There’s no doubt about it. We’re at the height of the Silly Season.
First we have Boris ‘I-am-a-passionate-Zionist’ Johnson, the hot favourite to become the UK’s prime minister. His biographer Sonia Purnell, who worked alongside Johnson as a journalist, writes in the Sunday Times that he’s “temperamentally unsuitable to be trusted with any position of power, let alone the highest office of all, in charge of the UK and its nuclear codes”. She talks of his terrible mood swings “triggered by the slightest challenge to his entitlement or self-worth” and says he has “the fiercest and most uncontrollable anger” she has ever seen. This confirms what many of us feared. And we wonder how those who mix with him in the parliamentary party could possibly back him for top leadership.
Ian Birrell in the ‘i‘ discusses his lack of discipline – turning up to Cabinet dishevelled, unprepared and cluching the wrong papers, and his notoriously poor grasp of detail. “It is strange that anyone might see this bumbling and toxic buffoon as the person to lead a divided Britain amid delicate negotiations.”
Then we have the unhinged “cocked and loaded” Trump, bristling with aggression. Nobody is taken in by his claim that, having ordered military strikes against Iran’s radar and missile batteries in retaliation for their shootdown of a US spy drone, he changed his mind with only minutes to spare on account of a reminder that this lunacy might actually cost human lives.
It makes no difference if the US drone was 20 miles outside Iran or 4 miles inside. Iran presented GPS coordinates showing it was eight miles from the coast, which is inside the 12 nautical miles considered to be Iran’s territorial waters under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The drone obviously represented a military threat and a provocation, and the US has no lawful claim of self-defense that would justify a military attack. Iran has the right to ask identification from any aircraft flying this near its territory and Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations is reported to have written to the Security Council that the drone failed to respond to several radio warnings before it was downed.
Any US attack on Iran in these circumstances could be a violation of the United Nations Charter, which only allows the use of military force in self-defense after an armed attack or with Security Council approval.
Let’s remind ourselves of earlier US aggression and dishonesty during the Iran-Iraq war, as recorded in Wikipedia:
In the course of escorts by the US Navy, the cruiser USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655 on 3 July 1988, killing all 290 passengers and crew on board. The American government claimed that Vincennes was in international waters at the time (which was later proven to be untrue), that the Airbus A300 had been mistaken for an Iranian F-14 Tomcat, and that Vincennes feared that she was under attack. The Iranians maintain that Vincennes was in their own waters, and that the passenger jet was turning away and increasing altitude after take-off. US Admiral William J. Crowe later admitted on Nightline that Vincennes was in Iranian territorial waters when it launched the missiles. At the time of the attack, Admiral Crowe claimed that the Iranian plane did not identify itself and sent no response to warning signals he had sent. In 1996, the United States expressed their regret for the event and the civilian deaths it caused.
Trump now wants to impose further crippling sanctions on Iran and her people while the UK’s Foreign Office minister Andrew Murrison has just been to Tehran calling for “urgent de-escalation” and cheekily criticising Iran’s “regional conduct” and its threat to stop complying with the nuclear deal, which the US recklessly abandoned but the UK remains committed to.
Good news about Murrison, though. A medical man, he voted against the Iraq war but as a Navy reservist was called up to do a 6 month tour of duty there. Perhaps Murrison should go see Trump and ask:
Why is he not more concerned about Israel’s nuclear arsenal and the mental state of the Israeli regime, which are the real threat to the region and beyond?
Why isn’t he slapping sanctions on Israel for its refusal to sign up to the NPT or engage constructively on the issue of its nuclear and other WMD programmes, not to mention its repeated defiance of international and humanitarian laws in the Holy Land?
Trump meanwhile has signed an executive order targeting Iran’s leadership with hard-hitting new sanctions supposedly needed to deny their development of nuclear weapons. “Never can Iran have a nuclear weapon,” Trump has decreed. He added: “We will continue to increased pressure on Tehran until the regime abandons its dangerous activities and its asperations, including the pursuit of nuclear weapons, increased enrichment of uranium, development of ballistic missiles, engagement and support for terrorism, fuelling of foreign conflicts and belligerent acts….” Achingly funny. Who else could all that apply to, I wonder? Exactly. The Bully-Boy-in-chief himself and his best buddies in Tel Aviv.
Sowing the seeds of hatred
We have conveniently short memories when it comes to our abominable conduct towards the Iranians in 1951-53 when a previous Conservative government, in cahoots with the USA, snuffed out Iran’s fledgling democracy and reinstated a cruel dictator, the Shah. This eventually brought about the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and created the deep distrust between Iran and the West. Is it not shameful that the present Conservative government is spoiling for another fight? Shouldn’t the Foreign Office now focus on exerting influence through trade and co-operation?
