Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Ten Questions Britain's William Hague won't
Answer About Iran Crisis
By Stuart Littlewood
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, February 27, 2011
William Hague’s double talk
Stuart Littlewood argues that behind
British Foreign Secretary William Hague’s extraordinary and otherwise
inexplicable hostility towards Iran may lie the desire to preserve the
imbalance of power in the Middle East so that Israel remains the dominant
the Daily Telegraph, British Foreign Secretary William Hague
claims that Iran is threatening to spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle
East which could be more dangerous than the original East-West Cold War.
"It is a crisis coming down
the tracks,” he says. “Because they are clearly continuing their nuclear
weapons programme… If they obtain nuclear weapons capability, then I think
other nations across the Middle East will want to develop nuclear weapons.
David Cameron’s double standards
“And so, the most serious round of nuclear proliferation since nuclear
weapons were invented would have begun with all the destabilizing effects
in the Middle East.
“We are very clear to all concerned that we are
not advocating military action,” he assures us. “We support a twin-track
strategy of sanctions and pressure and negotiations on the other hand. We
are not favouring the idea of anybody attacking Iran at the moment.”
But, says Mr Hague, “all options must remain on the table”.
That same day Prime
Minister David Cameron and French President Sarkozy signed a "landmark
agreement" committing their two countries to a shared programme of civil
nuclear power and setting out a shared long term vision of safe, secure,
sustainable and affordable energy.
"We are working together ... to
stop a nuclear weapon in the hands of Iran," said Cameron, adding:
As two great civil nuclear
nations, we will combine our expertise to strengthen industrial
partnership, improve nuclear safety and create jobs at home. The deals
signed today will create more than 1,500 jobs in the UK but they are
just the beginning. My goal is clear. I want the vast majority of the
content of our new nuclear plants to be constructed, manufactured and
engineered by British companies. And we will choose the partners and
technologies to maximise the economic benefits to the UK.
Such freedom of action or benefits must not be enjoyed by Iran, of
Some three weeks earlier Mr Hague was clamouring for an
"unprecedented" package of measures including an oil embargo and financial
sanctions “to increase the peaceful, legitimate pressure on the Iranian
government". It’s tempting to add “as punishment for their peaceful and
(so far) legitimate civil nuclear activities”. Such measures are no doubt
intended to bring ruin and terror in a way that bombing couldn’t.
Most of us remember only too well how the Iraq sanctions devastated that
country’s economy and resulted in widespread hunger and disease among
Iraqi people. As John Pilger
reported in the Guardian on 4 March 2000:
With this evil still quite fresh in people’s minds Hague successfully
obtained his "unprecedented" measures, meaning worse than those taken
against Iraq presumably, to inflict on Iranian women and children.
This is a war against the
children of Iraq on two fronts: bombing, which in the last year cost
the British taxpayer GBP 60 million. And the most ruthless embargo in
modern history. According to UNICEF, the United Nations children's
fund, the death rate of children under five is more than 4,000 a month
– that is 4,000 more than would have died before sanctions. That is
half a million children dead in eight years. If this statistic is
difficult to grasp, consider, on the day you read this, up to 200
Iraqi children may die needlessly.
“A mad dog too dangerous to bother”?
There are a number of
issues raised by Hague's extraordinary antics.
“...Israel is the third or fourth largest nuclear force
in the world and the only one in the Middle East. But our
brave politicians dare not even whisper this fact let
alone criticize it.”
Why does he say the Iranians "are clearly continuing their nuclear
weapons programme" when there's no proof?
Why does he say "Iran is threatening to spark a nuclear arms race" when
Israel has already destabilized the region with
its nuclear arsenal?
And even if Iran really does have a
weapons programme his claim that the present situation is "the most
serious round of nuclear proliferation since nuclear weapons were
invented" is rubbish. The BBC
reported recently that back in 2009 the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) expressed concern about Israel’s nuclear capabilities and
called on it to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), open its nuclear
facilities to inspection and place them under comprehensive IAEA
safeguards. "Israel refuses to join the NPT or allow inspections. It is
reckoned to have up to 400 warheads but refuses to confirm or deny this."
Actually, Israel is the third or fourth largest nuclear force in the
world and the only one in the Middle East. But our brave politicians dare
not even whisper this fact let alone criticize it. According to a 2006/07
report by the
Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, most unofficial estimates put
Israel’s nuclear arsenal in the hundreds, possibly larger than the British
stockpile. “Israel... has an unsafeguarded plutonium production reactor
and reprocessing capability and possibly some uranium enrichment
capability, along with various other uranium-processing facilities."
It is the only state in the region that is not a party to the
Non-Proliferation Treaty (Iran is). It has signed but not ratified the
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. As regards biological and chemical
weapons, Israel has not signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons
Convention. It has signed but not ratified the Chemical Weapons
Israel just doesn’t care. Who can forget that
much-quoted remark by the former Israeli defence minister, General Moshe
Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother"?
“If Mr Hague's purpose is to help preserve the
imbalance of power in the Middle East so that a rogue
regime, Israel, remains the dominant military force, he
must be called on to explain the wisdom of it.”
