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Iran, Syria and Uncle Sam


by Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

(October 13, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) Only USA, the super power, has the right to control the world, categorize people and nations as good or bad, useless or helpful, according to its own formula. Thousands and thousands of Muslims have been killed so far by the US forces in the company of other “democratic” nations of the “secular” West.

Declared by the USA, Uncle Sam, as the rogue states or axis of evils, Iran and Syrian have been under the Washington ’s close watch. Both these Islamic nations are blessed with plenty of energy resurces and US capitalists need them badly. Iran is on its final stage of developing nuclear facility and has declared it would share the technology with all Islamic nations interested in the nuclear technology. USA-led UNSC has slapped three rounds of sanctions and a “final warning” to drop its nuclear ambitions.

The US administration suspects Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon and there are a number of competing views in Washington about what President Bush should do. Some Republican hawks are in favor of taking military action against the Islamic state. Iran denies that it has ambitions to build a nuclear bomb and says its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only. There has been much speculation that the US or Israel may try to bomb Iran ’s nuclear facilities. But why is unnecessarily Washington concerned about Iran ?

Tehran considers its right to have nuclear facility and other advanced technology and warned the USA against any attempts to deny Iran the benefits of advanced scientific and technological progress. USA and it western allied have been coercing Iran to fall in line and stay away from nuclear weapons. Iran says it will continue enriching uranium, which it says is for civilian purposes only, despite the latest UN resolution calling on it to stop.

As a usual stunt to bully the weak nations that disobey the dictates of the USA , the Bush administration also accuses Syria of sponsoring terrorism, by supporting the Palestinian elected Hamas and Islamic Jihad and letting “Islamic militants” enter Iraq from its territory. It also accuses Syria of backing the Lebanese Shia' militant group Hezbollah, which fought Israel ’s occupation of southern Lebanon and is still involved in border conflicts with Israel .

Many political leaders in the 1990s accepted the continued Syrian presence as a necessary counter-weight to the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon . Syrian involvement in its neighbor was formalized by two treaties signed in 1991.


Once the Israelis withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, pressure grew for the Syrians to pull out. Opinion in Lebanon is divided between those who support Syria 's presence in their country and those who do not. However, threat of Israel to Lebanon has been a major issue.

Iran’s pro-Islamic move

Not only Iran had a revolution to revitalize Islamic way of life, it has also made strenuous efforts to reach out to Islamic world, particularly the Arab nations in the “terrorism” era and under threats from the US-led anti-Islamic nations. After the fall of Saddam’s government in Iraq , it is Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad who has been keeping the Islamic torch up against the anti-Islamic looters, challenging in the process the world most important power, though currently under serious economic crisis.

Iran has been making efforts to make up with its Islamic neighbors and chart out an Islamic program for all Muslim nations so that the anti-Islamic block of nations cannot try to invade any of the Muslim nations in future. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board comprises of 35 members elected annually by the body's highest policy-making body, the General Conference of all member states. Syria and Iran had both been competing for the seat reserved for a Middle Eastern and South Asian country. Iran and Syria have both been accused by some countries of engaging in clandestine nuclear activity.

Recently, Damascus allowed IAEA inspectors to visit the site at al-Kibar in June but has refused any follow-up trips. Iran , also accused by some countries of clandestine nuclear activity, dropped its bid for a seat on the IAEA board, saying it wanted to make way for regional ally Syria to join instead. On Oct 03 Friday, Syria dropped its bid for a place on the IAEA board, leaving the post open to Western-backed Afghanistan . Both had been vying for the same seat on the board, representing the Middle East and South Asia ( Mesa ) group. The body had been facing a divisive and unprecedented vote on the issue.

Iran was keen to make Syria a member of IEAE, but opposed by Uncle Sam. "The Islamic Republic has officially refrained from pursuing its right to be nominated to the board to pave the way for the membership of Syria ," Tehran has dropped its bid for a seat on the board of the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA. Iran wanted to make way for its regional ally Syria to become a board member instead. Syria has the backing of the Arab League, which makes up a significant proportion of the regional group.

World moves according to US whims and fancies only. Only Russia opposes this nasty global pro-US and pro-imperialist trend. USA got Afghanistan into the IAEA, finally. Earlier, USA made Ban Ki-moon the UN Secretary General. Opposition to Syria ’s election - and Iran ’s before its withdrawal - is led by the US , which wants the seat to go to its close ally Afghanistan .

Iran and Syria have announced that they have formed a mutual self-defense pact to confront "threats" now facing them. Tension increased after former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who had called for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from the country, was killed in a bomb attack in Beirut on 14 February. Iran is under pressure from the US over its nuclear program, while Syria has come back into sharp focus after the apparent assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. USA and many in the West accuse Syria of involvement in the attack, a charge Damascus denies.

What is Syria 's involvement in Lebanon ? The Syrian troop presence in Lebanon dates back to 1976, when it intervened in Lebanon 's civil war to protect the Christian minority against what looked like the imminent victory of radical Palestinians and pan-Arabists. Syria saw that as a threat to its stability.

