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Latent Aspects Of US Withdrawal From Iran Nuclear Agreement: Discerned Realities – OpEd

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For a proper understanding and analysis of the intricate and very serious problem created by the US withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Agreement, a proper comprehension of all of the aspects related to the Agreement and the decision of US’ withdrawal from it is worth.

According to a BBC report titled, ‘Iran nuclear deal: Key details’ dated 8 May 2018, “Before July 2015, Iran had a large stockpile of enriched uranium and almost 20,000 centrifuges, enough to create eight to 10 bombs, according to the Obama administration”. To compel Iran to give up its alleged intentions of producing nuclear weapons, US and EU along with UN had imposed severe sanctions on Iran.

According to the same BBC report those sanctions cost Iran more than USD 160 bn in oil revenue alone from 2012 to 2016; “In 2015, Iran agreed a long-term deal on its nuclear programme with the P5+1 group of world powers – the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany”; “Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow international inspectors in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions”; and “Under the deal, Iran gained access to more than $100bn in assets frozen overseas, and was able to resume selling oil on international markets and using the global financial system for trade”. (1) The plan of action to implement this agreement was called the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA).

US’ Confirmations That Iran Was Fully Abiding By the Agreement

Since then the inspectors of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have been conducting the required inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities and each time found Iran abiding by the agreement. In that context, following extracts are noteworthy:

a. US Department of State (document) certified, “The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified that Iran has implemented its key nuclear-related measures described in the JCPOA, and the Secretary State has confirmed the IAEA’s verification. As a result of Iran verifiably meeting its nuclear commitments, the United States and the EU have lifted nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, as described in the JCPOA” (2).

b. On 16 January 2016 US Department of State (document) published confirmation by US’ Secretary of State, “I hereby confirm that the International Atomic Energy 0Agency has verified that Iran has fully implemented its required commitments as specified in Sections 15.1-15.11 of Annex V of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The U.S. sanctions-related commitments described in Sections 17.1-17.5 of Annex V of the JCPOA are now in effect”. — January 16, 2016 John F. Kerry, Secretary of State” (3)

c. Charleston Gazette-Mail of West Virginia, US has also mentioned on 11 May 2018, “Because of the Iran deal, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have been in Iranian nuclear facilities, making sure they aren’t working toward weapons. (And they haven’t been, under the deal.)”.(4)

Economic Benefits Drawn By EU Countries from the Agreement

It is also well-known that while all through Iran verifiably continued to fully abide by the conditions of JCPOA, EU countries had also started economically benefiting from this agreement in a big way. In that context, a report of BBC titled, ‘Iran nuclear deal: The EU’s billion-dollar deals at risk’ dated17 May 2018 highlighted that since the deal took effect in 2016 major European firms have rushed to do billions of dollars’ worth of business with Iran, including thousands of related jobs; and that, EU exports to Iran in 2017 (goods and services) totalled €10.8bn (£9.5bn; $12.9bn), and imports from Iran to the bloc were worth €10.1bn. The value of imports was nearly double the 2016 figure. (5).

Opposition by Donald Trump and US Withdrawal from the Agreement

However, Donald Trump vowed to pull US out of this agreement even during his election campaign; and he actually did so on 8 May this year. A week later, according to a report published in The Guardian on 17 May 2018, “The US treasury said the move would cut off Iran’s access to the critical bank network.

The US has said it will progressively reintroduce the main sanctions against Iran, starting with the automobile and civil aviation sectors on 6 August. Energy and finance will follow on 4 November”; and “The US has given all firms, not just European ones, between three and six months to wind down their business dealings with Iran, with the timeframe dependent on the nature of the business” (6).

Endeavour by EU to Save the Agreement

That action by Donald Trump understandably greatly alarmed even the closest of US’ European allies, especially Germany, France and UK. There was a flurry of diplomatic consultations amongst the signatories of this agreement as how to circumvent the ‘threatening’ US’ sanctions against those firms / companies which continue doing business with Iran. According to a DW report dated 17 May 2018 there was even talk in EU of activating the 1996 law that would prohibit European companies from complying with US sanctions on Iran; however effective application of that law was found to be difficult because, “In addition, its regulatory language is nebulous, and the measures it lays out to block European companies from bowing to US sanctions could prove difficult to enforce, in part due to the international banking system and the significance of the US in international financial markets”. (7)

Then there was an effort to work with Iran to add certain additional conditions to the agreement to bring Donald Trump back to the agreement – as reported by the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, “We have to get away from the name “Vienna Nuclear Agreement” and add a few additional elements — only then will President Trump agree and lift the sanctions,” a top EU diplomat told the paper” (8).

