War of words threatens peace

Jane Green considers how the war of words between Iran and the US administration endangers peace in the Middle East.

The war of words between US President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, earlier this week is a stark illustration of the dangers of unstable government in both countries and the speed with which a flashpoint with international consequences could emerge.

In a twitter message early on the morning of Monday, 23rd July, President Trump reacted angrily to a statement by Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian President.

According to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), at a gathering of diplomats, President Rouhani had stated,

“Mr. Trump, don’t play with the lion’s tail, this would only lead to regret. America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

Rouhani was clearly not taking his own advice as, based upon previous experience, he may have expected a robust response from the US President via his favourite form of communiqué, Twitter.

Not one to fail in this respect Trump duly obliged with a response stating,

“Never ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before. We are no longer a country that will stand for your demeaned words of violence & death, Be cautious!”

The message from Donald Trump follows the threats made by Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, who in May threatened Iran with “the strongest sanctions in history” and vowed to use all economic and military pressure to “crush” Tehran’s operatives and proxies around the world.

Pompeo, the former CIA chief, staged a meeting with mainly right-wing Iranian-Americans in Washington on Sunday, 22nd July in which he, in effect, argued for total submission of the Iranian government to the demands and conditions set by the US. The language used by Pompeo is clearly influenced by the advocates of “regime change in Iran” within the US administration, primarily National Security Adviser, John Bolton, and amongst Iranian right-wing exiled opposition groups.

Bolton, a well-known hawk on Iran, told reporters in Washington,

“I spoke to the president over the last several days, and President Trump told me that if Iran does anything at all to the negative, they will pay a price few countries have ever paid.”

Trump’s position was criticised in Europe where the EU is in disagreement with the US president over his decision to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal.

European leaders do not regard Iran as being in breach of the deal.  However, they are struggling to find ways to protect businesses still trading in Iran from the threatened effect of US secondary sanctions. The first banking sanctions are due to come into force in three weeks.

Considering the volatile situation in the Middle East and current hostilities between the Iranian regime and US administration, the war of words between the two countries could easily escalate.

While President Rouhani is the public face of the Iranian regime and government, so-called democratic elections in Iran have always been little more than a façade.  Rouhani himself has been dipped in a veneer of reformist gloss which quickly peels away under the heat of international scrutiny on human and democratic rights in Iran.


The real power base in Iran remains with the hardline clergy and, in particular, the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei.  There is little doubt, based upon past evidence, that both Khamenei and Trump are deceitful leaders who would, without hesitation, lie to their people to stay in power and pursue their own narrow interests. They would resort to any option to overcome the various crises they face.


The US continues to forge an alliance with the unscrupulous dictatorship in Saudi Arabia and build upon its long standing relationship with the regime in Israel.  Both the Saudis and Israel, for different reasons, regard the regime in Iran as an existential threat and their opposition to the spread of Shia Islam, as advocated by Iran, is the overt reason for their unity in opposition.


The realities are, as ever, much more complex.  Both Saudi Arabia and Israel have aspirations to be the major power in the Middle East.  The oil rich Saudis are also the figureheads for a particularly reactionary form of Sunni Islam and have aspirations to be the spiritual, as well as economic, leaders of the Muslim world.


The Israeli position is based upon a view of themselves as the regional economic and military superpower, backed by their nuclear capability sanctioned by the United States.  It is not especially nuanced.  While a de facto alliance with Saudi Arabia may suit the Israelis in the short term in opposition to Iran, there is no sense that this is regarded as an equal partnership.  Should Iran in any way be subjugated, Israeli domination of the Saudis would swiftly follow.


It is for these reasons that the progressive and patriotic forces in Iran are determined not to let the interventionist policies and practices of the United States and its reactionary allies in Saudi Arabia, along with the ultra-right-wing anti-people government of Netanyahu in Israel, determine the future of the country.


The forces supporting peace, human and democratic rights, and social justice in Iran have called for all efforts to be focused on finding diplomatic solutions through negotiations within the framework of the UN Charter and in accordance with international law.

The democratic and progressive forces in Iran, incorporating the wide spectrum of political and social organisations – including trade unions, peace, women and student organisations, left and democratic parties – concerned about the possibility of a new war engulfing Iran, has clearly and repeatedly stated that Iranian progressives are strongly opposed to any external interference in the country’s domestic affairs.  They believe that the future of Iran should only be determined by its peoples and through the struggle of its progressive forces to bring to an end the theocratic dictatorship in the country.

Jane Green is the director of campaigns of Committee for Defence of the Iranian Peoples Rights (CODIR)- www.codir.net

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