Iran Must Tread Carefully, or Face the Consequences – Conservative Article
After managing to stay out of the headlines for a few months, Iran has now re-entered them, and not in a good way. Recently, there have been reports that it has attacked a Libyan flagged tanker with drones. Which resulted in the killing of a British national and another Romanian crew member. This comes amid a point where tensions are still high with Iran after talks for a new nuclear have stalled for several months now. A hardliner in Ebrahim Raisi has been inaugurated as the new president too, which could signal that Iran is to delve further into its anti-western belief even more.
Firstly, then, the tanker attack. This is another shipping attack in the long list of shipping disruptions that Iran has committed, raising tensions in the vitally important Strait of Hormuz. To put it into perspective how important this strait is, it forms a choke point between the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, where a sixth of global oil production and a third of the world’s liquified natural gas flows through. If this port were to ever close, global oil markets would face a doomsday scenario.
Iran is clearly continuing to flex its muscles in that area, in order to keep the world aware of its presence. But by killing a British national and a Romanian they are overstepping the mark. Britain is one of the states that hasn’t withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal. But events like these push us further away from our continued cooperation. Dominic Raab has rightfully reminded Iran that the UK will protect its interests and its people in the Strait, that there is a cost for continued hostilities. Raab also adds that the door to diplomacy is always open. While he is right that diplomacy should be a continued option (war with Iran is not in anyone’s interest), we must be prepared to act with force as Iran is slamming that door in our face.
This looks like it is the opening act in a faster deterioration regarding Iran’s relations to the West. In the recent presidential elections, the moderate incumbent was replaced by a hardline challenger Ebrahim Raisi. He holds ultra-conservative beliefs, meaning that he hates the west. The head of the judiciary, Raisi was personally trained by the now Ayatollah Khamenei. He also served on several secret tribunals set up in 1988, nicknamed the Death Committee. This is because he and three other judges sent a reported 5,000 people to their deaths. Their crime only being the engagement in politics. Raisi has been touted as a possible successor for Khamenei.
Raisi is extremely anti-western. Instead of allowing for foreign investment like Rouhani’s administration, Raisi instead subscribes to the notion of a resistance economy, in order to better withstand the sanctions Iran is under. He was also against the Iran nuclear deal, commenting in a speech that he would not return to the deal. This is worrying news for other signatories, as it shows that Iran is no longer open to negotiation. It also shows the Trump policy of maximum pressure has driven Iran away from opening up, and back to hardliners. His actions have directly led us to where we are now, which threatens the security of the Middle East. Trump has empowered Iranian hardliners and was successful in forcing the world to take a harsher approach with Iran. Because there is now no other option.
Raisi has completely shot down the notion of even talking to President Biden. So he is unlikely to allow the UK the privilege. If that is the case, the UK must accept that a retaliatory strike might eventually be needed, to show that Iran’s increasingly hostile actions will not be simply ignored. International cooperation with Biden and the EU is also key. But, this crucially does not mean bowing down to appease Raisi like the EU are doing.
Sanctions have proved ineffective at calming Iran down, and they don’t even want to hear us talk. This means it is looking more and more likely that all other options must be considered if Iran continues to act as a rogue actor. The quicker those in Iran realise that cooperation with the West is the best way to avoid hostilities, the quicker we can avoid a war.
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Kieran Burt
Point of Information
There is a more complex history between the UK and Iran – A Labour response
Kieran is correct that Ebrahim Raisin ultra-conservatism poses a threat, especially considering it is rumoured that Iran will soon build an atomic weapon. However, the Iranian people are not fairly represented in a democracy. The 2021 Election was described as “neither free or fair” by Human Rights Watch. With a turnout of only 49 per cent, and 13% of the votes being protest votes, many Iranians were not happy with how the election was handled. This is one of many reasons why the Iranian people should not be punished by trade sanctions. As they only serve to increase tensions and harm normal people. I agree with Kieran that Trump’s “policy of maximum pressure” has indeed only served to increase anti-Western sentiment in the country.
It is also worth remembering that the west’s supposed desire for democracy in Iran is hypocritical. In the 1950s, Britain effectively killed Iran’s real chance at a democratic, constitutional monarchy thus far. Mossadegh’s plan for oil nationalisation and his appointment to Prime Minister in 1951 should have been the founding moment for a modern Iranian democracy, with a constitutional monarch. And yet, it was a coup orchestrated by the British MI6 and the CIA that toppled the regime. Ultimately paving the way for the country’s Islamic Revolution in 1979. This partly explains the strong, historical anti-colonial sentiment in Iran and a general lack of trust in the West.
Written by Deputy Chief Labour Writer, Brian Byrne
Do Not Forget Israel and the US – A Liberal Response
Kieran’s article has the right gist but misses a key bit of context. Contrary to what the first three paragraphs would have you believe, Britain is a relatively low concern for Iran. Whilst the British fatality will inevitably sour relations, it was an unintended consequence of Iran’s main target: Israel.
Kieran fails to mention that the Libyan tanker in the Strait of Hormuz was in fact owned by an Israeli company (flying under the Libyan flag perhaps). Iran was aiming for Israel, not the UK. For us to be involved in the dispute unless we’re absolutely required to would be irrelevant and damaging. This is especially true after our completely failed intervention into Afghanistan and Iraq. We should learn our lesson and tread carefully too.
I agree with Kieran though overall. The election of Raisi should be seen as a nadir in diplomacy. However, as both Brian and Kieran correctly assert, this would not have happened without Trump’s sanctions. Clearly, they have not only damaged Iran but are hurting the interests of the West as well. Following what Brian argues, why should we turn the dissatisfied people of Iran, ruled over by an unpopular tyrant and theocracy, into even more fervent anti-Westerners?
The way to re-open talks does not only include Iran reforming their regime, however. It also requires honesty from the West and its allies. For half a century, America has willingly ignored Israel’s nuclear power in the Middle East. And, its refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. When the general US public believes (falsely) that Iran has more nuclear weapons than Israel, it is time to end the lies. When there is more transparency, there is more hope for a resolution to the conflict.
Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Frank Allen
Politics was a completely taboo subject for me as a young boy. Having lived almost all my life in Brunei and Qatar – two very strict, theocratic autocracies – I was cautious to keep my opinions well-guarded. The smallest negative remark about either country’s governance, for example, would’ve meant deportation for my family and I. Any non-approved political activity, no matter how naïve, had to be kept a secret. It was best not to question at all.
Hello, my name is Kieran Burt and I am going into second year at Nottingham Trent University studying Politics and International Relations. I first developed an interest in politics through reading the Dictator’s Handbook by Alastair Smith and Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, when I was 16, and have furthered my interest by studying politics at A level and now at university.