Iran : Heading to an impasse
Throughout 2009, Americans alternated reconciliation offers with American embargo threats but they did so without adopting the necessary law at the Chamber and then at the Senate because their goal have never been the mullahs’ overthrowing as long as they wish to force them to become their regional allies. When the adoption by the American Senate of an embargo bill was announced, we could believe that Americans changed their attitude towards the mullahs. This is not the case because the Senate just adopted a text that appears different from the one that was adopted on the last October by the Chamber : it’s the beginning of a new procedure.
At the beginning of 2009, Obama gave a one year delay to the mullahs to accept an entente with the United States or else they could expect greater unilateral sanctions and notably an embargo on gasoline, a measure which could paralyze the entire country and induce a social uprising that would be fatal to the regime. Washington hoped it would thus intimidate the mullahs so that those regional agitators would accept to become their partners in Central Asia and then help them to turn the Muslims of this region against China. This may untie the Xinjiang Muslim region which is China’s raw material reserve.
Such intimidation could have been successful if Washington would be looking for an alliance -such as the German-Soviet pact- but the stake is too important so that Washington would accept to be at the mercy of the mullahs’ goodwill. This is the reason why it requires an entente instead of any alliance or arrangement.
The interest of such entente would be that it would imply necessarily a normalization of the diplomatic relations between both States which presupposes the dissolution of the mullahs’ assistance to the Hamas and to the Hezbollah, i.e. the dissolution of the mullahs’ pressure means on Washington’s regional allies. In other words, this would imply the impossibility for Tehran to blackmail Washington in the process of collaboration. The normalization of diplomatic relations will also force the mullahs to open their elections to Islamist and pro-American candidates who would then give Washington the opportunity to grab a part of the power and then prevent any calling into question of their collaboration on the way.
If the project of resort to intimidation with the goal to achieve an entente was tactically well conceived, it has a huge intrinsic defect : Washington doesn’t want to implement much heavy sanctions because they would overthrow the mullahs it wishes to control and if we consider their assessment, the next regime will be anything but Islamist, which would jeopardize the American regional project.
Here is the problem that lays in this both countries’ showdown : fatal sanctions have always been excluded in the same way as strikes. More precisely, Washington was from the beginning forced to be in an attrition war strategy it needs to stop from time to time whenever the mullahs’ economic situation gets too disastrous.
Since then, it was even obliged to rescue them in a regular way because henceforth their economic situation has given significant cause for concern : they lack of currency to purchase basic goods and they fear penuries that would be susceptible to induce a series of uprising. We went beyond the threat of fatal sanctions, from now on every sanction are fatal ones.
Two months ago, Washington allowed Belgium to return to the mullahs their European gold stock ! One month ago, it forgot the unilateral sanctions it promised on January 2009 and demanded UNO sanctions that have no chance to be implemented.
Then it authorized the sale of Turkmen gas to Iran in order to prevent some winter penury which could induce a popular uprising. At last, one week ago, while Iranian banks were about to go bankrupt, Iraq which is under Washington’s control gave 600 million dollars to the mullahs via a surprising contract dealing with the daily purchase of 19,000 oil barrels to Iran !
In such condition, it’s easy to understand why the current and quite successful procedure was abandoned and then replaced with a bill related to fatal sanctions which was at last substituted for a new procedure that is at the embryonic stage. Actually Washington is making ineffective unilateral sanctions that appear not topical anymore.
The new procedure was launched at a time when the American economic persons who are in charge of private sector have advised against this kind of sanction. Thus the new bill could appear as a legal mean to bog down a sanction that is from now on impossible to implement in sterile debates at the Chamber, a process which would freeze it for a long time.
This may lend the mullahs wings and they won’t fail to appear even less cooperative in the hope of bargaining an arrangement to a minimum : i.e. the lift of every sanction that concerns them in exchange with an alliance that would be free of any condition -neither a normalization of relations nor the request for the dissolution of the assistance to the Hamas and the Hezbollah.
The American project of entente with the mullahs is heading to an impasse.
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