Will there be a regime change in Iran?

by Matin Baraki*

If the United States were to wage war against Iran, it would cause chaos and destruction in this strategically important country on the Gulf, as in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. In addition, a war against Iran would not only destabilise the entire region, but possibly suffocate it in flames.

US imperial strategy for Eurasia

The region around Iran is probably one of the most important trouble spots of the 21st century. The cold war that the United States of America is waging against Iran can primarily be explained by this country’s geostrategic importance. The main focus in this region is on the raw materials oil and natural gas. In addition, the entire region – Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Near East, the Middle East and Russia – can be reached from Iran.
The USA has been following developments in the natural resources sector in and around Iran, the Caucasus and Central Asia with great interest, in particular since the end of the Soviet Union. In 1997, Stuart Eizenstat, State Secretary in the US State Department, stressed to the US Congress that “the Caspian Sea is potentially one of the most important new energy-producing regions in the world”.1 Global strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski has clearly formulated the US economic interest in this region: We want to have “unhindered access to this region that has so far been closed to the West”!2 He described the region as a “chessboard on which the struggle for global supremacy will continue in the future”.3 Brzezinski unscrupulously refers to Hitler and his view that “Eurasia is the centre of the world and that therefore the ruler who dominates Eurasia dominates the world”.4 In his estimation, “dominance on the entire Euro-Asian continent is still the prerequisite for global supremacy today”5 of the US. Brzezinski comes to the conclusion that the first objective of US foreign policy must be “that no state or group of states acquire the ability to expel the United States from Eurasia or even to decisively impair its role as arbitrator”.6 In order to enforce this claim, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright declared the entire region around Central Asia and the South Caucasus “the geostrategic zone of interest of the USA” as early as 1997.7 Iran was always part of this strategy, which was developed under US Democrat Bill Clinton and implemented by the neo-conservatives around Cheney and Bush.
The attacks of 11 September 2001 then became the cause of the war first against Afghanistan, although this had already been planned 18 months earlier under US President Clinton. At the end of September 2006 he admitted to having planned a war, first against Afghanistan.8 The Bush administration informed its regional ally Pakistan of such plans as late as in June 2001, as the then Foreign Minister of Pakistan Naiz Naik confirmed.9
The war against Afghanistan was the prelude to a US course of military conquest in a new dimension. Both this war and the war against Iraq were part of the strategy of the neo-conservatives in the USA and known as the Greater Middle East Initiative [GME]. If the US had been half as successful in Iraq as it was at the beginning in Afghanistan, it would have attacked Iran, Syria, Yemen and other countries in the region long ago.

Nuclear dispute between the US and Iran

It has almost fallen into oblivion that the foundation stone of Iran’s nuclear programme was laid with US American help. In 1959, a research reactor was donated to the University of Tehran by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower as part of the Atoms for Peace programme. In 1967, a further research reactor (light water reactor) with a capacity of 5 megawatt was supplied from the US and put into operation at the Tehran Nuclear Research Center (TNRC). Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said in 1973, that it would be good if Iran used nuclear energy to supply the US with cheap oil.
On 1 July 1968, the Iranian Government signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which entered into force for Iran on 5 March 1970 after the deposition of the instrument of ratification with the signatory states.10 According to the Treaty, signatory states have the right to use nuclear energy exclusively for civilian purposes. Iran has strictly adhered to these rules. In 1975 the US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger signed the National Security Decision Memorandum 292 on American-Iranian cooperation in the field of nuclear technology. It provided for the sale of nuclear technology worth over 6 billion US dollars to Iran. Until the 1970s several agreements were concluded between the USA and Iran in this regard. In 1976 Iran was offered to buy a plutonium extraction plant from the US and to operate it. The agreement covered a complete nuclear cycle.
In October 1976 this offer was withdrawn by President Gerald Ford. Since the negotiations with the USA could not be brought to a conclusion, it was West German companies, namely Kraftwerk-Union AG, which in 1974 concluded a contract for the construction of the first Iranian nuclear power plant, near the city of Buschehr.11
Even at the time of US President Bill Clinton, North Korea, Iran and Iraq were regarded as “rogue states”. In January 2002, his successor George W. Bush called them the “axis of evil”, which was threatening “world peace”.12 It was only after this “classification” that Iran began research into the military use of nuclear energy. When the then Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee was asked in an interview with the German magazine “Spiegel” why India had built the atomic bomb, he asked the journalist: “Would Yugoslavia have been attacked by NATO if the country had had the atomic bomb?”
Iran concluded from the war against Yugoslavia that nuclear armament of its armed forces was necessary for its own protection.
Experts assume that Iran would need at least 13 years to be able to build nuclear bombs, even if it were to be left to continue its research in peace.