Syria

US-Israel combine has indeed taken the Iranian whistle quite uncomfortably and of late does not even give out any ultimatum to Iran scrapping its nuclear mission. The US has already imposed a number of sanctions against Syria as well. Last year, it banned US exports to Syria , apart from food and medicine. It also stopped Syrian aircraft from flying to and from the US and froze the assets of Syrians suspected of violating a law designed to "halt Syrian support for terrorism" passed in 2003.

USA has forced the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to probe Syria 's nuclear sites. Syria has denied the allegations as "ridiculous and the government was "co-operating with the agency in full transparency. IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei said Syria ’s co-operation had been "good", but it needed to show "maximum co-operation" for the agency to draw any conclusions. A Syrian officer reported to have been in charge of facilitating the IAEA probe was killed in unexplained circumstances last summer, further delaying the proceedings.

The IAEA investigation follows US allegations that Damascus was close to completing a nuclear reactor at a secret location, which was bombed by Israel last year. The head of Syria 's nuclear program has said that the country's military sites will remain off-limits to international nuclear inspectors. Damascus said it would co-operate with IAEA inquiry only if it did not threaten its national security. The watchdog is investigating claims of a secret Syrian nuclear program.

Israel destroyed a nuclear reactor site in an air strike in 2007. Syria denies any nuclear proliferation or hiding any activities from the watchdog. The International Atomic Energy Agency has been investigating Syria over US intelligence allegations that it was building a secret, plutonium-producing reactor. Preliminary inspections by an IAEA team have shown no evidence of the US allegations.

Syria is the power the USA sees behind the scenes in neighboring Lebanon and has some 15,000 troops stationed in the country. The US , supported by the UNSCouncil, has for years demanded that those troops be withdrawn. Last year, the Security Council passed resolution 1559, which called for their withdrawal, and concern has been building in Washington over what it sees as Damascus 's foot-dragging in response to the resolution.

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has said recently it would be a catastrophe if a peaceful solution could not be found to the Iranian nuclear row. Assad was speaking after a meeting in Damascus with French President Nicolas Sarkozy aimed at improving bilateral ties. The leaders also held discussions on Syria 's relations with Israel .

In the 1980s, there was much animosity between the two rival Baathist leaders, President Hafez al-Assad and Saddam Hussein of Iraq . The US , while not blaming Syria directly for the assassination of Lebanon 's former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has recalled its ambassador for consultations. This is a common way of displaying diplomatic displeasure. Syria was the only Arab country to support Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. Syria and Iran also both provide support for Hezbollah.

France and Syria

At the beginning of February, President Bush showed support for the negotiations in his State of the Union speech. He also indicated that he would be working for regime change in Iran but not by force. On the other hand, Britain, France and Germany have been leading the international effort to negotiate with Iran.

Of late France has taken interest in resolving the crises in the region, on Palestine, Syria and Lebanon. French President Sarkozy's two-day visit to Syria - which was formerly ruled by France under a mandate of the League of Nations - is the first by a Western head of state in five years. He hosted Assad in July and he appears determined to bring Syria, a long-time foe of the US and Israel, back into the international fold. Relations between Paris and Damascus had plummeted after the murder of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri in 2005. Syria’s critics accuse Damascus of being behind the assassination.

During the Paris summit, Syria and Lebanon, an important ally of France, agreed to open embassies in each other's capitals for the first time since the 1940s. In a joint news conference with Sarkozy, Syrian President Assad said that any attack on Iran over its nuclear program would be a catastrophe. He said it was clear there was no trust between Iran and other countries but that Syria would continue to work towards a solution through conversations with both Iran and France. In a newspaper interview earlier, Sarkozy said that Syria could "provide an irreplaceable contribution to solving Middle East issues and it is important that Syria plays a positive role in the region, adding that peace in the Middle East "passes through" Syria and France.

Sarkozy has offered French support for direct peace talks between Israel and Lebanon, when the time was right. Assad said his country was "in the process of building foundations for the peace talks" and would need help from the US and others for direct negotiations to take place. Both parties have talked about a new era in relations but that Sarkozy will be under pressure from his Western allies to show that engagement with Syria can work. And Syria must decide how flexible they can be on the key contentious issues.

The two presidents will be joined by top officials from Turkey and Qatar for talks on Lebanon and Syria’s indirect peace talks with Israel. Ankara has been mediating for several months in the Israeli-Syrian talks, while Qatar brokered a deal in May to resolve Lebanon’s prolonged political crisis.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials have warned that Europe should be "very careful in its relationship with Syria ". Tel Aviv is unhappy over any better understanding among the West and Islamic world. "Except for a slight change in tone, Syrian policies have not changed," said foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor, criticizing Syria’s connections with the Palestinian movement Hamas and the Lebanese Shia' “militant” group Hezbollah. On the strength of US support and armament, Israel wants to dictate its own term to Palestinians, Lebanese and other Arabs.

