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07/11/2019

Would Blacklisting Iran’s IRGC and Increasing US Military Presence in the Persian Gulf Lead to Hostilities in the Strait of Hormuz? PART 1

Would Blacklisting Iran’s IRGC and Increasing US Military Presence in the Persian Gulf Lead to Hostilities in the Strait of Hormuz? PART 1

Washington’s recent designation of Iran’s elite, 125,000-member IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) as an FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organization) was more or less overlooked in the Western media as a typical story and lost in the short attention span of the daily news cycle. Without sounding too alarmist, the story actually signaled a rather serious development: the Washington-Tel Aviv-Riyadh axis of chaos is pushing Iran, the world’s fifth largest oil producer and fourth largest natural gas producer, into a dangerous corner in the geopolitical boxing ring, laying one punch after another for the sole purpose of goading them to punch back. Certainly, Iran’s downing of the US’ $222 million RQ-4 Global Hawk drone a couple of weeks ago enraged the Pentagon, although the incident didn’t prove serious enough to spark outright conflict. The Iranians claim to have shot down the drone with a surface-to-air missile for violating its airspace, an attack which didn’t cost them more than $30,000 or $40,000 depending on various estimates. Welcome to the age of asymmetrical warfare, no longer simply in theory, but on full display for all to see, a war scenario that the Iranians have anticipated and planned for for decades. The US is now playing with fire in a country full of oil.

Some argue that in Syria, the Iranians have practiced “admirable restraint…” doing otherwise would have given Israel an excuse (and a pretext) to further justify their F-16 Falcon fighter jet bombardments. The bombardments have targeted strategic locations within Syria where it is reported that Iranian Army’s 65th Brigade Commandos and IRGC Quds Force Special Forces (and military advisors) are present, some 10 Syrian military bases, the most important and active of which is the T-4 Base in Homs. The Israelis claim that within some of these bases, there are missile production and even uranium enrichment facilities… although that hasn’t been verified and could be dismissed as pure propaganda. Nevertheless, what is of special concern to Iranian policy makers (and military rank and file) is the possibility of Washington launching limited aerial bombardments on strategic military and nuclear facilities WITHIN Iranian territory itself, similar to Israel’s surprise air strike on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor on June 7, 1981, better known as, “Operation Opera” (Hebrew: מבצע אופרה ), aka “Operation Babylon.” This time, however, it would be against the Natanz Nuclear Facility near the ancient Iranian city of Isfahan and the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant, a uranium enrichment facility located 20 miles northeast of the city of Qom.

 

Replicating the Osirak airstrike might be a possibility, especially now that a much-awaited Iranian policy shift is finally manifesting and the country is going back to enriching uranium and re-opening the Arak’s Heavy water reactor in response to the US’ withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal and continued sanctions. Then again, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has also stated that Iran will continue its efforts to uphold the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, AKA, the Iran nuclear deal) despite their enemies’ wishes.

To add to this quagmire, Trump and his Neocon henchmen are pursuing a highly reckless (and dangerous) global policy approach which is leading to war and conflict in various parts of the world while their domestic policies disfigure what’s left of American democracy at home… in other words, the potential for a new war in the Middle East is no longer just conjecture.

With the Iranian economy tanking and their currency losing four-fifths of its value since 2016/ 2017, and after much foot-dragging on Europe’s part in finding work arounds for  US sanctions, and with what President Rouhani has described as his country’s “strategic patience” running out, this time, there seems to be a relative consensus within both the liberal and conservative camps in Iran in regard to dealing with Trump’s reneging of the JCPOA. The Iranians had offered a 60-day moratorium which recently came to an end, warning the five superpowers still upholding the JCPOA to come up with a solid plan to ease the draconian sanctions in order to preserve Iran’s interests guaranteed by the deal.

 

The Iranians seemingly no longer put any stock in Europe’s false promises, much to the dismay of European leaders. The German Foreign Minister’s recent visit to Iran and his harsh threat of taking Iran’s dossier back to the UN Security Council and inflicting further sanctions wasn’t exactly reassuring. Even the liberals in Tehran have finally realized that Europe can not be counted on and feel Iran should ignore the EU’s requests, especially France’s ridiculous demand that Iran curb it’s deterrent missile capabilities which are the country’s only effective way of defending itself. The EU and the three European JCPOA signatory nations, i.e. the UK, France and Germany, have only supported Iran rhetorically. It is too late for the Iranians, even the neo-liberals in Tehran, to hope their European counterparts develop some testicular fortitude and moral backbone and act in accordance with their JCPOA obligations, especially when it comes to trade, commerce and standing up to the Trump Administration.

