The Flawed Narrative on Iran

How Does Iran View the Syrian Conflict?

Sheldon Richman’s article, “The Ayatollah’s Overlooked Anti-WMD Fatwas,” written for the Future of Freedom Foundation, repeats some necessary truths about Iran that few Americans have been exposed to. The following information remains easily accessible for anyone desiring to dip deeper beyond the media’s standard soundbites, yet disinformation and lies still define the mainstream narrative on Iran:

“But even with the hopeful negotiations, the Obama administration refuses to talk straight about Iran’s nuclear intentions.

For example, in 2007 and 2011, America’s 16 intelligence agencies issued national-security estimates finding that any research the Iranians had been doing on nuclear weapons was terminated in 2003 — perhaps not coincidentally, the same year the U.S. military overthrew Iran’s archenemy, Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and the mainstream media never tell the American people this. Wouldn’t you think that’s a critical piece of information for evaluating the U.S.-Iran relationship?”

Sheldon further comments on Gareth Porter’s new book, Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, which undoes so much of the illusory narrative that the American public has been sold on Iran over the past years:

“For example, did you know that Iran’s two supreme leaders since the revolution, Ayatollahs Ruhollah Khomeini and Ali Khamenei, each in his time issued fatwas against weapons of mass destruction? Khomeini specifically addressed chemical weapons, while Khamenei’s declaration was aimed at nuclear weapons.

The story behind Khomeini’s anti-chemical-weapons fatwa, which Porter relates, is worth knowing. In 1980 Iraqi President Saddam Hussein launched an attack and a brutal eight-year war against Iran. Among the weapons Saddam used against Iranian forces — with the help of American intelligence relevant to targeting and damage assessment — were chemical agents.

Yet Iran never responded in kind. It certainly could have. “Iran’s chemical sector was quite advanced and perfectly capable of producing the same range of chemical weapons that Iraq was using in the war,” Porter writes. He continues, “The real reason for Iran’s failure to use chemical weapons was not the inability to formulate the necessary mix of chemicals but the fact that Ayatollah Khomeini had forbidden it on the grounds of Islamic jurisprudence.” Porter notes that, according to a senior foreign-ministry officer, military leaders wanted to discuss a chemical retaliation against Iraq, “but Khomeini refused to allow it on the ground that it was forbidden by Islam.”

Levant Report’s own Erick Alvarez is currently working on a book project, The Roots of American-Iranian Animosity, which will give the necessary and easy-to-understand historical context to the current crisis in US-Iran relations. It is scheduled for publication in late Summer 2014.

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