by Dilip Hiro and Tom Engelhardt, January 13, 2010
"The Obama administration’s Iran policy is a riddle wrapped inside a conundrum folded into a pickle. So many signals are being sent in so many directions that it’s a wonder the Iranians (or other involved parties) have any idea what’s going on. Barack Obama came into office pledging to reach out diplomatically to Iran. In fact, the administration did so in only a halfhearted way, even as the president quickly began setting deadlines for the Iranians to respond (on their nuclear program) in a way Washington considered satisfactory – or face further "crippling" sanctions. Now, the latest of these deadlines, Jan. 1, 2010, has passed and a move toward new sanctions, especially against companies associated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, which controls significant parts of the country’s economy, is evidently being prepared. But China, which holds the presidency of the Security Council for the month of January, recently rejected even a debate on the subject. Like the Russians, the Chinese are deeply involved in developing long-term energy relations with Iran, which means that no sanctions which might "cripple" that country’s economy are likely to make it through the Security Council, no matter which country has the presidency.
In the meantime, rumors, circulating for years, about an impending Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities (which is a polite way of saying Iranian military defenses of every sort) continue to fly. President Obama reportedly even used his supposed inability to hold the Israelis back as a way to urge China’s president to fall into line on sanctions. .......
Regime Change in Tehran?
Don’t bet on it… yet
by Dilip Hiro
The dramatic images of protesters in Iran fearlessly facing – and sometimes countering – the brutal attacks of the regime’s security forces rightly gain the admiration and sympathy of viewers in the West. They also leave many Westerners assuming that this is a preamble to regime change in Tehran, a repeat of history, but with a twist. After all, Iran has the distinction of being the only Middle Eastern state that underwent a revolutionary change – 31 years ago – which originated as a mild street protest.
Viewed objectively, though, this assumption is over-optimistic. It overlooks cardinal differences between the present moment and the 1978-1979 events which led to the overthrow of the shah of Iran and the founding of an Islamic Republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. History shows that a revolutionary movement triumphs only when two vital factors merge: it is supported by a coalition of different social classes and it succeeds in crippling the country’s governing machinery and fracturing the state’s repressive apparatus......"