Iran> The Threat is Very Real

By Margaret Sarfehjooy   February 4, 2012

We are in very dangerous times, and we have to do everything we can to prevent another war—this time against Iran.  Almost every day we hear about new sanctions, new threats, new promises that “all options are on the table.” It seems like the general public is complacent about this and do not  understand the severe consequences –possibly World War III.

 Before the war on Iraq, there was a huge outcry from the general public. After Obama got elected, the voices of protest have mostly been silent. Is it because people don’t want to criticize Obama?  Did Obama’s election victory divide the progressive community? The war on Iraq was looked on as a Bush/Republican effort. Those in power today are continuing Bush’s war plans stronger than ever.  Where is the outcry?

 Iran IS threatened, and the U.S. continues to push the screws even tighter. U.S. policy toward Iran for the last three decades has primarily taken the form of economic sanctions, threats and isolationism.  The U.S. is involved in a covert and proxy war.

The covert dimensions of the war are being fought by Intelligence assets, cyber attacks, computer viruses, secretive military units, spies, assassins, agent provocateurs, and saboteurs. The kidnapping and assassination of Iranian scientists and military commanders, which started several years ago, is a part of this covert war.

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The U.S. has been at war with Iran through its proxies for years, including the Kurdish militant nationalist group PJAK─blamed for numerous attacks in Iran─and the Al-Qaeda affiliated Sunni group Jundullah that carries out suicide bombings and other destabilization attacks in Iran.

There is another group, MEK, an Iranian exile group who fought with Saddam Hussein and against Iran during the Iran/Iraq war (when the U.S. provided arms to Iraq).

MEK─ Mujahadeen-e-Khalq─is officially listed by the State Department as a “terrorist organization,” but politicians have been pushing to “de-list” them so MEK can be armed, trained, and sent into Iran, with open, rather than covert American support.

Former U.S. officials taking part in MEK-linked events told the Christian Science Monitor that they received substantial fees, with contracts ranging up to 100,000.00. Rudy Guliani, Howard Dean, Tom Ridge, Wesley Clark, Gen. Peter Pace have all been paid for endorsing MEK.

This all smacks of hypocrisy, as our local activists had their homes raided, personal belongings confiscated, were served subpoenas to a Grand Jury, and are being investigated for “material support of terrorism” even though their real “crime” is exposing U.S.-sponsored atrocities in the Middle East and other parts of the world.

Iran has a wide spectrum of reformist and democratic groups that are all against U.S. intervention in Iran’s internal affairs. The Obama administration is having a hard time finding any Iran-based political groups to work with, so it is working with groups in exile, like MEK or Iranian monarchists, who are very unpopular with the people in Iran.

Other threats to Iran

Iran is surrounded:

The U.S. has more than 30 military bases and facilities including its naval base in Bahrain, U.S. Central command (CENTCOM) headquarters in Qatar, not to mention its military installations in Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan. A third aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, is heading towards the Arabian Sea. 

Israel has become a de facto U.S. military outpost. U.S. and Israeli command structures are being integrated, with close consultation between the Pentagon and Israel’s Ministry of Defense.

The Pentagon has dispatched some 15,000 U.S.troops into Kuwait.  The U.S. currently has several military bases on an area of about 40 percent of Kuwait’s land. Kuwaiti residents are not allowed to pass without a permit through these areas

Recently, threats and sanctions against Iran have increased significantly.

On December 14th, the House voted 410-11 in support of a bill that would outlaw any contact between U.S. officials and certain Iranian officials. In a crisis, U.S. diplomats could find themselves unable to talk to their Iranian counterparts to prevent war from erupting.

Senators Lindsey Graham (SC) and Joseph Lieberman (CT) have announced they will soon release legislation that would rule out “containment” with Iran, in a thinly veiled attempt to put Congress on the record in support of a possible military attack on Iran, and to push diplomacy off the table.

After intense pressure by the Obama administration, European Union foreign ministers have formally adopted an unprecedented oil embargo againstIranover its nuclear program, banning all new oil contracts with the country.

How could this expand to the entire region?

