By Rachel Eliasi Kohan, Los Angles (November 1, 2014)
The international community grapples once again with the imminent prospect of a “nuclear deal” between the U.S. (aka P5+1) and Iran before the extended deadline of November 24. Meanwhile, the neo-cons and fundamentalists from both sides have begun undermining and harming possible breakthroughs. With the visionary brinkmanship of both sides the lingering stalemate may be resolved, ending the fraught sanctions, and opening trades and diplomatic relations.
Cartoon by Ehsan Ganji, Tehran's Shargh daily
Surely, the political normalization is to be anchored on mutual respect for sovereignty, security and socio-economic and political aspirations of the nearly 80 million Iranians. The deal, although not ideal for any vested party, is nonetheless far better than the lingering status quo or any other alternatives. Pulling down the trade barriers with Iran, should by some estimate, amount up to a trillion dollars in the decade to follow.
Despite common misconceptions by the public and deliberate media misinformation in the West especially in the U.S., Iran has exceeded far beyond its international commitment mandated by the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) for tis peaceful nuclear development program. Transparent 24/365 surveillance, complemented with unannounced frequent inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have remained in effect for years. Although some skeptics refute the need for nuclear technology in a fossil fuel rich country, Iran insists on sustaining a nuclear enrichment toward its long haul energy and immediate medical applications needs and as a national pride. The IRI further asserts the religious decrees (Fatva) in place would also prohibit its possible military use of nuclear technology. Some inside and outside Iran opine the IRI’s unwavering insistence on nuclear technology is to ensure they receive security guarantees from the West and the U.S. that it would not be overthrown; this was exactly the case when the Operation Ajax, sponsored by the CIA covertly overthrew a democratically elected nationalist lawyer Dr. Mohammad Mosadegh and reinstated the essentially absolute monarch Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on the Peacock Throne. Mosadegh was able to single-handedly defend the sovereign rights of Iran for nationalizing its oil and gas reserves, which in turn, led to a domino effect of similar nationalizations reverberating in the Near East and the world.
In hindsight, the very survival of the regime became challenging by hostage taking, the slogan of “Down with Great Satan or America”, exporting Islamic revolution ideology especially to reawaken the repressed Shiites in the Near East, and IRI’s clandestine nuclear program and other activities of the past. The brutal International sanctions led by the U.S. has resulted in the formation of multi-layered “ghost” governments and black market linchpins. The evil union has inflicted economic sufferings on the ordinary Iranians. All this has in essence intensified political repression of the Iranian grassroots who have struggled for socio-religious and political reforms, economic development, democracy and freedom, civil liberty and civil society, security, equality and justice, and peace under the rule of law within the past 150 years with little progress.
Sanctions have apparently become the paramount existentialist threat to the IRI regime. One might argue the IRI has thus far endured the impact of sanctions through promotion of patriotism, self-reliance, anti-American mantras, and proliferation of black markets which has gravely undermined the state of the economy and social safety net especially since 2006. Prices for essential food and energy commodities have skyrocketed to a critical point when a pensioner can only sustain the family for just a few days per month. Inflation rate is over 25% and as high as 50%. Unemployment and underemployment even among the college graduates is up to 50% by some accounts. Drug addictions especially among the youths, has doubled every five years since 1979. Repression of basic human rights is flagrantly pursued by government agencies and sinister organs resulting in thousands of tortured political prisoners of conscience, many exiled, and the execution of several hundred per annum which has earned Iran comparable ranking with China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and the U.S. . At the expense of flooding low quality imports through the black market domestic productivity has been reduced and, in instances, eliminated. Other outcomes of sanctions are the mass exodus of the most educated and those with major capitals, are just some of the other outcomes of U.S. sanctions and the IRI government misguided policies.
Certainly, a small fraction of the insiders closely aligned with the IRI inner circles, have become immensely affluent, driving luxury cars in Tehran and keeping billion dollars secret bank accounts abroad, the majority of Iranians are hard pressed to sustain themselves to a bare minimum life necessities for an extended period. Paradoxically, the more fundamentalist elements of the IRI, who led a triumphant all-out campaign against the Invading U.S supported Sunni Saddam Hossein of Iraq in an eight year long war of aggression, are now frightened with the prospect of diplomatic normalization and the loss of power grips, or to be overthrown military or covertly; the military or heavy presence of the U.S. and allied forces in literally every country surrounding Iran would give credence to such apprehension.