US’ Adamant Attitude and ‘Threatening’ Demands from Iran

However, even that attempt has been blocked by US’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in his speech on 21 May 2018 when he announced additional sanctions including 12 Demands from Iran if Iran wanted to avoid being economically ‘crushed’ by US. Taking a note of those 12 Demands announced by Pompeo is extremely important to gauge US’ most likely intentions. Those details were published by Joseph Trevithick in The Drive on 21 May 2018. It mentions: “Pompeo’s comments seemed to suggest there would be additional sanctions on top of the ones that had been in place prior to the JCPOA coming into effect in 2015, but he offered few specifics on what they might entail”; and, “These will be the strongest sanctions in history by the time we are complete,” Pompeo said; “After our sanctions come into full force, [Iran] will be battling to keep its economy alive”; further, “The Secretary of State said the United States would halt these plans if Iran met its demands, which are as follows:

  • “First, Iran must declare to the IAEA a full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear program, and permanently and verifiably abandon such work in perpetuity.”
  • “Second, Iran must stop uranium enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing. This includes closing its heavy water reactor.”
  • “Third, Iran must also provide the IAEA with unqualified access to all sites throughout the entire country.”
  • “Iran must end its proliferation of ballistic missiles and halt further launching or development of nuclear-capable missile systems.”
  • “Iran must release all U.S. citizens, as well as citizens of our partners and allies, each of them detained on spurious charges.”
  • “Iran must end support to Middle East terrorist groups, including Lebanese Hizballah [Hezbollah], Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
  • “Iran must respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi Government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration of Shia militias.”
  • “Iran must also end its military support for the Houthi militia and work towards a peaceful political settlement in Yemen.”
  • “Iran must withdraw all forces under Iranian command throughout the entirety of Syria.”
  • “Iran, too, must end support for the Taliban and other terrorists in Afghanistan and the region, and cease harboring senior Al Qaida leaders.”
  • “Iran, too, must end the IRG [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] Qods Force’s [Quds Force’s] support for terrorists and militant partners around the world.”
  • “And too, Iran must end its threatening behavior against its neighbors – many of whom are U.S. allies. This certainly includes its threats to destroy Israel, and its firing of missiles into Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It also includes threats to international shipping and destructive – and destructive cyberattacks.” (9).

Even a cursory look at these extremely aggressive US’ Demands from Iran fully support the title of this article given by Joseph Trevithick (The Drive), i.e. ‘Pompeo’s 12 Demands For Iran Read More Like A Declaration of War Than A path to peace’.

Similar expression has been made by William A. Galston in his article published in The Wall Street Journal on 22 May 2018. The title of that article is, ‘Trump Courts Disaster With Iran The administration’s strategy alienates Europe and risks war in the Mideast’. William A. Galston holds the Ezra K. Zilkha Chair in the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program; former policy advisor to President Clinton and presidential candidates; an expert on domestic policy; also College Park Professor at the University of Maryland; prior to January 2006, he was Saul Stern Professor and Acting Dean at the School of Public Policy, University of Maryland; director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy; founding director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE); executive director of the National Commission on Civic Renewal; and is the author of eight books and more than 100 articles in the fields of political theory, public policy, and American politics (10). Following extracts of his views / inferences are worth noting:

a. “Mr. Pompeo’s speech wasn’t well received in Europe”.

b. “In the short run, the Trump administration will probably be able to force the Europeans to halt economic dealings with Iran because their stake in the U.S. economy is orders of magnitude greater. In the longer run, however, this course of action risks permanent damage to the trans-Atlantic alliance”.

c. “This prospect does not worry President Trump, who appears to regard the alliance as an outdated burden that limits American freedom of action without delivering commensurate benefits”.

d. “It is possible, I suppose, that the Iranian regime will collapse under the weight of U.S. pressure. But the odds are low, especially if the two non-Western Iran deal signatories—China and Russia—refuse to go along and instead step up their economic dealings with Tehran. If the Iranians continue to abide by the terms of the agreement, they can probably ride out the storm while deepening the split between the U.S. and Europe. Tehran can also further unleash its regional proxies, forcing the Trump administration to extend America’s military involvement as the head of the anti-Iranian coalition”.

e. “We are on a path that could lead to war with Iran. The administration had better consult Congress and the American people before it reaches the point of no return” (11).

