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Japan must reject American pressure against oil sanctions on Iran

Japan must reject American pressure against oil sanctions on Iran

Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The United States is continuing to put pressure on Japan about sanctions against Iran’s oil industry and thankfully the Finance Minister of Japan, Jun Azumi, was sidelined after appearing to cave in several weeks ago. However, foreign policy specialists and many bureaucrats in Japan understand that this issue is extremely delicate and Japan doesn’t want to appear to be hostile towards Iran. After all, other nations have developed nuclear weapons like India and Pakistan and after making a lot of noise it appears that this issue is on a backburner in Washington.

Similar pressure is being put on South Korea but the issue in Japan is extremely severe because of the Fukushima nuclear crisis. Therefore, now is the wrong time for Japan to put even greater stress on a valuable source of energy. Surely America must understand that the “special relationship” between both nations must be based on greater equality and that this demand is too great given the internal energy crisis in Japan.

The vast majority of nuclear reactors are not in working order in Japan at the moment and nobody knows the real future of this sector within Japan. At the same time, alternative sources of energy will mean that Japan is taking sides in a dispute which doesn’t concern Japan at the moment. After all, Iran is not a threat to Japan and both nations have cordial relations.

From a Japanese perspective, if Washington truly cares, then why is Iran a bigger concern than the nuclear stockpile of China and continuing modernization of the armed forces of this nation? It is unimaginable that Iran would ever threaten Japan or create a major international war based on irrationality.

Also, from Iran’s point of view then it is inconceivable that nations like Pakistan and Israel have the right to defend themselves but Iran doesn’t. This isn’t implying that Israel and Pakistan don’t have the right to develop nuclear weapons when all the major powers have a nuclear arsenal. However, from Iran’s geopolitical point of view then the nuclear arsenal of Israel and Pakistan may be making policy makers in Tehran nervous.

While all the focus is on relations between Iran and Israel the real uncertain nation is Pakistan. The Taliban and other Sunni Islamic extremists have killed and massacred Shia Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan and for this reason Iran supported anti-Taliban and anti-Al Qaeda forces in the past. Ironically, Iran had this policy when America still had open relations with the Taliban prior to September 11 which was done by Sunni Islamic extremists who were mainly Saudi Arabian nationals.

Also, the central state of Iran is much more dynamic and in control of the nation rather than the reality in Pakistan. This fact can’t be debated currently and China is seriously concerned about this issue despite having very good relations with Pakistan. The possibility of a failed state in Pakistan is a nightmare because radical Sunni Islamists in this nation are extremely militant and this applies to being anti-Shia, anti-India, anti-democratic, anti-secular, and so forth. Therefore, nations should be more focused on the power of central forces in Pakistan and the internal Sunni Islamic jihad against the Pakistan army rather than Iran.

This isn’t underplaying the Iranian issue but surely this “game” concerns America, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Lebanon (Hezbollah and links with Iran), and other regional nations, irrespective of being pro or anti Iran. However, it isn’t an issue which should concern Japan from a military angle. Instead, Japan should be trying to influence greater restraint on all sides and be a “middle broker” in order to contain negative forces from either side.

Much is mentioned about the US and Iran relationship but this is also complex because America left “a window of opportunity” for Iran to break the arms embargo which had been put on Bosnia during the three sided civil war. Also, Iranian intelligence clearly gave tacit approval of the American led invasion of Iraq because Iran knew that this would end a regime which was anti-Iranian and in the long term the power shift would work in the favor of the Shia.

In a recent article by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that “If political leaders in Tokyo believe that Iran is a threat to the national security of Japan or that Iran is an international threat, then clearly Japan must state this categorically and not hide behind the political intrigues in Washington. However, Iran does not have any ill intent towards Japan and clearly with China, India, Israel, and Pakistan, having nuclear weapons in Asia, it is understandable for Iran to be concerned about this reality from their respective geopolitical point of view.”

“It must be stated that September 11, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, have one common theme and this applies to radical Sunni Muslims being involved in the deaths of American civilians and American soldiers. The Shia community in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia have not protected or funded global terrorist networks which were responsible for September 11, London, Bali, and countless terrorist attacks in Iraq and Pakistan. Therefore, the government in Tehran is much more responsible than the ruling elites in Saudi Arabia which have many ratlines and hidden agendas.”

Liu Weimin a ministry spokesperson for the government of China commented that “To place one country’s domestic law above international law and press others to obey is not reasonable.” Other nations share this point of view and if America believes that Iran is a threat to the security of America, then Washington should deal with this without putting pressure on Japan. After all, the pressing concerns for Japan are many and this notably applies to the energy shortfall after the devastating March 11 tsunami and the ongoing Fukushima crisis.

It must also be stated the tangle web of America and Saudi Arabia is not aimed at democracy and human rights, after all just look at the crisis in Bahrain whereby the Shia face daily oppression and outside meddling from Saudi Arabia. The Shia community is also often attacked in Yemen and Japan can’t afford to take sides in “a dirty political game” which is taking place.

