- (november 2011)
The USA withdraws and Iran loses.
There is widespread concern (or celebration, depending which side you're on)
that the withdrawal of the USA from Iraq will hand a victory to the Iranian
regime. Iran, so goes the thinking, will further increase its influence on
the Middle East and become the undisputed regional power.
Reality might be just the opposite. The presence of 100,000 soldiers from the
USA on Iraqi territory has been a convenient (and sometimes deserved) scapegoat
for all the problems in the region. This has been the case in just about any
place of the world where troops from the USA were stationed. For as long as
they were there, the local population (with tacit approval from the political
power) blame them for all sorts of local evils. Once they are gone, however,
their absence unleashes all sorts of unpredictable forces.
The USA often acts like the proverbial tide: when it recedes, you can see who
has been swimming naked.
Iraq will certainly be dominated by the Shiite majority. Demographics, common
sense and statistics imply it. That is usually taken as a sign that Iran will
exert an influence on Iraq, because Iran is the homeland of Shia Islam and
it is the most Shiite country in the world. However, it could be the exact
opposite: that Iraq will end up exerting a destabilizing influence on the
First of all, Iraq is a democracy. It is not at peace, but it is free and
democratic. Today the antidemocratic forces of Iran have an easy job of pointing
out that Iraq is de facto "occupied" by the USA, just like Palestine is
occupied by Israel, and this triggers all sorts of emotional responses
throughout the Islamic world and inside Iraq as well. Once the last soldier
has departed, though, the antidemocratic forces will have to face the fact
that one country is a democracy and the other one is not. Period.
Day after day, the Iranians (especially the young Iranians, who are more than
50% of the population) will experience the humiliation of having been passed
by their Arab neighbors. When Iran was ruled by the ayatollahs and Iraq was
ruled by a mad dictator (Saddam Hussein), this was acceptable. It will be a lot
harder for the Iranians (who think of themselves as a superior civilization)
to accept that an Arab neighbor has a better form of government and only Iran
is stuck in the dark ages.
Secondly, the sanctions are crippling the Iranian economy, whereas there are
no sanctions on Iraq. In fact, Iraq's economy could be helped by countless
partners: USA, Europe, Russia, China, etc. Just about every power in the
world is eager to do business with Iraq if Iraq solves its internal problems.
Chances are that the situation will improve (perhaps faster than outsiders can
imagine) and that Iraq becomes a relatively rich country. It doesn't take
much to become richer than Iran. And imagine the effect of a rich neighbor
on the underemployed Iranian youth. Again, Iran used to be surrounded on
all sides by poor countries: Iraq, Syria, Armenia, Pakistan, Afghanistan
and Kurdish Turkey (the poorest region of Turkey).
Imagine the trauma when Iranians will notice that their neighbors in Iraq
(that shares a very long and very busy border) are getting richer.
Imagine the long lines of Iranians crossing the border to buy better goods
in Iraq. Imagine the crisis caused by Iranian emigrants entering Iraq to find
better paid jobs. This would be the ultimate humiliation for the Iranian regime.
Last but not least, once the USA withdraws, there will be no more excuses.
Barring another stupid Israeli move (like invading Lebanon and invading Gaza),
there will be no more scapegoats left: it will become obvious who is messing
with whom. It is already becoming painful obvious to the Middle Eastern
public opinion that the most hated regime in the region, Assad's in Syria,
is supported only by Iran (whose own regime is another contender for "most hated
regime in the Middle East"). If Iran keeps meddling into Iraqi affairs, it
will become also obvious that Iran (not the USA) is the problem there.
Iran's very nuclear program was tolerated by the region as long as it was viewed
as a counterbalance to the aggression of the USA, but afterward it will look
like dangerous Iranian bullying. For the first time it might generate as much
public hostility in the neighboring countries as in the West.
if the USA withdraws from Iraq and then strikes Iran's nuclear facilities,
many Arabs are likely to view the combined actions as ideal (getting rid of
two unpleasant guests).
Iran was popular for attacking the USA and Israel from every possible pulpit.
Iran spun the theories that the Jewish holocaust never happened and that
the 2001 terrorist attacks in the USA were engineered by Bush. Both were
very popular conspiracy theories in the Islamic (and even European) world.
But now Iran is losing its appeal: it brutally repressed the youth that
were doing what the Arab youth later did in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya;
it supports Assad in Syria; and it would probably lose its military grip
on Hezbollah and Hamas (both more interested in holding power in their
regions than in wars with Israel) if only Israel stopped threatening its
neighbors. Ironically, Israel (Iran's hated enemy) is the only entity that
can prop up the Iranian regime: if Israel commits more atrocities, then
the Iranian regime regains some of its legitimacy in the eyes of the regional
public opinion. Otherwise, there is nothing to save the Iranian regime
other than the brutal methods of its Republican Guard.
