The Threat of War Against Iran and Syria is Real

Map of Arab League states in dark green, Iran ...

For those who think that the United States wouldn’t possibly instigate another war in the Middle East, think again. Empowered by his “success” in the bombing of Libya and consequent assassination of Muammar Qaddafi, Obama is now seeking to use the exact same strategy against Syria, while using alarming military threats against Iran. In both cases the U.S. is creating the conditions for war in a region that is already boiling over from decades of U.S. backed dictators combined with past U.S. military aggression.

In Syria, the Libya war formula is being implemented with precision: in the name of protecting “human rights,” the U.S. is enlisting the Arab League to open the gates for a U.S.-backed “coalition” of regional countries to implement a “no fly zone,” i.e. war.

Numerous U.S. news outlets reported–without verification– that protesters in Syria were “demanding a no fly zone” and an “Arab army” to invade and topple the Syrian government.

The U.S. is attempting to channel the popular protests in Syria into “regime change,” with the end goal of having a future regime that will serve U.S. interests better than the present one. The “leaders” of the Syrian opposition are handpicked and very friendly with the United States. This non-representative leadership is now asking the United States for military intervention. The Daily Beast reports:

“… the Obama administration is preparing options for aiding the Syrian opposition directly [militarily]. Two administration officials tell Foreign Policy that a small group of representatives from several [U.S.] agencies has convened to discuss extending humanitarian aid [military aid] to the Syrian rebels and appointing a special coordinator to work with them. They also discussed establishing a humanitarian [military] corridor along the Turkish border, but that would require establishing a no-fly zone…” (December 29, 2011).

The above usage of the word “humanitarian” to describe military action is used unquestionably by the U.S. government and media alike, after having been media-tested in Libya. It is highly unlikely that working people of any Middle Eastern country would invite the U.S. Army in to “help” them, especially after the U.S. military destroyed Iraq and left the country on the verge of civil war while continuing to pummel Afghanistan, pretending this is a war it can win. Libya is still smoldering from the U.S. assistance.

The lie of humanitarian intervention is best exposed when U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia are considered: On December 29th the Obama Administration agreed to send $30 billion worth of sophisticated weaponry to one of the most repressive regimes in human history. The U.S. media publishes anti- Syria “humanitarian” news and Saudi arm sales on the same page, on the same day, without a second thought as to the hypocrisy in plain sight.

To shield the U.S. motives and U.S. weaponry used in a possible Syria attack, the Arab League will again be enlisted. What is the Arab League? Most of the Arab League consists of nations that have very close political/military ties to the U.S. and are utterly dependent on the U.S. for weaponry and political support. is not an exaggeration to call the Arab League diplomatic puppets of the U.S. The membership of the Arab League includes the brutal dictatorships of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, United Arab Emigrates, Egypt, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Sudan, etc., nearly all exist purely because of U.S. military/police support.

Syria has pointed out the hypocrisy of the Arab League’s humanitarian “monitors,” headed by a Sudanese General long known for being an enemy of human rights. The Associated Press correctly noted that Syria’s complaints about the Sudanese General:

“…raises troubling questions about whether Arab League member states, with some of the world’s poorest human rights records, were fit for the mission to monitor compliance with a plan to end to the crackdown on political opponents by security forces loyal to President Bashar Assad.” (December 29, 2011).

If the Arab League expels Syria from its membership, as it did Libya, the U.S./ Arab “coalition” will have been given the green light for a military “humanitarian” invasion. If an “Arab army” does invade Syria for “humanitarian” purposes, it be under the direction and assistance of the U.S. military, which will–as in Libya– be the behind-the-scenes leader, coordinating actions while providing military intelligence for the invasion. All of the dropped bombs will be “made in the USA.”

The Iranian situation is no better. The new economic sanctions that the Obama administration plans to implement equal an act of war against Iran, since they would have a crippling effect on Iran’s economy. Sanctions are used in this case to provoke, and when Iran reacted by threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz (a vital trade point), the U.S. military instantly responded. The spokesperson for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, Lt. Rebecca Rebarich, threatened Iran by saying: [the U.S. Navy] is always ready to counter malevolent actions to ensure freedom of navigation.” This is a blatant threat of war. Obama’s silence implies agreement.

