إيران على رأس لائحة القوى الإقليمية !

أكتوبر 5, 2019

د. وفيق ابراهيم

أربعة عقود بدت كافية لتنتقل إيران من جمهورية اسلامية تتعرض لحروب ومقاطعات وحصار وبشكل متواصل الى دولة إقليمية وازنة تجيد الدفاع عن مسألتين: أراضيها وتحالفاتها وبالتالي إقليميتها.

لم تصل إيران الى هذا النجاح إلا بعد صراع مفتوح ومستمر مع الولايات المتحدة الأميركية التي استهدفتها منذ اعلان جمهوريتها الإسلامية في 1979، حتى استنفدت كامل آلياتها بدءاً من العراق في مرحلة 1980 1988 ومصر والسعودية و»إسرائيل» وتركيا وباكستان.

اليوم بعد 40 عاماً على ولادة جمهوريتها الإسلامية تشارك إيران اواخر هذا الشهر مع روسيا والصين في مناورات بحرية في المحيط الهندي المتصل ببحري الأحمر والخليج بما يشبه رسالة حادة لمن يهمه الأمر بولادة ائتلاف بين القطبين الروسي والصيني اللذين دخلا في نظام القوة الاساسية في العالم في اطار معادلة متعددة الرؤوس وبين إيران التي تمكنت من التربع على أعلى الدرجات في لائحة الدول الإقليمية في الشرق الاوسط.

كيف احتلت الجمهورية هذا الموقع؟

التأكيد على تميّزها، ليس مديحاً انشائياً ليس له ما يعادله، والدليل بدأ مع الحرب العراقية التي شنها الرئيس العراقي السابق صدام حسين عليها لثماني سنوات متتالية 1980 1988 مستغلاً حالة الضعف والإرباك التي عاشها بعد سقوط دولة الشاه في 1979.

اما خصائص هذه الحرب فعراقيتها عسكرياً وتغطيتها الأميركية وتمويلها الخليجي الكامل والتأييد العربي الإسرائيلي لها. سورية بمفردها وقفت ضد هذه الحرب، لكن إيران نجت بدفاع مستميت استلزم أعواماً ثمانية حتى دحرت العراقيين الى بلادهم في معارك عنيفة أوقفها الخميني عند حدود بلاده مع العراق.

وهكذا أسقطت إيران مشروعاً صدامياً كان يريد دوراً لبلاده في الإقليم.

كما منعت إيران مصر من نشر ثقافة الاستسلام باتفاق كمب ديفيد الذي عقدته مع «إسرائيل» 1979 فمولت وسلحت قوى فلسطينية ولبنانية مقاومة. ودخلت بشكل مباشر للدفاع عن عراق ما بعد صدام في وجه إرهاب مدعوم من تركيا وعالمياً وأميركياً فنجحت مع القوى العراقية المتحالفة معها في دحره وتحقيق توازن لمصلحتها في عراق لا يزال قسمٌ منه محتلاً من الأميركيين.

بذلك أعادت التوازن الى القضية الفلسطينية وحالت دون القضاء عليها، هذا بالإضافة الى دعمها المباشر لسورية تمويلياً وعسكرياً واستشارياً في وجه إرهاب دولي بمئات آلاف المسلحين 2001 2019.

لقد تمكنت إيران الإسلامية في الحروب على الارهاب من القضاء على ادوار قوتين إقليميتين هما تركيا و»إسرائيل» كما اصابت الدور الإقليمي السعودي في لبنان وسورية والعراق ومنعته من التمدد نحو الداخل الإيراني، كما كان يخطط ولي العهد محمد بن سلمان.

هناك اذاً دولٌ كانت تتمتع بأدوار إقليمية اساسية في الشرق الاوسط، وهي مصر والعراق والسعودية وتركيا تراجعت لمصلحة تقدم الدور الإيراني.

هذا الى جانب المجابهة الإيرانية الإسرائيلية في ميادين سورية والعراق والتي انتهت بدورها او على وشك ان تنتهي بعجز إسرائيلي عن إحداث اي تغيير في معادلة المنطقة.

لجهة تركيا فتحاول إيران استيعابها بتنظيم التباين في وجهات نظريهما في سورية والعراق، مقابل التعاون في وجه الحصار الأميركي المستهدف للبلدين معاً.

فلا يتبقى إلا باكستان من الدول القادرة على أداء دور إقليمي في الشرق الاوسط، لكنها تجنح تاريخياً لأداء هذه الادوار في آسيا الوسطى وتخشى من تحالف إيراني مع الهند العدو اللدود لباكستان.

لذلك اعتمدت إيران لتحييد باكستان النووية الخاضعة للنفوذ الأميركي وذات العلاقة المميّزة بالسعودية على عناصر عدة لمنع استغلال باكستان في حصارها.

أول هذه العناصر هو الغاز الإيراني الذي تستورد باكستان منه كميات كبيرة، الى جانب التبادل الاقتصادي بينهما الذي يصل الى 15 مليار دولار، أما العناصر الأخرى فتعرضهما المشترك لأخطار قومية «البلوش» الموجودين في مناطق حدودية بين البلدين ويريدون الانفصال عن إيران وباكستان. هذا بالاضافة الى ان 30 في المئة من الباكستانيين هم من الشيعة.

لذلك فضلت باكستان عدم الانجرار في إطار الخطة الأميركية السعودية لمهاجمة إيران. واكتفت بحياد دقيق حرصاً على أمنها الخارجي والداخلي.

بذلك تكون الجمهورية الإسلامية استهلكت بالكامل معظم الآليات الشرق اوسطية العاملة في اطار الخطة الأميركية، وهي مصر والسعودية وعراق صدام وتركيا و»إسرائيل» وباكستان. وهذا لا يعني انها انهتها كافة في المنطقة، لكنها استوعبت خطرها بوسائل عسكرية وسياسية واقتصادية واسهمت بتشكل حلف كبير يساندها من افغانستان الى اليمن فالعراق وسورية ولبنان.

فهل يمكن نسيان إسقاطها طائرة مسيرة أميركية واحتجازها بارجة بريطانية ونجاح حلفائها اليمنيين في تفجير مصافي أرامكو وتحرير 500 كيلومتر مربع في أعالي الحدود اليمنية، وسيطرة حلفائها في العراق وسورية ولبنان على السياسة في بلدانهم.

في إطار هذه المعطيات التي تؤكد على الدور الإقليمي الكبير لإيران وتفوقها على المنافسين، يمكن استيعاب اسباب الإصرار الروسي الصيني على التحالف مع إيران وتنظيم مناورات عسكرية معها في المحيط الهندي.

وهذا اعتراف واضح بنجاح الجمهورية الإسلامية في تثبيت دور إقليمي كبير يقف غير بعيد عن أبواب القوى العالمية المتعددة القطب، في معظم القارات التي أصبحت متيقنة من أن إيران باب رئيسي وازن للشرق الأوسط الجديد

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Sayyed Nasrallah’s Interview with Masseer Especial Journal [Part 1]

Sayyed Nasrallah’s Interview with Masseer Especial Journal [Part 1]

Translated by Khamenei.ir

Masseer Especial Journal, which belongs to Khamenei.ir, has conducted an interview with His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which is published for the first time.

The following is part one of the interview:

I would like to start the interview by asking you how the situation in the region was, at the time when the Islamic Revolution became victorious. How was the situation in the West Asian region? Particularly given that one of the important dimensions of the Islamic Revolution is its regional and international implications, what changes occurred in the regional equations following the Islamic Revolution and what events have we witnessed? With the Islamic Revolution gaining victory, what took place in the region in general and in Lebanon in particular?

In the name of God the Beneficent, the Merciful. First, I would like to welcome you. If we go back to the past and observe the developments, we will find that, very shortly before the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, a very significant incident took place in the region, namely the withdrawal of the Arab Republic of Egypt from the Arab-‘Israeli’ conflict and the signing of the Camp David Treaty. This event—due to the important and effective role of Egypt in the aforementioned conflict—had a very dangerous impact on the region as well as on the Arab-‘Israeli’ confrontation over the issue of Palestine and the future of Palestine.

After that incident, in the first place, it seemed that the confrontation was going on largely in favor of ‘Israel’. This was mainly because other Arab countries and Palestinian resistance groups were not able to confront major powers without the help of Egypt at that time. So, firstly, the occurrence of such an incident led to the emergence of a deep division among Arab countries.

