What To Do With The Iran Mess?

By Snehal Manjrekar, India

Subject Matter/Language Editor: Chandrashekar (Chandra) Tamirisa, (On Twitter) @c_tamirisa

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Mohammad Mossadeh, in a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) coup, was removed from elected office as the head of state of Iran to overthrow Iranian democracy in 1953 by the United States and Great Britain of Dwight David Eisenhower and Winston Churchill for access to Iran’s oil.

One measure of Iran’s ascendancy in science and technology is its rising number of scientific publications during the last three decades of relative isolation from the West.

Akbar E. Torbat captured Iran’s scintillating advancement in varied scientific domains such as chemistry and nuclear physics in his article “Industrialization and Dependency: The case of Iran.” Iran’s academic contributions exceed that of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC). Interestingly, two Universities in Iran are among the best by global standards, namely, Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, and Shahid Behesti University which specializes in legal facets of environmental science, a crucial part of nuclear research studies.

(Source: Russian TV. Iranian Students at Shahid Behesti University Campus)

Iran’s Omid moment

In a February 2009 development that attracted a shock-and-awe reaction from the West and the region, Iran successfully launched its first homemade satellite into orbit called “Omid.” It was a proud moment for a country that witnessed a brutal eight-year long military ambush with neighboring Iraq on top of the isolation.

(Source: ISNA, Iranian Satellite Omid)

The West has always erred in its judgment while analyzing Iran’s stunning progress in science and technology.

Iran, in its isolation, garnered greater resolve and courage to decouple itself from the resource-driven growth through a policy of self-reliance. While other developing countries have enjoyed cooperation from Western companies in terms of exchange of technical know-how and financial aid to achieve the amount of success they have witnessed, Iran has managed to achieve self-reliance in industrialization on its own without generous financial and collaborative backing from the West.

The country has made noteworthy progress in both civilian and military products. Iran boasts of a home-grown defense industry, with a formidable capability to build missiles, rockets, and satellites like Omid, and fighter jets. Its automobile industry is the biggest in the Middle East.

Iranian companies have not attained the same amount of success in brand re-call rate as that of BRICS or Western companies but the progress has been meritorious nevertheless. In 2009 Iran’s two largest automobile companies Saipa and Iran Khodro produced over 1.4 million vehicles. Both the automobile players are also proud of having rolled out their indigenous car models known as Tiba/Miniatur and Navand, respectively. In addition, Iran’s Pharmaceutical sector has attained vibrancy. Also, about 95% of Iranian medicines are produced within Iran.

(Source: Motorward, A glimpse of Iran Khodro Sedan)

Jewish Apprehensions

Israel has been a staunch opponent of Iran’s nuclear program. The wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973 where Israel stamped its authority on the region as a strong military force coerced its neighbors to make peace with Israel.

Iran’s remarkable progress in science and technology and now in nuclear physics has become a source of concern for Israel, itself possibly a nuclear power.

Iranian nuclear program, if successfully completed, would act as a hedge against any Israeli aggression in the region. Iran will be in a position to open dialogue with Israel in a position of strength. This would offer a sudden dash of motivation for radical elements such as Hamas to pursue its liberation mission in Palestine with greater fervor, thus triggering an anti-Israeli protest in Gaza to an extent not seen before.

Israel has been applying dual pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear ambition: it tapped the influence of its diaspora to gather anti-Iran consensus in Washington. An Iranian nuclear scientist was recently assassinated.

(Source: Russian TV. Funeral of nuclear scientist Mustafa Ahmadi Roshan)

Saudi Arabia and Iran – Sunni and Shia, Boudoin and Persian

Riyadh for long has envied Tehran’s advancement science and technology. It has used its capabilities (attained through collaboration with Western companies) to increase oil production so as to sell greater quantities of oil to compensate for reduced prices in the international markets. Saudi Arabia is able to achieve this level of remarkable productivity due to technological collaboration with Western corporate giants and a healthy degree of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the oil sector since the founding of the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO).

Saudi Arabia played a crucial role in blocking foreign investments in Iran’s oil industry thus making Iran vulnerable to oil price swings. United States and Saudi Arabia, allies, played a significant part in curtailing Iran’s economic development.

Iraq, which once stood tall as a fierce enemy of Iran is becoming an ally because of its astonishing turnaround from a Sunni-minority ruled state under Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party into a Shia-majority government, better representing Iraq’s Shia, Sunni and Kurdish demographics.

The US-led war on Iraq paved the way for a Shia-ruled government. Iran rightfully leveraged this opportunity to improve its relationship with its immediate neighbor. Iran exhibited impressive agility and assertiveness in engaging Iraq gainfully. According to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), trade between Iran and Iraq stands at $8 billion and is likely to grow. On the other hand, relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia are hitting the road block.

Saudi Arabia, angered and exasperated by Iraq’s growing affinity with Iran, chose not to waive a loan of nearly $30 billion made to Saddam Hussein during the 1980 Iran-Iraq war. Iraqi prime minister Nouri-al-Maliki accused Saudi Arabia of encouraging sectarian strife and funding a Sunni army to conspire against the ruling Shia government and trigger unrest in the country.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia’s eastern oil-rich portion, which is home to its 15% Shia population, would not have been in the news recently had Saudi Arabia not sent its army to crush pro-democratic protests in Bahrain.

Bahrain borders Saudi Arabia’s eastern province. Social unrest closer to its borders would have possibly triggered domestic unrest within Saudi Arabia. The House of Saud, which supported pro-democratic protests in Tunisia and Egypt, however, deplored similar developments in Bahrain.

Saudi Arabia used its clout as a leading member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to win America’s support to wage economic warfare against Iran. Iran’s nuclear program is also being used as a pretext by Saudi Arabia to launch its own version of nuclear program to counter the rising influence of the Shiite crescent in the region. Saudi Arabia is already working secretly with Sweden for instance, to build its capabilities as a formidable arms producer and with Pakistan to acquire critical nuclear know-how.

Ariel Ilan Roth in an article for Foreign Affairs magazine (The Root of all fears, Foreign Affairs, November 2009 ) perceives Iran’s nuclear program as a trigger for a nuke-race, which could systematically erode Israeli capacity to defend its existence as a state.

Masdar City is beginning to invest in the development of sustainable technologies under the umbrella of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE).


America must be cautious in its judgment before committing to yet another war by weighing opportunities for rapprochement with Iran.

Greater efforts to engage Iran with the purpose of integrating it into the rest of the world will yield better outcomes than tougher economic sanctions or military actions. Iranian economy has immense potential and is likely to contribute significantly to global economic growth in the coming decades.

Iran has greater interest in keeping its immediate neighbors, Iraq and Afghanistan, politically stable.

Europe must play honest broker between United States, Israel and Iran.


About Chandrashekar (Chandra) Tamirisa

This entry was posted in European Union, North America and Caribbean, Transformations LLC, Turkey, Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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