Reaction in the Public of the Effected European Countries

It may not be out of place, however, that William A. Galston’s remark that Mr. Pompeo’s speech wasn’t well received in Europe was a bit ‘mild’ in the context. Factually, while the European governments might be ‘mindful’ of their respective country’s ‘economic entanglement’ with US, European countries’ public has already started becoming estranged with US’ current policies under Donald Trump. In that context DW has published a survey report about Germany’s public opinion on 18 may 2018. That survey was conducted by Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF) which is a non-profit independent German public television broadcasting service (12). According to that survey, eighty-two percent of Germans believe that their country cannot count on President Donald Trump’s United States as a reliable partner in international relations; fourteen percent of respondents believe that Trump’s US remains a reliable partner; just 4 percent said “I don’t know” when the question was posed to them.

The DW report also mentions, “Sixty-five percent of respondents said parties should keep the international nuclear deal with Iran alive after Trump unilaterally withdrew the US earlier this month, while 28 percent expressed skepticism about the accord”. (13)

Real Reason of US Aggressive Attitude in Withdrawing from the Agreement

One more aspect which requires particular attention is as to why after all Mr. Donald Trump has been advocating so aggressively against the Iran Nuclear Agreement right from the days of his election campaign? In that context an answer has been provided by Anthony Zurcher who is an American journalist​ based in Washington, D.C.​ He is a senior North America reporter at BBC News​, where he covers culture and politics. In his article titled ‘Three reasons behind Trump ditching Iran deal’ dated 8 May 2018, he mentioned that the reasons are: ‘Shredding the Obama legacy’; ‘A pivot to Netanyahu’; and ‘New faces in the room’ (referring to the replacement of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor HR McMaster with Mike Pompeo and John Bolton respectively, and both are considered Iran hawks. (14)

However, in his mentioned context of ‘A pivot to Netanyahu’ approach, Anthony Zurcher does not explain the underlying ‘linchpin reason’ for this current extremely pro-Israel policy of Donald Trump.

Factually Donald Trump’s approach is not related to the person of Mr. Netanyahu; rather the ‘linchpin reason’ underlying this policy is based upon the Evangelical and Christian Zionism religious beliefs of President Donald Trump, his Vice President Mike Pence, and their supporters (mainly Evangelicals and Christian Zionists). That fact is brought forth by much of the published information.

Importance of Religious Beliefs in US Policy Making

An understanding of the religious beliefs of the current President and Vice President of US is essential to grasp the importance of the religious belief of US’ public in US’ policy making, especially in the current scenario. In that context the paper published by Utica College Center of Public Affairs and Election Research US provides important information. Some of its extracts worth due attention are: “Religion has played a major role in shaping political leadership, the presidency, and presidential elections throughout U.S. history. Because of this, presidential candidates have long recognized the importance of emphasizing religious beliefs in order to elicit support from major religious groups. Since the 1970’s, evangelical Protestants have positioned themselves as one of the most impactful religious voting blocs, even with recent declines in religious affiliation and salience. Donald Trump was able to garner the vast majority of evangelical support in the 2016 election despite being among the least religious presidential candidates in modern history. Faith mattered for evangelicals in 2016, but partisanship mattered more in determining who they would support”.

“Still, Trump was able to maintain the evangelical/Republican alliance, receiving approximately 80 percent of the evangelical vote, more than Mitt Romney in 2012, John McCain in 2008, and George Bush in 2004 with 78 percent” (15).

About those religious beliefs, very briefly; evangelicalism, evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism, is a worldwide crossdenominational movement within Protestant Christianity. Its largest concentration is in US, where it forms a quarter of nation’s population, and is politically important (16).

And about Christian Zionism, Donald Wagner, Professor of Religion and Middle Eastern Studies at North Park University in Chicago and executive director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, wrote his commentary titled ‘An Historical Account of Christian Zionism’, which was published in five parts in The Daily Star, October 2003. According to him Christian Zionism is a movement within Protestant fundamentalism that sees the modern state of Israel as the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and thus deserving of political, financial and religious support. Christian Zionists work closely with the Israeli government, religious and secular Jewish Zionist organizations. Both the secular and religious media place Christian Zionism in the Protestant evangelical movement, which claims upward of 100-125 million members in the US. However, one would more accurately categorize it as part of the fundamentalist wing of Protestant Christianity (17).

About the religious faith of Donald Trump, the book titled ‘The Faith of Donald J. Trump A Spiritual Biography’ by David Brody, Scott Lamb is apt. Its introductory note highlights the rarely discussed, but deeply important, religious beliefs and worldview of Donald J. Trump and his advisors. It mentions that Donald J. Trump was raised as a Presbyterian (i.e. belonging to Protestant Church) and has praised both Christianity and the primacy of the Bible. In the Oval Office, he has surrounded himself with close advisors who share his deep faith.