Secondly, you remember that at the time, there was a US-led Western bloc opposing the USSR. Therefore, there existed a split in our region: the gap between the countries associated with the Soviet Union—that is, the Eastern bloc—and the countries depending on the United States, the Western bloc.

Accordingly, we could see a deep divide among the Arab countries in the region, and this gap had devastating consequences for the nations and of course, also had an impact on the Arab-‘Israeli’ conflict. At the time, the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States essentially affected our region and its developments.

In the case of Lebanon, it should be said that Lebanon is also part of this region, and thus, it has been severely affected by its developments, including ‘Israeli’ actions, the Arab-‘Israeli’ conflict, and the divisions in the region. At that time, Lebanon faced domestic problems as well, and was suffering from the civil war. The ‘Israeli’ enemy occupied parts of southern Lebanon in 1978, that is one year before the Islamic Revolution, and then created a security zone called the “border strip” on the Lebanese-Palestinian borders. The ‘Israeli’ enemy, through this security zone, continued its daily aggression against Lebanon, its cities, villages and people. Indeed, we faced a very serious problem: the ‘Israeli’ occupation in parts of southern Lebanon and its daily aggressions. ‘Israeli’ warplanes and their artillery bombed southern Lebanon; abduction operations and multiple explosions by the Zionist regime continued in its worst form, and people were displaced following these brutal acts. These events also took place between 1977 and 1979; that is, not long before the victory of the Islamic Revolution.

Did they use the Palestinian presence in Lebanon as the pretext?

Yes; the ‘Israelis’ objected the existence of Palestinian resistance and operations carried out by Palestinians. However, this was just an excuse because ‘Israeli’s’ runs of aggressions in southern Lebanon began in 1948, when Palestinian resistance was not present in southern Lebanon. Palestinian resistance set base in southern Lebanon in the late 60s and early 1970s, especially after the events in Jordan and the arrival of Palestinian groups from Jordan in Lebanon.

It was in those circumstances that the Islamic Revolution of Iran gained victory. This victory came at a time when an atmosphere of despair was dominant in the Arab and Muslim world and concern for the future was widespread. Egypt’s withdrawal from the Arab-‘Israeli’ conflict and the signature of the Camp David Treaty, the imposition of a humiliating political process on the Palestinians and Arabs, as well as the weakness of the rulers of the Arab countries all provoked the despair, grief, hopelessness, disappointment, and worry for the future at that time. Therefore, the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran in such an environment, revived the lost hopes in the region and among the nations to begin with, particularly the Palestinian and Lebanese people.

This victory (the victory of the Islamic Revolution) also brought about the resurgence of the hopes of a nation that had been cornered by the existence of ‘Israel’. Because the position of Imam Khomeini (Q.S. – May his spirit be blessed) regarding the Zionist project, the necessity of the liberation of Palestine, and standing shoulder to shoulder with Palestinian resistance groups was clear from the beginning. Imam Khomeini (r.a) believed in supporting the people of Palestine, liberating every inch of the land, and obliteration of the ‘Israeli’ entity as a usurping regime in the region. Therefore, the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran created a growing hope for the future and increased a hundred fold the moral and motivation of the supporters of the resistance as well as the resistance groups in the region.

The victory of the Islamic Revolution also created a balance of power in the region. Egypt fled the fight against ‘Israel’ and the Islamic Republic of Iran entered. Therefore, the balance of power in the Arab-‘Israeli’ conflict was restored, and for this reason, the resistance project in the region entered a new historical phase. This was the starting point for the Islamic movement and jihad in the Arab and Muslim world and among Shi’as and Sunnis alike.

Imam Khomeini (Q.S.) introduced several mottos regarding various subjects such as the question of Palestine, Islamic unity, Resistance, facing and confronting the United States of America, stability and sustainability, trust and confidence of nations in God and in themselves, revival of faith in one’s own power when confronting the arrogant powers and towards the realization of victory. Undoubtedly, these mottos had a very positive and direct impact on the situation in the region at that time.

In addition to the general atmosphere created by the Islamic Revolution and the new spirit that Imam [Khomeini (r.a)] inspired in the hearts of the people of the region, resurrecting the resistance, what memory do you specifically have of Imam Khomeini and his stances regarding the resistance in Lebanon and by Hezbollah?

Yes, in the year 1982. If we want to talk about it, we should consider the liberation of Khorramshahr in Iran. The ‘Israelis’ were deeply concerned about the war between Iran and Iraq, or Saddam’s imposed war against Iran. For this reason, after the liberation of Khorramshahr, the ‘Israelis’ decided to attack Lebanon. Of course, this action had its own root causes, and there was a profound connection between the victories in the Iranian front and the ‘Israeli’ aggression against Lebanon. This was how the ‘Israelis’ entered Lebanon, Beqaa region, Mount Lebanon Governorate, and Beirut suburbs. At that time, a group of scholars, brothers and fighters had decided to form the Islamic Resistance and establish the Islamic-Jihadi foundation of [the movement of] Resistance, corresponding to the aftermath of ‘Israeli’ invasion.

By then, ‘Israel’ had not penetrated in all of Lebanon and had only reached about half of Lebanon—that is 40% of Lebanon’s total area. 100,000 ‘Israeli’ soldiers entered Lebanon. They brought with them American, French, English and Italian multinational forces on the pretext of maintaining peace. Meanwhile, there were militias in Lebanon who were involved with and collaborated with the ‘Israelis’. By pointing to these facts, I mean to picture how very, very bad the situation was at that time.

Subsequently, a group of scholars (ulema), believers, and Mujahid brothers decided to launch a new movement for Jihad in the name of Islamic Resistance, which shortly afterwards was renamed “Hezbollah.” The formation of this front coincided with the decision of Imam Khomeini (Q.S.) to send Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forces to Syria and Lebanon to oppose and confront ‘Israeli’ aggression. Initially, the intention was for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps troops to fight alongside Syrian forces as well as Lebanese and Palestinian resistance groups. But after some time the scope of ‘Israeli’ attacks became limited, so this was no longer a classic battlefield, and the need for resistance operations by popular groups was felt more than ever.

It was at that time that Imam Khomeini (QS) replaced the mission of direct confrontation by the IRGC and Iranian forces, who had come to Syria and Lebanon, by offering help and providing military training to Lebanese youth, so that they—i.e. the Lebanese youth themselves—would be able to deal with the occupiers and carry out resistance operations. This is the first [of Imam Khomeini’s positions].

Therefore, the mission of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps forces in Syria, as well as the Lebanese Beqaa region—in Baalbek, Hermel and Janta, that is, where there were training bases—was changed to providing military training to the Lebanese youth. They taught the Lebanese youths the methods of warfare and provided them with logistic support. The mere presence of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Lebanon at that time gave the Lebanese youth and Resistance groups a purpose and a high spirit to stand up to ‘Israel’.

As I said earlier, it was decided that a large group would be formed and nine representatives were selected on behalf of the pro-resistance brothers, including the martyr Sayyed Abbas al Moussawi (r.a), to pursue this important issue. Naturally, I was not among these nine people, because at that time I was young, about 22 or 23 years old. These 9 people travelled to Iran and met with the officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran. They also had a meeting with Imam Khomeini (QS). During their meeting with Imam Khomeini (r.a), while offering him a report on the latest developments in Lebanon and the region, they presented their proposal for the formation of an Islamic resistance front. They said to Imam Khomeini (r.a): “We believe in your guidance, your authority (wilayah) and your leadership. Tell us what we need to do.”

In return, Imam Khomeini (r.a) insisted that their duty was to resist and stand against the enemy in full force, even if you have limited means and are in smaller numbers. This is while Hezbollah had a smaller number of members then. He said: “Start from scratch: trust in the Almighty God, and do not wait for anyone in the world to help you. Rely on yourself and know that God helps you. I see you victorious.” It was an amazing thing. Imam Khomeini (r.a) regarded this path as auspicious, and thus, the meeting during which our brothers met with him, laid the foundation stone for the formation of the Islamic resistance front, under the auspicious title of ‘Hezbollah’, in Lebanon.