The Iranian regime, like many others, may not be entirely to our liking but nor was Dr Mossadeq’s democracy 65 years ago. Besides, what threat is Iran to Britain? And why are we allowing ourselves to be driven by America’s mindless hatred?
When new recruits join British Petroleum (BP) they are fed romantic tales about how the company came into being. William Knox D’Arcy, a Devon man, studied law and made a fortune from the Mount Morgan gold-mining operations in 1880s Australia. Returning to England he agreed to fund a search for oil and minerals in Persia and began negotiations with the Mozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar in 1901. A sixty year concession gave D’Arcy the oil rights to the entire country except for five provinces in the north. The Persian government would receive 16% of the oil company’s annual profits.
Mozzafar ad-Din was naive in business matters and unprepared for kingship when the time came. He borrowed heavily from the Russians and in order to pay off the debt he signed away control of many Persian industries and markets to foreigners. The deal D’Arcy cut was too sharp by far and would eventually lead to trouble.
He sent an exploration team headed by geologist George B Reynolds. In 1903 a company was formed and D’Arcy had to spend much of his fortune to cover the costs. Further financial support came from Glasgow-based Burmah Oil in return for a large share of the stock.
Drilling in southern Persia at Shardin continued until 1907 when the search was switched to Masjid-i-Souleiman. By 1908 D’Arcy was almost bankrupt. Reynolds received a last-chance instruction: “Drill to 1,600 feet and give up”. On 26 May at 1,180 feet he struck oil.
It was indeed a triumph of guts and determination. The Anglo-Persian Oil Company was soon up and running and in 1911 completed a pipeline from the oilfield to its new refinery at Abadan. But the company was in trouble again by 1914. The golden age of motoring hadn’t yet arrived and the industrial oil markets were sewn up by American and European interests. The sulphurous stench of the Persian oil, even after refining, ruled it out for domestic use, so D’Arcy had a marketing problem.
Luckily Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, was an enthusiast for oil and wanted to convert the British fleet from coal especially now that a reliable oil source was secured. He famously told Parliament: “Look out upon the wide expanse of the oil regions of the world!” Only the British-owned Anglo-Persian Oil Company, he said, could protect British interests. His resolution passed and the British Government took a major shareholding in the company just in time, for World War One began a few weeks later.
During the war the British government seized the assets of a German company calling itself British Petroleum for the purpose of marketing its products in Britain. Anglo-Persian acquired the assets from the Public Trustee complete with a ready-made distribution network and an abundance of depots, railway tank wagons, road vehicles, barges and so forth. This enabled Anglo-Persian to rapidly expand sales in petroleum-hungry Britain and Europe after the war.
In the inter-war years Anglo-Persian profited handsomely from paying the Iranians a miserly 16%, and an increasingly angry Persia tried to renegotiate terms. Getting nowhere, they cancelled the D’Arcy agreement and the matter ended up at the Court of International Justice at The Hague. A new agreement in 1933 provided Anglo-Persian with a fresh 60-year concession but on a smaller area. The terms were an improvement for the Persians but still didn’t amount to a square deal.
In 1935 Iran formally replaced Persia as the country’s official name internationally and Anglo-Persian changed to Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. By 1950 Abadan was the biggest oil refinery in the world and Britain, with its 51% holding, had affectively colonised part of southern Iran.
Iran’s small share of the profits became a big issue and so did the treatment of its oil workers. 6,000 withdrew their labour in 1946 and the strike was violently put down with 200 dead or injured. In 1951 Anglo-Iranian declared £40 million profit after tax but handed Iran only £7 million. Meanwhile Arabian American Oil was sharing profits with the Saudis on a 50/50 basis. Calls for nationalisation were mounting.
As a result of the Persian Constitutional Revolution the first Majlis (parliament) was established in 1906 and the country became a constitutional monarchy with high hopes. By mid-century Iran not unreasonably wanted economic and political independence and an end to poverty. In March 1951 its Majlis and Senate voted to nationalise Anglo-Iranian, which had controlled Iran’s oil industry since 1913 under terms disadvantageous to Iran. Respected social reformer Dr Mohammad Mossadeq was named prime minister the following month by a 79 to 12 majority. On 1 May Mossadeq carried out his government’s wishes, cancelling Anglo-Iranian’s oil concession due to expire in 1993 and expropriating its assets.
