None of the recent terror attacks across the globe can in any way be traced to Iran (or its proxies) which forms the crux of what the US terms ‘the world's biggest sponsor of state terrorism’
Nation states have such complicated pasts, compulsions and cupboards bursting with skeletons, that they routinely accuse others of hosting. Terrorism is one such skeleton that either elicits a complete denial or a contextual clean-chit. The US Code of Federal Regulations defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a Government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”. This posits awkward attribution to the historical US machinations in countries like Nicaragua, Cuba, Colombia, Chile et al. So, while the Pakistani involvement in Afghanistan today is correctly called supporting-terrorism, the American complicity in the 80s is contexualised as “necessary”.
Similarly, while the UN and, ironically, the US also condemned the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) as a “terror organisation” — the subsequent funding, training and arming of the KLA by the US never earned it the tag of supporting-terrorism. This double standard extends today to the ongoing battlefields in the Syrian swathes where the principal terror organisation ie Islamic State (IS), has been taken head-on by the Iranian-Syrian combine. Yet, the focus of the US attacks in the ‘war on terror’ remains on the Iranian-Syrian combine, whereas a circuitous US support is still extended to the rebel Salafi-Jihadist offshoots in the region, torn by the sectarian divide.
Importantly, the sectarian divide pertains to the local minorities and majorities and is not necessarily about sovereignty. Herein, the US has made a deliberate choice in the sectarian muddle and left the sole ‘others’ in the form of Houthis, Hezbollah and Iran with convenient terror tags. The Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen against the uprising by the historically-persecuted Houthis (also declared by the UN as “human catastrophe”) is afforded a convenient and contextual view that is unequivocally denied in the parallel case of the Iranian intervention in Syria, against the IS.
Importantly, terror has struck globally in recent times, from the US (9/11, Boston Marathon, Orlando shootout, New York truck attack etc), European cities (Madrid, London, Paris, Brussels, Nice, Manchester, Barcelona etc), Asian cities (Bali, Dhaka, Basilan, Surabaya, Kabul et al) as also India (Mumbai 26/11, Uri, Pathankot, Nagrota, among others). None of these terror attacks can be traced back to either Iran or to its sectarian proxies that form the crux of what the US incredulously calls the “world’s biggest sponsor of state terrorism”. The ideological and sectarian-supremacist strain behind almost all global terror attacks are known to have individual or state patronage in the
US-allied Gulf sheikhdoms or countries like Pakistan.
The Houthi uprising is completely localised with no international footprint and the Hezbollah is not known to have partaken any international terror attack for over 25 years, except for its steadfast resistance to the Israeli occupation of its lands in South Lebanon and supporting co-sectarian Government of the beleaguered Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad, who is facing a desperate battle on two fronts — one against the IS and the other against the equally regressive jihadist groups supported by the Gulf sheikdoms and the US.
Since January 19, 1984, Iran has remained as a US declared “state sponsor of terrorism” for having “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism”. The annual Country Reports on Terrorism 2017 by the US State Department notes very selectively, “Iranian-supported Shia militias in Iraq have also committed serious human rights abuses against primarily Sunni civilians” and then added in absolute contravention of the ground situation that “Iran remained unwilling to bring to justice senior Al-Qaeda (AQ) members residing in Iran”.
Given the sectarian irreconcilability of the prevailing times, attributing an Iranian angularity in the IS or the AQ realm is a complete falsity as they are militarily, ideologically and entirely at war with each other.
Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei alludes to the historical intrigues of the colonial powers by questioning: “Who created the IS? Who strengthened it? Today they claim that they have established anti-IS coalition. This is a lie. This coalition is a lie. Of course, they are opposed to an uncontrolled IS, but they like to have a controlled IS in their hands”, eerily reminiscent of the tactical propping of the Afghan Mujahideen in the 80s.
Manufactured outrage against Iran continued unabated in the US with President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrawing from the Iranian Nuclear Deal. On May 8, 2018, Trump, while withdrawing had stated “Iran and its proxies have bombed American Embassies and military installations, murdered hundreds of American service members, and kidnapped, imprisoned, and tortured American citizens” and went on to add that the “deal allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium and — over time — reach the brink of a nuclear breakout”.
Meanwhile, all other signatories of the P5+1 deal (the UK, Russia, France, China, EU and Germany) disagreed on the US observations, as did the concerned overseeing body, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The European Union (EU) acknowledged Iran’s complete compliance to the terms of the deal and noted: “We fully trust the work, competence and autonomy of the International Atomic Energy Agency that has published 10 reports certifying that Iran has fully complied with its commitments.” The US ignored all advise and arbitrarily slapped sanctions, and further threatened other countries, like India on their ongoing trade with Iran.
Recently, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at Hague has ordered the US to ease some sanctions on Iran, pursuant to a plea by the Iranians. The legal rebuke to the US which enjoined Washington to abide by the historical ‘Treaty of Amity’ led to an imperious US pulling out of the ‘Treaty of Amity’, post the ICJ ruling. Saner voices like former US President Barack Obama who agreed that the US had pulled the plug “without any Iranian violation” were lost in the melee to demonise Iran.
All countries have vested, unique and realpolitik concerns that often conflict with others, leading to the questionable status of certain historical actions and reactions. However, in the case of Iran, facts are of little consequence and the luxury of a contextual explanation (as reserved for its own actions) is a complete non-option.
(The writer, a military veteran, is a former Lt Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Puducherry)