The Sunni Majority/Shiite Minority divide that has persisted subtly since the advent of Islam, has now been blown up disproportionally and exploited by the U.S. and its so-called allies especially the despotic Sheikhs and self-proclaimed Kings of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, and the UAE. Is it not ironic that the Taliban, Al Qaeda and now the so-called ISIS were conceived and continue to be financed today by the U.S. or other regional cronies especially the 60,000 Saudi Arabian Royal family? The region has now been infested by some of the harshest Stone Age fundamentalist Sunni radicals imposing crusade-style wars in reverse, that the IRI and their lackeys such as the governments of Syria or Iraq now look rationale mainstreams!
Moreover, it comes as no surprise that according to independent reliable sources, Israel as a non-signatory to NPT convention and IAEA protocols, has acquired and developed up to several hundred transcontinental nuclear warheads. Israel has the ludicrous audacity to pump up its most effective lobbying machinery in the U.S., orchestrating opposition to, and instigating war against any possible nuclear deal with Iran. Is it not bewildering that Israel continues to demand several billion dollars from the U.S. Taxpayers and benefits from the American technologies through espionage? Is it not hypocritical at its lowest that while Israel uses Iran as escape goat, it continues to belligerently deny its flesh and blood brethren, the Palestinians, from their rudimentary natural and legitimate international rights for sovereignty and self-governance?! And finally last, is it not baffling to note despite their rhetoric that the puppet regimes of Saudi Arabia and other Arab regimes claiming to be the guardian of the Palestinians, walk along the same path as Israel in opposing Iran? Notwithstanding, as counter intuitive as it may seem, the acquisition of nuclear technology and even nuclear weaponry, has made several countries to act more restraint, responsive and reasonable, and less confrontational.
The anti-rapprochement lobbying picture in Iran is as gloomy as the U.S. if not more since many theocratic autocrats and shadowy government organs feel most threatened by the loss of their power grips if a deal with the U.S./West is materialized. They cannot accept an iota of space conducive to socio-economic and religious reformations, power sharing, democracy and freedom, equality and fairness and justice for all under the rule of law. Ironically, with the energy self-sufficiency of the U.S. and the price lowering of oil and gas, one would hold to a glimpse of hope that the U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East vis-a-vis Iran will be premised more on mutually on equitable trades and mutual respect, rather than being taken hostage by Israel or Saudi Arabia. By the same token, fundamentalists in today’s IRI, cowardly frightened as their hawk brethren in the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia, will resort to any means circumventing any possible nuclear deal and mutual rapprochement. Recent splashing battery acids against the innocent women bystanders and increase in the number of arrests, and tortures and executions, are criminal desperate measures in desperate times.
Iran, formerly referred to as Persia by the West, is an ancient country with the continuous form of government for nearly three millennia and with human archeological settlements since twenty thousand years ago. Iran, with its territory spanning from South and Central Asia to the Caucuses, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia and North Africa for most its antiquity, constitutes thirty countries today. Currently Iran, 750,000 square miles in area, stretches from the shores of the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf and its territorial integrity should remain intact long into the future. Iran is culturally rich with its diverse people and geography, and natural and human resources, flora and fauna. The collective contributions of Iranians in the arts, sciences, trades, technology and literature toward the advancement of civilizations, is well documented and indisputably recognized worldwide. And yet, the people of Iran have endured and been subjected to some of the harshest humiliations and disenfranchisements by not only their neighbors and the western pre-/post-colonialist nations, but far more painfully, by their own theoretical power grabbers within the past 35 years.
And if and when sanctions are removed and privatization is enhanced in Iran, it will open the trade flood gates locked in for thirty five years, estimated to be worth well over a trillion dollars. When properly managed this will bring prosperity and modernization to Iran, and allows the international investors and prospectors to enjoy the bounty as well.
Rachel Eliasi Kohan, born in Iran in a diverse family comprised of the Shiite and Sunni Muslims, Jewish, Armenian Christian and Zoroastrian lineage, has, as a naturalized American, resided in the U.S. for thirty five years. As an independent thinker, she has come to believe in the universal humanism and equal justice for all.
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