There’s much more to this deal than two years of negotiations and the doomsday predictions coming out of Israel and Congress. The mainstream media won’t tell you about it, but MintPress will.
MINNEAPOLIS — Just over three months have passed since a historic agreement was brokered between the P5+1 nations and Iran in Geneva to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
And just this Sunday, President Barack Obama officially put the Iran deal into effect, marking the final step in a deal that took nearly two years to come to fruition.
Yet Americans remain in the dark about the actual details of the deal.
That’s because rather than informing and educating, the mainstream media is so caught up in the partisan fistfight over the Iran deal, that it’s putting special interest talking points ahead of the facts.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is simple: It allows U.N. inspectors access to Iran’s key nuclear facilities and ensures Iran is using its nuclear program for peaceful energy purposes — something that Iran, as a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, allowed long before this deal was reached. The deal just expands access to even more facilities specifically for U.N. inspectors.
The deal also requires Iran to significantly cut back on materials that would be critical to nuclear weapons development. This includes reducing the number of centrifuges actively enriching uranium by half and, most importantly, repurposing its heavy water reactors so it does not produce plutonium.
In return, many of the U.N. Security Council sanctions against the Islamic Republic would be lifted, expanding Iranians’ access to the medical, food and banking industries. This will give a much-needed boost to Iran’s economy, which has suffered under economic sanctions for nearly 40 years, and particularly since the early 2000s.
Despite the realities of the deal as it’s written, the major talking points from Republicans and even some Democrats and others opposed to the negotiations, like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, revolve on the premise that the deal actually allows Iran to further its nuclear program to create a bomb.
In a controversial address to Congress in March, Netanyahu warned:
“The foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and this with full international legitimacy.
And by the way, if Iran’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program is not part of the deal, and so far, Iran refuses to even put it on the negotiating table. Well, Iran could have the means to deliver that nuclear arsenal to the far-reach corners of the earth, including to every part of the United States.
So you see, my friends, this deal has two major concessions: one, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program and two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. That’s why this deal is so bad. It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”
But the truth is: Iran was never building a nuclear weapon. In 2005, Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa, or Islamic ruling, that bans nuclear weapons and their manufacture in Iran. Further, spy cables leaked earlier this year to the Guardian revealed that Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, and the CIA have even admitted amongst themselves that not only is Iran “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons” now, it wasn’t in the past, either.
This is all in stark contrast to Netanyahu’s dire warnings that Iran is just a few months or years away from obtaining a nuclear bomb. He’s been issuing these warnings since at least 1992, and in the months leading up to the deal, he was given practically unlimited airtime to tell the world why this deal spells impending doom for Israel and will lead to widespread suffering in the Middle East and eventually spark a major arms race.
Meanwhile, OpenSecrets reports that many of the lawmakers who oppose peaceful negotiations with Iran received anywhere from tens of thousands to close to $1 million from pro-Israel donors in the 2014 election cycle. Rep. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, for example, received $900,000 from the Emergency Committee for Israel.
When it comes to matters relating to the Middle East and Israel, MJ Rosenberg, a former AIPAC employee, revealed: “AIPAC writes the legislation (or letters, resolutions, etc) which are then handed over to legislators to drop in the hopper, gather cosponsors, and get it passed or sent.“
But why? Why is there so much opposition from Netanyahu and the Israel lobby, despite evidence from the CIA and Israeli intelligence that Iran has neither the desire nor the capability to obtain nuclear weapons?
Why would a lobby group spend millions of dollars swaying America’s elected officials on this one deal? And why did it spend an additional $50 million on a campaign to mould public opinion about Iran ahead of Congress voting on the deal?
As the old saying goes: Follow the money
Nearly every conflict we see today can be traced back to basic economic interests. Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons program is a red herring to draw attention away from a simple, yet massively impactful, reality on the global stage.
Iran is on its way to becoming a major world power — so much so, in fact, that it’s being described as the China of the Middle East. To better understand why this is vital to comprehending the U.S.-led negotiations with Iran, a look at the current power structure in the region is necessary.
