US-Iran tensions: Storm brewing in Persian Gulf and Indian dilemma

Published: July 16, 2019 8:01:48 PM

Iran is facing difficult times under US sanctions, as the hospitals are lacking life-saving medicines and patients are dying because of the inability of the government to import the necessary drugs due to banking sanctions.

The British hegemony in the region is based on the objective of politics of protection and guardian of the Persian Gulf.

By Dr Waiel Awwad

“Terrorism and deception are weapons not of the strong, but of the weak.”― Mahatma Gandhi

The people are suffering under severe US unilateral sanctions re-imposed by US President Donald Trump. The market has lost its luster and business as there are not many goods to display. However, both Chinese and Iraqis are visible in large numbers.

People are angry and frustrated, a fight can easily break up and shop keepers hardly care to entertain customers. Efforts are on to cope with harsh realities and fight is on to survive, especially for the low middle class of Iran. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has described it is “economic terrorism”.

On the other side, the protectionists of the Islamic revolution are busy demolishing lavish buildings of corrupt officials and confiscating their properties and unaccounted wealth. These measures keep the revolution alive and build confidence in the mass about the credibility and accountability of the government.

Iran is facing difficult times under US sanctions, as the hospitals are lacking life-saving medicines and patients are dying because of the inability of the government to import the necessary drugs due to banking sanctions. It is heartbreaking for people in a country so rich and wealthy with abundant resources. The daily life for the common is badly affected due to the lack of opportunity to earn a living.

The government has had its share of the blames of mismanagement of the economy and delayed reforms. Corrupt officials are taking full advantages of the sanctions.

Hussein, a taxi driver, well educated, polite and soft spoken will tell you all about the rich and famous in the city while driving you to your destination in a plush colony of the city. He gives you the names of the new owners of the opportunists who overnight got all the lavish buildings, towers, and malls, etc…

Sanctions are not new on Iran. In fact, people have been living under US sanction for the last four decades after the Islamic revolution. Iranians are proud people with dignity and do not compromise with the national interest. They support the government stands against the United States bullying.

The Anglo-American protectorate policy

The discovery of oil and gas in the Persian Gulf has never been a sign of prosperity for the people of the region, but has rather intensified the conflict of interest among great powers. The British hegemony in the region is based on the objective of politics of protection and guardian of the Persian Gulf. This was secured and became a protectorate of the British Empire as a British Lake and its sphere of influence especially with the rise of Arab nationalism and influence of communism where other powers started getting closer to GCC.

This protectionism policy, through gunboat diplomacy, was intensified with the discovery of natural resources and tied up with defense arrangements. These assets were bitterly, handed over to the US to remain under the Anglo-American influence and defense pacts till date with a cost. The intervention in the internal affairs of each state is evident till date, as even rulers have to get their blessing.

Inter- fighting among nations was part of the objectives to keep the region volatile, dependent on external support and revenues are kept in safe custody. It may sound harsh but this is the fact if we look at the chronology of conflicts and events till date. The tribe wars, the family of rulers disputes, sectarian violence, extremism, and terrorism.

The flip flop in the US foreign policy toward many countries under President Trump, including Iran and Afghanistan, is making the allies uneasy. Trump had pledged during his election campaign to cancel the Iranian nuclear deal signed by his predecessor President Barack Obama. This was without any alternative strategy to please his domestic constituency and ensure Israel’s security and dominance in the region. Similarly, in Afghanistan, he is speaking to “good Taliban” for US early exit of US troops from there.

The geopolitical importance of Iran attracts all great powers

Tehran understands this and that is why it is not interested in developing Nuclear weapons but a deterrence force to defend itself against any aggression. Ironically, it was the US who was helping the Shah of Iran to build a nuclear plant. But the supreme leader issued a fatwa against possession of a nuclear weapon or any weapon of mass destruction (WMD). That is why President Trump wants to include Iran’s ballistic capabilities and put a list of demands for renegotiating a new deal which is bluntly refused by Tehran.

The general impression is that the unilateral sanction and extreme pressure by Trump administration are meant to force Iran to go nuclear and not abandon its civil nuclear program. Otherwise, how can one understand a tweet from Trump bringing him closer to his counterpart President Kim Jong-un of North Korea, while sending warships, jet fighters and unmanned spy planes to the Persian Gulf? Moreover denying Iran of even civil nuclear program while turning a blind eye of Israel nuclear arsenal!

India’s Dilemma

India is finding it difficult to cope with the White House policy toward Iran and is under US pressure that could cost her a valuable ally and regional strategic partner. Taliban is emerging again with the help of the US and allies. Chabahar port where India invested heavily is in jeopardy despite the fact that both sides are speaking of an increased volume of loading and unloading of goods.

The close cloak of secrecy in the South Block makes it difficult to analyze New Delhi’s position toward Iran, beyond the official lines about the good ties between the two nations. It is difficult to ignore Iran`s oil deal and mode of payment where Iran used to be the second largest supplier of oil to India after Saudi Arabia.

Unlike Russia and China, who continue to do business with Iran ignoring the American diktat and threat, New Delhi is complying with US threat and trying to balance its act without irritating its regional ally.

Syria was the flashpoint in Russian foreign policy towards the US when Moscow said no to regime change policy adopted by the US and saved Syria from collapsing under terrorist groups supported by the US and NATO-Sheikhdom allies.

Can great power India resists US pressure to cut its economic relation with Iran?

The enrichment of Uranium by Iran under IAIA is reversible step and so is Trump’s decision to pull out of the nuclear deal.

The lust for the rich region will keep Anglo-American plan to dominate the region. The paradigm strategic shift in the policy is merely to cope with the disarray in the international world order. The support of Saudi led war on Yemen should not be ignored if we intend to understand the real intention of dominating the control on the global trade and oil passages from these two important points. President Trump said that the US is no more relying on the Persian Gulf oil but China and other nations. Hence keeping the tension high will serve the American empty coffers by increasing the bills on other dependent nations on the oil supply from the region like India, China, Japan, South Korea, and other Asian nations.

The maximum pressure campaign by the US on Iran will not yield any result but flourish black market and back doors deals. Remember the Contra-gate? It was US and Israel the two adversaries of Iran revolution who sold weapons to Iran during the first Gulf war. The same duo is leading the campaign against Tehran.

The US has no right to start a new war the region and regional powers cannot remain, bystanders, where their national interest at risk. They must prevent it, makes peace as a strategic option and find a solution to put an end to perpetual wars.

(The author is an independent West Asia Expert. Views expressed are personal).

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