At that time, our brothers told Imam: “We believe in your guidance, authority and leadership, but in any case, you are very busy, and you are at an old age, and we cannot allow ourselves to continuously disturb you about different issues and problems. For this reason, we are asking you to name a representative to whom we can refer on various issues.” Then he introduced Imam Khamenei (May God continue his oversight), who was the president at the time, and said: “Mr. Khamenei is my representative.” Consequently, the relationship between Hezbollah and Ayatollah Khamenei (May God protect him) began from the very early hours of the establishment and foundation of this group; we were always in contact with him in different times, we met with him frequently and gave him reports on the latest developments and he always praised the resistance.

I remember the issue of several Hezbollah martyrdom-seeking members. You know that the first experience of a martyrdom-seeking operation took place in Lebanon, and was conducted by our brothers. The brothers sent a video file—before publicizing it in the media—containing oral testaments of those fighters seeking martyrdom, who had carried out a major martyrdom operation in Lebanon, and had shaken the invaders to their core. This video was played for Imam Khomeini, and he watched it and discussed it. The testaments were very beautiful and full of enthusiasm, mysticism and love. After watching the testaments, Imam Khomeini (r.a) said: “These are young [chivalrous] people. All of them were young.” He then said: “These are the true mystics.” The fact is that the Imam was strongly affected by the testaments.

Imam Khomeini’s collaboration, support for, and attention to the resistance and Hezbollah of Lebanon continued until the very last day of his auspicious life. I remember about one or two months before the passing of Imam Khomeini (r.a), when he was ill and rarely met with domestic officials and even less with foreign officials, I went to Iran as a member and an executive official of the Hezbollah council and met with Ayatollah Khamenei, late Ayatollah Rafsanjani and other Iranian officials, and asked if I could have a meeting with Imam Khomeini. I was told that he is ill and does not meet with anyone. I asked them to try and they agreed to do their best. Then I went to the office of Imam Khomeini (r.a) and put in a request for an appointment. At the time, one of our friends among Imam Khomeini’s household, Sheikh Rahimian (May God protect him)—who paid particular attention to the Lebanese—shared the matter with the late Sayed Ahmad Khomeini (r.a), and I was informed on the second day to get ready for a meeting. Naturally, we were all surprised. I went to meet Imam Khomeini (r.a) and nobody else was there, not even Sayed Ahmad; not even any of the Foreign Ministry’s officials or IRGC staff, who would usually attend the meetings, were there. Sheikh Rahimian accompanied me to Imam’s room but then went and left me alone with Imam. I was overwhelmed and awed by his presence.

Imam Khomeini was sitting on a high chair and I sat down on the floor. Awestruck by his grandeur, I could not say a word. Imam asked me to get closer. I went closer and sat next to him. We spoke and I handed to him a letter I had brought with me. Imam answered the questions I had shared with him regarding the developments of that time in Lebanon, then smiled and said: “Tell all our brothers not to worry. My brothers and I in the Islamic Republic of Iran are all with you. We will always be with you “. This was my last meeting with Imam Khomeini (r.a).

I wish we had time to hear more extensively from you about that time. Thanks again for the opportunity you gave us. You said that, Hezbollah was formed and began its activities during a very difficult time. You correctly mentioned that Iran itself was dealing with an invasion of its borders. In Lebanon, the Zionist regime periodically attacked the people and committed murder and plunder, and in any case, Hezbollah began its work in such a difficult situation. You also said that Imam Khomeini referred you to Ayatollah Khamenei to be in touch with him. I would like to ask you to point out some of the important pieces of advice that Ayatollah Khamenei (May God continue his oversight) gave you after the passing of Imam Khomeini, and let us know the measures that he guided you to take during his presidency. What we mean to make clear, when we reach the time of Imam Khamenei’s leadership, is the history of why Hezbollah was very pleased and reassured with his election as the leader of the Islamic Republic. What has happened that made you feel that way?

From the very first moment of our relationship with Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, I call him, in my own words, Mr. Leader. So let me use the same word, the Leader, to refer to him. My brothers had a Hezbollah Council within Hezbollah, with 7-10 members—changing at each stage. The members of this council always met with the Leader during his presidency. What I wish to say about that time, almost 7 years of Ayatollah Khamenei’s presidency before the passing of Imam Khomeini…

Was there a specific person to go between Hezbollah and Ayatollah Khamenei?

I get back to this point. The fact is that the Leader particularly valued Lebanese groups and provided them with sufficient time. I remember meetings that sometimes lasted for 2, 3 or even 4 hours. He listened carefully to what we had to say. Our friends and brothers also described the issues for him in details. As you know, at the time, they were not all on the same wavelength, and our brothers had different views. The Leader listened to all the comments, views, and opinions. Naturally, there was no Arabic language problem either, because he was fluent in Arabic and spoke it well. He spoke Arabic beautifully.

Nonetheless, he preferred to be accompanied by an Arabic translator; He usually spoke in Persian, but had no need for translation when the Lebanese spoke in Arabic. His full mastery of Arabic language contributed greatly to his deep understanding of the problems and the views of our Lebanese brothers. The important point is that, despite having full authority from Imam Khomeini, the Leader tried to play the role of a guide, and helped us make the decisions ourselves. I always remember that in every meeting, at that time and after being appointed as the Leader, whenever he wanted to comment, he would indicate ‘my suggestion is’. For example, he had reached a conclusion, but he would ask us to “sit down, consult with each other, and make the correct decision.

Indeed, the Leader at that critical stage managed to play an important role guiding the group in cultivating Hezbollah leaders and commanders intellectually, scientifically, and mentally, so that our brothers could make decisions confidently and by relying on their own capabilities even during the most difficult situations. He would make comments but he would refer to a Persian proverb that said: the expediency of a country is recognized by its owners. His Eminence would say: you are from Lebanon and thus have a better command of your affairs. We can only make a few comments and you can apply them, but it is you who will make the final decision. Do not wait for anyone to make decisions on your behalf. Therefore, the role of the Leader in the training, growth and swift development of Hezbollah was very significant.

In the first years, our brothers went to Iran two or three times a year—that is, they would travel to Iran about every 6 months—to learn about the Iranian officials’ viewpoints regarding the developments in the region, as at that time, developments in the region were taking place very rapidly. Naturally, at that time there was also the war; the 8-year imposed war against Iran and its implications for the region. Therefore, our brothers constantly needed to exchange information, consult with and get support from Iran. At that time, if our brothers were faced with an immediate and urgent problem, they would send me to Iran. Because I was younger than the others, and there was no systematic protection, or anything similar in place for me. I was alone, carrying a bag with me. This means that my trips to Iran, since I was not well known, were not complicated and there was no security threat around me.

On the other hand, I was acquainted with Persian language more than my other brothers in Hezbollah, and for this reason, they preferred me to travel to Iran. From the very beginning, there was compassion and affection between me and my Iranian brothers. My brothers in Hezbollah would tell me: you like Iranians and the Iranians like you too. So you should travel to Iran. On behalf of my brothers in Lebanon, I met with the Leader for one to two hours. Even when all issues had been discussed and I was prepared to leave, he would say: “Why are you in a hurry? Stay, and if there’s anything left, let’s discuss it”. That stage was very important for Hezbollah, because Hezbollah had focused on fundamental issues, fundamental approaches and fundamental goals. They made a collection of varying opinions, but we eventually managed to compile a single united book. Now I can say that we have a unified viewpoint in Hezbollah. Different perspectives have been unified and consolidated due to the events and experiences that we have gone through, and thanks to the guidance, advice, and leadership of Imam Khomeini (r.a) while he was alive and of the Leader after the passing of Imam Khomeini.

I wish there was more time to listen to your memories at length…

You will at some point say ‘I wish’… [laughs]

Anyways, our time is very limited. Putting that period a side, now let’s talk about 1989, when Imam Khomeini passed away to the mercy of Allah, and our people and every devotee of the Islamic Revolution were mourning. Those moments were naturally critical moments for both our country and the devotees of the Islamic Revolution. Please explain briefly what the state of your affairs was, at the time when Ayatollah Khamenei was chosen as the successor to Imam Khomeini? Also tell us more about the events that you encountered at that time, after Imam Khomeini’s passing away, in the regional and international arena.

