Iran, Britain, And The Scandal Of The Tank Deal
In the late 1970s, the British Government sold a number of tanks to Iran, at the cost of £400,000,000. The former Shah of Iran paid in advance, and awaited delivery of the tanks. But then he was overthrown by the ayatollahs, and Britain decided not to send the tanks after all. To rub salt in the wound, they sold the tanks to Iraq instead, getting paid twice for the same weapons.
The question of Britain returning the money to Iran has often been raised, but consistently ignored by every British government since 1979.
In 2016, a woman named Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in Iran, and accused of spying for the Bitish government. She was there visiting her parents, taking along her baby daughter for them to see for the first time. Despite her being a writer, married to a British man, and holding dual nationality, the Iranian court convicted her, and sentenced her to five years in prison. Since then, a vigorous campaign has been going on to try to get her released.
In March this year, her sentence finished. She was then re-arrested on charges of ‘Spreading propaganda’. Today, she was sentenced to a further year in prison.
This is all a game of course. Nazanin was arrested as little more that a ‘hostage’, in the hope of securing payment of that old £400 million debt. The British government could have easily secured her release in 2016, by acknowledging the debt to Iran, and arranging to pay it. But they chose not to. Last month, they coud have stopped her being arrested again, simply by paying the outstanding debt from 1979. They chose not to.
Government ministers think it is acceptable for this young woman to spend six years in prison in a foreign country, and for her baby daughter to grow up without seeing her mother, just to save them the embarrassment of admitting the debt, and actually paying it.
Shame on them.
Iran: All about one thing
The last few months (years, let’s face it) have seen a lot of antagonism focused on Iran. That country can’t seem to do anything right, in the eyes of others. Ever since the hostage crisis that ended in 1981, it has been vilified as the cause of so many problems, not only in that region, but the world over. If they couldn’t actually pin anything on the Iranians directly, they complained about the use of ‘Iranian-supplied weapons’, or ‘Iranian-backed troops’.
They didn’t mention all the Western-supplied weapons, or Western-backed troops. Oh no.
Remember the long war Iran fought against Iraq? It was from 1980-1988, to jog your memory. During that war, we all thought the Iraqis should win, and wanted the Ayatollahs in Iran to be defeated. Our governments did, anyway, and told us that was the preferred outcome. So we supported Iraq with weapons, advisers, and probably money too. Anything to see the end of Iran, or the regime that wasn’t on our side, as the former Shah had been. This despite the fact that it was conveniently forgotten that Iraq was the aggressor, as they sought to capture the rich oilfields of Khuzestan. At the end, nobody won, and over 1,000,000 troops and civilians were dead. But we don’t ever think about that, as we fill up our cars with fuel.
So once again, it was about oil. It was about oil then, and it is still about oil now.
What are those naughty Iranians up to now?
The US has withdrawn from a Nuclear deal that everyone else accepts was working, claiming Iran is not keeping its promises.
The US is now laughably blaming Iran for the 9/11 attacks, despite proof-positive that they were backed and organised by Saudi Arabia.
Iran is supplying arms to militant Palestinians in Israel.
Iran is supplying rockets that are being fired into Israel.
Iranian banks are ‘funding world terror’.
Iran has imprisoned a British woman on spurious charges.
There is more, but I cannot be bothered to list all the accusations.
Behind all of it, there is just one thing. Oil
It has always been about one thing, Ayatollahs or not. Oil
The Nuclear deal rejection is a smokescreen for? Oil.
The west wants Iran’s oil, and will stop at nothing to get it. That’s what all of this is about.
If you want to believe all the rest, then that’s up to you.
Mosul: Behind the headlines
When you look at news reports of the fighting in Mosul, it is easy to overlook some of the basic facts about this huge city. Until recently, it had a population of almost 1.9 million people, and is the second largest city in Iraq after Baghdad. This makes it almost twice the size of Birmingham, England’s second largest city, and more than three times larger than Boston, in the USA.