The major powers in the Middle East today are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Israel. They’re more or less allies, and they are the ones calling the plays. An end to sanctions would be a major shot in the arm for Iran’s economy, threatening the hegemony Saudi Arabia has imposed on the region through its status as the world’s source of oil.
Yet Iran’s got something no one else in the Middle East has: oil and gas. Slapped with sanctions that prevented both imports and exports, the Islamic Republic was forced to manufacture its own supplies. This had the unexpected effect of turning the country into a major auto and defense manufacturer, competing with countries like China and even the United States.
Despite its sanctions-crippled economy, Iran is home to one of the Greater Middle East’s most highly educated and modernized societies. The media fear-mongering on Iran doesn’t note that that its population is overwhelmingly young and highly educated. Iran also has one of the highest science and engineering graduate and PhD rates among men and women in the world.
Yet these well-educated professionals are often forced to leave Iran to find work abroad due to the crippled economy and lack of jobs. If Iran’s economy is bolstered by the rolling back of sanctions, these innovators wouldn’t need to leave and could help drive Iran’s economy even further.
Without sanctions holding it back, Iran threatens the major regional superpower status quo. It could very well spark a shake-up in the current power structure in the Middle East, leaving Israel and its ally Saudi Arabia out in the cold — or, at least, that seems to be where Israel’s concerns lie.
Indeed, a look back on a couple of decades gone by can shed light on why Israel and its allies perceive a strong Iran as a threat.
Resistance to Western meddling
Since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution that ousted the Shah, a U.S.-backed dictator who was installed as Iran’s leader after the U.S. and Britain orchestrated a coup to overthrow democratically-elected prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh, and the events of the Iranian hostage crisis, Iranian leaders joined the ranks of Cuba in nationalizing their oil supplies and loudly opposing British and American meddling abroad and the corporatization of other nations’ oil and resources.
During this period, it was the United States and Britain’s official foreign policy to install Western-friendly dictators across South America, Africa and the Middle East, bring in multinational corporations and banking industries to exploit nation’s economies and resources, and hold third world nations hostage to International Monetary Fund loans while manipulating their economies.
The Cuban Revolution, led by revolutionaries including Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, took the world by storm in the 1950s, and Iran’s Islamic Revolution had a similar effect in 1979. Both nations came to represent an axis of anti-imperialism. Their alliance and similar ideology were bolstered by the belief that third world dependence on the West was an intrinsic result of neocolonialism and monopoly capitalism, with the only remedy being “working class internationalism,” inspired by the Cuban Revolution.
These countries spoke out loudly against the new colonialist project in the Middle East: The creation of Israel, its military occupation of historic Palestine, and its policy of genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
But perhaps what happened a few years prior is more noteworthy: The 1967 War ended with Israel taking control over the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, the Palestinian Gaza Strip, West Bank, Old City of Jerusalem, and Lebanon and Syria’s Golan Heights — most of which are strategic oil- and gas-rich areas. Israel was left to choose between accepting isolation or forming new alliances — and how it chose to proceed ultimately laid the groundwork for the Middle East power structure we know today.
Tensions in the Middle East hit a fever pitch. With the Arab Gulf states holding the U.S. hostage with an oil embargo over U.S. military aid and support for Israel’s aggressive attempts to expand its borders to build “Greater Israel,” President Jimmy Carter brokered a peace agreement under the Camp David Accords between several Gulf states, Israel and the U.S. This so-called diplomatic peace arrangement, though, was defined by major oil and arms sales. In this process, Israel formed its most important strategic alliance in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia.
Iran was the final pillar standing against Israel’s occupation of Palestine and the United States’ strategy of propping up dictators across the Middle East. And Iran soon formed alliances of its own. It went on to arm and support the Lebanese political resistance group Hezbollah, which had formed as early as 1982 to take back the stolen Golan Heights from Israel’s military expansion and occupation. The Islamic Republic also established an alliance with Syria based on their shared opposition to the new colonialist divide-and conquer-project in the region: Israel.