Russia and China are fully aware that a war on Iran is a stepping-stone towards a broader war. Both countries are targeted by the U.S. and NATO. Russia is threatened on its border with the European Union, with U.S.-NATO AMD (anti-missile defense) targeted at major Russian cities. With the exception of its Northern frontier, China is surrounded by U.S.military bases, from the Korean peninsula to the South China Sea.

Both China and Russia are perceived by Washington as a “Global Threat.” China has been the target of veiled threats by President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In a recent development, Russia newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin has warned Washington and Brussels that “Should anything happen to Iran, should Iran get drawn into any political or military hardships, this will be a direct threat to our national security,”

Other countries involved

GCC stands for Gulf Cooperation Council, the club of six wealthy Persian Gulf monarchies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates-UAE). GCC was founded in 1981 and in no time became the prime strategic U.S. backyard for the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 and also as the headquarters for “containing”Iran

A new geopolitical monster, NATOGCC, includes the key role of Qatar and the UAE in the NATO invasion─and destruction─of Libya. After the NATOGCC win in Libya, they are on a roll. The GCC strategy of regime change in Syria is the preferred way to weaken Iran.

Iran’s Strategy

I don’t know what Iran is planning to do.

I am sure Iran remembers how the 10 years of sanctions against Iraq, which caused 1.5 million Iraqis to die from malnutrition or inadequate health care and destroyed Iraq’s infrastructure, weakened Iraq, and made it ripe for an attack. Maybe Iran doesn’t want to wait that long, since they know what will be coming in the end.

Iran has two parallel land forces with some integration at the command level: the regular Army and theArmy of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (IRGC). The regular Iranian Amy is estimated to have 465,000 personnel plus around 350,000 reservists.  The IRCG has roughly 125,000 military personnel including ground, aerospace and naval forces. It also controls the paramilitary Basij militia, which has about 90,000 active personnel.

More importantly, a desperate Iran can play havoc with the global economy by blocking the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s oil supply is routed. Just a few missiles or gunboats could bring down vessels and block the channel, hitting the global oil supplies with untold negative consequences for the world.

Then there is the humanitarian suffering of epic proportions that is sure to follow such a dangerous, pointless and unjust war. Obama said that he will not use nuclear weapons against countries that do not have a nuclear capability, BUT he was making an exception for “outliers” like Iran and North Korea. The U.S. has advanced bunker-busting weapons in its arsenal, ready to use.

Physicians for Social Responsibility examined the risks of a more advanced buster-bunker weapon, and they tabulated the toll from an attack on the underground facility in Esfahan, Iran.

Three million people would be killed by radiation within two weeks of the explosion, and 35 million people in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, would be exposed to increased levels of cancer-causing radiation.

Who is really behind this?

This plan to dominate the entire Mideast has been carefully choreographed for quite a while.  In order for it to succeed, the general public has to be “on board.” And this effort to sway the American public is working by creating a feeling of fear and distrust, and outright hatred of Muslims—Islamophobia.

I call this “playing to the right-wing” and also “softening the left” by tugging at our heartstrings and making us feel sorry for those poor, suffering people, especially women, who need to be saved by the U.S.  After all, their lives are so bad, wouldn’t they be better off if we rid them of their evil dictators?

One of the major achievements of the neoconservatives over the past two decades has been to integrate the missionary impulses of liberal internationalism with right-wing interventionism.

Who is behind this?  Who is really making foreign policy? The foreign policy of the U.S. is being made by a small clique of neoconservative war-mongers─the neocon think-tank cabal─and supported by billionaire money, funneled through foundations.

The American public is being propagandized and brainwashed into the continual wars, imperialism and colonialism that is de-stabilizing the world. The neoconservative ideology, adopted by the U.S. government, calls for the U.S. to use its superior military and economic position to achieve world dominance.

If you really look at the power structures behind all of these forms of propaganda, you will find the same names over and over again.


This network of hate is not a new presence in the U.S., and its ability to influence politicians’ talking points and wedge issues for the upcoming 2012 elections has mainstreamed what was once considered fringe, extremist rhetoric.