In this deeply reported book, David Brody and Scott Lamb draw on unparalleled access to the White House to explain President Trump’s connection to the Christian faith, the evangelical right, the prosperity gospel, and the pressing moral and ethical issues of our day. In part, the authors argue, President Trump won over evangelicals not by pandering to them, but by supporting them and all their most important issues without pretending to be something he’s not (18).

About US Vice President Mike Pence’s Christian Zionism connection a detailed article has been published in a UK-based political website ‘Open Democracy’. Its title is ‘Trump, Pence, Jerusalem: the Christian Zionism connection’. Its author is Paul Rogers, Professor in the Department of Peace Studies at Bradford University, UK. About the lobbies in US, he clarifies that the talk about the power of Jewish Lobby in US is misleading, the more correctly described Israel Lobby wields far more electoral power thanks to the reinforcement by the Christian Zionists. About Mr. Pence he mentions, “Although Pence’s family background is Irish-American Roman Catholic, he embraced a markedly evangelical perspective at college and has maintained that faith orientation ever since. It includes a particularly strong Christian Zionist perspective”. Besides that, the article highlights, that Mr. Pence is the first sitting Vice President of US who delivered a key note address to the annual meeting of Christians United for Israel, which is one of the two most powerful groups of Christian Zionists which are linked to the pro-Israel lobby.

This article also mentions the remarks of the scholar Daniel G Hummel, “Christian Zionism has a long history in American politics, but it has never captured the bully pulpit of the White House. Past administrations often used the biblical language in reference to Israel, but never has the evangelical theology of Christian Zionism been so close to the policy making apparatus of the executive branch” (19).

Another Aspect of Donald Trump’s Israeli Connection

An article of Tara Isabella Burton, who holds a doctorate in Theology from the University of Oxford, has been published by Vox – an American news and opinion website. Some of the extracts of her article, which succinctly clarify the connection with Israel of US’ Evangelicals / Christian Zionists, led by Donald Trump (and Mike Pence), are: “Many evangelical speakers and media outlets compare Trump to Cyrus, a historical Persian king who, in the sixth century BCE, conquered Babylon and ended the Babylonian captivity, a period during which Israelites had been forcibly resettled in exile. This allowed Jews to return to the area now known as Israel and build a temple in Jerusalem. Cyrus is referenced most prominently in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, in which he appears as a figure of deliverance”.

“That comparison has become more and more explicit in the wake of Trump’s presidency. Last week, an Israeli organization, the Mikdash Educational Center, minted a commemorative “Temple Coin” depicting Trump and Cyrus side by side, in honor of Trump’s decision to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem” ….. “Monday, however, an even higher-profile figure linked Trump and Cyrus. During his visit to Washington, DC, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu heavily implied Trump was Cyrus’s spiritual heir. Thanking Trump for moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, Netanyahu said, “We remember the proclamation of the great King Cyrus the Great — Persian King. Twenty-five hundred years ago, he proclaimed that the Jewish exiles in Babylon can come back and rebuild our temple in Jerusalem. And we remember how a few weeks ago, President Donald J. Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Mr. President, this will be remembered by our people throughout the ages.” (20)

The Geopolitical Aspects relating to the Zionists Plan of ‘Greater Israel’

One more aspect which has to be clearly grasped, to understand as to why after all Donald Trump government is so aggressively acting to destroy Iran’s military potential and Iran’s political outreach in Middle East. That aspect of Donald Trump’s anti-Iran posture is factually a ‘link’ of the efforts of many of the successive US’ governments to at least favour, if not out-rightly assist, the Israel governments in gradually working to fulfill the old Zionist plan of establishing a Greater Israel as a major Jewish State and the dominant regional power in Middle East. Donald Trump, however, has come out to openly and aggressively assist Israel, by trying to destroy the military, economic and political potential of Iran which, in the current timeframe, is the only challenger to Israel’s ambitions to aggressively ‘expand’ its writ in the Middle East. Many publications are available in that context. Brief mention of three of those is presented in this paper.

