Iran Viewpoint: Threat And Sanctions – OpEd


By Abolqasem Qasemzadeh

“Threat and sanctions” form the main pivot of the United States’ and its European allies’ policy toward Iran. They believe that imposing economic and financial sanctions against Iran will paralyze the country’s economy and, more importantly, make Iran more isolated among the international community.

US President Barak Obama laid renewed stress in his latest “State of the Union” speech and in front of his Republican rivals on the necessity of going on with the policy of sanctions and threat against Iran. He claimed that economic and financial sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union have practically destroyed the Iranian economy!” The reason why US president openly takes such a hostile position against another country which is officially a member of the United Nations and has waged war against no other country, and his remarks elicit no objection from international legal bodies, should be sought in bullying ways of the US and its European allies. From their viewpoint, all international rules and regulations should be redefined to fit the context of their global hegemony and interests. Outside that context, neither the international community has a clear definition, nor is there any clear international rule and law. Imposing sanctions on Iran’s central bank is against the known rules of international trade and is also at odds with legal norms of economics and free flow of capital. The sanctions, which are clearly a breach of financial rights of people and their governments, can only be meaningful within the circle of the “power and interests” of US and its European allies and only as a “threat.”

The “sanctions and threat” approach to Iran is based on a single principle, which is the Western and Zionist hegemony over the entire Middle East. In a past article entitled “The Excuse and the Main Concern,” is said that Iran’s nuclear case and even the situation of human rights in Iran are more excuses for rather than being fundaments of the existing faceoff between the West (US and its European allies) and the Islamic Republic of Iran. The main reason is the imbalance in the power equation of the Middle East, which has faced the Zionist regime with dire problems and has changed most of the past equations. Egypt is distancing from the Camp David Accord.

Although that country still needs financial aid, today’s Egypt is not what it was under Hosni Mubarak. There are dark points in Western countries’ calculations about the future outlook of Egypt which have challenged the past hegemony of the Zionist regime in a clear way. Iran has never orbited on the circle of the West’s policies and this has made the conflict between US and its European allies, and Iran, which has been further strengthened by the wave of the Islamic awakening in the region, more complicated, extensive and profound.

Turkey, Iran and Egypt are the current main focus of the West in the Middle East region. Turkey’s maneuvering room in the Middle East is both limited and unstable. Therefore, Iran and Egypt are determinants of the future power balance in the Middle East. From viewpoint of the West, Egypt is currently out of line and Iran is hostile to the West.

The main goal of sanctions and threat strategy is to make Iran give in to the new order in the Middle East. The new state of balance is one which will eliminate all threats to Israel and further stabilize its political position in the Middle East while allowing the United States and its European allies to continue to exploit the region which is the world’s energy center. Such state of affairs will also allow them to continue exploiting regional oil reserves while maintaining crisis in Islamic countries in order to perpetuate their power hegemony in the region. This is why seasoned British and American politicians have frequently noted that sanctions against Iran are aimed to make the Islamic Republic get back at the negotiating table with the international community in order to claim its position on the Middle East roadmap as defined by the US and its European allies.

The West has established the tradition of swapping oil for crisis in the Middle East for about a century. They take the Middle East’s oil in return for the crisis. In this process, petrodollars earned by regional countries are spent on buying weapons from the West or are used to make corrupt governments even richer. The result of this formula (oil for crisis) for the regional people has been nothing, but poverty and backwardness.

Egypt and Iran are the most important countries which determine the balance of power in the Middle East. The Egypt, one way or another, is currently out of the game. The Islamic Republic of Iran, on the other side, does not give in to the West’s new definition of the Middle East. The change of this balance requires a change in West’s behavior and its insistence on “sanctions and threat” scheme as a tool to make Iran accept the Western version of the new order in the Middle. Even if Iran is apparently assigned a share in the new Middle East order, the main goal is acceptance of that order by Iran and other issues are used just as an “excuse.”