His explanation, given in a speech in June 1951 (M. Fateh, Panjah Sal-e Naft-e Iran, p. 525), ran as follows…
“Our long years of negotiations with foreign countries… have yielded no results this far. With the oil revenues we could meet our entire budget and combat poverty, disease, and backwardness among our people. Another important consideration is that by the elimination of the power of the British company, we would also eliminate corruption and intrigue, by means of which the internal affairs of our country have been influenced. Once this tutelage has ceased, Iran will have achieved its economic and political independence.
“The Iranian state prefers to take over the production of petroleum itself. The company should do nothing else but return its property to the rightful owners. The nationalization law provides that 25% of the net profits on oil be set aside to meet all the legitimate claims of the company for compensation…It has been asserted abroad that Iran intends to expel the foreign oil experts from the country and then shut down oil installations. Not only is this allegation absurd; it is utter invention…”
For this he would eventually be removed in a coup by MI5 and the CIA, imprisoned for 3 years then put under house arrest until his death.
Britain, with regime change in mind, orchestrated a world-wide boycott of Iranian oil, froze Iran’s sterling assets and threatened legal action against anyone purchasing oil produced in the formerly British-controlled refineries. It even considered invading. The Iranian economy was soon in ruins…. sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Attempts by the Shah to replace Mossadeq failed and he returned with more power, but his coalition was slowly crumbling under the hardships imposed by the British blockade.
At first America was reluctant to join Britain’s destructive game but Churchill let it be known that Mossadeq was turning communist and pushing Iran into Russia’s arms at a time when Cold War anxiety was high. It was enough to bring America’s new president, Eisenhower, on board and plotting with Britain to bring Mossadeq down.
Chief of the CIA’s Near East and Africa division, Kermit Roosevelt Jr, arrived to play the leading role in an ugly game of provocation, mayhem and deception. An elaborate campaign of disinformation began, and the Shah signed two decrees, one dismissing Mossadeq and the other nominating the CIA’s choice, General Fazlollah Zahedi, as prime minister. These decrees were written as dictated by Donald Wilbur the CIA architect of the plan
The Shah fled to Rome. When it was judged safe to do so he returned on 22 August 1953. Mossadeq was arrested, tried, and convicted of treason by the Shah’s military court. He remarked…
“My greatest sin is that I nationalised Iran’s oil industry and discarded the system of political and economic exploitation by the world’s greatest empire… With God’s blessing and the will of the people, I fought this savage and dreadful system of international espionage and colonialism.
“I am well aware that my fate must serve as an example in the future throughout the Middle East in breaking the chains of slavery and servitude to colonial interests.”
His supporters were rounded up, imprisoned, tortured or executed. Zahedi’s new government soon reached an agreement with foreign oil companies to form a consortium to restore the flow of Iranian oil, awarding the US and Great Britain the lion’s share – 40% going to Anglo-Iranian. The consortium agreed to split profits on a 50-50 basis with Iran but, tricky as ever, refused to open its books to Iranian auditors or allow Iranians to sit on the board.
A grateful US massively funded the Shah’s government, including his army and secret police force, SAVAK. Anglo-Iranian changed its name to British Petroleum in 1954. Mossadeq died on 5 March 1967.
Apologise? Hell no…Let’s demonise Iran!
But the West’s fun came to an abrupt halt with the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and a great British enterprise that started heroically and turned nasty ended in tears.
The US is still hated today for reimposing the Shah and his thugs and demolishing the Iranians’ democratic system of government, which the Revolution unfortunately didn’t restore. The US is widely known by Iranians as Big Satan and its regional handmaiden Israel rejoices in the name Little Satan. Britain, as the instigator and junior partner in the sordid affair, is similarly despised.
Moreover, Iran harbours great resentment at the way the West, especially the US, helped Iraq develop its armed forces and chemical weapons arsenal, and how the international community failed to punish Iraq for its use of those weapons against Iran in the Iran-Iraq war. The US, and eventually Britain, leaned strongly towards Saddam in that conflict and the alliance enabled Saddam to more easily acquire or develop forbidden chemical and biological weapons. At least 100,000 Iranians fell victim to them.
“The United States used methods both legal and illegal to help build Saddam’s army into the most powerful army in the Mideast outside of Israel. The US supplied chemical and biological agents and technology to Iraq when it knew Iraq was using chemical weapons against the Iranians. The US supplied the materials and technology for these weapons of mass destruction to Iraq at a time when it was know that Saddam was using this technology to kill his Kurdish citizens. The United States supplied intelligence and battle planning information to Iraq when those battle plans included the use of cyanide, mustard gas and nerve agents. The United States blocked UN censure of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons. The United States did not act alone in this effort. The Soviet Union was the largest weapons supplier, but England, France and Germany were also involved in the shipment of arms and technology.”
