The US has opened up a new front in its now sharply accelerated war drive on Iran. The announcement last week by Condoleezza Rice, branding Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist organization, and imposing the strongest sanctions yet since 1979 Iranian Revolution, alarmed several democratic presidential candidates who described it as an indication that the White House had begun its "march to war".
In his article in today's Guardian, Max Hastings correctly predicts that within six months these sanctions could only lead to a military attack on Iran, a prospect that he opposes. However, he plays right into the hands of warmongers by giving unequivocal support to the two main US accusations against Iran:
"Few strategists dispute either that Iranian revolutionaries are playing a prominent role in frustrating the stabilization of Iraq, or that Iran is doing its utmost to build nuclear weapons."
These are precisely the allegations that are used by the neoconservatives and Israel to demonize the Revolutionary Guards and the government of Ahmadinejad, justify the latest sanctions and pave the way for a military attack.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps is an army of 125,000 and an indispensable part of the Iranian military. It was formed during the eight-year war waged against the Islamic Republic by Saddam Hussein, who was at the time fully supported by the US and its European allies. With this historic role in defeating foreign aggression, the Corps occupies a special place in the Islamic Republic, has a large domain of operation and runs a significant part of the economy.
The US designation is the first time in international relations that a military body of a sovereign state is branded as terrorist. Given the Revolutionary Guards' credibility in defending the country, the US measures will be seen in the eyes of ordinary people as an attack by the US on Iran's sovereignty, along the lines of the US-UK engineered coup against the democratically elected government of Dr Mossadegh in 1953.
As a justification for the new sanctions against Iranian banks, companies and individuals, Rice accused the Revolutionary Guards of being "proliferators of WMD". This accusation has been repeatedly contradicted by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr ElBaradei's unambiguous assertions that there is absolutely no evidence of a nuclear weaponization program in Iran. In August, the IAEA cleared Iran of its plutonium experiments and confirmed the peaceful nature of all of Iran's declared enrichment activities.
"We have not come to see any undeclared activities or weaponization of their program", Dr Mohammad ElBaradei said in September, "Nor have we gotten intelligence to that effect." This Sunday, he repeated the same assertion in a CNN interview.
But Rice's accusation against the Revolutionary Guards is not only totally unfounded, it turns the truth outrageously on its head. Throughout its eight-year war of aggression, the Iraqi army used chemical weapons on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, soldiers and civilians. The US was complicit in both the proliferation and the use of WMD against the Revolutionary Guards, who were amongst the 52,000 Iranian victims of this war crime.
In response to the latest US measures against Iran, Vladimir Putin, who along with the Chinese, has refused to back further sanctions against Iran, saying: "Running around like a mad man with a blade in one's hand is not the best way to solve such problems."
Also, Rice's accusation against the Quds force, a division of the Revolutionary Guards, of support for terrorism in Iraq and beyond, is in sharp contrast to British government's own evidence. David Miliband, the foreign secretary, in an interview with the Financial Times in July admitted that there was no evidence of Iranian involvement in the violence and instability in Iraq. Afghanistan's foreign minister has recently contradicted the US accusations against Iran by pointing out that there is no evidence for Iran arming the Taliban forces. Prime Minister Maliki and President Karzai too have repeatedly stressed Iran's positive role in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The unfounded allegations by the US and Rice's declaration to the Congress that Iran was "perhaps the single greatest challenge" for US security, is part of the unmistakable chorus of war from the US administration, following Bush's invocation of the "World War III" and Cheney's threat of "serious consequences" for Iran, the week previously. It is an ominous indication that the voices of dialogue have been decidedly drowned by the war camp who are pushing for a military attack on Iran.
In Britain, Gordon Brown has been quick to support the latest US measures and refused to rule out the military option. The new sanctions will not avert the military option by the US, as a number of leading politicians in the UK, France and Germany claim, but would only be the prelude to a military attack. Brown is placing Britain in the path of another unprovoked and illegal war with catastrophic consequences for the people of Iran, the region and the whole world.
Seymour Hersh wrote in a recent article in the New Yorker that this summer in a closed circuit video discussion between Bush and Ian Crocker, the US ambassador in Iraq, Bush said that he wanted all along the border inside Iran to be bombed and that "the British were on board".
The British public should wake up to the disastrous foreign policy the UK government is continuing to pursue after the invasion of Iraq and urgently demand their MPs to table an emergency motion in the House of Commons to oppose sanctions and any military attack on Iran.
Abbas Edalat is professor of computer science and mathematics at Imperial College London and founder of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran. Mehrnaz Shahabi is a journalist and executive editor of www.campaigniran.org.
© 2007 The Guardian