Something’s rotten in the state of geopolitics…

This article was originally written by Haneul Na’avi on October 12, 2011.
On October 11th, 2011, the US used the alleged Iranian assassination attempt against a Saudi Arabian diplomat in Washington, DC as a pretext for increased sanctions on Iran. The details surrounding the assassination attempt were very sketchy at best, and at worst, seen as a plot to cause yet another war in the Middle East. However, it was very unlikely that Iran would choose to kill a foreign diplomat on US soil and give the US such an outstanding advantage by risking its entire sovereignty on such a risky endeavor. In response, the UN passed a resolution to condemn the attack and issued economic sanctions against Iran in response to the alleged attack.

When this plot was scrutinised and labeled as preposterous by not only Iran, but the international community, the US decided to pass legislation that would prohibit any US official from contacting the Iranian government-an unprecedented and unpopular move that very few major players have undertaken when dealing with international conflicts. The drama began to then mestastize to the United Nations, where a purportedly “half-cooked” report from the International Atomic Energy Association accused the Iranians of refusing to comply with international standards by continuing a “secretive” nuclear weapons program. When the international community began to call the IAEA’s bluff, they also reminded the United States of its’ recent McCarthyian witchhunt tactics that led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, where David Albright, President of the Institute for Science and International Security, accused Iraq of possessing chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction.

However, the history of prolonged sanctions on any country has produced catastrophic effects by forcing the sanctioned regime to create new alliances and become more aggressive in the geopolitical arena.

Sanctions have been applied in both World War I and II, leading to even further crises. The attack on Pearl Harbor was in response to sanctions Franklin D. Roosevelt placed on American oil. The Japanese simply allied themselves with the Axis Powers, increased their resources by colonising East and Southeast Asia, and conducted a Kamikaze mission against the US in retaliation.

Sanctions against Iran over the last few years have given the “isolated” regime new partners. Ever since the EU and US have sanctioned Iran instead of diplomatically dealing with them, Iran has simply increased bilateral trade with China to the amount of 29.3 bn USD, according the the South China Morning Post. Not only does this work against the United States and the EU by limiting important trade deals with Iran’s developing economy, but this further increases tensions through trade wars between the East and West, using Iran as a proxy. It is also important to note that Iran is a candidate for the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, which could offer the country better security protection against NATO and the West, should they gain full membership. Targeting Iran would be the best way for NATO to prevent Russia and China from influencing the Persian Gulf region. These Cold War tactics are nothing new.

Furthermore, sanctions do not send a clear message to the regime that the West wants cooperation, but simply to flex economic might with the support of countries allied with these sanctions. What they do instead is rally support within the isolated regimes, foster mistrust and hate against the sanction-imposing powers, and further strengthen nationalistic ideologies domestically. North Korea is the perfect example of this phenomenon; they have managed to survive over 70 years of economic isolation, sanctions, and military skirmishes by further emboldening its regime with Juche philosophies and forming free-trade agreements with China and Russia.

To name a few, Western powers have placed sanctions on the following countries: Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Libya, Ivory Coast, and Somalia—which have either led to destructive civil wars, destitute poverty, or NATO-allied regime takeovers which, when unchecked, have or could lead to failed states, all with leaders that possess anti-Western sentiment. Many of these countries have had dictators sponsored by the US. Here is a list of US-imposed sanctions and a list of US sponsored dictators:

Finally, there is the question of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Ever since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the majority Shia population in Iran have openly opposed both the Ba’athist regime in Iraq and the Wadhabi-Sunni majority in Saudi Arabia. Although this feud has simmered on for decades, it began to boil over in March when Saudi Arabia began sending troops to help Bahrain quell its Arab Spring protests, which were lead by the Shia minority. Saudi Arabia and Iran have been the dominant powers in the Persian Gulf since the collapse and restructuring of Iraq after the war, and as Saudi Arabia has a cozier relationship with the West and a powerful position amongst the Gulf Cooperation Council along with Kuwait, Bah’rain, Oman, Qatar, and the UAE, the alleged “plot” against their foreign minister can be interpreted as a means of Saudi Arabia devising a plan for regional hegemony in the Middle East.

Keep in mind also that Iran has recently discovered NEW reserves of oil and natural gas in the Persian Gulf that could alleviate sanctions against it and make it a viable trading partner with Russia and China.

Iran after its 1979 revolution has always been against the other major players in the Persian Gulf, as it is named the Persian Gulf after Iran’s discovery of oil in the early 1900s and the fact that Iran is Persian, not Arabic, which establishes itself from the rest of the region. Recently, the Shia minority in Saudi Arabia have begun their own Arab Spring, and Prince Abdul Aziz has done his best to prevent the Spring from shaking regional stability. However, under the presumption that Iran holds influence over the protesting Shia minority, this transnational influence over other Arab nations is an incentive for Saudi Arabia to battle Iran to contest for regional superiority.

Let’s wrap this up… in sum, I want everyone to think about this situation very carefully, and consider the risks of either trusting corporate media to provide information or dismissing strategies imperial powers use in geopolitical wars. This may very well come as the long-feared pretext to World War III. World War I started with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the sinking of the Lusitania, and World War II began with the invasion of Poland and the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The biggest threat to mankind at this moment will be a war with Iran, which will almost guarantee the rise in fossil fuels also destabilise the global market and stall the sectors of the world that use fuel, namely the agricultural and industrial production sectors. This could in turn, lead to rising food, goods, and utility costs that could bring the world to an economic scarcity that will dwarf the 2008 recession. In times of economic disparity, countries have used war as a means of rallying support and stabilising their economies. It has happened before and could possibly happen again.


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