So, while the trade sanctions are being piled up on China, and the US president foams at the mouth talking about the need to resort to protectionism policies, a new game is brewing in world politics with Iran being slapped by new sanctions.
Well, maybe we should call it a new phase of a dirty old game; a very old one!
The Iran-US face-off has been a regular feature in global politics for quite some time now. Though, when the international media presents the Iran-USA feud they tend to delicately sideline some very important events which have sustained the animosity.
It’s the responsibility of the media to be non-partisan in presenting the facts to ensure that public sentiment does not veer to one side.
Sorry to be blunt but why Iran has had a strained relationship with the West is hardly revisited.
Unless we know the truth, it will be difficult to assess the current scenario.
We want your oil and a servile ruler
In the majority of cases, the discussion about Iran-US relations goes back to 1979 when an Islamic revolution toppled the Shah — a puppet in the hands of the West.
Obviously, the West was annoyed as their lackey fell and their anger multiplied when the US embassy was stormed by Iranians with 52 hostages taken.
Iran wanted the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was given the right to take treatment in the US to be extradited to stand trial for decades of brutal repression using the secret police, SAVAK. The Americans declined.
But, that is not the start of the story of antagonism. To find the roots, we need to go to the early fifties, in 1953 to be precise when American and British intelligence agencies united to overthrow a democratically elected government of Mosaddegh in what is known as Operation Ajax.
This was done because Iran had nationalised her oil reserves which the West did not approve of.
So, when Trump lashes out at Iran, asking for its nuclear programme to be scrapped, he is disregarding the vile deeds that the US and UK did several decades ago which actually triggered the long history of mistrust and antipathy.
When the Shah came to power, Iran was an open market for the West. Exploit and allow the ruler to have absolute authority.
The Shah was an image of contradiction; he paved the way for Western-style modernisation, education and culture but crushed all dissent and opposition.
There was, of course, the ultra-decadent party at Persepolis in 1971 when the Shah celebrated 2,500 years of the Persian Empire with top dignitaries across the world.
Amidst the dazzling extravagance topped with hubris and conceit, the Iranian people were left out. The West went gaga over it. Profligacy is hardly their concern as long as their commercial interests are met. This ‘remain quiet at the sight of excess’ was and is standard policy as long as the ruler of the exploited nation is on your side.
Operation Eagle Claw: Failure which the US wants to hide
After the US diplomats and staff were taken as hostages in 1979, the then-US president Jimmy Carter approved a secret plan called Eagle Claw to rescue the hostages. In what can be called a complete fiasco, the Eagle fell flat and the Claws were uprooted.
Caught in a desert sandstorm, some of the US helicopters sent to the misguided mission crashed, and with footage shown across the world, the notion of American invincibility also crumbled. Carter lost his bid for a second term; Ronald Reagan came and secured the release of the prisoners.
These facts are never brought out in the media. Shockingly, the country description of Iran at the BBC website never mentions that, in 1953, a democratically-elected government was ousted by the UK and US.
Trump and his anti-Iran antics
The Trump administration has imposed more sanctions on Iran’s oil because ostensibly it wants to eviscerate the country’s nuclear programme.
Or maybe, nuclear talks is just an excuse and this is done to appease Saudi Arabia, US’s major weapons buyer, so Iran’s ascendancy in the world is halted and the country’s unwavering defiant voice subdued.
In the selfish game of global politics, the rhetoric of peace and human rights is used only as a smokescreen.
The US may have condemned the killing of a journalist inside a Saudi mission abroad but now it’s pushed the incident under the carpet — the sooner forgotten the better.
After all, there’s the weapons deal in question, billion-dollar orders at stake and since Saudi Arabia is not trying to emerge as a self-assumed power, there’s nothing to worry about. Kill a few journalists now and then, dismember their bodies if you want, we will be buddies at the end of the day, right?
By the way, did anyone also take the latest Iranian fighter jet Kowsar into the complex equation?
Unveiled earlier this year, the jet was quickly denounced by several Western aviation magazines as being a copy of the US F-5 which Iran had purchased in 1974, five years before the fall of the Shah.
This criticism comes even after Iran said that it’s a fourth generation fighter with technological advancements.
Now for argument’s sake let’s assume the plane is just a copy. Even then the feat has to be lauded because, despite such embargoes, the country managed to make a fighter jet which looks convincing.
China took the MIG-21 from Russia and modified the specifications to produce the Chengdu J-7, which is still one of the main fighter planes of the Chinese air force. Interestingly, J-7 with modern equipment and latest armament, form the bulwark of Bangladesh Air Force’s interceptor fighter squadrons.
Therefore, even if Kowsar looks like the F-5, it may very well be a fighter jet featuring many current day computer-based navigational facilities.
Since all global superpowers are moved only by commercial interests, the comparatively lower price of Kowsar in the open market may pose a grave challenge to the high priced military hardware that others are trying to sell.
The latest sanctions may have come from the thought that if Iran can produce fighters despite the embargoes then it can possibly do a lot more while remaining out of Western scrutiny. Let’s not forget the Iranian use of reverse technology on a captured US drone a few years earlier.
Meanwhile, Iran has maintained a nonchalant face, though the people will face hardship in the long run.
Then again, this is not new for the country; they managed it for so long and there’s no reason why they can’t carry on in the future.
With these sanctions, an Iran-Russia deal may be on the cards with a resurgence of Cold War divisions.
Wonder what would have happened if there was a killing inside an Iranian embassy anywhere in the world!
Towheed Feroze is a news editor at Bangla Tribune and teaches at the University of Dhaka.