Israel, Saudi Arabia and the other Persian Gulf oil sheikhdoms are stuck in a war bunker mentality towards Iran.
Representatives of Iran and the six world powers attend first round of talks in Geneva, Switzerland, on October 15, 2013.
This will prove to be a serious impediment to a possible diplomatic deal between Tehran and the West to break the 10-year nuclear deadlock.
But the more troubling questions are: from who, what and where does this war mindset towards Iran originate?
Cordial, businesslike discussions this week in Geneva between Iran and Western powers appeared to break the ice that has frozen relations for the past decade, since when the United States and its allies began accusing Tehran of secretly building a nuclear bomb.
Following discussions in the Swiss capital, there was unusual high praise from the United States and the European Union for Iran’s presentation on how to resolve the nuclear issue.
A senior US administration official was quoted in the Financial Times as saying of the two-day meeting that Washington “never had such intense, detailed, straightforward, candid conversations with the Iranian delegation.“ He added: “I would say we really are beginning that type of negotiation where one could imagine that you could possibly have an agreement.”
So, the scene is seemingly set for more diplomatic thawing in a follow-up meeting next month between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – this time perhaps at the full foreign minister level.
However, take note of these countercurrents. In the same week of cordial negotiations in Geneva, the Israeli regime and the Persian Gulf monarchies were going ballistic – literally.
There seems little doubt that any positive movement in diplomacy between Iran and the US in the coming weeks and months will be met likewise with louder banging on the war drums.
“We can’t surrender the option of a preventive strike,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned his parliament, as Iranian-Western discussions were getting underway in Geneva.
Jerusalem (AFP) – Israel urged the world to avoid a partial deal with Iran which could see a relaxing of sanctions, as a new round of nuclear talks was launched Tuesday in Geneva.
At the same time, Israel’s Air Force was mounting war exercises. Such exercises are of course planned far in advance, but the latest maneuvers laid emphasis on simulated long-distance flights “for possible strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities,” reported The Jerusalem Post.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates announced in recent days that they were seeking nearly $11 billion-worth of advanced US-made missiles, including air-launched cruise missiles. More significant than the actual weapons purchase is the rationale behind it.
The Associated Press reported that the Saudi and Emirati orders were motivated “to stay ahead of claimed military strides by rival Iran.” It added: “Gulf nations regularly spend billions of dollars on US military equipment and upgrades amid lingering regional tensions with Iran.”
Evidently, the Israeli and Persian Gulf Arab regimes are apoplectic at the prospect of normalizing relations between Iran and the US and its Western allies.
If such normalization was to take place and the crippling sanctions on Iran’s prodigious economy were lifted, then the already impressive regional stature of Iran can only but grow even more robust. That outcome is anathema to both the Zionist regime and the House of Saud, as well as the latter’s Wahhabi cronies in the Gulf.
This is because Iran, through its legitimate political discourse and development, exposes the despotism of these regimes. In a very real way, Iran poses an existential threat to Israel and the House of Saud. The threat is not through war and unlawful subversion, but simply because Iran provides an alternative political model as a nation state, one that by its very nature undermines the illegitimate anti-democratic foundations of Israel and the oil monarchies.
With zero-sum mentality, the Israeli and Arab dictatorships must therefore always be in a state of war towards Iran, talking up military threats and accusations of clandestine subversive plots. Normal relations and peace in the Middle East region are fatal to the existence of these rogue states, whose foundations would crumble if democratic freedom were to take hold.
Indicative of this mentality were the calls this week by the Saudi ambassador to the UN, Abdullah al-Muallimi, who told Al Arabiya TV that “Iran should not play a key role” in the forthcoming Geneva II peace talks over Syria. The Saudi diplomat claimed that this was because Iran “interferes in the affairs of Arab countries” through the “Hezbollah terrorist organization.”
While it is amusing to watch the Israeli and Arab warmongers hyperventilate over improved diplomatic relations between Iran and the Western states, this reactionary seizure is nonetheless indicative of an underlying structural problem that will clash with future negotiations.
The West’s standoff with Iran did not start 10 years ago over an alleged nuclear threat. The West has been in aggression mode towards Iran ever since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 – dating back 34 years.
This is because the ongoing dispute has nothing to do with nuclear technology. It is about a competing political vision; between whether a country’s natural resources are primarily for the benefit of the people in that country, or for the enrichment of foreign capitalists.
It is no coincidence that 1979 marked a watershed in Middle East relations. The US and its Western allies then began warning of the “Iranian threat” and the “Shia Crescent” holding sway over the region.
Of course, the despotic regimes in Israel and the Persian Gulf willingly obliged, out of self-preservation, in this ideological war against Tehran.
The US and its Western allies thus share the responsibility for the systematic hostility that today indelibly defines Israeli and Saudi perception and policy towards Iran.
In negotiations between Iran and the Western states, individual politicians may be amenable to reason and dialogue. It is human nature. But we need to differentiate between the personal effect and what comprises the all-important structural policy.
One of those structural interests determining policy is the weapons industry. The US economy, as with other Western states, has become increasingly dominated by behemoth weapons companies. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing and British Aerospace play a crucial role in election fundraising, trade balances, revenues, stock markets, banks, jobs and illicit vote buying.
In short, war is not just good for capitalist business. In many ways, in today’s de-industrialized Western economies, war and the means of war is the only business.
Individual politicians in close discussion forums can appear reasonable and conducive to normal relations. That can generate upbeat headlines for a while. But a state’s policy is not set at this level.
It is the overbearing influence of corporate power on the White House, Congress, as well as lobby groups, which determine the state’s policy.
Israel and Saudi Arabia are war states, and war states in particular towards Iran. But these warmongers are not isolated anomalies that can be easily dismissed for the sake of diplomacy.
As we saw this week with the lucrative American weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the war exercises conducted by Israel, the aggression of these regimes is not some detachable aberration. It is a symptom of the underlying aggression that is structural to US economics and foreign policy.
Diplomatic success for Iran is long overdue and eminently deserved. Perhaps even individual Western diplomats are beginning to recognize that. But the policy of the US and its allies towards Iran is deeply hostile in a way that is beyond the smiles and handshakes of political personalities.