How Iran's Nuclear Power Play Can Change Global Politics
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HONG KONG -- Things get curiouser and curiouser in the Iranian wonderland. Imagine what happened last week during Friday prayers in Tehran, personally conducted by former president Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, aka "The Shark", Iran's wealthiest man, who made his fortune partly because of Irangate -- the 1980s' secret weapons contracts with Israel and the US.
As is well known, Rafsanjani is behind the Mir-Hossein Mousavi-Mohammad Khatami pragmatic conservative faction that lost the most recent battle at the top -- rather than a presidential election -- to the ultra-hardline faction of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei-Mahmud Ahmadinejad-Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps. During prayers, partisans of the hegemonic faction yelled the usual "Death to America!" -- while the pragmatic conservatives came up, for the first time, with "Death to Russia!" and "Death to China!"
Oops. Unlike the United States and Western Europe, both Russia and China almost instantly accepted the contested presidential re-election of Ahmadinejad. Could they then be portrayed as enemies of Iran? Or have pragmatic conservatives not been informed that obsessed-by-Eurasia Zbig Brzezinksi -- who has US President Barack Obama's undivided attention -- has been preaching since the 1990s that it is essential to break up the Tehran-Moscow-Beijing axis and torpedo the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)?
On top of it, don't they know that both Russia and China -- as well as Iran -- are firm proponents of the end of the dollar as global reserve currency to the benefit of a (multipolar) basket of currencies, a common currency of which Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had the gall this month to present a prototype at the Group of Eight (G-8) meeting in Aquila, Italy? By the way, it's a rather neat coin. Minted in Belgium, it sports the faces of the G-8 leaders and also a motto -- "Unity in diversity".
"Unity in diversity" is not exactly what the Obama administration has in mind as far as Iran and Russia are concerned -- no matter the zillion bytes of lofty rhetoric. Let's start with the energy picture.
Iran is world number two both in terms of proven oil reserves (11.2%) and gas reserves (15.7%), according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2008.
If Iran ever opted towards a more unclenched-fist relationship with Washington, US Big Oil would feast on Iran's Caspian energy wealth. This means that whatever the rhetoric, no US administration will ever want to deal with a hyper-nationalist Iranian regime, such as the current military dictatorship of the mullahtariat.
What really scares Washington -- from George W Bush to Obama -- is the perspective of a Russia-Iran-Venezuela axis. Together, Iran and Russia hold 17.6% of the world's proven oil reserves. The Persian Gulf petro-monarchies -- de facto controlled by Washington -- hold 45%. The Moscow-Tehran-Caracas axis controls 25%. If we add Kazakhstan's 3% and Africa's 9.5%, this new axis is more than an effective counter-power to American hegemony over the Arab Middle East. The same thing applies to gas. Adding the "axis" to the Central Asian "stans", we reach 30% of world gas production. As a comparison, the whole Middle East -- including Iran -- currently produces only 12.1% of the world's needs.
All about Pipelineistan
A nuclear Iran would inevitably turbo-charge the new, emerging multipolar world. Iran and Russia are de facto showing to both China and India that it is not wise to rely on US might subjugating the bulk of oil in the Arab Middle East. All these players are very much aware that Iraq remains occupied, and that Washington's obsession remains the privatization of Iraq's enormous oil wealth.