Just imagine if those well-known cities were under occupation by a well-organised army of religious fundamentalists, and being attacked by forces from their own country helped by the US or a foreign power, as well as being bombed by British and American aircraft. Think how difficult it would be to deal with the potential for causing civilian casualties, or choosing which of the people you encounter is friend or foe. The maze of streets, the apartment blocks, rooftops, factories, industrial areas, and large airports. A major river, numerous bridges, shopping areas, markets, schools, hospitals, religious buildings, and administrative offices. Every wall or fence a potential hiding place. Every rooftop or balcony a spot for a sniper, and the ability for the enemy to hide in plain sight among crowds of distressed non-combatants.
For almost three years, this city has been a battleground between warring factions; international interventionists, and government troops. If you live in a city, or have ever lived in one, then you can only try to imagine what this must be like, as I do. Even allowing for the large numbers who have fled Mosul, it is estimated that more than 750,000 civilians remain there, possibly 1 million. That is still much larger than the population of Boston, and countless other western cities. By comparison, the largest city close to where I live is Norwich. This is the biggest city in the whole county, and covers a substantial area, including many suburbs, and an international airport. I cannot imagine fighting on the same scale happening there, yet the population is only 133,000.
Another fact overlooked, is that many of the residents remaining in Mosul actually welcomed the forces of Islamic State as liberators. They had previously suffered religious persecution from Iraqi government troops and sectarian militias, and were happy to have the intervention by the fundamentalists. Many joined them willingly, and some still fight alongside them to this day. Of course for many others, living under IS was unacceptable, as they were cruelly treated for many reasons, including religious ones. But as parts of the city are recaptured by the Iraqi army, their foreign allies, the police units, and the ‘Golden Brigade’, many civilians have been arrested, detained without trial as suspected members of IS. Many others now live in fear of reprisals by the army and militia units, as the old enmities between Sunni and Shia Muslims resurface in the ‘liberated’ areas of the city.
Naturally, I am no supporter of Islamic State. This horrible organisation has no place in the modern world. But we need to look behind the news reports, the five-minutes of combat footage, and the talking heads interviews, and to be aware that replacing one form of terror with another might well be what we are helping to achieve. Not only in Iraq, but in Syria too.
The wrong kind of refugees
Recent events in Europe have brought the crisis in far-off Syria to the door of Europe, and focused attention on this war like never before. Suddenly, it is not just someone else’s problem. Europe has to deal with it, and they don’t like it.
Many of the countries involved seemed to have conveniently forgotten their own recent histories. When Hungarians fled their country after the 1956 uprising, they were welcomed all over the world. Many went on to live good lives in the countries that took them in, finding respect for their opinions, a voice for their protests, alongside shelter and work too.
When the Balkan wars erupted many years later, humanitarian aid and genuine sympathy and concern provided assistance, shelter, and in some cases, new homes for those displaced or persecuted. Nobody asked about religion, ethnic origins, or whether or not those refugees were considered to be criminals in their countries of origin. They housed them, fed them, and tried to do the best to help them, as is right, in a civilised society.
So what of the current refugees, fleeing wars in Syria and Iraq, or fundamentalism in Afghanistan? They are treated like potential terrorists; fifth columnists, sent to destablise the west. They are fingerprinted, interrogated, and denied access to aid in some cases. They are kept out with razor wire, blasted with water cannons and pepper spray, or herded into overcrowded trains, that then take them somewhere they do not want to go.
Germany has done its best, taking a huge share of the number of people arriving in the EU. But what of other countries in the world? Where are North America, South America, Australia and New Zealand, for example? I hear no outcry to welcome them in these countries; often richer, larger, and better placed to deal with an influx of more people. It is seen as a European problem, and I am at a loss to understand why. I have no doubt, that if these people were Russian, North Korean, Cuban, or Chinese, asking to be given sanctuary from Communism, the doors to these other countries would open wide to them.
Perhaps it is because most of the refugees are Muslims. Maybe it is because they are fleeing war, not Communism. They are just the wrong kind of refugees, through no fault of their own.
ISIS in Iraq: Another view
OK, I admit from the outset that I am something of a conspiracy theorist. Not about everything you understand, just certain aspects of modern political machinations. ISIS appeared out of nowhere. Had you heard of them, before the excitable news reports? Suddenly, this supposedly unspeakable fundamentalist organisation was conquering northern Iraq, sweeping all before it. They were murdering Muslims and Christians, in fact anyone who did not agree with their stated ideals. But what are their stated ideals? Do any of us really know them, or understand what they are about?
