January 26, 2012

The West’s All-Out Economic War on Iran

IRD discusses toughening sanctions against Iran in an interview with Head of the World Trade Center of Iran

http://irdiplomacy.ir/en/news/20/bodyView/1897247/The.West%E2%80%99s.All.Out.Economic.War.on.Iran.html


The age of wars on battlefields is over. In the last decade, the US and its European allies instigated two unfruitful wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, leading them to apprehend their wars’ ineffectiveness. “Soft” wars like cyber attacks as well as economic and political sanctions have found a special place in the American creed.

Due to its nuclear program, Iran has been subject to economic sanctions both from the East and the West. Nevertheless, during the last year Tehran has seen even tougher sanctions that could be interpreted as a form of invisible war on the country. IRD discusses the problem with Mohammad-Reza Sabzalipour:

IRD: Since its establishment, the Islamic Republic of Iran relentlessly faced sections imposed by Western countries. In your opinion, how are the recent sanctions different from before? And can we agree that the recent sanctions have taken a new form?

MS: Yes. Since its establishment, due to differences between the Islamic Revolution of Iran and the US, the Senate has passed laws on sanctions on Iran that were approved and signed by US presidents. Since then, this has turned into a routine event and every year sanctions get reapproved and re-signed by members of the US government.

During the past couple of years however, particularly in recent months, new differences between the two countries resulted in unprecedented sanctions and resolutions from the US, Europe and even the UN Security Council. By taking a closer look and a careful analysis of the flow of recent events, we discover new realities and hidden agendas within the recent sanctions imposed on Iran.

Closely considering the events that have taken place during the past 30 years regarding Iran, I personally believe what really has occurred are not sanctions but political and economic pressures from the US on Iran. These pressures were solely a sign of US unfriendliness and anger toward Iran.

The majority of Iran’s high-level political figures however, agree that foreign pressure on Iran did not significantly delay Iran’s economic and political growth, and in a way it is a blessing in disguise as it reinforces Iran’s independence, industrial innovation, and growth. Even throughout the Iran-Iraq War sanctions did not greatly affect the average person’s livelihood. Therefore, pressures were not notable and would not be mentioned in Iranian media more than once or twice a month.

I believe pressures on Iran could be put into two phases:

The first phase is from the beginning of the Islamic Revolution until close to the end of Bush’s presidency in 2009.

The second phase began 3 years ago following the events that took place after Iran’s presidential elections, which intensified Iran’s problems with the West. Since then conflict and misunderstanding between Iran and the West has picked up pace, becoming bigger, similar to a snowball effect.

Therefore, I can say with conviction that an all-out war against Iran is currently taking place that is disguised in the form of sanctions, which makes us simply overlook it and not notice it as much as a real war.

IRD: Therefore you believe the word “sanctions” diverts attention from what actually is taking place?

MS: Yes. If we label recent pressures as “sanctions” then we must consider previous boycotts simply as mild difficulties. Conversely, if we deem that we were facing sanctions during the past 30 years, then what is currently happening is nothing short of an all out economic war on Iran.

Unfortunately many politicians in Iran still view a war as military expedition with guns, missiles and casualties. Modern warfare has changed form; one form of which is economic war. It is now possible to weaken a country to its breaking point without declaring military action; followed by cyber attacks to paralyze a whole nation.

Economic war on Iran began about 2 years ago and has been intensified in the past few months by the international community which finds it even more fatal than physical military action against the country. You can clearly differentiate between the two different phases of Western pressure on Iran that have had profound effects on the country.

IRD: What are the main differences between the old and new sanctions on Iran?

During what I call phase one, or mild sanctions, Iran still was not facing many restrictions. To give you a few clear examples, except with Israel, Iran previously had economic and financial relations with almost every country in the world including the US. American business firms actually took part in fairs and exhibitions in Iran. The majority of the world’s oil companies operated in Iran. Most international airlines flew to Iran and no person or company was directly sanctioned and could freely travel to anywhere in the world and do business.

Currently however, the pressure has increased to the point that most dealings are not possible anymore: namely, currency and banking restrictions; the oil embargo, sanctions on specific people and companies as well as restrictions on international financial investment in the oil and other industries. I believe this will give you an idea of the severity of the recent pressures. We cannot simply take the current situation lightly as an aftermath of sanctions on Iran.

IRD: What is Iran’s approach in the face of sanctions?

As I have mentioned before, I firmly believe that these conflicts will eventually resolve themselves even if it takes a century. Similarly, there are countries that have solved deep and timeworn issues between themselves after years of conflicts and wars.

