Vinod Mubayi
Haan! Talkhi-e-ayyam abhi aur badhegi
Haan! Ahl-e-sitam mashq-e-sitam karte rahenge


Manzoor ye talkhi, ye sitam hum ko gawaara


Dam hai to mudava-e-alam karte rahenge


(The poisons of the age will grow further/Tyrants will continue their tyranny/I acknowledge this poison and the tyranny/As long as I live I will try to keep on remedying them) – excerpt from Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s “Lauh-e-Qalam” (Tablet and Pen)


This verse of the progressive Urdu poet Faiz captures, perhaps, the essence of what our attitude should be towards the recently announced agreement of the P5+1 with Iran on its nuclear program. It is an agreement that deserves the wholehearted support of progressives for many reasons.


But while we welcome the interim agreement, it is also useful at the outset to recall the breathtaking duplicity and manifest unfairness underlying the whole negotiation. The only state in the Middle East that possesses hundreds of nuclear bombs is Israel. And it is Israel that day in and out keeps threatening to bomb Iran, even with nuclear bombs as some of its more flagrant ideologues like the historian Benny Morris did in a New York Times Op-Ed. But there is no negotiation being proposed by any of the P-5 on the issue of Israel’s nuclear arsenal nor is Israel under threat of any economic sanctions such as those that have impoverished Iran over the last several years. Nor is the hypocrisy of the P-5 countries, all of them armed to the teeth with thousands of nuclear weapons, ever an issue. Rather it is Iran, which, having decided to enrich uranium to manufacture fuel for power production a right it has under the non- proliferation treaty, is in the dock. But while recalling this hypocrisy and unfairness, which is the meaning we can attach to the lines “The poisons of the age will grow more/Tyrants will continue their tyranny,” we can also agree that what Iran did to accept certain curbs on enrichment and the heavy water Arak reactor is a wise and necessary step.


First and foremost it preserves peace by removing any pretexts for an armed attack on its nuclear facilities. Secondly, by causing a rift between the Israeli extremists (“no deal is better than a bad deal”) and the US Administration on this issue it makes it clear who the aggressive party is. Thirdly, the Iranian public deserves some relief from economic hardship. No doubt there was also revulsion within Iran against the empty bragging of Ahmedinejad, which led to the electoral victory of Rouhani, and re-opened the possibility of an agreement. While it is only an interim agreement subject to further review after six months, during which there is little doubt that the Israelis along with their enablers in the U.S. Congress and assorted neocons together with their current best friends, the Saudi Wahabis and the Gulf sheikhdoms, will do their best to torpedo the deal, it does establish a momentum that will be difficult to reverse. The French socialists, who tried, unsuccessfully as it eventually turned out, to play the spoiler just two weeks ago may try once again to scuttle the deal. Some have speculated that their motive may have been to win lucrative business from the Saudis but it is worth recalling some history that Israel first obtained its nuclear materials and knowhow from the French socialist government in the late 1950s, that


subsequently allowed it to become the only country in the Middle East to possess an arsenal of nuclear weapons.


For the time being, however, the US and Russia fended off the attempts at sabotage from all the elements opposed to any deal with Iran. As the commentator Robert Parry wrote “The Saudi-Israeli alliance, with its combination of wealth and oil on the Saudi side and propaganda and lobbying on the Israeli side, has represented a new pole testing out its combined strength against the more traditional powers of Washington and Moscow.” In standing up to the powerful Israeli lobby and, to a lesser extent, the Saudi lobby, Obama deserves praise for his insistence on a diplomatic solution.


India and China have both welcomed the interim agreement. For India, in particular, Iran has long been a reliable and steady partner on many issues, not least of which is the supply of oil and gas that India desperately needs. More importantly, the removal of flashpoints for initiating conflict in southwest Asia and longer-term peace are objectives that serve the interests of all South Asian countries.

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