We had a very critical period at that time, because that era coincided with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the beginning of American unilateralism and the end of the Cold War. At the same time, we saw that the Zionist regime started talking about peace negotiations, and on the other hand, the Islamic Revolution was in a particular situation. Obviously, the Americans had plans for the post-Imam Khomeini (r.a) era. We would like you to talk about those circumstances and describe them to us, and about how the Leader responded to the important developments that took place at regional and international levels?
As you know, during the lifetime of Imam Khomeini, members of Hezbollah of Lebanon and the supporters of the resistance, had close ties with him, both intellectually and culturally. However, Hezbollah members were also emotionally and passionately dependent on Imam Khomeini. Like many Iranians who fought against Saddam’s war on Iran, they really loved Imam Khomeini (r.a). Members of Hezbollah of Lebanon regarded him as an Imam, a leader, a guide, a Marja’, and a father. I have never seen the Lebanese love anyone so much. Consequently, the demise of Imam Khomeini on that day brought about a mountain of sadness and grief to the Lebanese; a feeling definitely not less intense than the sadness and grief of the Iranians. This was the emotional connection between the Lebanese and Imam Khomeini (r.a).

But on the other hand, there was a major concern at that time, and it was that the Western media were constantly talking about the post-Imam Khomeini era (r.a), claiming that the main problem was this man and that Iran would collapse after him and a civil war would break out; that there would be no substitute for the leadership of the country. In this regard, a very intense psychological warfare had started in those years, in the last year of the glorious life of Imam Khomeini (r.a), [particularly in the light of other incidents including the dismissal of Late Ayatollah Montazeri and other issues]. For this reason, there were concerns. At that time, we were being told that your source of support—i.e. the Islamic Republic of Iran, upon which you rely and in which have faith—will start a downfall and collapse after the passing of Imam Khomeini. That was for the second issue.

The third issue, regardless of the psychological warfare, was our lack of information about the situation after the passing of Imam Khomeini (r.a). We did not know what was going to happen after him, and what turn the events were going to take; so we were worried. We were following up on the events after the death of Imam Khomeini (r.a) on television, and when we saw national security and the calm in Iran as well as the glorious presence of the Iranian people at his funeral, we regained some confidence and peace of mind.

We were reassured that Iran would not go towards a civil war, nor would it collapse, and eventually the Iranians would choose a suitable leader in a reasonable and sincere atmosphere. We, like all Iranians, were waiting for the decision of the Assembly of Experts on this matter. The fact is that the election of Ayatollah Khamenei as the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran by the Assembly of Experts was unpredictable for the Lebanese. Because we did not know Iranian figures properly and we did not know if there was a better, more knowledgably and more competent person to replace the Leadership. We only knew the Iranian officials that we were in touch with. Electing Ayatollah Khamenei for this responsibility, surprisingly and unusually, made us feel happy, fortunate and confident.

In any case, we passed through this stage. We started our relationship and this relationship continued. After a short time, we traveled to Iran and offered our condolences for the passing away of Imam Khomeini (r.a) and we met with the Leader. He was still at the Presidential office and received people there. We pledged allegiance to him in person and directly. Our brothers told him: “During the lifetime of Imam Khomeini (r.a) you were his representative in the affairs of Lebanon, Palestine and the region as well as the President of Iran, so you had time [for us]. But now you are the leader of the Islamic Republic and all Muslims, and therefore, perhaps you do not have enough time as before. So, we would like to ask you to appoint a representative, so that we do not disturb you continuously.” At this moment, the Leader smiled and said: “I am still young and I have time, God willing. I pay special attention to the issues of the region and the resistance and therefore we will remain in direct contact with each other. ”

Since then, unlike Imam Khomeini (r.a), he has not appointed any representative to refer to about our issues. Naturally, we did not want to bother much, and did not require much of his time. Especially because in the first years, the early years of the establishment of the movement, he was involved in everything. The principles, goals, foundations, criteria, and guidelines that we had, provided a solution to every issue. All of this was a divine blessing; the blessing of guidance was quite clear and we did not need to constantly refer to him. So, we continued to do the same as the Leader had told. This should answer that part of your question about our relationship with Ayatollah Khamenei after his election as the Leader and the authority for Muslims [wali amr al muslimin] after the passing of Imam Khomeini (r.a).

But regarding the events that happened, it should be noted that the events after the passing of Imam Khomeini (r.a) were, naturally, very critical and dangerous. At that time, the important issue for us was to continue the path of resistance in Lebanon, an issue that the Leader had emphasized from the outset. The Leader provided the officials of the Islamic Republic with many recommendations and words of advice, to attend to the Resistance in Lebanon and the region, saying that, just as during the lifetime of Imam Khomeini (r.a), when we followed this path with the thoughts, methods, principles and culture of Imam Khomeini (r.a) on our agenda; today I persist on this path and insist on the need for it to continue.

Therefore, as a blessing from the Almighty God, there was no change in the position of the Islamic Republic in its support for the resistance in the region, especially in Lebanon, not even in the face of changes within ministries and official entities in Iran as well as some differences in their political policies. Therefore, not only such a change did not happened, rather things went on in a better way; because these stances were strengthened after each president’s and each official’s term and this happened as a result of direct attention by the Leader to Hezbollah of Lebanon and the resistance in the region.

Now we can enter the discussion on the events that took place. Where would you like me to start from? I am ready. I mean, we can now address the political events; because we have already elaborated on our relationship with the Leader and how we kept working with him after the passing of Imam Khomeini (r.a.).
The most important issue for us at that time, i.e. during the leadership of Ayatollah Khamenei, was the issue of domestic problems of Lebanon. At that stage, as you know well, there were some problems between Hezbollah and the Amal movement, and the Leader paid special attention to this matter. Hence, the most important thing that happened to us during the early years of Ayatollah Khamenei’s leadership was the resolution of discords between Hezbollah and the Amal Movement. This blessed resolution, was brought about as a result of special guidance and advice by the Leader, as well as contacts between the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the leaders of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, including the current chairman of the Lebanese parliament Mr. Nabih Berri and Syrian officials. Subsequently, Resistance groups in Lebanon got united and this was accomplished thanks to the Leader and his strong emphasis [on unity].

The Leader opposed any issue, any conflict or dispute among Lebanese groups and constantly stressed the need for extensive relations between them as well as achieving peace by any means necessary among them. These efforts took years to bear fruit. That is to say, it took 2 or 3 years for us to pass through that stage. The foundation of the close relations between Hezbollah and Amal that we see today were laid by the guidelines of the Leader, and today the relationship between Hezbollah and Amal is not strategic, but beyond strategic. Through the resolving of the problems between Hezbollah and the Amal Movement and the cooperation between the two, we were able to continue the resistance and attend to defending Lebanon and the south of Lebanon. The achievement and the great victory of 2000 against the Zionist regime were realized as a result of this unity. In 2006 and during the 33-day war of the Zionist regime on southern Lebanon, this unity helped us again, and we were able to resist during the “July War” and impose a defeat on the enemy. Today, political victories in Lebanon and the region continue to be achieved. One of the fundamental factors of Hezbollah’s political, national, and military power is this coherence, unity and friendly relations.

I recall that at that time, after the martyrdom of Sayyid Abbas al-Musawi (r.a), our brothers chose me as the secretary-general. Later, we met with the Leader. He brought up some issues, saying: “If you want to make the heart of Imam Mahdi (May Almighty Allah Speed His Reappearance) and also the hearts of all the believers happy, you have to work hard to preserve the calm in your country. You have work with each other, especially Hezbollah, Amal, Allama [scholar] Fadlallah and Sheikh Shams al-Din.” At that time, Sheikh Fadlallah and Sheikh Shams al-Din were both alive and the Leader strongly stressed reinforcing internal unity in Lebanon. His emphasis was on maintaining unity among the Shi’as, as well as between Shi’as and Sunnis and other Muslims. He also emphasized on the necessity of unity among Muslims and Christians and would insist on it during internal meetings; that is [he promoted] an open door policy for all Lebanese. This was the second issue. The primary issue was the relationship between Hezbollah, Amal and the domestic situation of the Shias. Another important issue that he emphasized was the open door strategy of Hezbollah towards other Lebanese political groups, despite religious, political, and ideological differences. The realization of this important project was also on account of his wise leadership.

There was an emphasis on continuing the resistance, confronting belligerence and determination to liberate southern Lebanon. That’s why the Leader also focused on the issue of resistance and its progress. He always insisted that resistance should progress, grow, and ultimately take back occupied lands. Hence, he always diligently encouraged the Resistance to persist on the path it had taken. You know that at that time there was a problem that some resistance groups, other than Hezbollah, had got entangled with internal political affairs, and thus, they had been gradually distracted from the mission of resistance. This would make the resistance limited to Hezbollah and the Amal Movement—chiefly Hezbollah. Even inside Hezbollah, there were some of our brothers who were inclined to get involved with domestic politics. But the Leader always emphasized the need to give priority to the mission of resistance and Jihadi tasks.