It was plain to see (or was it?) that they were unstoppable. No amount of force from the Iraqi army, or the Peshmerga militia forces, could halt their seemingly irresistible advance, and their capture of much of the country, and possibly, Baghdad. These were a new brand of military fundamentalists, a volunteer army of multinational Jihadists, set on a course of massacre and destruction. Nobody was safe from them. Ancient sects, obscure religious groups, other Muslims, and crucially, Christians, were all to be killed in their thousands, or cast out as refugees.
This gave the West the ‘moral authority’, to intervene with air strikes. We have seen them on TV, but do we really know what they are, and what they are striking? I don’t. Then came the ‘execution’ of the American journalist, supposedly held for two years, in Syria. Remember that, Syria. A brutal, pointless execution, was broadcast on the Internet. Or was it just that? Do we still believe anything we see, in 2014, I wonder? This gave the Americans and their allies even more justification to expand operations. Soon, the British Prime Minister, ‘recalled from holiday’, declared that UK planes would start to assist in attacks on ISIS. He didn’t really say why. I doubt that the execution of an American journalist would usually be sufficient cause.
ISIS was proclaimed to be a rag-tag army of dedicated fundamentalists, with foreign fighters flocking to their cause. Many of these were said to come from the UK, including the killers of the US journalist. There was also the suggestion of both backing and manpower originating in Syria. Remember that. How did ISIS do so well, in such a short time? They captured American equipment in northern Iraq. This was presumably given up with little resistance from the Americans and Iraqis that previously had charge of it. Suddenly, these militiamen from all over the planet, including ordinary young men from southern England (apparently) could operate sophisticated weapons systems. They knew how to drive modern tanks without training, and manage the weapons delivery systems and computerised controls inside them. Ask anyone who has ever joined the tank regiments, in any army. It takes months of intensive training to be able to be proficient in this modern technology. They used missile systems, rockets, and other modern weapons, all of which require substantial training to become familiar with.
But we are expected to believe that these Jihadist fighters took to all this in the matter of a few days. They drove all opposition before them, and even frightened mighty America, with their military prowess. The air strikes have slowed them down, so we are told. We now have to look beyond Iraq, to see where ISIS gets its ‘real support’. Syria, naturally. The Assad regime, unpopular in the west, has been tarnished with this accusation, whilst unable to offer any defence. Next stop, Damascus perhaps, supposedly to eliminate ISIS.
So, what do I think about all this, for what it’s worth? I believe that ISIS is funded and organised by the west. I think that American and British special forces are training and leading this group, as they did with the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan, in the 1980s. Their sole purpose is to blame Syria, to engineer a reason to remove the Assad regime, and destabilise that country, as they have done with so many others. If the execution is real, it was carried out by western soldiers, not simple Jihadists, and the reports of massacres and refugees have been grossly overstated, to rouse public opinion. Time will tell perhaps, but I will be sticking by my contention.
Iraq and Gaza: Very different agendas
I watched the news today, trying to contain a feeling somewhere between a wry grin, and outright rage. The military success of the Islamic fundamentalist organisation ISIS (now called ‘Islamic State’) in Iraq has caused the flight of many people from the city of Erbil, which is currently in danger of being overrun by this group. The Kurdish Peshmerga army can no longer stop the advance of the militants, and there is grave concern for non-Islamic religious groups in the area. On the TV, there was a lot of discussion about a possible genocide against these groups, and many civilians have fled into the hills, to avoid any contact with ISIS fighters. There are Americans in this city too. As well as consular staff, there are other civilians, ground troops and advisers. The general feeling seems to be that there is little chance of stopping ISIS eventually reaching Baghdad, and taking control of the country. This would result in a Taliban-style government, fiercely opposed to all non-Muslims, and foreigners of any kind. Some might argue that this would always be the eventual outcome of the war against Iraq, and the subsequent destabilisation of the region.
