Five points about putting Iran on US list of sponsors of terrorism

By Mohammad Khajouei*

The US Department of State has recently released its “Country Report on Terrorism 2015” in which it has put Iran on the top of the list of countries allegedly sponsoring terrorism. Therefore, mentioning the following five points seems to be necessary in this regard:

1. The US Department of State has declared Iran as a major sponsor of terrorism in 2015 at a time that Iran has been a pioneer in fighting the main symbol of terrorism in the Middle East, which is the Daesh terrorist group, during the same year. Under conditions when frequent reports have denoted that certain regional countries, which happen to have profound and strategic relations with the United States, are helping some terrorist groups in the region, Iran has stood against major terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, not only in slogans, but in the real theater of war, and has suffered heavy costs in this regard, including the loss of a large number of its military commanders and soldiers.

The bitter irony of this story is that American officials, who have now put Iran’s name on top of the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, have frequently talked about the role played by Iran in the fight against Daesh. Less than two months ago, US Secretary of State John Kerry, said in an interview with the New York Times that Iran is really seeking to destroy Daesh. He had also expressed hope that Washington would be able to join hands with Iran in fighting terrorists in Syria.

It seems that this clear contradiction between the words and deeds of American officials will, more than anything else, cast doubt on their credibility.

2. During the same year that the US Department of State claims Iran has topped the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, Saudi Arabia has been attacking its southern neighbor, Yemen, and as evidenced by international institutions, has embarked on massacring Yemeni civilians, especially children. Of course, due to pressures from Saudi Arabia and Riyadh’s threat that it would cut financial contribution to the UN, its name was taken off the blacklist of countries killing children in war, but this issue does not change the main case. The question is “why the name of this country, which embarks on such clear acts of terrorism, is not on the American list of countries sponsoring terrorism and instead, another country which has been spearheading the fight against Daesh in the region, is viewed as the main culprit in supporting terrorism?

Another interesting and of course bitter point is that the recent report released by the US Department of State comes amid hot debates about the role played by senior officials of Saudi Arabia in the terrorist attacks that hit New York on September 11, 2011. Meanwhile, the 9/11 terror attacks have been frequently introduced in recent years by various American officials as the most obvious symbol of terrorism. Now, one must wait and see whether the effort made to hide Saudi Arabia’s role in these terrorist attacks has had anything to do with Riyadh’s petrodollars as was the case with the recent measure by the UN to remove the name of Saudi Arabia from the list of violators of the rights of children?

3. As time goes by and many countries, including the United States, distance from human ethics and principles, and at a time that many issues are looked upon as tools to achieve ends, the logic underlying the release of numerous lists like this on such issues as terrorism and human rights is at best in doubt. There are many signs indicating that such lists are mostly used as tools and are a function of relations among countries. The most important issue, however, is that such significant terms as the fight against terrorism and advocating human rights are increasingly losing both their credit and meaning. This development would not benefit the world politics in the long run.

4. Repetition of some unconstructive policies, including the recent measure by the US Department of State, seizing USD two billion of Iran’s assets in the United States, or some measures in the past such as including Iran in the so-called “Axis of Evil” (under the former US President George Bush Jr.), all of which were taken after adoption of an interactive and positive policy by Iran, can only increase distrust toward the United States among Iranian officials and people. This distrust will, in turn, serve as a major obstacle to reduction of the existing tensions in relations between Tehran and Washington and will slow down the march toward normalization of these relations. Many people in Iran are of the opinion that adoption of an interactive and constructive approach in the face of the United States would be futile in the long run, because past experience shows that Washington will not show a positive reaction to adoption of this approach by Tehran.

5. The recent measure taken by the United States is in line with Washington’s unchanging policy of taking advantage of pressure tools concurrent with diplomatic efforts, especially with regard to the nuclear issue. However, it must not be forgotten that under conditions when the nuclear deal is still at its beginning, such measures will intentionally or unintentionally deal drastic blows to this important agreement. Such hostile measures will further trigger fears about possible rekindling of tensions in bilateral relations, which may in turn lead to new problems. As a result, they increase conservatism and caution on the part of foreign companies and banks that are willing to reestablish relations with Iran. This is in contrast to the fact that according to the nuclear agreement, such obstacles were supposed to be done away with. Naturally, under such conditions, these measures may elicit Iran’s reaction and if such instances continue, the nuclear deal will gradually turn into a piece of scrap paper and nothing more. However, failure of the nuclear deal, which was clinched by all involved parties after many years of discord, would be detrimental to all of them.

*Mohammad Khajouei
Senior Middle East Analyst