Stephen Lendman is from Boston, MA. He writes on major world and national issues. He is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient. (21). In one of his paper relating to Greater Israel he mentions: “A near-century ago, the World Zionist Organization’s plan for a Jewish state included: historic Palestine; South Lebanon up to Sidon and the Litani River; Syria’s Golan Heights, Hauran Plain and Deraa; and control of the Hijaz Railway from Deraa to Amman, Jordan as well as the Gulf of Aqaba. Some Zionists wanted more – land from the Nile in the West to the Euphrates in the East, comprising Palestine, Lebanon, Western Syria and Southern Turkey”….. “Hardliner Ze’ev Jabotinsky opposed peaceful coexistence with Arabs, calling it unattainable. Arguing for “an iron wall of (superior) Jewish military force,” his idea was to discourage Arab hopes of destroying Israel – followed by a negotiated settlement based on Israeli-dictated terms”. (22)

In another article titled, ‘Israeli High Court Approves Illegal Ethnic Cleansing’, Stephen Lendman brings to fore the extremely inhuman acts of the Israel’s government and its state institutions, in stark contravention of even the UN orders, to which of course US and its allies turn a blind eye. In that context he mentions: “Under international law, ethnic cleansing is a crime against humanity – defined as the forced removal of ethnic or racial groups to benefit others” ….. “In 1992, the UN General Assembly called forced ethnic cleansing “a form of genocide,” a war crime under international law” …..“Genocide includes the forced expulsion of individuals from their land and homes with intent to harm or destroy an ethnic or religious group in whole or in part – longstanding Israeli practice throughout the Territories” ….. “On May 24, Israeli High Court Justices ruled against Palestinian Bedouin Khan al-Ahmar communities, located east of Jerusalem, home to about 1,400 residents” ….. “According to the High Court ruling, the Netanyahu regime may ethnically cleanse all community residents, seize their land, as well as destroy their homes and other structures – the court authorizing criminality prohibited under international law”. (23)

Another detailed paper titled ‘Greater Israel: The Zionist Plan for Middle East The Infamous Oded Yinon Plan’, written by Israel Shahak with introduction by Professor Michel Chossudovsky, has been published by Global Research on 17 May 2018. It was originally published in 2013. It contains a map of the Zionists-desired Greater Israel, and also a translated version of the Yinon Plan. It basically draws its inferences from the geopolitical dimensions of the Yinon Plan. It is therefore worth to have the basic understanding of Yinon Plan, because its knowledge appears not to be common in public.

About the background, application and geopolitical effects of the Yinon Plan sufficient details are available in Wikipedia, which is owned by Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, an American non-profit and charitable organization headquartered in San Francisco, California, US. Some extracts from Wikipedia, which provide the significant information are: “The term Yinon Plan refers to an article published in February 1982 in the Hebrew journal Kivunim (“Directions”) entitled ‘A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s’.

Kivunim was a quarterly periodical published by the World Zionist Organization’s department of Information in Jerusalem. The article was penned by Oded Yinon, reputedly a former advisor to Ariel Sharon, a former senior official with the Israeli Foreign Ministry and journalist for The Jerusalem Post. It is cited as an early example of characterizing political projects in the Middle East in terms of a logic of sectarian divisions. It has played a role in both conflict resolution analysis by scholars who regard it as having influenced the formulation of policies adopted by the American administration under George W. Bush, and also in conspiracy theories according to which the article either predicted or planned major political events in the Middle East since the 1980s, including the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the overthrowing of Saddam Hussein, the Syrian Civil War and the rise of the Islamic State. The claim has been made that Yinon’s article was adopted by members of the Institute for Zionist Strategies in the American administration until it was putatively taken up as a way to further American interests in the Middle East, as well as achieving the Jewish dream of a state “from the brook of Egypt to the Euphrates”, encompassing the majority of the Middle East, as written in the Hebrew Bible” (24).

As for the mentioned detailed paper by Israel Shahak with introduction by Professor Michel Chossudovsky, two of its extracts suffice to convey the essence: “According to the founding father of Zionism Theodore Herzl, “the area of the Jewish State stretches: “From the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.”  According to Rabbi Fischmann, “The Promised Land extends from the River of Egypt up to the Euphrates, it includes parts of Syria and Lebanon.” ….. “The “Greater Israel” project consists in weakening and eventually fracturing neighboring Arab states as part of a US-Israeli expansionist project, with the support of NATO and Saudi Arabia. In this regard, the Saudi-Israeli rapprochement is from Netanyahu’s viewpoint a means to expanding Israel’s spheres of influence in the Middle East as well as confronting Iran. Needless to day, the “Greater Israel” project is consistent with America’s imperial design” (25).