To some extent it was true that Iran was the net beneficiary of the invasions
of Iraq and Afghanistan by George W Bush. However, by the same logic, Iran will
also be the net losers when Obama withdraws from Iraq and Afghanistan.
TM, ®, Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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- (september 2011)
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statements are often described as "bizarre". In september 2011 at the United Nations he delivered a summary of his
So in the end who is more "bizarre"?
Ahmadinejad or the West?
- He referred to the "mysterious September 11 incident", implying that the
Bush administration might not be completely innocent of that terrorist attack
that was officially blamed on Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda organization.
The accusation is, of course, an old one. In ten years millions of people
have come to doubt at least that Bush's people really wanted to prevent
that terrorist attack. Warnings by Dick Clarke, the anti-terrorism czar,
were ignored. Then the USA reacted by attacking Iraq, that had nothing to do
with Al Qaeda but was an old fixation of the Bush camp. It all provided
ammunitions to the conspiracy-theory camp. What is "bizarre" is not the
accusation, but the way Bush and Cheney acted before and after the attacks.
If they had acted rationally, there would be no suspicions.
- He accused NATO of sanctioning drug trafficking. This is actually hard to
deny. NATO, and the USA in particular, is perfectly aware that heroin is the
main export of Afghanistan, and has done absolutely nothing to change the
fact. The USA, in particular, is also the main customer of heroin.
The USA is also the main customer of Mexican drugs, and is also the main
seller of weapons to the Mexican drug cartels. Drug trafficking is obviously
a problem created by the West, and by the USA in particular, and funded by
- He criticised the USA for killing Osama bin Laden and not bringing him to trial. Most of the world agrees. In 2001 Bush told the world that there was
ample evidence that Osama bin Laden was guilty of the terrorist attacks, but
that evidence has never been made public. It was mysterious back then and it
is mysterious today why that evidence had to be kept secret. We will never hear
Osama's version of the facts.
- He accused the USA of being militarist and imperialist. Not many people on
this planet would disagree after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
- He accused the West of paying a "fine or ransom to the Zionists" because of the Holocaust. It is difficult to disagree. The reason that the Jews got a state
and, say, the Kurds and the Sahrawis did not is simply because the West decided
so, and the West decided so after the Holocaust. If that is not the reason,
then the West should explain why only Jews are entitled to a state of all the
people without a state on this planet (the list is very long: see
The phantom states of the world).
- He added that the West should also pay reparations to Africans for slavery.
Here he forgot that Muslims invented African slavery as we know it today, but
fundamentally he has a point: if the West feels guilty towards the Jews,
the West should also feel guilty about all its other victims.
- He accused Israel of being responsible for "mass murder and terror against the Palestinians". Most of the planet agrees.
- He blamed the West for viewing Zionism "as a sacred notion and ideology".
This is certainly true. The West accepts that there is one state founded on
religious and ethnic racism (Israel) while screaming wild when a Muslim tries
to create a state based on religious and ethnic racism and while preaching the
separation of state and church (to everybody except Israel, which is a
self-defined "Jewish state"). The West becomes alarmed even at the mere
chance that an Islamic party might win elections in Egypt, but finds it
perfectly natural that Israel is officially a Jewish state.
The double standard of the West is obvious.
- He accused the USA of helping Saddam Hussein to attack Iran in a war that
killed one million people. There is no doubt that Ronald Reagan helped Saddam
Hussein fight that war, and that the USA benefited from that war, although
Saddam Hussein might have started without any tip from Reagan.
- He accused the USA of being the only country that ever used a nuclear
weapon, and of using it against defenseless civilians. Both statements are
- He claimed that the West is targeting Iran with sanctions not because there
is anything wrong with its nuclear program but because Iran dares to speak out.
It is a fact that the West is not slapping sanctions against Israel, a country
which has built nuclear weapons. If Israel is entitled to nuclear weapons,
why others are not?
- Finally, he called for changes in the structure of the United Nations.
He is not the only one. It is plain ridiculous that small countries like France
and Britain have veto power at the United Nations, while India and Brazil, to
name two, have not. And it is plainly ridiculous that the dictatorship of
mainland China is represented and even enjoys veto power while peaceful
and democratic Taiwan is not represented at all, as if it didn't exist.
This is not to deny that Ahmadinejad has made some truly bizarre statements and is an illegitimate leader.
TM, ®, Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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- Articles on Iran before 2011