It all starts with the money flowing from a select group of foundations. A small group of foundations and wealthy donors are the lifeblood of the Islamophobia network in America, providing critical funding to a group of right-wing think tanks that peddle hate and fear of Muslims and Islam.

For politicians, think-tanks provide access to a pool of researchers capable of reducing a complex policy area to a set of conservative proposals and a sound-bite. For the media, the allure of think-tankers is their accessibility, sound-bite savvy and a level of specialist knowledge greater than that of a reporter. So much the better if they were a former administration official or have an expansive publications list enabling them to be packaged as “experts.”

If you look at the wealthy, influential think tanks and foundations shaping our foreign policy, you will see the same names appear over and over again—foundations like The Bradley Foundation, Smith Richard Foundation, the Clarion Fund and names like Frank Gaffney, Elliot Abrams, Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol, Richard Perle.  Many of these people were original signators to the Project For a New American Century that spawned many others.

It is a very close-knit group, and they are all interconnected. For example: The Foundation for Democracy in Iran is run by a man named Kenneth Timmerman. Timmerman is connected to the godfather of right-wing think-tanks, the American Enterprise Institute.

It was the American Enterprise Institute that spawned the Project for the New American Century, the think-tank that gave us Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, the original propaganda about Iraqi WMD, and the idea that a military takeover of the entire Mideast is a great idea. The same people that terrorized the American people into unnecessary war in Iraq are preparing to do the same with Iran.

Frederick Kagan, one of the top neocon brains and a signatory of the Project of the New American Century, now works for General David Petraeus. Dennis Ross─former chief of AIPAC’s think-tank, the Washington Institute For Near East Policy─was President Obama’s Special Envoy to the Middle East.  It’s not just the Bush administration.

And how can progressives get side-tracked by this propaganda?

I think we also have to be aware of the use and intent of Culture as Propaganda.

After 9/11, native Middle Eastern intellectuals were actively recruited by the neoconservatives to perform a critical function in persuading the U.S. public to sympathize with “those poor repressed people” of their homeland.

This was done to justify U.S. actions while professing to liberate the people from their oppressors. Edward Said called them “native informants.” They have successfully managed to invade the progressive community, at the same time being backed by the same neocons who are pushing towards war.

 For example best-selling author, Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who is the darling of Fox News and some progressive feminist groups in denouncing Islam, is also a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute—whose fellow members include Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, John Bolton and Newt Gingrich.

 Iranian author AzarNafisi, who wrote the best-selling Reading Lolita in Tehran, received huge grants to write this book from the right-wing Bradley and Smith Richardson Foundations.  Nafisi also has close ties to Paul Wolfowitz and sat on the board of Freedom House, another right-wing think-tank that includes some of the same neocons mentioned above.

 Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, cited Reading Lolita in Tehran to bolster his case for a first strike on Iran.

 The neo-conservatives use women’s rights and “democracy” as an excuse to legitimize wars and the U.S. colonial presence. This also feeds into the attitude of western exceptionalism. The message is that the West is progressive and the best place for women, while the Muslim Middle East is backward and  uncivilized. Muslim women are then seen only as victims and not as agents of social transformation.

 We become blind to the ways in which women of the Middle East resist and empower themselves, and we don’t see them as being able to become agents of their own liberation, which they are perfectly capable of doing. Iranian women don’t need or want the U.S. as saviors.  Did we “save” the women of Afghanistan and Iraq?

There is a real threat of World War III.  The Middle East is a powder keg waiting to explode.  With all the advanced weaponry and the eagerness ofI srael and the neocons to attack Iran, this is a very dangerous and real possibility. We must resist all propaganda and focus on one single issue:  No Sanctions, No Threats, No War on Iran.

Albert Einstein said: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Margaret Sarfehjooy is a member of the WAMM Middle East Committee.

Sources for this article:


  1. Gary Ellingson February 12, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    This is one of the most extensive and well written articles I have read on Iran in a while. The author is obviously well versed in middle eastern political history. I am so grateful for intelligent people expressing their views and outlining this important issue.

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