The assertions of Stephen Lendman and Israel Shahak in these publications and the clarification about Yinon Plan provided in the Wikipedia, clearly bring to light the ‘actual latent design’ of US-Israel combine in the region in proximity of Israel (Middle East and North Africa) for actualising the Zionist dream of establishing Greater Israel. These assertions and clarification are (underlining added):-

a. In one of those assertions, Stephen Lendman quotes the Zionist Ze’ev Jabotinsky, “Hardliner Ze’ev Jabotinsky opposed peaceful coexistence with Arabs, calling it unattainable. Arguing for “an iron wall of (superior) Jewish military force,” his idea was to discourage Arab hopes of destroying Israel – followed by a negotiated settlement based on Israeli-dictated terms”. In that context it may not be out of place to mention that Ze’ev Jabotinsky, MBE was a Russian Jewish Revisionist Zionist leader, author, poet, orator, soldier and founder of the Jewish Self-Defense Organization in Odessa. With Joseph Trumpeldor, he co-founded the Jewish Legion of the British army in World War I. Later he established several Jewish organizations in Palestine, including Beitar, HaTzohar and the Irgun (26).

b. On his part Israel Shahak has asserted, “The “Greater Israel” project consists in weakening and eventually fracturing neighboring Arab states as part of a US-Israeli expansionist project, with the support of NATO and Saudi Arabia. In this regard, the Saudi-Israeli rapprochement is from Netanyahu’s viewpoint a means to expanding Israel’s spheres of influence in the Middle East as well as confronting Iran. Needless to day, the “Greater Israel” project is consistent with America’s imperial design”.

c. The clarification in the Wikipedia highlights: The Yinon Plan by Oded Yinon, reputedly a former advisor to Ariel Sharon, a former senior official with the Israeli Foreign Ministry is cited as an early example of characterizing political projects in the Middle East in terms of a logic of sectarian divisions. The claim has been made that Yinon’s article was adopted by members of the Institute for Zionist Strategies in the American administration until it was putatively taken up as a way to further American interests in the Middle East, as well as achieving the Jewish dream of a state “from the brook of Egypt to the Euphrates”, encompassing the majority of the Middle East, as written in the Hebrew Bible.

The application of this ‘actual latent design’ of US-Israel combine in the region in the proximity of Israel, as clearly highlighted in the above-mentioned quotations / clarification, was commenced by US with its allies almost immediately after the collapse of Soviet Union resulting in the destruction / division of Iraq, Libya, Yemen, etc, and then the devastation of Syria has been in the process. However, in Syria the US-Israel combine’s intervention has recently met an effective ‘checkmate’ when Russia intervened to block US’ efforts to dislodge Syrian government which was supported by Iran. Although by now Syria already stands devastated by the US’ intervention, yet the Russian intervention which strengthened Iran’s resilient opposition to US intervention, has effectively frustrated US’ attempt to achieve its final objective in Syria. Probably it is this frustration in which US’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has delivered the aforementioned ultimatum with the ‘maddeningly unrealistic’ 12 demands from Iran.

Inferences Drawn

Based upon the aforementioned discerned realities obtained from the information available in the credible sources of information, following inferences are drawn.

First, keeping in view the current state of US vehement disregard of repeated requests by its EU allies for not abandoning the Iran Nuclear Agreement, it is more likely that US will enforce its sanctions commencing from 6 August this year on all firms – European and others – which engage in business with Iran.

Second, as for Iran, it is more likely that it will not declare abandoning of the Agreement, thereby providing sort of a political Modus Vivendi to those countries which want to do business with Iran by circumventing, if not out-rightly opposing, US sanctions. Application of that Modus Vivendi may as well not be much difficult also, because the US announced sanctions do not have the UN cover – and that cover is certainly not likely to be obtained by US because of the most certain veto by Russia and China in such an eventuality.

Third, though at this stage it is a bit complex to ascertain the extent of the ‘actual’ acceptance of these US’ sanctions by the countries now trading with Iran and the effect of these sanctions on Iran, yet a number of the ground economic and political realities do provide realistic assessment framework. In that context cognizance of the current data of Iran’s exports and imports is essential.

As for Iran’s export data the report by Trading Economics highlights, “Oil and natural gas are Iran’s most important exports, accounting for 82 percent of the country’s export revenues. Other exports include chemicals, plastics, fruits, ceramic products and metals (27)”. And Iran’s news agency IRNA has published a report on 6 March 2018. It shows Iran’s export of crude oil and gas condensates in just one month, i.e. February 2018. The report is titled ‘Europe purchases 40% of Iran’s exporting oil in February’. It mentions, “Asian and European countries bought around 1.16 million barrels of crude oil and 430,000 barrels of gas condensates from Iran. Asian and European share from this purchase was around 60 and 40 percent, respectively. China, India, South Korea and Japan are the biggest oil customers in Asia. Dutch-British Shell, France Total, Italian ENI and Saras companies, Greek Hellenic Petroleum, Spain Repsol and Hungary MOL are Iran’s crude oil customers in Europe” (28)”.