While Iranian casualties were at their highest as a result of US chemical and biological war crimes Trump was busy acquiring the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Trump Castle, his Taj-Mahal casino, the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan and was refitting his super-yacht Trump Princess. What does he know, understand or care about Iran?
On the British side Foreign Secretary Jaremy Hunt was messing about at Oxford University; and the front-runner to fill our Prime Minister vacancy, Boris Johnson, former Foreign Secretary, was similarly at Oxford carousing with fellow Old Etonians at the Bullingdon Club. What do they know or care?
Which brings us to today… Why are we hearing nonstop sabre-rattling against Iran when we should be extending the hand of reconciliation and friendship? And why are these clueless leaders demonising Iran instead of righting the wrongs? Because the political establishment is still smarting. And they are the new-generation imperialists, the political spawn of those Dr Mossadeq and many others struggled against. They haven’t learned from the past, and they won’t lift their eyes to a better future.
It’s so depressing.
Economic sanctions: are they moral, or even legal?
The US and UK have led the charge on oil sanctions and other measures to make life hell for Iranians. But are they on safe legal ground?
The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) in a statement on 26 November 2011, said they were deeply concerned about the threats against Iran by Israel, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Referring to a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, IADL stated that those threats were unacceptable and dangerous not only for all the region but for the whole of humanity, and that Article 2.4 of the UN Charter forbids not only use of force but also the threat of force in international relations. The right of defence does not include pre-emptive strikes.
The IADL also pointed out that while Israel was quick to denounce the possible possession of nuclear weapons by others, it had illegally possessed nuclear weapons for many years. The danger to world peace was so great as to require the global eradication of all nuclear weapons, and to immediately declare the Middle East a nuclear free zone and a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction, as required by UN Security Council resolution 687.
Furthermore, Article 33 states that “the parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means…” Economic ‘terror’ tactics such as the vicious sanctions deployed by the US, UK and their allies – and the similar measures used by Britain and America in the 1950s to bring down the government of Dr Mossadeq and reinstate the Shah – are simply not part of the approved toolkit.
Remember the context
UN Security Council resolution 487 of 1981 called on Israel “urgently to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards”. Israel has been allowed to ignore it for nearly 40 years. In 2009, the IAEA called on Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, open its nuclear facilities to inspection and place them under comprehensive IAEA safeguards. Israel still refuses to join or allow inspections.
The Zionist regime is reckoned by some to have up to 400 nuclear warheads at its disposal. It is the only state in the region that is not a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (Iran is). It has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. As regards biological and chemical weapons, Israel has not signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. It has signed but not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention.
In early 2012 the US intelligence community was saying that Iran hadn’t got an active nuclear weapons programme, and Israeli intelligence agreed. The Director of the National Intelligence Agency, James Clapper, reported: “We assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons… We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons…”
So the continual focus on Iran has been a deliberate distraction. We repaid Iranian co-operation in D’Arcy’s oil venture with corporate greed and diplomatic double-cross. America and Britain are still smarting from the time when Iran democratically elected Dr. Mossadeq, who sensibly nationalized her vast oil resources. Up till then the grasping British were raking in far more profit from Iranian oil than the Iranians themselves.
Back in the 1920s the US State Department had described the oil deposits in the Middle East as “a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history”. Ever since, its designs on Iraq and Iran have been plain to see and it is still ready to pounce on every opportunity.
When the CIA-engineered coup toppled Dr. Mossadeq, reinstated the Shah and his secret police, and let the American oil companies in, it was the final straw for the Iranians. The British-American conspiracy backfired spectacularly 25 years later with the Islamic Revolution of 1978-9, the humiliating 444-day hostage crisis in the American embassy and a tragically botched rescue mission. What should have been a sharp lesson for Western meddlers became a festering sore.
The quest for the energy prize is not over. But it is no longer just about oil. Zionist stooges in controlling positions in the West’s corridors of power are pledged to ensure Israel remains the only nuclear power in the Middle East and continues to dominate the region militarily. And they are willing to spill Christian blood and spend Christian treasure in that cause.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton, recipient of the Defender of Israel Award last year and the Guardian of Zion Award the year before, is one such super-stooge. His stupefying remark: “No-one has granted Iran a hunting licence in the Middle East” typifies the arrogance of his ilk.