Iran took on Palestinian liberation as its own cause and helped arm Hamas against Israel’s military occupation. The creation of Israel became the epitome of the West’s latest divide-and-conquer strategy in the Middle East, and resistance in the region was at an all-time high. This all drove an even bigger wedge between the U.S. and Israel, and Iran.
Flash-forward to today, and Israel’s closest ally in the Middle East is still Saudi Arabia. The House of Saud is funding, arming and backing terror groups like Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS with American weapons.
Operating in Iran’s neighboring countries, Iraq and Syria, these groups are engaged in a proxy war for regional influence and power by playing up the Sunni-Shiite divide. After the Syrian revolt in 2011 that called for economic reform, Israel’s closest allies armed and financially supported the Syrian opposition.
ISIS and al-Nusra, both terror groups created by the Arab Gulf states, hijacked the uprising within a few months and waged a bloody sectarian civil war against the Syrian people and the Syrian government — a major arms, oil and gas ally of Iran. Announcing that they would attack Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, and any Iranian ally, including Hamas, Hezbollah fighters joined the fight in Syria in 2012, allying themselves with the Syrian government.
This war is still raging today — pitting Syrians against Syrians, and Sunnis and Shiites against each other. But, as CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou told MintPress News in a recent interview for “Behind the Headline,” this conflict — like most conflicts — boils down to pure economics. He explained:
“You see incidents, like, let’s say, Yemen or Syria, where there are very serious human rights issues at play, and we don’t go into Yemen to feed and clothe the Yemeni people and to give them medical aid … It’s nice to pay lip-service to human rights. We love to say that we’re this shining city on a hill, where we support human rights, but the truth of the matter is, we only support those human rights when the country also has oil it can sell us. I mean, that’s just a fact of American policy in the Middle East.”
What we see taking place today is an effort to weaken Iran in order to maintain Saudi domination of the oil market and to preserve the alliances based on oil and arms sales that Israel worked so hard to build with its supposed enemies.
And today, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iraq are Iran’s only Middle Eastern allies, serving as a proxy for what may eventually turn into an all-out war on Iran. To make matters worse, Israel is working closely with the Saudi kingdom to attack Iran — the two countries admitted to this alliance at a Council on Foreign Relations meeting in Washington last year.
WikiLeaks also confirmed what’s really behind the deadly civil war in Syria. Leaked U.S. State Department documents from 2006 and 2008 reveal that this sectarian strife has been engineered by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel and even Egypt to provide cover for a war for access to oil and gas, and the power and money that come along with it — leaving Iran out in the cold.
What is Israel really threatened by?It’s important to remember that Israel’s not-so-secret nuclear arsenal — currently estimated at 80 warheads strong — makes it the only nuclear-armed regional player. But unlike Iran, it’s not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. And Israel doesn’t allow U.N. inspectors anywhere near the nuclear program it will neither publicly confirm or deny even exists.
Still, what Israel fears most is not specifically a nuclear Iran, but any threat to its power and influence — power that has been granted to it by superpowers like the United States and Britain and power that it has illegally seized on its own.
In the Middle East and elsewhere, ties are important, and ties are telling — especially when they shift. While the U.S. has long been Israel’s staunchest ally, those ties are fraying, as evidenced by the fact that the Iran deal is rolling full-steam ahead. Despite massive continued military support and spending, and despite partisan bickering, the Iran deal is perhaps one of the clearest indications that the U.S. is no longer content to sit back as Israel attempts to run the show in the Middle East.
The facts that the mainstream media isn’t telling us about Israel are even scarier than the fear-mongering it’s trying to pass off as facts about Iran.
The 24-hour news cycle hasn’t yet made much room for the voices of the Iranian people or for history to speak for itself, but it is precisely these perspectives which provide the counterbalance to Netanyahu’s grim predictions of what a nuclear Iran might be capable of.
Indeed, it’s capable of far more than annihilation. It’s capable of sustaining a bustling economy that can give rise to innovation and make the kinds of contributions to the world that it’s not been able to make for decades. While Iran, like most nations, faces domestic issues with freedom of speech and freedom of the press, it’s also capable of letting the strengths of its people shine on the world stage — something the mainstream media may find difficult to frame as a global threat.