It is now clear to everyone that Washington’s modus operandi is to use sanctions and threats of sanctions as a weapon of economic terrorism and mafia diplomacy to threaten any country that refuses to be a vassal or client state into compliance. As long as the US remains the most lucrative consumer market and the dollar remains the world’s reserve currency within the petro-dollar framework, Washington’s addiction to imposing sanctions on other nations will remain their go-to strategy… but the demise of that system is a certainty: a country that has lost its power of persuasion has lost all of its power.

As long as NATO expansionism remains, accompanied by neoliberalism’s evermore fashionable Russiaphobic push, nothing will change for the better. Interestingly, President Trump himself had openly challenged the continued existence of  NATO, at least in its current formation, at the beginning of his presidency… before the globalist reality struck him down as evidenced in Vice President Mike Pence’s NATO speech three years ago. As long as the Transatlantic Alliance remains in place, politically, economically and militarily, Washington and its European client states’ will sail in the same direction. The rest is dangerous wishful thinking, something that should have no room in the intricacies of international relations and geopolitics given its three principles and derivatives, i.e. national interest, mutual interest, and most importantly, geo-economic leverage. The mess we are in today is a direct contradiction to a system of politics based on practical rather than moral or ideological consideration, i.e. realpolitik.

With a chaotic president like Donald Trump at the helm, and war-mongering colonialist neocons like Mike Pompeo and the infamous John Bolton instigating one crisis after the other around the world, more than ever, we need problem-solving, practical-minded and realistic adults conducting Herculean efforts in the geopolitical sphere, and not 1960s-style hippie holdovers like Obama’s former Secretary of State John Kerry and his copious liberal Iranian counterparts. As President Vladimir Putin recently said, “Liberalism is obsolete.” To this, we should also add the eminent death of neo-conservatism, which at the end of the day isn’t actually ‘conservative’ at all.

With all due respect and admiration to the great Dr. Javad Zarif, a career UN diplomat, a respected academic, and Iran’s foreign minister during the past six years under President Rouhani, it would have been in Iran’s national interest if a Teflon-tough career negotiator was in charge rather than a weak professor desperate to appease human rights. Let’s face it, the Third Reich was never really defeated, it only morphed into contemporary Washington: a tremendous (but unsustainable) bullying nuisance. Consequently, it gives me no pleasure to remind our Iranian counterparts of the major errors in judgement and strategic errors committed by the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain during his three year tenure in office (1937-1940) when he tried to appease Hitler, resulting in a miserable historical failure for British diplomacy. Similarly, the Rouhani Administration’s entire line of reasoning in pushing for the JCPOA, aside from misleading their domestic liberal Iranian constituents, was not only a strategic blunder, it weakened Iran’s position for many decades to come in terms of their nuclear advancements. Iran should have NEVER put itself in that position by playing directly into their enemies’ hands. But then again, maybe that’s what the liberal faction in Iran always wanted… to weaken the Islamic Republican system, the power of their supreme leader and most notably the IRGC. Much discussion and compelling feuds have been happening within the internal Iranian political world on precisely this topic.

 

In the contemporary political atmosphere of the US, Senator Rand Paul’s (R, Kentucky) recent warning to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to start a war with Iran must be viewed as a positive development. However, constitutionally speaking, the days are gone when it was Congress’ responsibility to determine the country’s foreign policy and when to go to war – or when not to. With the resurgence of the libertarian faction of the Republican Party, there might still be some hope to restrain the Party of War. It was exactly this non-interventionist wave that Donald Trump rode in order to successfully enter the White House. American people are TIRED of being pushed into unnecessary wars propagated vis-à-vis mainstream media cheerleaders while their infrastructure is falling apart and massive social problems go unanswered. The US’ industrial base has been decimated, much to China’s advantage.

 
Alexander Azadgan
A multi-awarded American professor of Strategic Global Management & International Political Economy and a senior geopolitical analyst with Press TV, CCTV (CGTN America), Revolution Radio, Radio Sputnik (English, Persian & Russian desk), Fars News Agency, Tastim News, IRIB, Sahar TV, Balt News, Tehran Times, Mehr News Agency, among others. Professor Azadgan is also the Editor-at-Large with United World International (UWI), the former Editor-at-Large with ImperiaNews.com, and the former Editor-in-Chief with MiddleEastRising.com & LibertyBeacon.com (their Middle Eastern Affairs Desk). Follow him at his YouTube channel   

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