Many other high-ranking U.S. government officials have recently made highly provocative war comments against Iran in the media, focusing on the “near future” threat of Iran having a nuclear weapon. There is no concrete evidence that Iran is anywhere near having a nuclear weapon, just like no evidence existed proving that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The constant rhetoric against Iran having a nuclear weapon is dishonest hyperbole; even if Iran were to obtain nuclear weapons it would have little motivation to use them, since Israel could easily obliterate Iran with its arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Attacking Syria and/or Iran opens the door to a wider regional or even international war. Reuters reports:

“Russia is sending a flotilla of warships to its naval base in Syria in a show of force which suggests Moscow is willing to defend its interests in the strife-torn country as international pressure mounts on President Bashar al-Assad‘s government…Russia, which has a naval maintenance base in Syria and whose weapons trade with Damascus is worth millions of dollars annually, joined China last month to veto a Western-backed U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Assad’s government.” (November 28, 2011).

Russian military officials have stated that having a military presence in Syria is meant, in part, to act as a deterrent against foreign attacks. This is because Syria is an ally and trading partner of Russia. If Russia were to invade Saudi Arabia for “humanitarian” purposes, would not the United States jump to defend it?

The international situation is on the verge of a larger explosion, with Russia and China viewing the U.S. actions in Libya– and possibly Syria and Iran–as attacks on their border, threatening their own national security.

The U.S. is assuming that Russia or China will not respond militarily, but they’ve been wrong before. When President Bush Jr. gave the green light to the President of Georgia–a U.S. puppet– to attack South Ossetia, Russia surprised everyone by responding militarily and crushing Georgia’s invasion. If an “Arab army” invades Syria and Russia again responds, the U.S. will no doubt become directly involved.

The game of war is often played like poker, where one nation bluffs and hopes the other folds. Obama’s reckless provocations have a limit that may soon be reached, at the expense of the Middle Eastern people and possibly the rest of us. If the U.S. becomes militarily involved with Syria and Iran, it is up to the working people of the U.S. to mobilize in massive numbers in the streets to prevent such an attack.

Shamus Cooke is a social worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org)

Letter to President Barack Obama on Imposing Sanctions against Islamic Republic Central Bank and oil exports

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC. 20500

Re: Imposing Sanctions against Islamic Republic Central Bank and oil exports

Dear Mr. President,

We, the undersigned, are a diverse but united group of pro-democracy Americans and Iranian-Americans expressing our astonishment and anger in the strongest terms regarding your continued misguided policies toward Iran and your administration’s opposition and refusal to placing of meaningful sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

We are appalled to hear yet again your administration continues to appease the Islamic Republic, a regime designated by the United States State Department as a “state sponsor of terrorism” and has now surpassed China on the issue of human rights violations. The Iranian mullahs routinely use torture, whipping, rape, stoning, hangings and mass executions have been well documented by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations.

The recent amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act authored by Senators Robert Menendez and Mark Kirk had an unprecedented support as demonstrated by the unanimous approval (100-0) in the Senate requiring sanctions on financial institutions that do business with the Central Bank of Iran. Next to oil, that finances the IRI’s terrorist activities, the Central Bank is the financial nerve center of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the entity directly responsible for regime’s proliferation procurement efforts.

Secretary Clinton rightfully stated on the Voice of America that the Iranian regime is a “dictatorship” and warned that the regime is moving towards a “military dictatorship.” For over three decades, various governments have used dialogue and diplomacy with the regime hoping to bring it to the negotiations table, to no avail. Starting with the administration of President Jimmy Carter, who did everything possible to assure the new regime of America’s friendship and the more that countries have tried to engage the regime’s leaders, the more emboldened and abusive they have become.

