In recent years Iran
has become the target of a belligerent campaign against it, orchestrated by
usual the suspects, the US, Israel and Britain. This aggressive nuclear-armed
trio has badgered other nations to back anti-Iranian sanctions without even the
flimsiest evidence that Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons.
Since 2006, Iran has
been subjected to three rounds of ever-tightening UN sanctions while the European
Union (EU) is preparing to freeze funds and assets of Bank Melli, Iran's
largest bank. And what heinous crime has Tehran perpetrated to warrant this
In truth, Iran hasn't
done anything wrong. Under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which
it is a signatory, it has an "inalienable right" to develop,
research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, which includes
the right to enrich uranium.
Washington harbours old grievances against the Iranian government and Israel is
determined to eliminate potential powerful rivals within the region, Iran is
being squeezed to relinquish its rights.
The stance of the US
and its allies is not only based on an unfounded and unfair premise, it reeks
of hypocrisy when nuclear-armed Israel has a green light to continue its
ridiculous policy of nuclear ambiguity and is not being pressed to sign-up to
On the rare occasions
that Western leaders are asked about this inconsistency, they deftly change the
subject, terminate the interview, or launch into a tirade, which usually
includes Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's "wipe Israel off the
map" statement, knowing full well that his words were mistranslated. They
cannot debate the issue because it defies logic.
When it comes to
demonising Iran, the US, Israel and Britain have a unified message and a
compliant media, which has learned nothing from its mistakes during the run-up
to the invasion of Iraq, and seems happy to continue to act as a government
Thanks to the dutiful
corporate mouthpieces, most Americans and Britons have no idea that Tehran is
acting within its rights under the NPT. They don't know that in December, a US
intelligence estimate stated categorically that Iran is not currently developing
nukes or that the nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA), which monitors Iranian facilities, has no proof it seeks to do so.
The West's propaganda
campaign is so effective that the majority of Westerners believe that Iran is
the belligerent even though the facts support the contrary argument.
For instance, US
President George W. Bush has rarely missed an opportunity to insult, condemn
and threaten Iran throughout his two terms in office, beginning with his
puerile "Axis of Evil." The presumptive Republican presidential
candidate, Senator John McCain, made his feelings known in his "bomb, bomb
Iran" ditty, which he sang to the tune of the Beach Boys' "Barbara
Ann." And even his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, has vowed to
eliminate the threat posed by Iran whatever it takes.
Israeli leaders have
gone a step further. Earlier this month, Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Shaul
Mofaz said an attack on Iran appeared "unavoidable." Interestingly,
every time the rhetoric is ratcheted up so is the price of oil, which is good
news for Tehran's coffers.
recently launched a military air exercise over the eastern Mediterranean,
involving over 100 fighter jets and helicopters, which, according to US
officials was a prelude to a possible strike on Iran's enrichment plant at
spokesperson told the Times that Iran should "read the writing on the
wall" as this was a "dress rehearsal" and Iranians should
"read the script before they continue with their programme" else
Israel "will take military steps to halt Tehran's production of bomb-grade
In this case,
shouldn't this dry run constitute an act of war? It is certainly a provocative
act and should be taken seriously in light of Israel's recent incursion into
Syrian airspace to bomb a military facility and its 1981 attack on Iraq's
When Egypt amassed
over 200,000 troops in the Sinai in early June 1967, Israel struck first,
blamed Egypt for initiating hostilities and claiming it had acted out of
self-defence. Surely, Israel's self-confessed rehearsal is similarly
provocative and in the extremely unlikely event Iran struck first, it could
also argue self-defence.
Whether Israel is
merely sabre-rattling in an attempt to persuade Iran to agree to the latest EU
package of inducements or whether it is deadly serious is the subject of
IAEA Chief Mohammad
ElBaradei seems to be taking it seriously and if Iran is attacked, he says he
will resign. "I don't believe that what I see in Iran today is a current,
grave and urgent danger. If a military strike is carried out against Iran at
this time, it would make me unable to continue my work," he said, warning
that such an attack would turn the region into "a fireball."
Iran is taking it
seriously too. Last Sunday, Iranian Defence Minister Mustafa Mohammad Najjar
told the nation that if attacked, Iran would use "all means
available" to come up with a devastating response. Those of us who live in
the neighbourhood can only pray that cooler heads put an end to this madness
before it's too late.
S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes
feedback and can be contacted by email at email@example.com.