Iran sanctions would badly affect
world energy market
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
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
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
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
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...