign agents” are not necessary for the oppressed to fight back. However, this seems to be a fact that the rich and powerful can never bring themselves to comprehend.
The famous American writer John Steinbeck spoke of this in his classic novel The Grapes of Wrath. He wrote: “If you who own the things people must have could understand this, you might preserve yourself. If you could separate causes from results, if you could know that Paine, Marx, Jefferson, Lenin were results not causes, you might survive. But you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezes you forever into ‘I’ and cuts you off, forever, from the ‘we.’”
The religion of Shia Islam, as interpreted and practiced by the majority of Iranians, emphasizes that the oppressed should be supported in resistance to their oppressors. In the view of many religious people around the world, Christianity teaches the same thing. Many deeply religious people in Latin America point to the words of Jesus Christ or other parts of scripture as justification for joining the Bolivarian movement and other anti-imperialist struggles in their region.
Throughout the world there is a rise of resistance to Wall Street and its ruthless, neoliberal global order. Across the planet, humanity is rising in revolt with many different religious and ideological perspectives. The target of the global revolution is the hegemony of shallow, sociopathic forces which see Ayn Rand’s “the virtue of selfishness” as the only moral law. Wall Street neoliberalism, which proclaimed its infallibility after the collapse of the Soviet Union, faces a rising wave of global resistance.
The circles of power in London, Tel-Aviv, and Wall Street see the flood waters rising, and in response they seek to target countries like the Islamic Republic of Iran, which they view as the source of rising discontent in the Middle East.
But the Islamic Republic of Iran is not the reason the world is rejecting their rule. The cause of rising discontent and revolt in the Middle East and all across the planet can be found within their system itself. A system that funds the racist hate of Israeli settlers, casts millions into homelessness and poverty each year, and threatens the very existence of the human race with climate change and nuclear weapons should not expect to be tolerated much longer.
Caleb Maupin is a political analyst and activist based in New York. He studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College and was inspired and involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.