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Nuclear Free Scotland February 2005


For decades Iran and Saudi Arabia were regarded as the twin pillars of US policy in the Middle East. Their size, geographical position and oil wealth combined with their corrupt pro-American rulers allowed the United States to hold sway in the region. But the overthrow of the Shah in Iran's turbulent revolution changed all that.

If the people of Iran are now anti-American it is with good reason. They well remember the day in 1953 that the CIA carried out the carefully planned overthrow of their democratically elected president Mohammad Mossadegh who had dared to nationalise the immensely profitable Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (later to become BP). These events, described in detail in Stephen Kinzer's book 'All the Shah's Men', ushered in two and a half decades of repression under the hated Shah. All this ultimately erupted in the Islamic revolution of 1979 which in turn inspired religious fundamentalists throughout the Moslem world, including the Taliban and al Qaeda.

If Iran is once again a key strategic target of the new American administration (see Kate Hudson's piece on this page), it is because it fears that the remaining 'pillar' of its influence in the region - the Saudi Royal Family - is built on shaky foundations. You can be sure there will be no sword of 'liberty' directed against the tyrannical Saudi regime where widespread popular discontent simmers just below the surface. Instead, it is precisely US power which props it up as the biggest recipient of US arms sales over the past 20 years and with private US security firms on long term contracts to train all arms of its security forces.

A full scale invasion of Iran may be beyond current US capabilities, but a future bombing campaign is a prospect which looks increasingly likely.

Alan Mackinnon


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