About Iran’s imports, a report of Trading Economics mentions: “Iran main imports are: non-electrical machinery (17 percent of total imports), iron and steel (14 percent), chemicals and related products (11 percent), transport vehicles (9 percent) and electrical machinery, tools and appliances (7 percent). Main import partners are: United Arab Emirates (31 percent of total imports) and China (17 percent). Others include: South Korea, Turkey and Germany” (29). In another report by Iran Partner it is highlighted that “During the past Iranian year, Iran Import totaled at just more than USD 43.6 billion. China, the UAE, and South Korea accounted for 48% of total Iran import. China alone sold more than USD 10.5 billion worth of products to Iran in 1395 (this is the number of the previous year according to the Iranian calendar; the current Iranian year is 1396). On the other hand, the European countries on this list contributed only 19% of the total exports to Iran. Germany’s exports stood at USD 2.5 billion followed by Italy and Switzerland’s USD 1.2 billion (30)”.

This pattern of Iran’s export and import clearly shows that Iran’s trading activities are much more reliant on the Asian countries and much less on the European countries. So, even if some European countries feel reluctant to even circumvent the US’ sanctions, their reduction / stoppage of business with Iran is not really expected to ‘ditch’ Iran’s economy altogether. In the case of Asia, a number of countries will be economically compelled to doing business with Iran; to quote just few examples:

Pakistan has already learnt bitter and devastating lessons for siding with the unreliable US’ policies, and Pakistani masses will not allow any government in the country to go against Iran on behest of the US.

China and India are the major importers of Iranian oil, India has already announced its unwillingness to abide by US’ sanctions which are without UN cover; China is also most likely to follow suit. Full obedience of US’ sanctions are not really foreseen from Japan and South Korea either. Besides that, it may not be out of place to mention that this US’ decision of imposing sanctions on Iran with the aforementioned ‘maddeningly unrealistic’ 12 Demands, in total disregard of the views of majority of world countries, may meet the same fate when US’ similar ‘deciding alone’ decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem was voted against by almost two third majority of countries of the world (including France, Germany and UK) – supported only by such countries as Guatemala, Honduras, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Togo and Israel (31).

In essence, therefore, it is comparatively more likely that while these US’ sanctions will create problems for Iran, yet US will not be able to crush Iran’s economy to the extent where Iran will be “battling to keep its economy alive” (aforementioned threat of US’ Secretary of State).

Fourth, there are news that contemplating the possibility that the European companies will ultimately have to stop doing business with Iran due to US’ sanctions, the Russian and Chinese companies are pushing to fill that vacuum by increasing their business investment in Iran. In that context Middle East Monitor has published as recently as 30 May 2018 a report titled, “Report: Russia, China companies prepare to replace Europeans in Iran”.

The report highlights, “Russian and Chinese companies are taking advantage of the return of US sanctions on Iran to strengthen their investments in the oil rich country after the European companies withdrawal from Tehran for fear of losing their share in the US market”. This report also gives some details of the existing and planned Russian and Chinese business investments (in billions of USD worth) (32). A similar detailed report has been published on 28 May 2018 by Morning Star which is an investment research and investment management firm headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, United States. That report similarly provides further details in that context (33).

These developments are certain to change the geo-economic complexion of this region at the cost of European countries and with no ultimate success of US.

Fifth, the current major US’ policies affecting the international arena, with the new US’ extremely unjustifiable ‘onslaught’ on Iran on top of such policies, has started reflecting racism, religious extremism, and bullying; thereby alienating many countries which matter geopolitically. To mention just few examples: Public of all three of its important European allies UK, France and Germany is becoming alienated (example – the aforementioned survey by Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen reflecting German public’s alienation). And that alienation is bound to increase throughout Europe when their companies will be compelled to wind up their business with Iran and losing related jobs. Donald Trump’s calling the countries of non-white poor people – black and Latino people –‘shithole’ countries (34), has obviously aroused the public of many effected countries against US. US extremely unreliable and unjustified policies have finally led to the estrangement of its relation with Pakistan – so vitally important for US’ desired peace in Afghanistan. US is also gradually losing its geopolitical hold in South East Asia – has to comprise now even with North Korea. US is therefore losing its ‘geopolitical space’ in many parts of the world and its latest policy, of its blatantly unjustifiable withdrawal from Iran Nuclear Agreement merely to serve the Christian Zionism cause, is more likely to accentuate and accelerate that process.