Taking a Minute to Walk in Iran’s Shoes

Iran Feature photo

Feature photo | Mourners carry flag-draped caskets in a funeral procession for 150 soldiers whose remains were recently recovered. The soldiers were killed during the war with then-US-backed-Iraq in the 1980s, Tehran, Iran, June 27, 2019. Vahid Salemi | AP

If one can learn anything from the modern history of Iran, it’s that great powers will sell — and have sold — them out at a moment’s notice.

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Iran has seen its fair share of the damage imperialism has inflicted on the world — joint Russian and British control over Iran during the Qajar era, then the killing of one fifth of the Iranian population between 1917-19 (as documented in Barry Rubin’s The Middle East: A Guide to Politics, Economics, Society and Culture, p. 508) from famine brought on by the confiscating of foodstuff by occupying British forces that had violated Iran’s neutrality in World War I. This was followed in WWII by a coup that ousted Reza Shah, the then-king of Iran, also at a time when Iran had declared neutrality, in a British coup that put his son Mohammad Reza Shah on the throne of the kingdom. We need not mention the joint American-British coup, in which hundreds were killed, that toppled the popular Mosaddegh government because of its nationalization of the Iranian oil industry (which would have damaged American and British interests in Iranian oil).

The only time Iran saw an actual democratic movement succeed in giving power to the people that foreign powers were not able to abort was with the Islamic Revolution of 1979; and, even after that, the AmericansEuropeans, and even Arab countries of the Persian Gulf aided Saddam Hussein in a war he instigated against Iran — providing him with arms and chemical weapons, as well as intelligence.



A lesson in wariness

Taking these historical events (and many more instances) into account, it is no wonder that Iranians would be very wary of any moves made by the United States and other global powers, namely those with a colonial track record. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or Iran Nuclear Deal) could have very well marked a paradigm shift in relations with Iran, but instead, the Europeans did not abide by their commitments, and the Americans just up-and-left the agreement as soon as Trump got around to Iran. Not only that but, instead of abiding by their commitments, they’re trying to milk even more out of the deal — promising they’ll abide by their commitments if Iran offers more to an already done deal. What this means is they are being asked to add concessions in their ballistic missile program, much to the benefit of Arab Persian Gulf monarchies that are on a trend of increased militarization.

Trump's War On Iran. (Image: Carlos Latuff For MintPress News)

Credit | Carlos Latuff

Which brings us to the region’s latest round of tensions.

Given the already-stated facts, one has to understand, first and foremost, that Iran is dealing with a number of countries that have a history of falsifying facts, not standing by their agreements, and going into war in order to secure their own economic interests at the expense of other peoples. One must not forget the Indian famine in WWII, caused by food being exported from India to Britain, killing more than 20 million Indians, in reference to which Churchill said: “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits.”

Living in such a flammable neighborhood — where the United States and its allies recently occupied its neighbors to the east and west and built military bases — and with such historical baggage, it’s not far-fetched that Iran, being the region’s most stable country, would rather rely on deterrence and defensive capabilities to secure itself than give concessions that could damage its security to powers that can hardly be trusted to keep their own word, as their own history suggests.

 

A wise decision

Iran made a wise decision in its downing of the RQ-4 drone. Usually, the shooting down of military surveillance drones does not lead to military escalation, though it does lead to an increase in tension. By doing so, Tehran was successful in warning any aggressor — be it the United States or any other country, for that matter — that it is not willing to compromise on matters of security or national pride (though the U.S. claims the drone was flying above international waters — 8000 miles away from U.S. soil — the debris has since been recovered by Iranian authorities in Iranian waters).

Iran US Drone

An Iranian general looks at debris from a U.S. military drone shot down by Iran’s air defense system, June 21, 2019. Meghdad Madadi | Tasnim via AP

The wisdom of this decision is that Iran delivered the intended message without causing any escalation — which doubtless would have been the outcome if it had downed a manned military plane that was also in its sites in the vicinity of the drone. It was a message that Trump had clearly received, and for which he expressed appreciation to Iranian authorities (although why he would bother to thank Iran if it was attacking a plane flying over “international waters” as he said is truly baffling).

In addition to that — although it had the legal right to shoot down the drone for flying over its airspace, which extends to 12 nautical miles from its borders — Iran also has the right to demand identification from any aircraft flying close to its territory. For more perspective, U.S. Air Defense Identification Zones extend 200 miles from the U.S. border and, as testified to by a former U.S. Air Force navigator, any unidentified drone flying that close to the U.S. border would most likely be shot down. The shooting down of this unidentified drone, even supposing the U.S.’s version of events were true, is perfectly warranted on Iran’s part, and does not allow the U.S. any measure of retaliation in “self-defense,” because no lives were lost in its downing.

Moreover, Iran clearly showed other countries what it was able to achieve independently through its reliance on its own capabilities. It downed the world’s leading military power’s aircraft for infringing on its airspace, and did so without hesitation because it sees itself as truly “sovereign.” Although the U.S. may threaten Iran with its military might and its presence in the region, Iran’s ballistic missile program has allowed it to turn that very strength into a weakness by having American bases, and 25,000 American troops, within targeting range.

A war with Iran would devastate the region. A war with Iran, Hezbollah, the Popular Mobilization Forces, and Ansarullah is in the interest of no one, and God only knows what other surprises Iran might have in store for conspiring Arab monarchies. The smart move would be to repair the JCPOA in order to avoid further escalation in the region.

Karim Sharara is a Lebanese PhD student who’s lived in Tehran since 2013 studying political science at the University of Tehran with a focus on Iranian affairs. 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

Venezuela Facing Western Hypocrisy

By Hussein Samawarchi

A few months after the brutal torture and execution of Imam Muhammad Baqir Al-Sadr, Saddam Hussein gave the order to attack Iran. Imam Al-Sadr represented a peaceful opposition wave against dictatorship. The popular cleric used literature as a way of mending what was wrong. For that, he was made to watch his own sister being tortured and killed while, according to witnesses, the political prisoner was beaten with metal cables until his body was covered with cuts everywhere. Then, the torturers dragged him through acid before hammering an iron nail into his head.

When Saddam invaded Iran, the western world rallied behind him. The butcher of opposition leaders received support from diplomats who published books about ethical politics as their countries shipped to him one load after another of weapons. No one who lived through that era could forget Iraq’s Exocet missiles.

If Saddam is old news now, if something more contemporary exposing western hypocrisy is favored, the event that took place in Turkey last October might do.

A team of sloppy assassins was dispatched to Istanbul. They waited for a public figure in his country’s consulate to which he was sent by none other than the brother of the current crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Jamal Khashoggi might have been a controversial personality due to his historical affiliations with fanatic movements, links with Taliban, and statements that don’t abide by journalistic objectivity norms. But he spoke through western media and therefore deserved western protection. The man was cut to pieces after being subdued and drugged. It is still not clear if the drug used rendered him unconscious during the horrific act or just paralyzed him so he could witness and feel his arms and legs being sawn-off.

The world heard a lot of condemnations and denouncements. Still, at the end of the day, not one ambassador took part in a public display of support to a journalist who was merely hinting to the need for reform in his country.

Juan Guaidó returned to Venezuela after 10 days of prancing around with his people’s enemies. He violated the constitution by declaring himself president, broke the law by traveling, instigated popular violence, cooperated with hostile foreign powers, and initiated a contraband operation on a large scale from Colombia. The renegade politician was neither dragged in acid nor dismembered. He was allowed to enter Venezuela with strict orders from President Maduro that no one would obstruct his way.

The sight of the all those foreign ambassadors welcoming the man that Mike Pence views as an American investment gives a sufficient idea of who are the stakeholders in the future distribution of Venezuelan petroleum shares should the coup being staged by Trump’s gang succeed. It’s an indication for the minority of Venezuelan people who think riches will pour in if the country is handed over to American puppets. Do they not realize that every entity which recognized Guaidó as interim president will become their partner in their national wealth?

This is the level of degradation that the western political scene has reached. Ambassadors did not react when public figures were mutilated to death but ran to the airport to welcome a man who says “A la orden jefe” to John Bolton.