Mr. President there is proof beyond a shadow of a doubt Iran is developing a nuclear weapon. The United States should not accept an Iran with nuclear weapons. Regime’s nuclear ambitions frighten Iranians and threaten the national security of the United States and its allies. The Central Bank of Iran is complicit in Iran’s nuclear venture by financing the Iranian efforts to acquire the knowledge, material and facilities to enrich uranium and to ultimately develop weapons of mass destruction.

Since the revolution, the regime’s first priority has consistently remained the survival of the regime and not the well being of the Iranian people. The criminal regime’s ideological goal is to be able to export its theocratic form of government, its version of Shi’a Islam. To ensure regime survival, mullahs have also extended support to governments and dissident groups that oppose U.S. interests. Diplomacy, economic leverage, soft power, and active sponsorship of terrorist and paramilitary groups are tools this regime uses to drive its aggressive foreign policy. In particular, it uses terrorism to pressure or intimidate other countries. The most notable example of this strategy includes Iran’s support for Lebanese Hezbollah as well as its influence over proxy groups in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iran seeks to increase its stature by countering U.S. influence and expanding ties with regional actors while advocating Islamic solidarity. The regime is attempting to achieve political, economic and security influence in Iraq and Afghanistan while undermining U.S. efforts by supporting various political groups and furnishing lethal aid to Iraqi Shi’a militants and Afghan insurgents. In an attempt to increase influence in the Levant, the regime provides weapons, training and financing to Hezbollah, its strategic partner.

The Iranian-American community is perplexed about the duplicitous message you and Secretary Clinton are trying to convey. We were certainly hoping that after your first New Year’s message when you offered your hand and received a clenched fist and, did not respond to demonstrators chants of “Obama, Obama, are you with them or with us?” and you remained inexcusably silent, while Iranians were beaten and gunned down by Basij, Hezbollah and Hamas thugs. After all this, one would think that your administration would consider a shift in its ill-conceived policy toward Iran.

Mr. President, the Iranian community urges you to keep the following points in mind when dealing with the rapist regime:

• Many rulers have conquered Iran throughout our history. They might have managed to destroy our cities, and burn our books but have failed to destroy our identity, culture and love of life. Conqueror after conqueror has eventually succumbed to our rich culture, customs, traditions and intellect. Mullahs have tried to destroy our Persian identity and have failed miserably. Brave Iranian youth are now launching a cultural war against their oppressive theocratic rulers.

• Iranians have first-hand witnessed the atrocities committed by the theocratic rulers under the Islamic law. Your strategy by not confronting the mullahs and your continued readiness to pursue dialogue and diplomacy with a regime that has American blood on its hands is an insult to Iranian-Americans and the families of our brave U.S. military men and women who have lost their lives defending the values we cherish so dearly.

• Attempts to negotiate and isolate have not deterred the regime. While you are trying to force mullahs to the negotiations table, they are supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan against NATO forces. Your empty threat, doubletalk and appeasement policies embolden the regime to commit even more atrocities. If you continue the half-measure policies of the past thirty three years, the regime will continue to kill more Americans and commit more human rights violations. That is a legacy you respectfully do not need to leave behind.

• About 75% of the IRI’s revenues come from oil, a blessing and curse for Iranians. With an effective oil embargo the regime will be weakened and unable to meet its financial obligations, causing mass desertions, giving the Iranian oppositions groups the ability to rise up against the regime. We strongly believe that Iran’s Persian Gulf neighbors are so outraged by the recent terror plot against the Saudi diplomat and alarmed at the danger posed by a nuclear armed Islamic Republic that they are willing to increase their oil production to make up for any likely shortage.

Ultimately, in the final analysis, the strengthening of Iran sanctions for the purpose of compelling the regime leaders to abandon their pursuit of nuclear weapons is a futile effort. In a recently released survey by Zogby, Iranian-Americans want the regime to change. Only 6% of Iranian-Americans believe that an Islamic Republic works well in Iran. Iranians are asking for a change in U.S. policy towards Iran. They have witnessed this regime in action for 33 years. They have reached the conclusion that this regime cannot be reformed. They are demanding a regime change. They want a free, democratic and secular form of government. The real and long-term solution lies in meaningful support for the pro-democracy and pro-West Iranians inside and outside of Iran.

