In 2019, the Middle East was the stage of a fierce confrontation between Iran and the US. The Iranians wish to live by the laws of their ancestors and centuries-old customs, having made it clear that they are prepared to oust any overseas aggressor. This confrontation has been taking place against the backdrop of Sunni-Shia controversies, which the West is happy to fuel.
After notoriously pulling out from the so-called Iran nuclear deal (officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed by Iran and the major world nations in 2015), Donald Trump, having overestimated his might, decided he would be able to break the Iranians’ will by imposing sanctions and make them dance to the USA’s tune within just a few days.
Isn’t this reminiscent of something? 80 years ago, Hitler occupied the sovereign state of Czechoslovakia using threats and sanctions, all with the help of the Western rulers who sought to appease him. Now, there is a persistent feeling of déjà vu, of history repeating itself. Back then the terrified and cowardly leaders of the Western nations came to Munich in the blink of an eye per Hitler’s request and, handing Czechoslovakia over to the Third Reich, willingly pushed Hitler to attack the Soviet Union. Today, wherever possible, the new US-dependent Western powers go along with Washington’s whims, begging Tehran to surrender to the US Goliath and fulfill America’s wishes. These European elites, well-nourished and willingly living under Washington’s heel for quite a while now, aren’t aware that such higher notions as honor, honesty and patriotism still prevail in many countries over the lowly ones that have infected almost all of Europe by now. That is why beautiful Paris still exists and Golden Prague still stands, while Russians had to rebuild the devastated cities of Stalingrad and Minsk from ruins. But unlike Europe, where the US reigns strong, Russia has never before been dominated by a foreigner.
Trump, using the capabilities of the powerful US Army and intimidating many countries around the world, imposes more and more unthinkable sanctions against the weaker Iran, trying to force the Iranians to capitulate in the face of hunger, fear and exhaustion. He even went as far as to declare so-called double sanctions against the countries and companies which have trade connections with Iran!
US sanctions target critical fields of the country’s economy, such as energy, aviation, the shipping and automotive industries and the financial sector, which are all critical to sustainable human development and prosperity. As a result of these restrictive measures, Tehran was effectively cut off from the international banking system, and many of the country’s most important overseas assets were frozen. In addition, sanctions against Iran contributed to the devaluation of its national currency, increased inflation and significantly reduced foreign direct investment, as many international technology leaders with experience in sustainable development feared to cooperate with Iran due to the threat of revenge and punishment from the United States.
Truly Draconian sanctions have been imposed even on food supplies, on medicines and medical equipment, which especially impacts perinatal centers and cancer control facilities. The long-standing US sanctions have even significantly complicated Iran’s attempts to address environmental problems, which could modify the country’s economic, social and political landscape. Soil and water pollution, desertification, land degradation, climate change and declining numbers of species — these pressing environmental problems have been exacerbated in the already suffering ecosystem of the Islamic Republic. The White House has also imposed sanctions that are clearly meant to harm Iran’s civilian population in an attempt to push the people to protest and making the social situation in the country deteriorate.
The gist of what is happening in the Persian Gulf can be described as follows: Israel, Saudi Arabia and several other Gulf states have demonstrated that they are prepared for the confrontation with Iran entering the ‘hot phase’ or even turning into a full-fledged war. Tehran, in turn, has allies in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The countries of the region seeking war with Iran are interested in the US taking the lead and acting as the decisive force: only America can use its strategic bombers to destroy military targets deep underground. The Project for the New American Century singled out Iran specifically among the enemies of American democracy. “Over the long term, Iran may well prove as large a threat to US interests in the Gulf as Iraq has,” the project’s authors posit. “And even should US-Iranian relations improve, retaining forward-based forces in the region would still be an essential element in US security strategy given the longstanding American interests in the region.”
At the same time, Iranians argue that their country`s policy is based on maintaining its independence from other nations and that regional security must be guaranteed by the neighboring states. Pointing out the US military presence in the region, Tehran states: “Such actions from the US contradict Iran’s policy, which is aimed at preserving sovereignty. Iran is prepared for any scenario that may unfold around the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear program, including the possibility of the European countries engaging in actions that lead to the restoration of sanctions against Tehran,” the official representative of the Iranian government, Ali Rabiei said.
According to him, Iran is still interested in keeping the nuclear deal intact and the country’s stance on this matter has not changed. “We urge the parties to the agreement to fulfill their obligations in full,” Ali Rabiei said, reminding that Iran may return to assuming its responsibilities under the deal, which it had previously renounced.
The first time that Tehran renounced several nuclear restrictions was on the anniversary of the USA’s withdrawal from the Iran deal, which happened on May 8, 2018. Tehran responded exactly one year later, calling this ‘strategic patience.’ In the first phase, the rejection of a number of clauses of the nuclear deal mainly concerned the stocks of enriched uranium and heavy water. Subsequently, Iran’s leadership declared the second stage of reducing their nuclear deal obligations, stating that Iran would enrich uranium to whatever level the country needed. The third phase began on September 6, when Iran announced that it had begun working on a number of centrifuges without limiting its nuclear research and development activities by the provisions of the JCPOA.
On November 6, Iran renounced its obligations under the nuclear deal the US had abandoned for the fourth time, initiating the use of centrifuges for enrichment at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant. The nuclear deal implied that the Natanz plant would be the only one used for such purposes.
Commenting on the situation around the Islamic Republic, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made it clear that the United States is engaging in flagrant violation of the UN Charter by unceremoniously and provocatively dictating its unfeasible demands to Iran. According to Lavrov, “Iran must not be treated this way by Washington. Not only is the US flagrantly violating the UN Charter by refusing to implement the binding resolution adopted by the UN Security Council, but it is also quite crudely addressing its demands to the Islamic Republic of Iran, a country with a thousand-year civilization, traditions and a great sense of honor.” The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry also stressed that the US is, for some reason, convinced that only Iran is obliged to carry out responsibilities set by the abovementioned resolution.
In any case, in the new year of 2020 we can expect the continuation of fierce confrontation between the US and its satellites on the one hand and Iran on the other. Up to this point, the latter has been successfully defending its legitimate right to free and independent existence, which is guaranteed by the UN Charter and all other international organizations.
Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”