There is nothing wrong in forming an opposition; actually, it’s a basic requirement for a sound democratic political system. The opposing politicians’ main duty is to act as performance auditors and highlight the ruling party’s shortcomings which, inevitably, leads to the improvement of the country and the standard of living. What they don’t do is collude with foreign powers to surrender the country’s wealth. What they don’t do is act as internal agents in a hunger campaign against their own people. And what they definitely don’t do is sell their integrity knowing that they are public servants and that integrity represents their constituency.

The topic of Venezuela is not a discussion of a mere Latin American country. Rather, a modern-day political epidemic suffered by many states. It has to do with the injection of malicious agents into a national body while this body is battered with sanctions preventing it from acquiring the necessary antibiotics and nutrition. Syria recovered, Yemen is recovering, and Venezuela is following suit. Patriotism is the remedy and it is abundant in this proud Bolivarian state.

Iraq: How We Were Lied into War

Iraq: How We Were Lied into War

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 24.03.2019

Iraq: How We Were Lied into War

Eric MARGOLIS

Sixteen years ago, the US and Britain committed a crime of historic proportion, the invasion and destruction of Iraq. It was as egregious an aggression as Nazi Germany’s 1939 invasion of Poland.

Large numbers of Iraqi civilians died from 2003-2007. Iraq’s water and sewage systems were bombed, causing widespread cholera. The UN estimated 500,000 Iraqi children alone died as a result. Madeleine Albright, US Secretary of State, said it was ‘a price worth paying.’

But not so much for the 4,424 US soldiers killed in Iraq, or the 31,952 wounded, many with devastating brain and neurological injuries. Nor for US taxpayers who forked out over $1 trillion for this botched war and are still paying the bill – which was hidden in the national debt.

In 2003, Iraq was the most advanced Arab nation in social welfare health, education, military power, and industrial development. But it was run by a megalomaniac, Saddam Hussein, who had been helped into power and sustained in his long war against Iran, by the United States, Britain and their Arab satraps.

When Saddam grew too big for his britches, Washington lured him into invading Kuwait, another American-British oil satrapy. A hue and cry went out from Washington and London that Iraq had secret nuclear weapons that threatened the entire globe. War, thundered US-British propaganda, was urgent and necessary.

As I knew from covering Iraq for many years, it had no nuclear weapons and no medium or long-ranged delivery systems. What it did have was a chemical/biological laboratory at Salman Pak that was staffed with British technicians producing lethal toxins for use against Iran. I discovered this secret operation and reported it. Meanwhile, the dim-witted Iraqis were threatening to hang me as an Israeli spy.

I watched with disgust and dismay as the US and Britain launched massive broadsides of lies against Iraq and those few, like myself, who insisted Baghdad had no nuclear weapons.

Almost the entire US and British media were compelled to act as mouthpieces for the George Bush/Tony Blair war against Iraq, trumpeting egregious lies designed to whip up war fever. Our media, supposedly the tribune of democracy, became lie factories, putting even the old Soviet media to shame.

The New York Times led the charge, along with the three main TV networks. I was in Iraq with its star correspondent, Judith Miller, who became a key agent of the pro-war campaign. So too the Murdoch press in Britain and Fox News. When the BBC tried to question the torrent of lies about Iraq, it was crushed by Tony Blair. A leading British nuclear expert who questioned the nuclear lies was murdered. Iraq was polluted by US depleted uranium shells.

Journalists like me were intimidated or marginalized. I was dropped by a leading US newspaper, a major Canadian TV chain, and by CNN for whom I had been a regular commentator. I was told the Bush White House had given orders, ‘get rid of Margolis.’ My sin: insisting Iraq had no nuclear weapons and was not threatening the US. Things became so absurd that the story went out that Saddam had ‘drones of death’ that were poised to attack America.

Of the US media, only the McClatchy chain and Christian Science Monitor reported the war honestly. Nearly all the rest of America’s TV talking heads brayed for war. Most are still there today, demanding war against Iran.

Who was behind the war? A combination of big oil, which wanted Iraq’s vast reserves, and the Israel lobby which wanted to see Iraq destroyed by US power. The Pentagon was taken over by pro-war neoconservatives: Wolfowitz, Feith, Rumsfeld. George Bush, an ignorant fool, was putty in the hands of VP Dick Cheney, a pro-war megalomaniac. The CIA played along. Even the respected former general, Colin Powell, made a fool of himself before the UN and the world by claiming Iraq had hidden weapons. It had chemical weapons, all right, but we had the receipts to show they came from the US and Britain.

No one in the US or Britain ever faced trial for war-mongering and killing vast numbers of people. The lying media escaped well-deserved censure. As for the lying politicians who brought on this disaster, they blamed poor intelligence and bad luck. Those few who opposed the war of aggression remain sidelined or silenced.

Rouhani’s Visit to Iraq: Huge Economic Cooperation at Eastern Gate of Arab World

Wed Mar 13, 2019

Rouhani’s Visit to Iraq: Huge Economic Cooperation at Eastern Gate of Arab World

TEHRAN (FNA)- The agreements sealed during the visit of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Iraq mark the start of the largest economic cooperation project between the two neighboring states in the region.

In the 1990s, when the US decided after Operation Desert Storm and annihilation of 70 percent of Iraq’s Army to re-instate Saddam Hussain rather than conquering Baghdad, there was only one thing revolving in the mind of Washington’s politicians: to prevent the Shiite revolutionary movement, which was gaining momentum after the Intifada (uprisings) in Southern Iraq and becoming an independent powerhouse, from getting strengthened.

Despite the fact that in 1991 the Iraqi army had lost control of all Shiite regions, the scale was tipped in favor of Saddam’s regime when the US-led coalition allowed the dictator to fly his Mil Mi-24 helicopters which led to the largest massacre of the Shiite population in Iraq.

Interestingly, in 2014, when the ISIL terrorists conquered Mosul, one of the biggest cities in Iraq, a parallel course of event was to happen. While the terrorists were approaching the gates of Baghdad and the repetitive calls of the Iraqi government for winning the air support of the US-led coalition had failed, Iran’s strong entry into war to help its Western neighbor turned the whole tide. Now after 5 years, not only nothing has been left of the ISIL in Iraq, but also the position of Shiite-led central government in the Arab country has been cemented more than ever.

From The Fall of the Eastern Gate To The Resistance Front  

Iraq was the Eastern Gate of the Arab World, in the mindset of Saddam Hussain, to resist against Iran’s infiltration. Wafiq al-Samarrai, Director of Iran desk in Iraqi Army’s Intelligence Organization during the 8-year war of the Baathist regime against Iran has thoroughly evaluated and discussed this concept in his book of memoirs, ‘The Ruins of the Eastern Gate’.

Now after the falloff of the ISIL in a few-year-old war, Iraq has become part of an alliance which is called the Resistance Front. A front which is based on not religious motives as claimed in the West’s Shiite Crescent theory, but on a pro-independence essence opposing the Westerners’ interference in the fate of Muslim countries.

Heading Toward $20Billion Trade

President Rouhani’s visit to Iraq is exactly highlighting the same strategic cooperation. Although the Tehran-Baghdad strong ties in security areas have fruited great successes in the past couple of years, it seems that the ties are expected to develop at a serious level to other areas.

Economy is one of the main areas which was placed under the spotlight by the officials of the two countries during the recent visit of President Rouhani to Iraq. Undoubtedly, Iran enjoys a unique status for develop economic cooperation with Iraq.

The two countries share more than 1000 kilometers of borderline fittingly tied with identical ethnic patterns across the borders. For instance, Iran’s Kurdish provinces share borders with the Iraqi region of Kurdistan and accordingly can serve as an economic hub in the region because of the ethnic and lingual commonalities.

Also most of Iran’s Southwestern provinces which share border with Iraq are resided by Arab and Shiite Iranians which again positively contribute to cross-border interactions.

Besides, despite the fact that Iraq’s Western and Northern governorates like al-Anbar and Nineveh are home to bloody battles with the ISIL terrorists, security has been preserved so far in Eastern governorates which share border with Iran.

All these realities as well as the nearly 2 million Iranians who travel to the Iraqi cities of Karbala and Najaf in Arbaeen pilgrimage season have ushered in good trade between Iran and Iraq.

However, a study of economic figures shows that Iran’s share of Iraq’s market, particularly its growth in the past couple of years, still fails to match the two sides’ potentials.

