When the P5+1 Nuclear Talks were completed, and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was put into practice, jubilant words resounded from many places. The “reformist movement” within Iranian politics used the nuclear deal as a campaign issue and swept up victories in the recent parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, the Republican Party writhed with the anger of defeat, inviting Netanyahu to address Congress against Obama’s wishes, and screaming doomsday predictions about a “nuclear-armed Iran” after the deal was signed.
The expectation of all parties involved, and the many voices supporting the negotiation process, was that after the deal was signed, the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran would become much friendlier. The nuclear deal was expected to open a new chapter of diplomacy, resolving the decades of intense hostility.
Ballistic Missile Deceptions
However, this has not taken place. The signing of the nuclear deal and the lifting of the nuclear-related sanctions imposed on Iran has been followed by swift and blatant acts of aggression against Iran — not only from the United States, but from its allies around the world.
Almost immediately after the deal was signed, US leaders began to denounce Iran’s ballistic missile system. Iran maintains ballistic missiles for the purpose of self-defense. Iran’s regional enemy, Israel, is known for erratic, unannounced attacks on its neighbors. It has invaded Lebanon five times, and it randomly attacked Iraq in 1981.
Iran’s ballistic missile defense system exists for the purpose of deterring such an attack. Iranians point out that they have not been attacked by the Israelis, who “know that over 80,000 missiles are ready to rain down on Tel Aviv and Haifa,” as Major General Rahim Safavi put it. The ballistic missile defense system exists so that the threat of a random Israeli or USA strike does not hang over the heads of the Iranian people.
However, US media relentlessly portrays the ballistic missile defense system as a threat. The United States has placed new sanctions on Iran since the nuclear conclusion based on the existence and continued maintenance of the ballistic missile system. Somehow, Iran seeking to shield itself from attack is deemed a “threat to destroy Israel.”
Iran has already given up its peaceful nuclear energy program, something it is allowed to maintain under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It appears that Israel and the leaders of the United States will not be satisfied until the country renders itself completely defenseless.
Blaming Iran for the Crimes of its Enemies
On March 3, US District Judge George Daniels ruled that Iran was responsible for the Sept. 11 , 2001 attacks on the United States. The Islamic Republic of Iran was ordered by US Federal Court to pay $10.5 billion in reparations. Seven billion would go to the victims of the 9/11 attacks, and another $3.5 billion was awarded to the corporations that ensured the Twin Towers.
Daniels based his ruling on the fact that the 9/11 Commission Report’s findings: that some of the hijackers visited Iran a year prior to the attacks, and that Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah met with each other on several occasions. No further evidence of Iranian involvement or prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks was provided.
Interestingly, Judge Daniels has also ruled that the Saudi regime cannot be held liable for the 9/11 attacks, even though convicted hijacker Zacharius Mossawi said under oath that the Saudi government was involved. Almost all of the figures named as being involved were Saudi nationals. Osama bin Laden’s family remains one of the richest families in the country, and the Saudi government continues to arm Islamic extremists such as the Al-Nusra Front, previously known as Al-Qaeda in Syria. The 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report that remain classified are in the section pertaining to Saudi Arabia.
The ruling is outrageously insulting to Iran. At this very moment, thousands of Iranian fighters from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are risking their lives on the battlefields of Syria, fighting against ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, officially blamed for the attacks by the US government, were hated enemies of the Islamic Republic. Among the Wahhabi sect of the Islamic faith — practiced by the Saudi Royal Family, the Al-Qaeda organization, ISIS, and the bin Laden family — the Iranians are considered “Shia apostates.” The Saudis say that the Shia religion is a “Jewish conspiracy” against the monarchy, and this belief is promoted by all their regional allies.
The reason that violent extremists from throughout the Middle East have been recruited and sent to Syria is because they consider many powerful figures within the Ba’ath Party Syria to be “Shia apostates” — the same label the extremists give to Iran.
Saudi media frequently talks about the threat of a “Shia crescent” emerging throughout the Middle East, and rallies fanatical Wahhabis and Sunnis to fight in Syria. The conspiracy theories promoted by the Saudi regime claim that the Alawites within Syria’s Baath Arab Socialist Party, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Hezbollah organization in Lebanon, the democracy movement in Bahrain, and the People’s Committees of Yemen are all part of a secret plot to create a Shia empire. Syrian Alawites are miles away from Iranian Twelver Shias in terms of belief. The democracy movement in Bahrain is a struggle for basic human rights and democracy against an absolute monarchy. The People’s Committee in Yemen includes not only Zaidi Shias, but also secular leftists and the supporters of Sunni former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, among others.
Regardless, the Saudi regime, with the support of the United States, ISIS, and Al-Qaeda, has decided to fight against this broad coalition, deeming it a conspiracy of Shia apostates.
What Drives US Policy Toward Iran?
To discover what is driving US foreign policy toward Iran, and why it has taken such a hostile turn since the signing of the historic accord, a good place to start is the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
The CFR is a private think tank that functions as the brain of the CIA. It is where the top academics and foreign policy experts discuss and debate world affairs — behind closed doors, with members of Congress, the military, and the executive branch. With a multi-billion dollar budget provided by the Rockefeller family, the Ford Foundation, and big oil companies like Exxon-Mobil, the Council on Foreign Relations thinks up the United States’ next global moves — which the CIA and the Pentagon then put into practice.
In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, the public voice of the CFR, an article entitled “Time to Get Tough on Tehran: Iran Policy after the Deal” goes into depth describing the motive and methods of attack planned by US leaders. According to the authors, “The Islamic Republic is not a conventional state making pragmatic estimates of its national interests but a revolutionary regime.” The authors predict that the revolution born in 1979 will eventually collapse, declaring that “until then…there can be no real peace between Washington and Tehran.”
The strategies put forward for attacking Iran and working towards its overthrow — regardless of any policy changes by the Islamic Republic — include a call to “isolate and coerce” the country. The CFR calls for the forming of a new “anti-Iran coalition” of Gulf States, and speaks of escalating the sale of military technology to the Gulf State autocracies that surround Iran. It talks of enabling and supplying the absolute monarchies that do business with US oil companies with missile defense systems similar to Israel’s Iron Dome.
Attacking Friends of Iran
The article talks about weakening Iran by attacking its allies in Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon. The article describes the potential for hurting Iran this way, saying that Iran’s support for these forces “carry the risk of over-extension” and could be “financially draining.”
The article also poses Iran as a threat not because of anything the country is doing — but because its existence can inspire others. The article states: “Its successes inspired a wave of radicals throughout the Middle East.” Essentially, if Iran maintains its independent economy and revolutionary government, other countries may be inspired to rise up and fight for these things.
It should be no surprise that after the nuclear deal was signed, Saudi Arabia executed Ayatollah Nimr Al-Nimr, the Shia cleric who led peaceful protests for democratic reform. It should also be no surprise that the US-aligned regime in Nigeria assaulted the Shia religious stronghold in Zaria, killing over a thousand people, and continues to hold Sheikh Zakzaky in military detention.
The aftermath of the nuclear agreement has been a great disappointment to those who strive for peace and international cooperation. The United States has not responded to Iran’s appeasement by relaxing its attacks, but rather by escalating them. US leaders saw the negotiations not as an opportunity for a new beginning, but as a sign of weakness. The nuclear deal has pushed US leaders into a kind of feeding frenzy. Like a shark smelling blood, they now intensify their hostility, seeking to sink their teeth into a peaceful, oil-rich country that dares assert economic and political independence.
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”.