Monday, June 16, 2014
100 Years of Western Meddling in the Middle East (Or, Is the Friend of the Enemy of my Enemy's Friends an Enemy - Always?)
In the timeline below, I'm not even including Afghanistan, long a proxy war between the US and Russia ... nor am I including the usual focus on Israel and Palestine. This is just an overview - a brief timeline - of the chaos that has been caused in a large part by the US, Britain, and France in the nations of Iran, Iraq, and Syria over the last 100 years. Follow along....if you can.....
1911: WWI: Russia and Britain occupy Iran. Britain stays10 years.
1916: Britain and France develop the Sykes-Picot Agreement, a secret Plan to divide the entire middle east outside of the Arabian peninsula.
1920: Britain receives Palestine, Jordan, and what is now Iraq, and installs Sunni elites into power. France occupies what is today Syria and Lebanon. France transfers some Lebanese territory to Syria, and continues occupation of both until 1946.
1921: Britain withdraws from Iran, and Reza Khan becomes Shah of Iran.
1941: WWII begins. Iraqis overthrow puppet British government in Iraq. Britain and Russia occupy Iran and Iraq to guarantee oil supplies for the Allied effort. Shah Reza Khan is deposed by the superpowers; his son Reza Pahlavi is installed as new Shah of Iran in return for western access to oil. Britain stays in Iraq until 1948.
1943: Lebanon gains independence from France; Britain occupies both Lebanon and Syria to avoid alliances with Germany.
1948: State of Israel established. Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria declare war on Israel. Syria undergoes years of internal revolts following their defeat, many based on ethnic and religious rivalries.
1951: Iranians elect Mosaddegh as Prime Minister.
1953: Mosaddegh nationalizes oil fields, and is subsequently overthrown in US-UK led coup d’etat. The Shah assumes complete control and crushes opposition with torture and secret police with US-UK support.
1958: Iraqis revolt against British-installed Monarchy and Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist party assumes control.
1966: Ba’athist Party also takes control in Syria, but the group is divided between pro and anti Iraq factions.
1970: The Anti-Iraq wing of the Ba’athist Party, supported by the military, overthrows the Syrian government and installs anti-Iraq Ba’athist Hafez el-Assad as leader.
1975: Civil War breaks out in Lebanon.
1976: Syria begins a 30 year occupation and effective control of Lebanon.
1978: Iranians revolt against the Shah; The Iranian Revolution installs Ayatollah Khomeini in a theocratic state.
1979: US refuses to return the Shah to Iran to face trial; students take Americans Embassy hostage for 444 days.
1980: Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein invades Iran, receiving financial, military, and chemical weapons from the US.
1988: Hussein’s Iraq launches chemical genocide against Kurdish minority in northern Iraq.
1990: Iraq annexes Kuwait. US, France, UK, and Syria enter the Gulf War against Hussein; Kurds rebel in the north.
1998: US President Clinton signs Iraq Liberation Act, calling for “regime change” in Iraq.
2000: Syria’s Hafez el-Assad dies; his son Bashar al-Azzad takes control.
2001: Al Qaeda attacks the United States. US State Department meets with Iran secretly in Switzerland to obtain cooperation on the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan and al qaeda throughout the region.
2002: President Bush refers to Iran as being part of the “Axis of Evil” and US-Iran relations deteriorate quickly.
2003: US-led coalition enters Iraq and overthrows Hussein. Shi’ite led coalition government installed, with a semi-autonomous Kurdish region in the north.
2005: A series of assassinations of Lebanese officials is blamed on Syria’s Assad; protests and pressure from the west result in Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon.
2008: Lebanon’s new Cabinet establishes Hezbollah, a Shi’ite paramilitary organization, with legal status. Hezbollah is committed to driving the Americans, French, and British out of the Levant, is funded by Iran, and allied with Syria’s Assad in the Syrian Civil War.
2011: US Troops leave Iraq, and Sunni-Shi’ite struggles accelerate. The “Arab Spring” spreads to Syria and full-scale civil war ensues, resulting in over 100,000 deaths and 2 million refugees. Anti-Assad forces include Kurds and ISIS (“Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant”) allies in the northeast of Syria.
2014: The Sunni-dominated ISIS military assume effective control over eastern Syria, and begin successful invasion of Western Iraq.
News outlets and US Government Hawks reduce the march of ISIS to that of "al qaeda linked militants" - a simpleton's version.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
[NEW: See Short Video reviewing the last 60 years of History between Iran and the USA at the end of this post]
From his home in Hawaii, President Barack Obama signed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act into law today, imposing the strongest economic sanctions to date on Iran, and increasing the probabilities of oil disruptions, rising gasoline prices, and military conflict.
The current sanctions are in response to Iran’s efforts to develop a nuclear program, which Iran claims is for energy production, but which is suspected of developing weapons. Sanctions on Iran by the United States, however, go back long before the nuclear program. Sanctions started in 1980, when US Embassy workers were taken hostage for 444 days in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution that toppled the US-backed Shah. These sanctions prohibited almost all trade with Iran, except for activity "intended to benefit the Iranian people", including the export of medical and agricultural equipment to Iran, humanitarian assistance, and "informational" materials such as films and publications. Under the bill signed today, entities doing business with Iran’s central bank (Bank Markazi) will be prohibited from access to the US banking system, thus potentially crippling Iran’s ability to receive revenue from its oil exports.
According to BBC, “The bill specifically targets anyone doing business with Iran's central bank [and is] an attempt to force other countries to choose between buying oil from Iran or being blocked from any dealings with the U.S. economy.” The sanctions apply to foreign governments as well as to private companies.
Speaking anonymously, some U.S. officials believe that Tehran will view the bill signing itself as an act of war. The move could push Iran to take drastic measures, including an attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz, the world's busiest shipping lane for crude oil, with its ample supply of marine mines. 20% of the worlds crude oil passes through the Straight of Hormuz; a blockade of the Straight would send oil prices skyrocketing. Even if Iran chooses not to take this action, fear on world markets of the mere possibility of oil disruptions will likely lead to speculation at the New York Mercantile Exchange, where traders will be placing purchase and sale orders for millions of gallons of future deliveries of crude oil, creating lucrative profits for commodity traders and oil companies.
Iranian officials view the sanctions as an intolerable assault on the country's economy and have vowed to retaliate. Israel’s Ha’aretz News Service quoted Iran's Revolutionary Guard Deputy Chief Hossein Salami as saying, "If they impose sanctions on Iran's oil exports, then even one drop of oil cannot flow from the Strait of Hormuz." Pentagon officials said they would meet the closing of the Hormuz straight with force.
Meanwhile, in a game of one-upsmanship, Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, speaking in a campaign appearance in Iowa today, renewed his call for a proactive overthrow of the Iranian regime by the US through covert operations. All of the GOP candidates (with the stark and notable exception of Ron Paul) have called for tougher provisions against Iran.
For Iran’s part, it notes that the United States currently occupies 43 different military bases in the immediate vicinity of Iran; Pakistan, Russia, the US, and, it is widely suspected, Israel, all have nuclear weapon capability in the area.
It would appear that US soldiers are leaving Iraq just in time to return to Iran.
The bill also includes a highly controversial (and Unconstitutional) provision permitting terrorism suspects – including American citizens - to be held in detention indefinitely without a trial. While President Obama downplayed this clause by promising that his administration "will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens," he was contradicted by a senior administration official who explained that the President "is not saying that a U.S. citizen can never be held in military custody."