…it should hardly come as a surprise. As Mehdi Hasan points out, their neighbours are all puppet regimes of the United States…
Imagine, for a moment, that you are an Iranian mullah. Sitting crosslegged on your Persian rug in Tehran, sipping a cup of chai, you glance up at the map of the Middle East on the wall. It is a disturbing image: your country, the Islamic Republic of Iran, is surrounded on all sides by virulent enemies and regional rivals, both nuclear and non-nuclear.
On your eastern border, the United States has 100,000 troops serving in Afghanistan. On your western border, the US has been occupying Iraq since 2003 and plans to retain a small force of military contractors and CIA operatives even after its official withdrawal next month. Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation, is to the south-east; Turkey, America’s Nato ally, to the north-west; Turkmenistan, which has acted as a refuelling base for US military transport planes since 2002, to the north-east. To the south, across the Persian Gulf, you see a cluster of US client states: Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet; Qatar, host to a forward headquarters of US Central Command; Saudi Arabia, whose king has exhorted America to “attack Iran” and “cut off the head of the snake”.
Then, of course, less than a thousand miles to the west, there is Israel, your mortal enemy, in possession of over a hundred nuclear warheads and with a history of pre-emptive aggression against its opponents.
The map makes it clear: Iran is, literally, encircled by the United States and its allies.
In addition to which, as you take another sip of your chai, you might reflect on the fact that if Saddam had actually got the WMD that Blair/Bush so frequently told us he had got, he may well still be around to tell us he had got them. Of course, in common with every national leader who has ever been a barrier to US/UK economic interests, Hussein was clinically mad. It is a real Catch-22. As a leader that cannot appreciate the benign influence of US (and by default UK) foreign policy, you must automatically be clinically mad, and therefore not allowed to remain in office. This analysis can sometimes be confusing. Some national leaders can actually be stark raving mad one moment, and then miraculously recover to become statesmen of the highest order within a couple of years. Muammar Gaddafi was mad, then he fell victim to Tony Blair’s persuasive charms (hey, there’s many more than him been taken in by that one) when he ditched his weapons, and later became mad again when it was realised he could be taken out safely. If he had hung on to his WMD, who knows, he might still ave been mad, but still sitting on his gold sofa in his tented palace.
Pass me another cup of that chai…