We are concerned about the degree of infiltration of Islamic extremists and regime lobbyists in the United States. During the Rafsanjani presidency, it was decided to create an Iranian lobby in Washington to distract the United States from the regime’s human rights violations, worldwide insurgencies and their nuclear weapons’ program. Consequently, the regime spends millions annually to shape the US policy and to prevent the Iranian opposition from forming a united front. The Iranian community is well aware that the IRI lobby is hard at work disguising the regime’s crimes. Their influence was clearly evident after your refusal to honor the will of over 300 million Americans expressed through their respective Senators.

We respectfully ask that no person from the United States government be permitted to contact any person that is an agent, or official of, is affiliated with, or serving as a representative of or lobbies for the government of Iran. We urge for the inclusion of secular and pro-democracy opposition groups in your decision-making if the United States is to have effective and robust policy on Iran. There are many independent experts and opposition leaders who can provide a more honest and accurate assessment of the current situation and opposition forces inside and outside Iran.

We take issue with regime apologist’s dishonest claim that sanctions punish the “ordinary” Iranians. It is our belief that the majority of Iranians have been subjected to the most inhumane conditions by the oppressive regime and a temporary hardship is a sacrifice they are willing to make to rid themselves of the rapist regime. With persistent inflation and unemployment above 25%, millions of Iranians living below the poverty line, deprivation of basic human rights, suppressions of free speech, arbitrary arrests, torture and rapes, the ordinary Iranians have been punished under the Islamic Republic’s dictatorship for over three decades. Efforts for removal of sanctions are spearheaded by the IRGC and Iranian-American businessmen and the big oil to ensure their lucrative financial contracts on the backs of ordinary Iranians.

The IRI regime is in crisis. There is no better time. The imposition of an oil embargo and sanctioning of the IRI’s Central Bank now will empower the opposition groups inside and outside Iran to unite and rise up against this criminal regime. It is well past time that you align yourself with the people who have suffered brutally at the hands of dictators and tyrants. It is time to give honor, dignity, moral imperatives and ethical values precedence over lucrative financial contracts proposed by lobbyists and wealthy Iranians that often occur, wrongly, at the expense of ordinary citizens’ lives.

The United States must have an enduring commitment to encourage democracy and human rights throughout the world and cannot ignore the fact that the current regime in Iran is a major threat to the world’s economic stability and world peace. You must encourage and support every group that truly advocates freedom and the rule of law and oppose any regime that denies such progress. At this time, Iran is dominated by a vicious dictator who has proven his lack of concern for Iranians on countless occasions. There should be no question that the United States must have every ethical, moral and strategic reason to encourage Iranian democratic movements. The Iranian opposition groups hope to establish a co-operative relationship with the American people and seek their strategic and non-military support in establishing a secular and democratic government in Iran.

Mr. President, over 2,500 years ago, Iran was ruled by a great king called Cyrus the Great, he is best remembered for the first declaration of human rights and unprecedented tolerance and a magnanimous attitude towards those he defeated. The Hellenes, whom he conquered, regarded him as ‘Law-giver’ and the Jews as ‘the anointed of the Lord.’ Current regime’s conduct on the world stage, especially at the UN is a source of shame to us proud, civilized and educated Iranians.

Mr. President, many presidents have led this nation through times of national crisis and celebration, economic ups and downs, through horrendous wars and times of peace. Their politics, personalities and leadership skills have shaped the United Sates as the great country it is today. Each man who has held the office of President of the United States–from George Washington to George W. Bush—has left behind a unique legacy. Be the change you promised during your presidential campaign! Show astute leadership by making Iran the centerpiece of your honorable political and personal legacy. Change the course of 33 years of the blatant human rights violations, destitution, crimes, torture, rapes and hangings inflicted on the Iranian people. Make history. Leave behind a free and democratic Iran, the island of stability in the Middle East, as your legacy. Be the change you promised, the change we all believed in and voted for!