By Keith Preston
The newest sanctions to be imposed against the Islamic Republic of Iran that have been announced by the United States represent the ongoing efforts of the Trump administration to escalate hostilities with Iran.
During his campaign in 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump expressed opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was an eight party agreement between Iran, the United States, England, France, Russia, China, Germany and the European Union that had been formulated in Switzerland in 2015 during the administration of former President Obama. The core provisions of the “Iran nuclear deal,” as it has been called, were the lifting of international sanctions against Iran by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union in exchange for a range of concessions from Iran concerning uranium development. While the agreement received nearly universal praise from the international community, a notable exception was Israel’s staunch opposition to the deal.
In 2005, the United States, under the administration of former President George W. Bush, began to accuse Iran of developing the capacity for nuclear weapons by means of a uranium enrichment program. The US used its influence in the International Atomic Energy Agency to pressure the agency to declare Iran to be in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty standards agreement. It should be noted that only two years earlier the United States had initiated war against Iraq over allegations that Iraq was in violation of the disarmament agreement that had been developed following the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
The claims of the Bush administration that Iraq had continued to possess so-called “weapons of mass destruction” in violation of the agreement were never substantiated prior to the initiation of the 2003 attack on Iraq by the United States, and these claims were subsequently demonstrated to have been false. Two years later, the administration of President Bush began making comparable allegations against Iran as well.
No credible source has claimed that Iran is presently attempting to develop nuclear weapons, and the intelligence services of the United States have rejected claims that Iran is developing nuclear weapons as well. The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, issued by the United States intelligence community, stated that Iran was not working to develop nuclear weapons. In 2012, each of America’s sixteen intelligence agencies concluded that Iran was not involved in the development of nuclear weapons. The evidence is overwhelming that ongoing accusations by the United States against Iran concerning Iran’s alleged violations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty are rooted in motivations and objectives that are not related to nuclear weapons development.
A longstanding objective of the foreign policy establishment of the United States has been so-called “regime change” in Iran. The hostility of the United States to Iran is rooted in the overthrow of the former American puppet regime of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi as a result of the revolution which occurred in 1979. The central thrust of American foreign policy in the Middle East is to eliminate governments that refuse to be incorporated into the Washington Consensus that was developed at the end of the Cold War, which involves the creation of a world order based on neoliberal economic principles under the domination of the United States.
The governments that have been targeted by the United States for elimination in the Middle East and elsewhere are those governments which reject the Washington Consensus, and refuse to comply with its objectives. The American invasion of Iraq in 2003, the American-led NATO war against Libya in 2011, and America support for insurgent forces in Syria against the Assad government are examples of the application of the American position concerning the future of the Middle East.
At present, Iran is the primary obstacle to the domination of the Middle East by the United States and its regional allies. In particular, Israel and Saudi Arabia both regard Iran as their principal rival in the Middle East. While Saudi Arabia has never formally recognized Israel, the two nations have moved closer together in recent years as their interests and objectives have converged. Israel is continuing to pursue an expansionist agenda which is demonstrated by the proliferation of the settlements in the West Bank, and the ongoing assaults on Gaza and Lebanon. Saudi Arabia is spreading its own Wahhabi state ideology throughout the region, and its allies in the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council are likewise seeking to assert their own influence in the Middle East.
The most obvious example of Saudi Arabia’s ambitions is the present war that Saudi Arabia and its allies are waging in Yemen, and in Saudi Arabia’s own Eastern Province. The objective of the war effort by the Saudi-led coalition is to defeat the Houthi rebellion in Yemen, and eliminate sympathy for Iran in both Saudi Arabia and Yemen by means of the genocide of the Shiite populations in those countries.
Under the Trump administration, the United States has sought to strengthen its own relationship with both Israel and Saudi Arabia as evidenced by the increase in military and economic aid that has been provided to both countries since President Trump has assumed office. The objective of the Trump administration is to oppose efforts by Russia and China to gain influence in the Middle East, to do so by strengthening American allies in the region, and undermining the opponents of Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The Middle East is a focal point of the international rivalry between the major powers concerning control over valuable resources in the region such as petroleum, natural gas, and minerals. Additionally, both Israel and Saudi Arabia remain an influential force in domestic American politics by means of their domestic sympathizers and political lobbies. The principal foreign policy ambition of Israel and Saudi Arabia is to eliminate the coalition of anti-Zionist and anti-Wahhabi forces that has been called the “resistance block,” of which Iran is the most powerful member, but which also includes Syria, Lebanon/Hezbollah, Yemen’s Houthi, and various Palestinian, Iraqi, and Afghan Shiite groups. The geopolitical objectives of the United States and the expansionist objectives of Israel and Saudi Arabia have converged on the question of Iran, and for this reason the escalation of hostility toward Iran is developing.