Iran: An Obsession?

In his short statement on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Donald Trump said the words “Iran” or “Iranians” five times before even addressing the Khashoggi murder, the supposed topic of his speech. Trump used the Iranian threat to justify maintaining his close relationship with the Saudi government after it murdered a journalist. Benjamin Netanyahu echoed a very similar response in which he expressed the importance of a stable Saudi Arabia as an ally in the fight against Iran. This was not the first time Iran was used to try to justify atrocities committed against innocents. Saudi Arabia has been destroying Yemen for four years and it is leaving the country in ruins with its people drowning in deep poverty and starvation. Israel continuously attacks the Palestinians in Gaza and has been carrying an inhumane besiege on them for twelve years. Both Mohammed bin Salman and Netanyahu try to justify their crimes by projecting themselves to the world as fighters against what they declared to be terrorism backed by Iran.

When Trump came to power he worked on shifting the United States’ foreign policy abroad. He wanted to erase the steps taken by Barack Obama with Iran. In July 2015 the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was signed and an agreement was reached between Iran and the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, and China concerning its nuclear program. The agreement meant that Iran would limit its uranium enrichment to 3.67% which is significantly lower than the 90% needed for nuclear weapons. Israel strongly opposed this agreement and tensions intensified between Netanyahu and the Obama administration. However, the Obama era was ending and Netanyahu had high hopes for working with Trump, whose family had a history of investing in Israeli settlements and has strong ties to the Israeli government. During this time Israel started to develop relations with Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, who also opposed the agreement with Iran and was interested in working with Israel. In the same year King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia passed away and this paved the way for the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman to work with Netanyahu on diminishing the importance of the Palestinian cause and making the fight against Iran central to the developing world order.

Two years into his presidency, Trump had already pulled out of the deal signed with Iran and signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia which involved the selling of US$110 billion worth of weapons which are being employed in the war in Yemen and are causing a humanitarian crisis. Trump, Netanyahu, M.B.S, and M.B.Z  were now working closely together. We witnessed this after Trump announced “the deal of the century” with Israel and declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. This move went against international law and the 1993 Oslo agreement.M.B.S then made a threat to the Palestinian leadership. In it he inferred that if the Palestinian authority does not agree to the deal Saudi will withdraw its support from the authority and find someone else that will. Abandoning the Palestinian cause was central for M.B.S to be able to normalize relations with Israel and to work with it in the fight against Iran. Both Saudi Arabia and Israel intend to curb the Iranian presence in the Arab world. This power struggle for influence in the Arab countries led the two sides to develop an inaccurate image and counter-image in which Saudi, Israel, and the US appear to be fighting terrorism and pushing for progressiveness (hence the “liberal” reforms taken by the crown prince in Saudi Arabia). Iran’s counter-image is meant to make it appear to be the sole saver of the Arabs from the Israeli occupation and indirect western colonialism.

Both images are only covers for influence in the Middle East. Iran is not supportive of the Palestinian cause out of moral principle. It is simply using the same dialect that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini used to help stir the Islamic revolution against the shah who had close ties with Israel and especially the Mossad. If Iran’s support was ethical it would not be supporting an oppressive power hungry regime in Syria which murdered and displaced millions of civilians. Both sides of this cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia are only after their own power agendas, whether sectarian or colonial.

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