It is in Iran’s interest to swiftly solve current political turmoil through diplomacy and dialogue to avoid wasting so much energy and tens of billions of dollars on sustaining the running dispute. In a practical strategy to halt sanctions, Iran could turn to diplomacy and avoid harsh rhetoric and slogans. Additionally, Iran has to be more realistic and avoid making statements that could cause further stress and irritation. Moreover, Iran could prevent making impractical threats. It could avoid division within Iran’s central government, and having only one official spokesperson who announces the country’s official position on different issues. Otherwise, the country will continue to struggle with little progress.

IRD: Who are Iran’s current trading partners? Could the West also put pressure on these partners?

Not many countries are currently willing to do any type of trade with Iran. The ones that still have economic ties with Iran are Russia, India, China, Vietnam, a number of South American countries, as well as some minor relations with Belarus and Syria. Except for two or three of the named countries, the rest suffer from weak economies where in this relationship they’re more dependent on Iran than the other way around.

There is no doubt that the West will also put the named countries under pressure to cut economic relations with Iran. The US will do all it can to increase pressure, even on its own allies, in order to push Iran further into isolation. Whether these countries will yield under pressure to change tactics and policies is not known. But everyone has a price, and different things have different melting points. And every government puts its own interests first.

In their mission to introduce division between Iran and its partners, the West will resort to any possible tactic. While pressure might work on some countries, others will respond to financial or other incentives. Two of Iran’s biggest partners are China and Russia. During the past years Russia has proven to be an unreliable friend to Iran.

Including Russia in the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been a valuable gift to Russia from the West; now only time can tell what they want in return from Russia. Currently, the West is also in negotiations with China to untie it from its links to Iran in its campaign against us.

IRD: The UAE is regarded as a gateway to many of Iran’s business interactions. Do you predict any divergences in the two countries’ relations?

As I mentioned before, every government put its interests first. While the UAE’s businesses relations with Iran have been significant for both sides, if a better opportunity arises from recent events, the UAE will not hesitate to take advantage of it.

Of course we’ve experienced alteration in countries’ relations, especially during the past few days following some issues. Iran faced some delays in opening credit in UAE’s financial centers; a problem that was immediately solved after swift interventions of some Iranian officials.

Therefore, Iran has to be cautious to avoid using provocative language that could cause a separation between the UAE and Iran.

*Mohammad-Reza Sabzalipour is the head of Iran World Trade Center

5 comments:

Kumar said...

Iran has invited these sanctions because of its policies which are hostile to the West and the US in particular. It was Iranian government which orchestrated the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979. From Khomeini to the present Ayatollah and the political leadership have been hostile to the US. Again it is its leadership which declares that the state of Israel must be wiped off the world map. Surely these policies are not going to endear Iran to the international community.

If Iran carries out the threat to close the Hormuz Strait, it can surely expect military intervention by the US and its allies.

Anonymous said...

@Kumar ...

What is the legitimacy of Israel? Israel was a jewish colony which was settled by British people and later turned into a state only to serve as western proxy. Do you think that USA is a very pious state? Islamists have killed in the name of Islam and USA aka western civilisaton has killed in the name of democracy and liberalism. What is the difference? The question here is that if Iran is a threat to USA then it should be stopped but then why was Pakistan allowed to have nuclear assets against India. West is again at it best i.e. creating propaganda. I wish that Iran gains a nuclear bomb and power equations are balanced in middle east.

- Hindu Observer

Anonymous said...

@Kumar ...

What is the legitimacy of Israel? Israel was a jewish colony which was settled by British people and later turned into a state only to serve as western proxy. Do you think that USA is a very pious state? Islamists have killed in the name of Islam and USA aka western civilisaton has killed in the name of democracy and liberalism. What is the difference? The question here is that if Iran is a threat to USA then it should be stopped but then why was Pakistan allowed to have nuclear assets against India. West is again at it best i.e. creating propaganda. I wish that Iran gains a nuclear bomb and power equations are balanced in middle east.

- Hindu Observer

Anonymous said...

We must not forget that USA is equally a threat to India and as much as it is for Iran. Pakistan , China... the clash of cultures/civilisation has begun on a larger scale. I support India's decision to pay Iran in gold or some other preferred currency than US dollors. The reserve currency status of US dollor must be challenged as it represents injustice in GLOBAL CIVILISATION. The reserve currency status of USD is USA hagemony and nothing else.

- Hindu Observer

Anonymous said...

We must not forget that USA is equally a threat to India and as much as it is for Iran. Pakistan , China... the clash of cultures/civilisation has begun on a larger scale. I support India's decision to pay Iran in gold or some other preferred currency than US dollors. The reserve currency status of US dollor must be challenged as it represents injustice in GLOBAL CIVILISATION. The reserve currency status of USD is USA hagemony and nothing else.

- Hindu Observer