Daniel Khalili-Tari argues that if Trump finds Iran noncompliant with its 2015 nuclear agreement in October, the results could be catastrophic for the country and world politics
Is Iran a risk to world peace? Does the Islamic Republic need to be constrained? Is the country covertly sponsoring terrorism? And is it in violation of its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal?
In the wake of the US president’s speech at the United Nations, during which he warned Iran, grouping the country with North Korea, these questions need to be asked. Trump will soon be reviewing the Iran nuclear settlement, his stance towards the arrangement is more important now, than ever.
Ever since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran has been a threat to the pro-Western agenda within the Middle East. While countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have enjoyed good relations and support from the West, Iran’s ties have deteriorated. Just narrowly, avoiding military conflict.
Despite all countries receiving heavy criticism from the United Nations and human rights groups because of their dictatorial regimes, only Iran has been punished for its actions.
The energy-rich country, famous for its theocratic politics, wants to bring about a different order in the Middle East. An order, not subject to the Western banking system.
Iran, has a history of thwarting Western commercial interests. A history, which led to the overthrow of its democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh, who was removed from office in 1953.
Mosaddegh was ousted by a coup d’état, orchestrated by the MI6 and CIA, after he nationalised Iran’s oil industries. Over half a century later and the country is an even greater threat to US interests within the region, because of its anti-imperial stance.
So, could Trump be searching for euphemisms to jeopardise the nuclear deal, as a way to polarise the Iranian regime?
Maybe, as he clearly wants to further ties with America’s greatest ally in the region, Saudi Arabia. An ongoing relationship which has ensured Western domination of the Middle East and which has included the covert funding of Islamist extremist groups, including the Mujahideen and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Soon after his inauguration, the President made his support for the Saudi regime clear, when he visited Riyadh. Upon his arrival, Trump signed numerous business deals with the Gulf state, which continues to maintain a rivalry with Iran.
Conveniently, the upcoming review of the nuclear deal could provide Trump with the opportunity he needs to bolster ties with the Saudis and eliminate the latest threat to a pro-Western Middle East.
So, how does the deal work?
In 2015, an agreement with the P5+1 and the European Union brought Iran’s political isolation to an end. Decades of crippling sanctions were lifted in return for forestalling the country’s nuclear aspirations.
As part of the agreement, the Iranian regime may not possess uranium concentrated above 3.67%, nor can the country have more than 5,000 centrifuges spinning fissile material. Also, Iran cannot hold a stockpile of more than 300kg of uranium and must agree to any ad hoc inspections checking its nuclear capabilities.
However, despite the country’s compliance with the nuclear deal, as confirmed by the President’s own administration, the endurance of the pact depends on the outcome of a review due this October.
Trump has made no secret of his views on the settlement calling it the ‘worst deal ever’ and declaring he expects to find Iran has violated the terms. Analysts have even suggested intelligence officials are being pressured to produce evidence showing the President’s desired outcome, much like the events which led to the Iraq War.
An American withdrawal from the deal and the reinforcement of sanctions on Iran would prompt the country to sever its ties with the West. An outcome that many in the dictatorial regime would welcome, and which would leave the country isolated again.
Are there any vested interests at play?
Yes. Anglo-Saxon domination of the Middle East has come at a price. With America and Britain having done their utmost to eliminate any inconveniences within the region over the last century, starting with a timeline of otherwise ignored events. These include the Suez Crisis, the bolstering of autocratic governments, the crushing of Arab nationalism and the Iranian Islamic Revolution among many other affairs.
However, new problems are arising, as Iran may allow Russia and China to increase their involvement in the Middle East. This may prompt Trump to use the nuclear deal as a conduit to prevent any difficulties from escalating.
This is partly why the UK and US are supporting Saudi Arabia’s proxy wars with Iran, as both countries want Saudi Arabia to remain as the watchdog of the region, promoting Western economic policies, while purchasing British and American arms.
If Saudi Arabia were to lose its Cold War with its Middle Eastern neighbour, it would put an end to the Western domination of the region, allowing an independent Iran to exert influence over one of the world’s wealthiest areas. The irony of the arrangement is profound.
Regional expert Mark Curtis* explains that Iran’s independent foreign policy is a threat to the US and its key allies such as Israel. Also, as the country’s resources are out of Western control, fears of China and Russia entering Iranian markets are paramount.
Kim Howells, who served as Foreign Office Minister from 2005 to 2008 said during a 2007 Select Committee on Foreign Affairs: “We want it [Iran] to be much more engaged because Western Europe needs Iranian gas very badly. We need to break the Russian monopoly of supplies of gas to Western Europe. That is a pretty controversial statement to make but the Russians need rivals.”
Clearly, Trump’s acrimonious stance towards Iran is due to geopolitical gain, not global security. Other world leaders such as Colonel Gaddafi, have been removed by the West for daring to question neoliberal economics. Iran may suffer a similar fate. If the US President seizes his opportunity.
As Trita Parsi**, the head of the National Iranian American Council explains “the perspective of those who didn’t like this deal, is that, at the end of the day, this deal is not just about the Iranian nuclear issue. The most important thing is that beyond that, it ended three decades of American policy of containing Iran. It accepted that Iran is a major power in the region.”
For a country like America, the world’s self-appointed policeman, Iran is a nuisance. A nuisance, which may be further isolated in October 2017 if the country continues to oppose American and Saudi influences within the region. And it’s not a matter of ethics, it’s a matter of power – as Libya knows too well, and as Iran may soon learn.
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Daniel Khalili-Tari is a half-Croatian and half-Iranian journalist specialising in politics, the Middle East, social issues and culture. He attended Westminster University where he studied for his BA Honours in Journalism. Currently, he is pursuing his MA in Media Campaigning and Social Change and intends to progress onto PhD study next year. He has written for The Independent and The London Economic among other publications.
Featured image by Fahimeh Khalili-Tari @FahimehT
* Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam
** Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy
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Note: an earlier version of this article was published on 25th Sept and revised on the same day.