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                    Volume 11 |Issue 06| February 10, 2012 |


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There is more to Iran than Meets the Eye


Iran has been in the news because of its nuclear programme, which it claims is for peaceful civilian purposes and not for developing nuclear weapons, but the West will have none of it. To all intents and purposes, the Syrian crisis should be seen as a logical extension of the crisis created over Iran's nuclear programme by the West, which makes the Western pressure on Syria a proxy war against Iran.

Photo: AFP

Iran's so-called nuclear issue is not of recent making. Nor is the reason - the good old black gold - despite the hoopla created by the West to the contrary.

Iran announced in mid-2004 that it would set up an "Iranian oil bourse" to compete with the London and New York oil exchanges. The implications of an Iranian bourse succeeding in selling oil in non-dollar terms would have been profound on the financial world, especially on the hegemony of the greenback.

Now that the US is ensured of getting Iraq's oil, it is time for Iran to "fall in line". After all, the US consumes close to a quarter of the world's oil and has to ensure its steady supply to run its economy.

Syria fits into this jigsaw puzzle because it is considered close to Iran for the ties between Iran and Syria are indeed strong. Their influence extends further west to Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, where Palestinians have been subjected to greater suffering just because Hamas is in power. The condition of Palestinians in the West Bank, ruled by Fatah, is not much better, though.

Iran has the second largest natural gas reserves and the third largest oil reserves in the world, and vociferously backs the rights of the Palestinians to establish their own state. Like Iraq, Iran too is one of the oldest civilisations and home to people who value their freedom and dignity.

But Iranians' freedom to deal with their affairs to the best of their ability has been put to serious question by the presence of American, French and British warships and aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. Of course, Iran is being blamed for igniting the crisis by threatening to block the Gulf of Hormuz through which a majority of the oil tankers from and to the Middle East pass. But the situation we see in the Gulf today is certainly not only of Iran's making.

The US-led West has implemented its alternative plan by imposing more sanctions on the pretext of thwarting Iran's nuclear designs - when the real motive is to suffocate Iran. Had Iran buckled under pressure, the Syrian government would have collapsed under its own weight. Or, if the Syrian government had collapsed by now, Iran would have been easier to deal with.

Since neither of the two has happened, a US-led attack on Iran now seems threateningly possible - more so, because Israel has already read the riot act to Iran. The West doesn't want to believe Iran even after it has invited the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect its nuclear facilities. Perhaps the West wants nothing less than complete submission from Iran, and only an attack on the country can ensure that.

Once Iran is attacked, the Palestinians will be pushed farther away from the picture. The sufferings of Iranians and Syrians will become mere news clips, just like those about their Iraqi and Afghan counterparts have become. And the West will be patting itself on the back for yet another "humanitarian and democratic mission".

It is important that countries like China, Japan and India find ways to secure their supplies from Iran. India has proposed something unique: to pay for Iranian oil in gold. As novel as it may sound, the idea is simply unsustainable.

As an alternative, however, Iranian oil can be exchanged for the Chinese yuan, Japanese yen or the Indian rupee by three of Iran's largest oil importers. And for that to happen, at least China and India (and hopefully, Japan and South Korea) have to join hands and send out a clear signal to the West that they don't want another war in the Middle East. And they can count on Russia's support for that.

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2012