On the other hand, China and Russia are enlarging their influence space through geo-economic and geopolitical moves – the mentioned US’ ‘losing of geopolitical space’ is one of the factors which is also helping China and Russia in that context.

As for China, its success in expanding its ‘geopolitical space’ through its String of Pearls Strategy is already much known. Similarly its developing success in its gradual ‘militarisation of South China Sea’ – to which US continues to show ‘concern’ – is also known. However, what is more noteworthy is China’s success in finding a geo-economic / geopolitical foothold in Europe. In that context the European Commission paper, ‘JOINT COMMUNICATION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL Elements for a new EU Strategy on China’, dated 22-6-2016 is worth reading. The European Commission proposed to EU to “Seize new openings to strengthen its relations with China; Engage China in its reform process in practical ways which result in mutual benefits for our relations in economic, trade and investment, social, environmental and other areas”, with certain other recommendations (35).

Similarly, a Brief of European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) of February 2017 discusses the pros and cons of China’s ingress in EU’s eastern and southern neighborhoods. However, about the Chinese offered Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), this Brief also mentions, “Not surprisingly, given the ever stronger economic links with China, the BRI was met with a rather warm welcome from the EU’s eastern partners. For certain EaP countries, China is already one of the most important economic partners” (36). (The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is an initiative of the European External Action Service of the European Union (EU) governing its relationship wuth the post-Soviet states. Its membership includes EU, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine).

Another noteworthy aspect is China’s slow but clearly discernable ‘influence entry’ in Afghanistan through certain development projects.

Russia too is enlarging its geopolitical space gradually. Its aforementioned intervention in Syria to checkmate US’ intervention in that country marks the major ‘re-entry’ of Russia in the Middle East. Besides that, the establishment and development of the Eurasian Economic Union is also worth taking a note of. Some of the relevant information about this Union is: Officially it is abbreviated as EAEU, but sometime it is also referred as EEU, or EAU. It is a political and economic union of states located primarily in northern Eurasia. It came in force in on 1st January 2015. Its members are Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Armenia. The presidency is rotated year-wise; currently it is with Russia. There have been discussions on free trade negotiations with over 30 different countries.

According to The Guardian newspaper, Putin’s plan is for the Eurasian Union to grow into a “powerful, supra-national union” of sovereign states like the European Union, uniting economies, legal systems, customs services, and military capabilities to form a bridge between Europe and Asia to balance the EU and the U.S (37). And, to add further, Eurasia Future has published a report on 17 May 2018 that Iran has also now signed an agreement to enter a three year provisional free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). This report also mentions that EAEU has existing free trade agreements with Vietnam, Uzbekistan and Moldova; Vietnam and other ASEAN states including Indonesia and Thailand have been in early level discussions about the possibility of a free trade arrangement with the EAEU; while Serbia and Turkey have also considered joining (38).

Sixth, keeping in view the strange and strong-headed pattern of Mr. Donald Trump’s decision-making, and the strong anti-Iran ‘push’ by Mr. Netanyahu, the world has also to be watchful of the worst case scenario of US’ ‘militarisation’ of its anti-Iran actions. Such actions may include attack on Iran’s and its allies’ troops / deployments etc. in Syria / Lebanon by US’ military / proxy and Israel; or US’ action directly against Iran by US military / proxies in Afghanistan; or US’ effecting a blockade of Iran’s maritime routes; or a combination of these actions. Proper analysis of this worst case scenario will certainly be lengthy; however, in essence it may suffice to mention that any such action by US and or Israel shall not be able to brow-beat Iran; Iran and its allies shall certainly fight back – surely including the methods of asymmetric warfare; and the ensuing military conflict will cause wide-spread devastation which will not be limited to Iran alone, rather which shall certainly (may be greatly) include devastation of US’ and Israel’s troops / installations / interests too.

About the author:
*Brigadier (Retd.) Dr. Ahsan ur Rahman Khan is a retired officer of Pakistan Army, a war veteran, a post-retirement PhD relating to Afghanistan from University of Peshawar, lectured in social sciences in the universities of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi for about 11 years, and a published free-lance research-analyst. His articles, etc. can be read on www.intrinsicoverview.com which is updated about once a month.

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