US game of Sunni vs. Shiia’

USA has been capitalizing the divide between Sunni and Shiia. Western experts say the leaders of several Sunni countries in the region are worried about the rising influence of Shiite Iran. The two nations kept their wary relations until the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 made them both nervous. Syria, feeling particularly vulnerable, pushed for a mutual defense pact with Iran that included parts of Lebanon, then under Syrian control.

USA is also keen to split the support from Islamic world for Iran. As if to appease Tehran, Washington has recently given rare approval for a research body to open an office in Iran, although it stressed United States policy had not changed. The American Iranian Council was given a license to establish a presence in Tehran by the US Treasury Department. The US state department, which guides the policy for issuing non-governmental organization (NGO) licenses to places under US sanctions, like Iran, Sudan and Cuba, said the move did not signal any change in policy. Iran also did not see any positive thinking in Washington, either.

As the conflict in the Middle East continues, attention turns to the influence of Iran and Syria over their local proxy groups—particularly Hezbollah. Experts say the two countries share little ideologically, yet are increasingly cooperating out of necessity. These experts see a new boldness in the way both countries are exerting their influence in the region.

On the face of it Iran is an Islamic republic while Syria is an “ostensibly secular” Baathist state appears to be strange bedfellows. Yet the split is not significant enough to make the two countries overlook their political goals. “Iran talks a good religious game, but it's willing to work with secular governments for a common goal," a specialist says. And their association with Shiite Iran "gives Syrians the religious legitimacy. Many experts say geopolitical realities are bringing the two nations together in an opportunistic alliance. Syria and Iran see themselves as "two states under siege, surrounded by adversarial regimes," Lasensky says, a unified opposition against them reinforces the alliance.

A Word: US end-game?

The US hegemonic global agenda and energy goals in Mideast have not progressed the way the Neocons, fashioned on imperialist ambitions, would have liked and Pentagon stalwarts advocated and predicted. Yet, USA has made tremendous ‘progress” in Islamic world in controlling plenty their energy resources indirectly; while in Iraq it fully controls them. More importantly, Muslims are under serious threat of annihilation by the US-led anti-Islamic forces and their henchmen in the East.

USA, however, could not proceed further with annexing Iran and Syria as per the plan by invoking “Osama, WMD, democracy regime change and Axis of evils and rogues states”, etc. Had it been successful in doing so, the Islamic world would have been in shatters by now, although they are gravely threatened. And all anti-Islamic forces now in wings would have pounced upon Muslims the way they like and finished them off as “Islamic terrorists”. For quite some time now, the USA has been threatening Iran and Syria with impending aggression on nuclear pretext. Many agree that it would be tricky for the US to bomb Iran’s nuclear installations. They are thought to be spread around these countries and some facilities may be well hidden. Hence, IAEA, practically controlled by the USA, is being used against them to declare them as hidden “nuclear” states.

One wonders why Washington is concerned about Syria! USA does not want any Muslim country to become strong enough to challenge its military supremacy and now is against Syria and Iran becoming likely partners. After closed the chapters of Afghanistan and Iraq, now Uncle Sam is working on Iran and Syria. They have, however, made common cause against mutual enemies in the past.

Obviously, apart from its own superiority complex, the USA is advancing its energy agenda ad it needs Arab energy resources too! After securing them in Kuwait and Iraq, Washington is keen to gain the oil fields of Iran and Syria. Then, what about other Arab nations, especially Saudi Arabia the USA has been coercing to speed up oil production and slash prices to appease the US business giants?

After projecting Saddam Hussein as a cruel man, he was cruelly murdered by the US henchmen; after braiding the Talibans as “terrorists” the Islamic Taliban government was thrown out and their leaders have been butchered by the US henchmen; But now the efforts by the USA and its allies, small an big, to paint Iran in dirty colors have badly failed and US strategy stands exposed in the Islamic world. Iran is seen as the leader of Islamic world now. Yes, Abraham Lincoln cannot be wrong and USA cannot fool the entire world all the time.

Today, USA, the global economic and financial giant has been under terrible economic disorder. Washington’s options in Mideast are too little, rather there is none! Military and economic terrorism have been unleashed on Muslim nations and Pakistan is currently under US terror attack, while trying to strike a deal with its neighbor Hindu India on many issues including troops for terror war in Iraq and Afghanistan. After trying to cripple the economy of Afghanistan and Iraq, and keeping Iran under severe strains, the White House is now studying the possibility of tougher sanctions on Syria too, such as barring investments in the Syrian economy and preventing Syrian banks from using clearing houses in the US. But will the USA achieve their anti-Islamic goals in entirety? Will Iran ultimately crush the American hegemony and arrogance along with its military muscle?

Or, will the Neocons discover newer strategies to complete the US terrorist-cum-energy mission in Islamic world on fictitious pretexts like “democracy and rule of law” while USA itself is a global terrorist state?
- Sri Lanka Guardian

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