Iran Won’t Flinch

Trump’s sanctions are purely in implementation of an Israeli agenda

By Abdel Bari Atwan

When Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu describes the implementation of the second instalment of US sanctions on Iran, directed at its energy and banking sectors, as a ‘historic day,’ then every Arab or Muslim with any sense of self-respect must stand firmly and unhesitatingly against them.

These sanctions were imposed on Iran because it stands in the trench of resistance to Israel’s occupation of Arab and Islamic lands and holy places. If the Iranian government had rolled out the red carpet for Netanyahu or his defence minister Avigdor Lieberman, or hosted Israeli gymnastics and judo teams and played their national anthem, it would have been hailed by the US and its Israel Lobby as a cherished friend and leader of the region, and lavished with favours by the US treasury.

By imposing a starvation blockade on the Iranian people, Trump is implementing a purely Israeli agenda, just as his Republican predecessor George Bush Jr. did in Iraq. But this blockade stands little or no chance of succeeding. The fact that eight countries — including China, India, Japan, and Turkey – have been exempted is an admission of this. These states have already declared that they will continue to buy Iranian oil, just as they continued to trade with Iran despite the first instalment of non-oil-related sanctions.

We hope the Iranian people and government will not offer any concessions to the US-Israeli alliance. We hope they will stand up to the blockade and learn from the sad lessons of Iraq and Libya. History has taught us that if they start making concessions, that will only end in invasion and occupation. We are confident that the Iranian leadership, which ran rings around the six major powers during the nuclear negotiations, is fully aware of this.

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Trump is afraid of Iran because it is a strong state that has an arsenal of missiles and military materiel that can destroy his allies, his bases, and his forces in the Gulf region. That is why he is resorting to a blockade, in the hope that the Iranian people will rebel against their government and topple the regime. But he forgets that Iran withstood equally draconian US sanctions for 40 years and never raised the white flags of surrender. We have no doubt whatsoever that it will not do so now.

We will not use the language of figures and oil barrels, but that of reason and logic. If the Islamic State organization, Daesh, managed to find buyers for its primitively-produced unrefined oil, will Iran fail in this regard (with apologies for the completely inappropriate comparison between the two sides)? And if North Korea managed to develop nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles that can deliver warheads deep inside US territory despite a suffocating blockade, will Iran prove incapable of standing its ground, and perhaps also of retaliating?

The defenceless Palestinians of the Gaza Strip have remained steadfast in the face of a crippling blockade imposed by Israel and its Arab allies for more than ten years. They have faced three major Israeli military onslaughts, during which they managed to send three million Israeli settlers into their shelters in fear and panic. Their ‘primitive’ missiles suspended air travel in Tel Aviv Airport for over 18 hours while they were living on just half a meal and two hours of electricity a day, with all the crossing points shut in their faces. What then, can we expect from the Iranians, who inhabit a land as large as a continent, and feed and clothe themselves, and fight, with what they produce on their own?

What most worries the Israelis, their American sponsors, and their new and old Arab allies, are the resistance groups that Iran has sponsored and nurtured in anticipation of the day of reckoning. These include Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, who are besieging the occupation state from north and south, and whose missile strike forces – especially Hezbollah’s – are protecting Iran instead of the other way around. These forces will make Israel and the US think a thousand times before firing a single bullet at Tehran.

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Iran, with its vast expanse, can absorb any first American strike. But can Israel and its Arab allies absorb the first retaliation from Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and Jihad? Can they withstand the thousands of missiles that will rain down on them from all directions? If the Patriot missiles, the pride of America’s air defence systems, failed to intercept the Houthis’ missiles, can they intercept thousands of more advanced and accurate Hezbollah missiles when they are launched simultaneously, with tens and perhaps hundreds in each salvo?

On Sunday, President Hassan Rowhani revealed that during his stay in New York, four countries offered to mediate a meeting between him and Donald Trump on the margins of the UN General Assembly. But he refused. He did so because he knows he stands on firm ground and relies on an even firmer nation, and does not feel intimidated by the US.

We reiterate loud and clear: When Netanyahu describes the imposition of the blockade on Iran as a ‘historic day’, this makes our choice very easy. We stand without hesitation in the opposite trench.