This is exactly one of the very issues which drew much of the attention in the recent visit of President Rouhani to Iraq. Iranian and Iraqi officials held countless meetings and seminars before the Rouhani visit to discuss proper and wide avenues for expanding relations.

The truth is that Iran is competing with serious regional and international rivals in Iraq’s market. Turkey is one of the countries which are seriously marketing and expanding their share of the market in the food products section in Iraq.

Nevertheless it has to be born in mind that Turkey’s presence in Iraq’s market is nothing anew and an outcome of the last years. Rather, Turkey was one of the big suppliers of Iraq’s market during the reign of Saddam Hussain. Yet, the facts stated earlier display that Iran enjoys better capabilities for exporting goods to Iraq.

China and the UAE are among the other competitors in Iraq’s market, specially in the field of consumer durable goods.

Considering the situation, Iranian and Iraqi merchants held numerous meetings on the ways to expand trade between the two countries during President Rouhani’s visit.

Iran’s Ambassador to Baghdad Iraj Masjedi had already said at an economic seminar in Baghdad that the two countries have set a $20 billion objective for the volume of their trade.

This figure may seem a bit out of reach at the first sight, but it is assuredly accessible considering that Iraq is now entering a phase of reconstruction after the war against terrorism and peace has been restored in its cities.

The decision to issue visas for the nationals of the two countries free of charge was another important accomplishment of President Rouhani’s visit to Iraq which can act as a catalyst further facilitating cross-border travels for the nationals of the two sides.

US Worried About Sanctions-Busting

One of the motives behind President Rouhani’s visit to Iraq was the capacities of this Arab country in helping Iran to bypass the US’ unilateral sanctions.

Tehran is going to use Iraq’s help for finding a way around new sanctions to meet its financial needs, as it did in the last round of bans with the help of Turkey.

The fact is that thanks to broad suitcase trade between Iran and Iraq in areas of trade of commodities and foreign currencies exchange, the typical sanctions imposed by the US Treasury Department are unable to cause a sensible disruption in the bilateral channels between the two sides.

The reiterations of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warning Iraqi officials about the suitcase trade of hard currency across the border of Iran and Iraq is reflecting the same very concern.

Iran is capable of importing many of its needed goods, which are not easily accessible because of financial and insurance limitations caused by sanctions, immediately through re-exporting them from Iraqi market. Accordingly, Iraq would be playing the same role once played by the UAE.

Many hold that oil rich port of Basra in Southern Iraq which is also the richest city of the country is enjoying the potential to become the second Dubai in the region. Iran can play the same role it played for flourishing Dubai in the 1980s.

The recent visit of the Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Abdolnasser Hemmati and the serious memorandum of understanding signed on banking relations between Tehran and Baghdad underlines the importance of Iraq’s banking system for Iran. Besides, Iraq has a broad network of currency relations with the world, through a system of exchange centers, particularly with East European countries, which is of high value for Iran.

One of the objectives of President Rouhani’s visit to Iraq which was not announced publicly was to expand these very kind of relations, and assuredly the officials of the two countries have discussed this issue in their meetings, and certainly the Americans are after stopping these relations at any level.

Iran and Iraq as Pillars of Future Energy Exchange Hub in Region

Expanding cooperation on energy was also among the issues discussed for broadening bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the meetings of President Rouhani in Iraq.

This was the very same demand that made US President Donald Trump to agree with granting exemptions to Iraq to import energy from Iran during the first batch of sanctions against Tehran. However, some US-backed regional countries are after undermining Iran’s position in Iraq.

For example Saudi Arabia is after weakening Iran’s role in this area with exporting electricity to Iraq. The main point is that Rouhani’s visit to Iraq can mark a starting point for broader energy cooperation of the two countries in the region’s energy market.

Iraq has three gas fields and the country will start producing gas by the next five years. Although the early production of gas by Iraq may make the country needless of importing the energy carrier, the growing demand for electricity in the Arab country means Baghdad will continue importing energy from Iran.

In addition, Iraq is bordering Kuwait and Jordan which both are electricity thirsty and Iraq can act as an energy hub in the region to export Iran’s gas to the two countries besides meeting its own needs.

The same scenario is applicable to electricity to let Iraq play a stabilizing role in the region. The path may seem very long but Prescient Rouhani’s visit to Iraq marked a golden start for this long march.

Start of Huge Economic Cooperation in Region

Eleven years ago, when Iran’s ex-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad traveled to Iraq, the country was still under the US occupation.

And now in era of Rouhani, these are the Iraqi security forces who are providing security in Baghdad with the help of their Iranian partners.

Moving along the same line, we may rightfully expect inaguration of mega projects during the visit of the next Iranian president to Baghdad. This path, despite being long, is the future within the reach of the hands of the two nations.

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Why Only Fools Trust America’s Mainstream ‘News’ Media After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq

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March 04, 2019

Why Only Fools Trust America’s Mainstream ‘News’ Media After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

Here will be yet another current example to demonstrate that all U.S. mainstream ’news’ media hide from their respective publics that the U.S. Government is lying, when the U.S. Government lies — i.e., that all of the mainstream ’news’ media in America hide the truth, when the Government itself is lying. In other words: the U.S. mainstream ’news’ media are propaganda-organs for the U.S. Government.

While some American news-media are Democratic Party propagandists, and others are Republican Party propagandists, and therefore all of them eagerly expose lies that are of only a partisan naturenone of them will expose lies that both Parties share — such as, in 2002 and 2003, the central fact at that time. They hid that George W. Bush and his Administration were outright lying to the public in each and every instance in which they said they possessed conclusive evidence that, as Bush himself put it on 7 September 2002 (and no mainstream and only one alt-news medium exposed as being a lie): “a report came out of the Atomic — the IAEA that they [Iraq] were six months away from developing a [nuclear] weapon. I don’t know what more evidence we need [before invading].” That was his answer when he was asked at a press conference on 7 September 2002, “Mr. President, can you tell us what conclusive evidence of any nuclear — new evidence you have of nuclear weapons capabilities of Saddam Hussein?” Immediately, the IAEA said then that there was no such “new report,” and that the last they were able to find, there was nothing at all left of WMD, nor of an ability to make any, in Iraq. The American news-media simply ignored the IAEA’s denial that they had issued any new report at all such as Bush had alleged they had issued. Republican ’news’-media hid that Bush’s allegation was a lie, and Democratic ’news’-media likewise hid it. And, so, the American people trusted Bush, and destroyed Iraq. (Anyone who says that America’s invasion didn’t vastly harm the Iraqi people is either a liar or else ignorant of the realities, such as the last two links document.)

The example this time will be taken from The Week magazine, which is a compendium of summaries of the week’s ’news’ from America’s major ‘news’-media. The 1 March 2019 issue has this, on its page 8:

Aid for Venezuela: U.S. military planes delivered more than 180 tons of humanitarian aid for Venezuela to the Colombian border city of Cucuta this week, setting up a showdown with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who has vowed to block the supplies. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) made a surprise visit to Cucuta and told Venezuelan troops stationed at the border that it was their patriotic duty to let aid through. ‘Will you prevent the food and medicine from reaching your own people?’”

The presumption there is that readers are simply too stupid to wonder, “Why should I trust that this military plane doesn’t also carry weapons for supporters of a coup to overthrow Venezuela’s President and to replace him with Trump’s choice, Juan Guaido — trust that weapons aren’t included in the cargo of ‘food and medicine’? Is Trump really so kind a person as to care about the Venezuelan people? Or is this instead yet another U.S. set-up for a brutal coup, such as the U.S. did in 1953 to Iran, and in 1954 to Guatemala, and in 1973 to Chile, and, more recently, in 2014, to Ukraine?”

That ‘news’-report, since it’s from The Week, is about what other U.S. propaganda-agencies are saying, and it’s true about that (they actually are saying this), but it’s summarizing from two very un-trustworthy ‘news’-media, one being a tweet from Senator Rubio on 18 February 2019 that was immediately posted at sites such as ABC News, and the other being a ‘news’-report from the Miami Herald, which added that this shipment came from USAID — and yet they ignored  that USAID is a major part of almost every U.S. coup.

