The word sanction has started sounding like sans-(a)ction, that is, without action. Though apparently Russia and China are backing the sanction on Iran the truth is that, along with the Islamic Republic, they are playing a diplomatic game to isolate Obama’s United States.
Three days after the draft UN sanctions resolution was introduced on May 18 by the US, Russia and China came the news from Moscow itself that two key Russian Members of Parliament said the proposed sanction would not affect their country’s sale of S-300 missiles to Tehran.
The possible sanctions would not hurt “current contracts”, said Mikhail Margelov, the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Federation Council, the Upper House of parliament.
“As far as Russian economic interests are concerned, this draft does not deal a blow to current contracts existing between Russia and Iran,” he was quoted in media on May 21.
“We need to remember that Russia is a responsible seller of any of its products on external markets and we are not interested in the militarisation of the Middle East,” he went on to say.
It needs to be recalled that Moscow had already agreed for the sale of the missiles with Tehran but the delivery has been delayed by Western pressure.
As if that was not enough: Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the State Duma, the Lower House of Parliament, expressed a similar opinion. He said the sanctions would not hurt Russia’s plans to launch Iran’s first nuclear plant, which it is building in the city of Bushehr, by the end of the summer.
Ironically, Iran cocked a snook at the proposed US sponsored move for sanctions when Brazil and Turkey brokered a surprise deal with it on May 17. As per the deal Iran agreed to send some low-enriched uranium to these two countries in return for fuel rods for a medical research reactor. The first batch is due to arrive in Turkey within a month. Not surprisingly Kremlin played a key role in brokering this deal.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev discussed this proposal with President Lula of Brazil last April on the sidelines of the BRIC Summit in that country.
Later Medvedev pursued the initiative in Ankara, where he travelled in mid-May from Damascus. Then Lula on way to Tehran made a brief stopover to Moscow.
In its push for more talks with Iran, Russia has got the support of China which on May 19 said that the efforts by Brazil and Turkey will aid the process of peacefully resolving the Iran nuclear issue through dialogue and negotiations.
True Russia too would like to see a limited role for Iran in the future but it wants to get rid of the growing US influence in the former Eastern European allies and Central Asian Republics. The American bases in Romania, Poland, Central Asian Republics, which were earlier its part and the role Washington played in Georgia can never be ignored by Moscow.
China has its own high stakes in the region and it too would not allow the United States to increase its clout in the region by having sanctions on Iran.
Obama’s United States is under the pressure from the Zionists’ lobby and ultra-right within the country. But Iran is not Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or Taleban’s Afghanistan.
Unlike Saddam Hussein, who had been a puppet of the West till August 2, 1990, when he invaded Kuwait, Iran has virtually lived through sanctions ever since February 11, 1979 Islamic Revolution. The country has learnt the art of diplomacy in those early years of sanctions.
Global players like Russia and China know the importance of emerging power of Iran as well as Turkey in the region.
Unlike Saddam’s Iraq, which only acquired some fire-power from the West with the help of the oil-wealth, Iran and Turkey have shown their mettle. So while Saddam’s Iraq could easily be isolated and he himself caught and hanged without any murmur it is not so easy to do so against Iran.
Instead it is Iran, which dexterously foiled the US bid to improve its relationship with the Latin American powers like Brazil and Venezuela. This is a master-stroke of international diplomacy. Unlike George Bush, his successor Obama literally embraced Lula and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela in April 2009. But the Latin American nations, bitten many times by US, are not prepared to sacrifice their ties with Iran.
Iranians know their history as well as geography better and that also of a chunk of land between the two Oceans – Pacific and Atlantic – called the United States of America.
They have emerged from the worst phase of their history when the same United States and its Western allies armed and provoked Saddam to impose a senseless eight-year old war on it.
Now the equation seems to be changing. It is true the American presence is very much in Iraq and Afghanistan but Iran is no lame duck. Unlike the war-torn Iraq of 1990, which could fire ancient looking Scud missiles, the Iranians have wherewithal to hit Israel as well as American bases in Gulf and Diego Garcia.
Four years back there was one such rehearsal in Lebanon, and the Zionist state knows the result. Israel, which made a walk-over against the combined army of Egypt, Syria and Jordan in just six days in June 1967, simply floundered for over a month to push Hizbullah, a small non-state group, only a few kilometres back and that too after suffering heavy casualties.
Iran is different from Iraq in many other ways. Saddam was, no doubt, a hated and ruthless dictator with no people’s mandate to rule. Iran has an elected government and a free society.
So while Saddam perfected the art of converting friends into foes – Kuwait is the best example – Iranians, as a people and not just the government, have been more guarded and matured in their actions and reactions. Their stand on the US and Israel is consistent, even though the former destroyed its greatest enemy in the region, Saddam Husain. In the election held in 2005 just two years after the defeat of Saddam and his subsequent arrest the Iranians voted to power anti-American Mahmoud Ahmedinejad instead of moderates. So the American action of getting rid of Ba’athist leader did not soften them at all.
Iran knows its strategic importance better. So unlike Saddam, who did not emerge as a global player, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad continued to function as the chairman of the G-15 nations till his term ended on May 17 last.
Iranians did not allow the passion to go out of control even though there is no dearth of elements who want to create a rift between Shias and Sunnis in Iraq. So if Iran is still very much at the centre-stage today it is because of these reasons.