However, the current US administration is not about to give up that easily. Using the justification of ‘humanitarian aid’, because of the refugees from Erbil, (and the presence there of Americans) they have commenced air strikes against ISIS positions around the city. President Obama has been on television laying out his reasons for intervention, and the British Government has shown support for this action, and pledged to assist with logistical help, and humanitarian aid for the civilians in danger. The western powers do not want to sit by and watch innocent civilians put in danger, or lose their lives, because of the actions of an aggressive, well-equipped, religious fundamentalist army, intent on overwhelming all opposition.
So what about Gaza then? No help for the Palestinians? Are they not in the same situation? They are being overwhelmed by a superior force, intent on their destruction. This force is determined, very well-equipped, and has a religious agenda just as plainly stated. It also cares little for the loss of civilian lives, and is pursuing its campaign irregardless of opposition from many countries in the world, as well as the United Nations. So why are Obama’s jets not attacking Israeli tanks, to stop them killing innocent people in Gaza? And why is the British government not pledging humanitarian aid to the Palestinian civilians, who are equally in danger of losing their lives?
I think we all know the answers to those questions.
“We are literally backing the same people in Syria that we are fighting in Afghanistan and that have just killed our ambassador in Libya! We must finally abandon the interventionist impulse before it is too late.” – Congressman Ron Paul, September 16, 2012
http://prolecenter.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/the-anti-empire-report-117-2/ William Blum
I read the above quote on another blog. It was in an article by William Blum, link above, that I can recommend as an interesting read. I just felt that this one quote sums up the complete nonsense of American foreign policy, and by default, the foreign policy of all their allies too.
When the Soviet Union was fighting the Taliban in the 1980’s, the West embraced the same religious fanatics we are currently castigating (and bombing). Arms were supplied, advisors sent off to assist, and their leaders, including Osama Bin Laden, and Abu Hamza al-Masri, were hailed as heroic freedom fighters. Thirty years later, and those Western allies are dumping the body of one in the ocean, (supposedly) and extraditing the other to face trial in the USA. During the Iran/Iraq war, spread over eight years during the same 1980’s, we were in no doubt who the West wanted to win. Iraq was hailed as the sensible aggressor, and their army would save the region from the excesses of the Ayatollahs, and fundamentalist Muslim fanatics. It is fair to say, that whilst no side actually won, the West was pleased that the Iraqis were not defeated, and that Iran had lost the flower of its manhood, in an relatively pointless conflict.
By 1990, the same country that we had supported for so long, including the supply of most of the weapons we later accused them of concealing, had become a sworn enemy, and the First Gulf War was the outcome. By 2003, the Iraqis had still not learned their lesson, and a laughable implication of their supposed role in the 9/11 attacks, ended with the destruction of the regime, and much of the country along with it. Not long after, those same Western allies invaded Afghanistan, ostensibly to help the legitimate government get rid of the Taliban, and to introduce freedoms for women, and non-fundamentalist Muslims there. Strangely enough, this was almost exactly the same reason the Soviets had given for their intervention, twenty years earlier.
Saudi Arabia, long held to be a friend of the West, is now beginning to be criticised. They are suspected of harbouring terrorists, and not doing enough to bring peace to the region. Their laws are too strict for ‘our’ taste, and they are controlling a cartel of price-fixing OPEC countries, making us pay too much for our oil. Iran is close to achieving the manufacture of a nuclear weapon, we are told. They are not friends of the West, and do not allow the necessary freedoms in their country. They also charge too much for their oil, and also choose who to sell it to. This huge country, with a population of 80,000,000, is written off by the West, with no regard to its former power and influence, as the once mighty Persian Empire. It is treated like a naughty schoolboy in the classroom that is the world, simply because it refuses to play the game with the Western Powers. Crippled by sanctions, reviled, and misrepresented, is it any wonder that it has become isolationist, suspicious, and unfriendly?
Being a former friend of America, Britain, and France, has become decidedly dangerous. Those countries that have never sought, or been granted this boon, are succeeding where others have failed. Cuba, China, North Korea, to name but a few, have escaped invasion by foreign powers, (at least in modern times) and in many cases are courted as business opportunities, or at the very least, tolerated, even ridiculed; but not bombed. The outcome of being a friend, enlisting support, and often taking power as a result, is plain to see. Give it a few years, and America, and their allies, will be back to take it all away again. Countries like Syria, Libya, and Somalia, would be wise to look at these examples, and change direction accordingly.