Here’s more context about this incident of ‘aid’-shipments: On 6 February 2019, Britain’s Daily Mail, which is less dishonest about the U.S. Government than U.S. ‘news’-media are, headlined “Venezuelan officials accuse the US of sending a cache of high-powered rifles on a commercial cargo flight from Miami so they would get into the hands of ‘extreme right fascist’ groups looking to undermine Maduro’s regime”, and reported that,

Officials in Venezuela have accused the US of sending a cache of high-powered rifles and ammunition on a commercial cargo flight from Miami so they would get into the hands of President Nicolás Maduro’s opponents.

Members with the Venezuelan National Guard [GNB] and the National Integrated Service of Customs and Tax Administration [SENIAT] made the shocking discovery just two days after the plane arrived at Arturo Michelena International Airport in Valencia.

Inspectors found 19 rifles, 118 magazines and 90 wireless radios while investigating the flight which they said arrived Sunday afternoon. 

Monday’s bust also netted four rifle stands, three rifle scopes and six iPhones.

And here’s yet more context: the independent American journalist Aaron Mate, tweeted on 18 February 2019:

https://twitter.com/

Aaron Mate

Page 136 [near end of Ch. 4of [Andrew G.] McCabe’s new [and only] book [THE THREAT, which was published on 19 February 2019], recounting a [July] 2017 Oval Office meeting: “Then the president talked about Venezuela. That’s the country we should be going to war with, he said. They have all that oil and they’re right on our back door.” [Stated there by the authoritarian McCabe, in order to prove how crude Trump is, and McCabe was not condemnatory of such international thefts of Venezuela’s natural resources, but only of Trump’s crudity.]

12:59 PM – 18 Feb 2019 

Furthermore, yet another independent journalist, Ben Norton, at “The GrayZone Project,” headlined on 29 January 2019, “Corporate Interests – Militarist John Bolton Spills the Beans”, and he provided a complete transcript of a brief interview that John Bolton had done with Fox Business Channel five days before, on January 24th. That interview wasn’t publicized by Fox, and its headline was as dull as possible, “Venezuela regime change big business opportunity: John Bolton”, and the ‘news’-report posted below it was empty of anything important, but Ben Norton captured the entire interview, and on January 29th he posted it to youtube and to The GrayZone Project as a news-report, with the full interview-segment also being transcribed there by Norton. In it, Bolton had said, on January 24th:

We’re looking at the oil assets. That’s the single most important income stream to the government of Venezuela. We’re looking at what to do to that. … We’re in conversation with major American companies now that are either in Venezuela, or in the case of Citgo here in the United States. … It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.

Of course, that’s an attempt at theft of the property of another sovereign nation — theft of natural-resources assets of Venezuela, from the people who live in Venezuela — it’s a huge theft-attempt, which is being bragged about by the U.S. regime. Though they’ve done this type of heist in many instances during the past few decades (including in Iraq, where U.S. oil companies now extract), Bolton’s outright bragging about it is certainly extraordinary, and thus is major news. This was major news that however hasn’t been focused upon except in the few honest sites, all of which are non-mainstream (most non-mainstream sites are just as dishonest as America’s mainstream ones are — they’re fake ‘alt-news’ instead of authentically against false ‘news’, but all mainstream national news-sites routinely report lies stenographically, as if what the Government says is always true, and so they’re propaganda). The GrayZone Project is one of the few honest sites, and Norton luckily discovered this huge news-break from the blunder by Fox Business Channel to have aired it — that revelation having been a freak event by America’s major media, a rare slip-up.

And, finally, the great investigative journalist Wayne Madsen, at the Strategic Culture Foundation, headlined sarcastically but truthfully on 1 March 2019, “Military Intervention and Mercenaries, Inc. (MIAMI)”, and he (a journalist whose trustworthiness I have checked and verified for many years — he’s really one of the best) opened with:

The city of Miami, Florida may have started out as a retirement mecca for winter-worn pensioners from northern climes. However, after the beginning of the Cold War and US military and Central Intelligence Agency intervention in Guatemala, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Guyana, the Bahamas, and other Western Hemisphere nations, Miami became a refuge for exiled wealthy businessmen escaping populist revolutions and elections in South and Central America and spies. The retirement and vacation capital of the United States quickly became the “Tropical Casablanca.”

Now home to thousands of limited liability corporations linked to the CIA, as well as private military contractors, sketchy airlines flying from remote Florida airports, the interventionist US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), and exiled oligarchs running destabilization operations in their native countries, Miami – or MIAMI, “Military Intervention and Mercenaries, Inc.” – serves as the nexus for current Trump administration “regime change” efforts. …

Earlier, on February 18th, President Trump had delivered a lengthy speech in Miami, titled “Remarks by President Trump to the Venezuelan American Community”, and this was obviously aimed at passionate enemies of Venezuela’s Government. Here is a typical passage, with accompanying documentations of the actual truth regarding his lies as stated there. Trump’s allegations are in boldface italics, and my commentaries are in regular type within brackets, and linked there to my sources:

Not long ago, Venezuela was the wealthiest nation, by far, in South America. [The allegation that Venezuela’s economy has done less well since Hugo Chavez became President on 2 February 1999 is disconfirmed by World Bank data showing that Venezuela reached its all-time-high economic-growth rate in 2004, 5 years after Hugo Chavez became democratically elected and took office as the country’s President. The economy rapidly declined as soon as the U.S. started its coup-attempts. Furthermore, a scientific study of the data showed in 2017 that: “Mexico’s and Venezuela’s numbers on this question [[of ‘Where would you place our country ten years ago?’”]] with a 1 to 10 scale, from absolutely democratic, to not democratic, throughout the period of 2013-2017, compared to those of other countries in the region, clearly show Venezuela as the country where the highest percentage of people believed that democracy had increased during the 2003-2013 decade. Mexico ranked in twelfth place, out of eighteen surveyed countries. “This comparison helps to dimension the solid sense that Venezuelans had about the strength of their democracy during the Chávez administration, and the weak one that Mexicans had.”] But years of socialist rule have brought this once-thriving nation to the brink of ruin. [That too is false — socialism wasn’t the cause of Venezuela’s economic come-down. Venezuela’s boom-time was the period of massive public-debt buildup prior to the exceptionally high oil prices in 1973-1985, as shown in “Figure 4: Venezuela Real GDP per Capita”. Moreover, as the CIA-edited and written Wikipedia says about Venezuela: ”The election in 1973 of Carlos Andrés Pérez coincided with an oil crisis [[the OPEC oil-embargo]], in which Venezuela’s income exploded as oil prices soared; oil industries were nationalized in 1976. This [oil-nationalization and oil-production investment all at the worst possible time] led to massive increases in public spending, but also increases in external debts, which continued into the 1980s when the collapse of oil prices during the 1980s crippled the Venezuelan economy.“ That “oil crisis” was actually the period of exceptionally high oil prices resulting from Israel’s 1973 invasions and OPEC embargoes, but it was actually hell for Venezuela because Venezuela was losing money on each barrel of oil sold because only the Arabic countries and Iran were able to sell profitably their oil after the period of OPEC”s oil-embargo. Venezuela, seller of the world’ dirtiest oil, after 1976 was losing money on each barrel, when they had to repay all those foreign loans amassed during the boom-period.]  That’s where it is today.

The tyrannical socialist government nationalized private industries and took over private businesses.  They engaged in massive wealth confiscation, shut down free markets, suppressed free speech, and set up a relentless propaganda machine, rigged elections, used the government to persecute their political opponents, and destroyed the impartial rule of law.

In other words, the socialists have done in Venezuela all of the same things that socialists, communists, totalitarians have done everywhere that they’ve had a chance to rule.  The results have been catastrophic.

In conclusion, then, no country in the world has a press that’s more dishonest than the United States of America does. “More dishonest” than this press would even be a ludicrous concept. Though the particular lies that are being promoted elsewhere might happen to be different, they can’t be worse. America’s having destroyed Iran and Libya, etc., is proof of this.

Consequently: Only people who possess a thoroughly scientific orientation toward confirming and disconfirming allegations, are capable of extracting from such ‘news’ a realistic understanding of what’s actually happening. The vast majority of people can be fooled, and they can be fooled constantly and even for (as in the instance of America, since at least 2003) decades, and yet still trust the institutions that have deceived them so mercilessly through all of those decades. This is the major reason why the United States is a dictatorship, not a democracy — and why any ‘news’-site which calls the U.S. a ‘democracy’ is thereby clearly demonstrating its untrustworthiness. But, of course, only honest news-reporting organizations are publishing this report. And there will probably be very few that will do that, though all are receiving it for publication.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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