International nuclear negotiations with Iran

In July 2016, a comprehensive agreement was announced in Vienna, bringing to an end the nuclear dispute with Iran, which had been smouldering for 13 years. The EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Federica Mogherini and the Iranian Foreign Minister Dschawad Zarif announced this at a press conference in the UN City in Vienna. This was a sign of hope for the whole world, Mogherini said immediately before the formal adoption of the agreement by the participating states. “We are starting a new chapter of hope”, stressed Zarif. He spoke of a historic moment. The negotiations had been conducted for 13 years by an international group of six, the United States, Russia, the People’s Republic of China, Great Britain, France and Germany, with Iran. The agreement was intended to restrict Iran’s nuclear programme to such an extent that the country would not be able to secretly or quickly obtain the material to build nuclear weapons. In return, the economic sanctions against the country would be lifted.13 As is well known that the opposite has happened. The sanctions were even tightened further by the US, although Iran has strictly adhered to all agreements. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed this for “a total of eleven times since mid-2015, when the nuclear agreement was signed”.14 The IAEA was able to inspect Iran’s nuclear facilities at any time and unannounced. Even the US secret services have repeatedly attested that Iran fulfilled all conditions.
Not only Iran and Europe but the whole world is affected by the sanctions. “With sheer power the US has established the rule of injustice over Europe [and the world]. The sanctions are” flagrantly illegal”15, because international and European companies are not subject to US jurisdiction. German Minister of the Economy Peter Altmaier, however, is “notoriously known for his tendency to buckling”.16 He should have protected German companies. Even the politicians in Brussels, “otherwise notoriously gossipy”, are silent on this topic. “They have knuckled under”17, comments the editor-in-chief of the German magazine “Stern”, Hans-Ulrich Jörges.

Regime change in Iran?

The international nuclear treaty is a thorn in the side of the Israeli and Saudi Arabian governments. If former US President Barack Obama had given the green light, the Israeli Air Force would have destroyed Iran’s nuclear research facilities long ago. The young, inexperienced Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, who also tends to act out of his emotions, openly called on the US to cut off “the head of the snake”, meaning Iran. Now US President Donald Trump has found further supporters of a regime change with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Salman. In the persons of John Bolton as National Security Advisor and Mike Pompeo as Foreign Minister, radical supporters of an Iranian regime change have moved into key positions in the White House. The Trump administration’s assumption that economic sanctions would increase the pressure on the Iranian population and thus bring about a regime change from within is not only naive but also dangerous. The war that Saddam Hussein started against Iran in the 1980s with US support stabilised a mullah regime in deep crisis at the time. In the event of external intervention, the Iranian peoples would unite. The Iranians also know full well that the wars of the United States against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria brought chaos and destruction to these countries. In addition, a war against Iran would not only destabilise the entire region, but possibly suffocate it in flames.
The imminent and final smashing in Syria of Islamists allied with the US, Saudi Arabia and other Arab sheikdoms is the greatest defeat of US imperialism since the Vietnam War. The Trump administration has not forgiven Iran for this, as Iran has also played an important role in the smashing of the Islamist-oriented opponents of the Syrian government, next to the key player Russia.
US expert Josef Braml of the German Society for Foreign Policy (DGPA) said that, since irrationality prevails in the White House, US President Donald Trump may have Iran bombed to win the forthcoming congressional elections.18

A solution is possible, is it also wanted?

The Iranian government and the supreme spiritual leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khatami, have repeatedly put forward proposals to make peace with the US and Israel, which both sides have so far categorically rejected.
The international community must force the warmongers to accept Iran’s offers of peace and to appear at the negotiating table in order to resolve the conflicts.    •

*    Dr phil. Matin Baraki, born 1947 in Afghanistan, worked there as a teacher before coming to Germany. Today he is an expert for Afghanistan and a development policy expert as well as a lecturer for international politics at the Philipps-University Marburg.

