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Six down, one to go – Iran named as "world's biggest sponsor of terrorism"

Posted on 30th May 2017 13:48:13 in Politics

“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers”, Major General Smedley Butler, War is a racket, 1935.

“This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” General Wesley Clark, Democracy Now, 2007.

The reasons for wars are seldom the ones given to the public, for obvious reasons. Geopolitics – the study of geography as it relates to international relations – describes a world of resources and markets: oil and gas; silver and gold; opium and silk, producers and consumers, and the distribution network of pipelines, ports and shipping lanes, and road and rail corridors which connect them.

The great inland rail project was the major driving force behind the rapid industrialisation of the United States from 1860 onwards. With major projects like the trans-Siberian railway and the Panama Crossing, iron rails soon began to spread across the face of the earth like a cyborg conversion in a space-horror movie. It’s hard to believe in 2017 that more than a century ago a planned sea bridge across the Bering Strait would have made it possible to travel all the way from Santiago to Lisbon on a standard 5 foot gauge.

Ultimately it was the Berlin to Baghdad railway which proved to be a bridge too far. The project, commenced in 1903, would have provided Germany with a shortcut to the East through Basra, a connection to its southern colonies in Africa, and access to an unlimited supply of oil. The German-Ottoman partnership posed a threat to established power which would ultimately lead to the outbreak of WWI - but not before Britain concluded a deal with the Baghdad Railway Company recognising southern Mesopotamia and southern and central Persia as the exclusive field of operations of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (later BP.)

With the exception of the Bosphorus, which connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, and the Strait of Hormuz which joins the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, Britain and America control almost all of the world’s key shipping lanes. In 2013 China finalised plans to build a 140 million ton per year deep water port at Yevpatoria in the Crimea. This would have cut 6000km off the current trade route between China and Europe, while providing China with direct access to the Mediterranean. Viewed through this lens, the putsch against the elected government of Victor Yanukovych in 2014 begins to look more like a head-on collision between China's One Belt One Road (OBOR) and the US and EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), than a push-back against Russian expansion into Europe.

A while ago I wrote a piece on the current genocide in Yemen. I was quickly brushed off by a resident well-travelled expert for pointing a finger in what I thought to be the obvious direction, because as everyone knows there is no oil in Yemen, and the violence we are seeing today is the same sectarian blood feud which has raged for centuries whenever Sunni and Shia have been forced to live together under one rule. Naked orientalism aside, there are in fact substantial proven oil reserves in the Rub' al Khali desert extending into central Yemen, but the real reason for the current mass slaughter and starvation of Yemenis is about more than control of these resources. It is a vital step in preparation for a confrontation with Iran.

Iran is the world's fourth biggest oil producer, sitting on an estimated 150 billion barrels of crude, but more importantly Iran controls the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40% of the world's seaborne oil must traverse. Yemen’s real geostrategic value - the reason its people are being slaughtered and its childen starved - is its ports. When complete the Bridge of the Horns will span 29 kilometres from Djibouti to Yemen between the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. With the port of Aden under the control of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and direct access to 2.7 billion barrels of oil and 4.7 trillion cubic meters of natural gas in the Ogaden Basin of Ethiopia, the petrodollars are guaranteed to keep flowing for the duration of the upcoming Persian Gulf tournament.

"We have also started discussions with many of the countries present today on strengthening partnerships, and forming new ones, to advance security and stability across the Middle East and beyond... Later today, we will make history again with the opening of a new Global Centre for Combating Extremist Ideology—located right here, in this central part of the Islamic World."

The irony of the US President's speech in Riyadh, the very headquarters of Islamist extremism, should not be lost on anyone. During his recent visit to the Saudi Kingdom, Trump concluded a $110 billion arms deal and met with the leaders of 55 Sunni Muslim countries to discuss the formation of a coalition comprising 35000 troops to fight “terrorism” in the region. Ignore if you will the outrageous hypocrisy, note instead the messaging. Is it just me who thinks “Footsoldiers of evil" sounds like a leftover line from a speech written for Dubya Bush?

This script was written so long ago it’s descended into farce. Put aside the terrifying images from Saudi Arabia of gays being hurled off rooftops and the headless bodies of rape victims dangling from cranes; Iran, according to the US State Department and its media whores, is the new face of evil. Iran which hasn’t waged unprovoked war against another country since Xerxes I invaded Greece in 480 BC; Iran which while by no means perfect, is still far and away the most democratic state in the Middle East.

The "War on Terror” is approaching its endgame. In the battle for control over resources, markets and transport corridors, Iran may soon find itself pit against the rest of the (Sunni) Muslim world. They will get more than they bargained for. As a friend in the UAE reminded me recently, Iran is fierce - let’s hope we never have to find out how fierce.