And is anyone surprised at reports that European cities are targeted?
Against this background it is difficult to understand how Hague’s
aggressive escalation against Iran is in the British national interest –
or anyone’s interest except Israel’s. Do the British people want it? If Mr
Hague's purpose is to help preserve the imbalance of power in the Middle
East so that a rogue regime, Israel, remains the dominant military force,
he must be called on to explain the wisdom of it.
Hague and Cameron
both voted enthusiastically for the Iraq war, and we know the consequence
in lives and irreversible damage to the country, its heritage, its social
fabric and infrastructure and its survivors – and of course to Britain's
reputation. We want no repetition, surely.
William Hague, according
to the Jewish Chronicle, told David Cameron when he became
Conservative Party leader in 2005 that a deep understanding of the Middle
East would be crucial if he wished to be taken seriously as a statesman…
"because you can't understand it without the history. That's been one of
the failings sometimes with the Western governments."
support for Israel and its Zionist ambitions is such that no sane world
would allow them anywhere near the levers of international power. Besides,
Hague seems to have jettisoned his history. In March 1951 the Iranian
Majlis and Senate voted to nationalize Anglo-Iranian Oil, in which the
British government had a majority interest and which had controlled Iran's
oil industry since 1913 under terms that were disadvantageous to Iran. Dr
Mohammad Mossadeq, the newly elected prime minister, carried out his
government's wish to cancel Anglo-Iranian’s oil concession, which was not
due to expire for another 42 years, and take over its assets.
speech in June 1951 (M. Fateh, Panjah Sal-e Naft-e Iran, p. 525)
The Iranian state prefers
to take over the production of petroleum itself. The company should do
nothing else but return its property to the rightful owners. The
nationalization law provides that 25 per cent of the net profits on
oil be set aside to meet all the legitimate claims of the company for
“It has been asserted abroad that Iran intends to
expel the foreign oil experts from the country and then shut down oil
installations. Not only is this allegation absurd; it is utter
Considering Britain paid Iran only 16 per cent of the profits during
the inter-war years and treated Iranian oil workers abominably, while
profiting hugely itself, these were generous terms.
History repeats itself
Faced with nationalization the
British government went mad and imposed a blockade and vicious sanctions,
quickly bringing Iran to its knees. Mossadeq, popular and highly regarded,
was removed in a coup by MI5 and the CIA, imprisoned for three years then
put under house arrest until his death. The Iranians were condemned to
suffer the reimposition of the hated Shah and his secret police for
another 25 years. The Islamist revolution of 1979 was the inevitable
And Iran has not forgotten.
Perhaps Mr Hague,
before pressing the “History Repeat” button too many times, should pause
to reflect and answer just ten questions:
1. Have we so easily forgotten the cruel and devastating effect of
economic sanctions on civil society, especially children?
the foreign secretary kindly explain the reasons for his hostility towards
3. What concrete proof is there of Iran's military
application of nuclear technology?
4. Why is he not more concerned
about Israel's nuclear arsenal, the threat it poses to the region and
beyond, and the mental attitude of the Israeli regime?
5. Why is he
not seeking sanctions against Israel for its refusal to sign up to the NPT
or engage constructively on the issue of its nuclear and other weapons of
6. How many times has a British foreign secretary
visited Tehran in the 32 years since the Islamic Revolution?
Mr Hague make an effort to go and talk before embarking on his punitive
8. Britain's conduct towards the Iranians in
1951-53 when a previous Conservative government, in cahoots with the USA,
snuffed out Iran's democracy and reinstated a cruel dictatorship, was
largely responsible for bringing about the Islamic Revolution and setting
the pattern of future relationships. Is it not shameful that this
Conservative government is spoiling for another fight? Shouldn’t the
Foreign Office focus on exerting influence through trade and cooperation?
9. Iran's present administration, like others, may not be to our
liking but nor was Dr Mossadeq’s democracy 60 years ago. Similarly, the
Israel-leaning administrations of the US and Britain are not much to the
liking of the rest of the world. In any event, what threat is Iran to
Britain? And why is Mr Hague leading the charge?
10. By pulling our
people out of Tehran and kicking Iran's people out of London Mr Hague has
shut the door on diplomacy. How can he now communicate effectively with a
nation he seems determined to goad into becoming an implacable enemy?
On this last point I hear that Baroness Ashton, the European Union’s
‘foreign minister’, is handling contact with Iran on behalf of the United
States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany. So much for Hague’s
talk of negotiations alongside sanctions. While playing the role of chief
bully he has shut himself out of any direct conversation. As for Ashton,
she hasn’t made the slightest impact on the crisis in Palestine, even with
the clout of 500 million citizens behind her, so is anyone holding their
Most of those questions were put to Mr Hague through my MP
(who happens to be one of Hague's junior ministers) two-and-a-half months
ago and repeated early January, but Mr Hague isn't replying.
he does, the foreign secretary ought to be made to stand in the
parliamentary “naughty corner”.