Of course Japan must maintain the strong relationship between Washington and Tokyo when it applies to Northeast Asia and other important issues. However, the nuclear crisis in Iran isn’t a national security issue for Japan and the neutral nature of Japan’s foreign policy must be respected.

If political leaders in Tokyo believe that the government of Tehran is a threat to the security concerns of Japan and the international community, then Japan must fall in line. Yet clearly senior politicians in Japan don’t share this view and the main concern for the people of Japan is maintaining the economy and having a steady flow of energy. Therefore, the timing is wrong and Japan shouldn’t get involved in the American-Saudi Arabian alliance against Iran.

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 

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America and Iran: Shared interests or natural enemies?

America and Iran: Shared interests or natural enemies?

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

America and Iran

President Obama is maintaining America’s uneven approach with Iran because the opposition continues to suffer at the hands of the internal security services.  Also, several outspoken individuals who attacked the current leadership in Iran have been killed in prison.  Despite this, comments against Iran are muted and often it appears that media consumption is more important than reality.

It appears to matter little if the leader of America is a Republican leader or a Democrat leader.  Instead, it is “a quiet” reprimand or comments are only harsh because of internal political pressure in America or because of media statements which show systematic abuse in Iran.

In theory, America and Iran are meant to be natural enemies, however, their relationship is very complex and sometimes both nations share a common vision in the realm of geopolitics. Yet to the outside world both nations do not trust each other and this is based on so-called tension and mutual loathing. However, do both nations really hate each other or are quotes taken out of context or do they have cultural meanings?

Or do both nations use each other in order to salvage domestic support at home? Therefore, what is the real relationship?

If we focus on economics and the nuclear issue, then it is abundantly clear that America does enforce a strict economic blockade on Iran. At the same time the nuclear issue could be the one area which causes a possible limited conflict or where America gives Israel the green light. Therefore, it is clear that you do have major tensions within the relationship and maybe it is Iran which is forcing this breakdown?

After all, if it wasn`t for the nuclear issue then tensions or conflicts could be contained, just like in the past. Given this, Iran should remember that America once had dealings with Saddam Hussein but he also over-stepped the mark.

Yet when we concentrate on the field of international relations and geopolitics then we find a very different relationship because in recent times both nations have worked together. Sometimes this may have applied to mere tacit support and not directly working together, yet this tacit support did sometimes involve a shared common ground. Therefore, it is important to focus on this unspoken side in order to highlight the complex nature of the relationship between America and Iran.

If we focus on Bosnia and Kosovo respectively, then America and Iran had a shared interest in supporting the Muslims of the Balkans. During the Bosnian conflict the United Nations enforced a military embargo on all sides. However, America clearly gave Iran the green light to send military arms to the Bosnian Muslims and this is how the Bosnian Muslims, and Croatians, could turn the table against Serbia within both Bosnia and Croatia.

Therefore, the military arms embargo was clearly broken and Iran often sent military arms in order to prop-up the Bosnian Muslim armed forces. Also, the American-Iranian policy in the Balkans shatters the myth that America is anti-Islamic. After all, during Bosnia, Kosovo, and Cyprus respectively, the armed forces of America and senior politicians sided with Islam every time.

If we even dig further and turn the clock back even more, then we even see covert dealings under the late Ayatollah Khomeini. This applies to the murky Oliver North scandal with regards to the Iran-Contra affair, whereby Iran was involved in supporting the Contras in Nicaragua, via American economic support. Therefore, elements within the American administration were adopting a different policy and sometimes elements within different departments were ignoring senior political leaders.

Now if we forward the clock to more recent times then the same situation happens again. For example, when America attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan they allied themselves with the Northern Alliance. The Northern Alliance in turn was supported by both the Russian Federation and Iran. More astonishing was the fact that Iran gave America secret information about the Taliban; after all, the Taliban hated Shia Muslims.

Therefore, America and Iran had vested interests once more and it is very rare for the Shia in Afghanistan to be anti-America.  After all, Osama Bin Laden hates “infidels” and in the worldview of radical Sunni Islam, it is clear that “infidels” also applies to the Shia because they are deemed to be “un-Muslim” in the eyes of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

If we also focus on Iraq then a similar linkage emerges once more because Iran also gave covert support to America via knowledge they had obtained during the Iran-Iraq war. Also, Iran did little to prevent this conflict because they hated Saddam Hussein and his secular regime. Therefore, was the trade off an Islamic state? Because once the secular government had been defeated, then America installed Sharia Islamic Law which in turn persecuted the Christian community.

Given all this, then what is the truth behind the “veil?” Do both nations share similar aims and objectives within a limited geopolitical space? If they don`t, then how do you account for past dealings between both nations? This issue needs to be debated openly because nothing appears to make sense when it comes to the relationship between America and Iran.

The rise of the Shia in Iraq and the delicate situation in Bahrain means that Saudi Arabia and Iran are at loggerheads. However, while America supports Saudi Arabia openly it does not mean everything is what it appears. 

The same applies to the complex nature of geopolitics because it does appear that America and Iran have shared several common themes. 

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