1     Eizenstat, Stuart. Statement before the Subcommittee on International Economic Policy, Export and Economic Development of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 23 October 1997, cited after: Garnett, Sherman W. et al. The Caspian region facing the challenges of globalisation. Opladen 2001, p. 54
2    Brzezinski, Zbigniew. The Grand Chessboard (German version – Die einzige Weltmacht) Weinheim 1997, p. 203
3    ibidem, p. 16
4    ibidem, p. 16
5    ibidem, p. 64
6    ibidem, p. 283
7    Barth, Peter. Der Kaspische Raum zwischen Machtpolitik und Ölinteressen (The Caspian region between power politics and oil interests), Munich 1998, p. 5
8    cf. Leyendecker, Hans. “Ich habe es versucht” (I have tried), in: Süddeutsche Zeitung of 25 September 2006, p. 2; Schmitt, Uwe. Bush publishes parts of the secret report on terror in: “Die Welt” of 28 August 2006, p. 7.
9    cf. Hahn, Dorothea. “Vergebliche Suche nach der “goldenen Brücke” (Fruitless search for the “golden bridge”), in: TAZ, 3/4 November 2001. After 11 September Richard Armitage, the deputy of the then US Secretary of State Colin Powell, threatened the head of the Pakistani secret service to “bomb his country back into the Stone Age” if the government in Islamabad did not cooperate with the USA. Matthias Rüb, Karzai and Musharraf continue to argue. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of 28 September 2006, p. 9
10    cf. PT (Iran (Islamic Republic of)) un.org: Iran (Memento of 8 July 2012 in the web archive.is).
11    cf. Gholam Reza Afkhami. The life and times of the Shah. University of California Press, 2009, p. 354
12     Von “Schurkenstaaten” zur “Achse des Bösen” - From “Rogue States” to the “Axis of Evil”, in: Stern, 30 January 2002. https://www.stern.de/politik/ausland/george-w--bush-von--schurkenstaaten--zur--achse-des-boesen--3376168.html.
13    cf. Löwenstein, Stephan. “Ein Zeichen der Hoffnung für die ganze Welt” (A sign of hope for the whole world), in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 14 July 2016. www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/ausland/atomverhandlungen-im-iran-historisches-abkommen-13701607.html .
14    Lüders, Michael. “USA wollen den Iran wirtschaftlich in die Kapitulation zwingen” (The US wants to economically force Iran into surrender), Deutschlandfunk, 1 August 2018, (Interview)
15    Jörges, Hans-Ulrich. “Die Unterwerfung” (Submission), in: Stern, 23 August 2018, p. 16
16    ibidem
17    ibidem
18    cf. Braml, Josef. “Politikum” (A political issue) WDR 5, 17 September 2018 (Interview)

ICJ ruling over Iran sanctions by the USA

cc. Since August 2018 new US sanctions apply against Iran. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the supreme court of the United Nations, judged in a preliminary injunction on 3 October, that the sanctions are partially inadmissible, and called for immediate repeal. Under the title:

“Risk of irreparable prejudice and urgency”

the Court has ruled „in its opinion [of the Court] the measures adopted by the United States have the potential to endanger civil aviation safety in Iran and the lives of its users […] The Court further considers that restrictions on the importation and purchase of goods required for humanitarian needs, such as foodstuffs and medicines, including life-saving medicines, treatment for chronic disease or preventive care, and medical equipment, may have a serious detrimental impact on the health and lives of individuals on the territory of Iran.“

“Operative Clause”

“At the end of its Order, the Court indicates
1.    unanimously, that the United States of America, in accordance with its obligations under the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights, must remove, by means of its choosing, any impediments arising from the measures announced on 8 May 2018 to the free exportation to the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran of (i) medicines and medical devices; (ii)foodstuffs and agricultural commodities; and (iii)spare parts, equipment and associated services (including warranty, maintenance, repair services and inspections) necessary for the safety of civil aviation;
2.    unanimously, that the United States of America must ensure that licences and necessary authorizations are granted and that payments and other transfers of funds are not subject to any restriction in so far as they relate to the goods and services referred to in point (1);
3.    unanimously, that both Parties must refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve.“

Source: Press release of the International Court of Justice from 3 October 2018