The “sanctions and threat” policy, however, is not going on a smooth road. At present, many economic and political experts in the West (Europe and US) have serious doubts about the success of oil and financial sanctions against Iran. the United States is looking forward to its new presidential election and the issue of Iran is on the agenda of both Republican and Democrat parties. Presidential candidates take more and more hostile positions against Iran, and even connote to a possible military strike against the country, in order to draw more support from Zionist pressure groups which sway high financial and security power in the Middle East. Obama neither can, nor wants to lag behind other competitors because they have already chided his policy toward Iran as weak.

Obama and his administration is putting much emphasis on the impact of oil, trade and financial sanctions (against Iran’s Central Bank) in order to feel the void of sharp stances on Iran in comparison to other presidential hopefuls. The same process is in gears in a number of major European countries including France and UK.

Everybody knows that Europe is struggling with a severe financial crisis and the French president, Nikolas Sarkozy, has been losing his popularity among people while being totally aware of the influence swayed by the Zionist community in his country. Every time that Sarkozy talks against Iran, and reiterates his harsh rhetoric, Israeli politicians lose no time to show their acclaim for his remarks. The current hostile positions taken by the British government against Iran does not need more elaboration either.

Europe’s oil sanctions against Iran will enter into full force within five months. Many oil experts in Europe, however, have ringed the alarms for a Europe which is already deep in severe financial crisis. They say if an oil shock causes international oil prices to further shot up, Europe can by no means tolerate that shock. As a result, the sanctioned resolution approved by the European Union’s foreign ministers has noted that the ministers will further discuss the plan in three months and if oil prices went up, they would abort the plan. Japan, China, South Korea and Turkey have not joined oil sanctions against Iran yet and believe in negotiations to be the best way to find a solution. Western oil experts maintain that oil market is one of the most complicated commercial markets in which Iran can find customers for its oil one way or another. On the other hand, tensions resulting from oil sanctions against Iran will cause prices to go up and will lead to new acute problems for the European countries. Everybody knows that the United States does not buy Iran’s oil, nor it is essentially a customer for the Middle East oil. As a result, the main brunt of oil sanctions will be on the European countries which should pay the main price.

Allegations about Saudi Arabia making up for the shortage of Iran oil are also dubious at best especially now that the government of Saudi Arabia is grappling with many crises and problems. Oil experts have noted that Saudi Arabia will not be able to make up for shortages in the oil market for long after oil sanctions against Iran enter into force. The same experts have noted that it would be in vain to count on Saudi Arabia and its government. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the first in line to thank leaders of the European Union for approving financial and oil sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran. In his message to Europe he noted that paralyzing the Iranian economy was the sole way. After approving sanctions against Iran, Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, went to Israel for the apparent reason of discussing Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories. Most political analysts, however, noted that the trip was in response to Netanyahu’s thank-you message for the European Union.

The existing conditions firstly prove that the West (US and its European allies) has intensified its psychological and propaganda war against Iran as the West is escalating crisis against the Islamic Republic. As put by Ashton in his interview with reporters after EU meeting in Brussels, by escalating sanctions and threats against Iran, the West is trying to make the Islamic Republic of Iran resume negotiations over its nuclear program. She added that EU was trying to find political solutions through negotiation and offer its clear proposals to Iran.

In reality, however, the Middle East is in for big, all-out changes. All observers are trying to predict those developments and all countries are trying to define their future position and interests according to the new regional balance. The future Middle East is moving toward establishment of new power equations. Foresightedness is the main axis of political trends in the region and any calculation based on a country’s national interests should be in line with that foresightedness.


Ettelaat Newspaper
Translated By: Iran Review

Iran Review

Iran Review is a Tehran-based site that is independent, non-governmental and non-partisan and representing scientific and professional approaches towards Iran’s political, economic, social, religious, and cultural affairs, its foreign policy, and regional and international issues within the framework of analysis and articles.

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