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Iran sanctions would badly affect world energy market

Tehran Times

TEHRAN -- Damla Arias, a Turkish Weekly correspondent in Britain, argues any U.S. efforts to impose sanctions on Iran will greatly impact the global energy market. In an interview with the Mehr News Agency on October 1, she said any sanctions will increase anti-American, ant-Western and anti-Israeli sentiments in the Middle East. The interview followed the approval of a bill by the U.S. Senate on September 28 to penalize companies doing business with Iran. Following are excerpts of the interview:

Q: What could cause the U.S. efforts to fail?

A: First, by using the sanction threats (and later imposing them), the U.S. aims to create social and economic unrest in the Iranian society. However, there is a possibility that it may backlash and instead of creating anger against the government, it may strengthen the administrationís anti-American rhetoric and its position in domestic politics. Given the anguish and frustration towards the Bush administration because of the developments in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, it is likely that Iranians will support their regime more and its anti-Zionist, anti-Israeli, anti-American and anti-imperialist rhetoric will gain more currency among Iranians. Needless to say, other Muslim nations (if not their leaders) will share similar sentiments with Iranians in the Middle East.   

Second, the more U.S. attempts to damage the Iranian economy, the more Iran will use its energy resources as leverage to damage the American economy by manipulating prices in the world energy market. So along with Iran, the U.S. will have to bear with the consequences as well.

Third, Iran has strong economic relations with Russia, China and the EU countries. Thus the U.S. sanction threats will not damage the Iranian economy as much as the U.S. administration calculates. Iran can also make profitable energy agreements with these countries to maintain their support. However, if the sanctions are imposed in the long term, Russia, China and the EU states will be under the American pressure to decrease/cut their ties with Iran which may start damaging the Iranian economy.

Q: Do you think that the U.S. is in a position to move on sanctions, and do you think that it will be effective?   

A: The U.S. has been unsuccessful both in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Palestinian issue continues to be a bleeding wound, and after the Israeli strikes, Lebanon needs to be reconstructed again. The Middle East cannot tolerate to another clash. Furthermore, the Bush administrationís policies created anti-American, anti-imperialist and anti-Western sentiments in the Muslim societies. There is no excuse for terrorist activities, yet unfortunately the American policies in the Middle East have nurtured this monster. Ironically, despite the operation in Iraq, the U.S. interests are still in danger in the Middle East. Paradoxically, the U.S. failure in Iraq, Afghanistan (and the limited Israeli success in Lebanon) has strengthened Tehranís position in the region. Probably this was the last thing that Washington wanted to achieve. On the contrary, the Washington administration -whose interests conflict with the Iranian interests in the region- has been planning to bring down the Islamic government and form an American friendly administration. To this end, Iranís nuclear program is not the only concern for the U.S. On the other hand, Iran is aware that being a nuclear power is the most important deterrent against the U.S. In sum, the issue is not only Iranís nuclear program but also it is the conflicting interests of the two countries in the region and the U.S. strategy to change the regime in Iran. In this sense, the U.S. will do its best to gain international support to prevent Iranís nuclear program and then as the second step, to bring down the Iranian regime. It is obviously a short-sighted, unrealistic plan. But if the U.S. decides to go along with it Ė as it did in Iraq-, then it has to accept the risk of facing unprecedented bloodshed and instability both in Iran and in the Middle East.

Q: Do you think that the sanctions will produce regional backlashes?

A: It will increase the anti-American, anti-Western, anti-Israeli sentiments in the region and in the Muslim diaspora in WestÖ and despite its flaws Huntingtonís clash of civilizations will become a self fulfilling prophecy. Needless to say it will increase the regional political instability from Iraq to Saudi Arabia, incite the Shia-Sunni disparity in the Middle East and affect the world energy market very badly.

Q: Do you foresee major differences between the U.S. and the EU on one hand and China and Russia on the other in regard to sanctions?

A: Iran has good relations with Russia, EU countries and China. Thus none of them would be happy about the U.S. strategy against Iran. However, in the long term, neither Russia nor China (both of them have strong political and economic dependency on the U.S. and they have their own issues that Washington has been disregarding) will want to put their bilateral relations with the U.S. into danger for the sake of defending Iran. The EU does not have the political power to stand up against the U.S. So far, the EU could not influence any American strategy in the Middle East even though some members disagreed with Washington. Given that fact that the EU countries do not have a common foreign policy (for instance the UK will likely to cooperate with the U.S. against Iran as it did so in other parts of the Middle East), it would be too optimistic to hope that the EU could influence or resist the U.S. attempts, especially when Washington increases its diplomatic initiatives in the supra-national institutions such as the UN.

Q: How do you view the Zionist lobbyís influence on the bill?

A: Regardless who is behind the bill, it is designed to protect the American and Israeli interests in the Middle East. It is no secret that one of the U.S. objectives in the region is to protect Israelís interests and its security. It is also not a secret that neo-conservatives have close ties with Israel and the Jewish lobby is very influential in the U.S. In realpolitik, every country competes to maximize its interests whether it is in the expense of others or not...



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