The actual reasons behind Israel’s opposition to the Iran deal, and what they mean for the region.
The celebration of last week’s agreement with Iran in Vienna, Tehran and Washington inspired grief and sorrow amongst the Zionist leadership. Condemnation of the agreement, its negation and even its articulation as a new Munich Agreement brought together Israeli security officials and Zionist politicians from all political persuasions for a collective wail. This grief focused, as usual, on the possibility that Iran will continue to develop nuclear arms, a scenario that in reality doesn’t threaten nuclear-armed Israel. Moreover, the deal’s indication of a decline in Israel’s status within the imperialist system – a status that is at the foundation of Israel’s existence – brought Netanyahu to declare that Israel has no intention of recognising or acting in accordance with the agreement. While announcing Israel’s non-commitment to the nuclear agreement, Netanyahu also hinted at the possibility of a military attack. Following Netanyahu’s response, the head of Israel’s biggest opposition party, Isaac Herzog, expressed his unconditional support for the government and decried the deal’s effect on Israel’s security situation.
The Middle East is currently standing before a new order, arising from imperialism’s current needs. The Iran deal opens up the Middle East to many possible political shifts, especially in terms of the Saudi-led attack in Yemen or the expected intervention of Israeli leaders in American legislation. But, one essential fact undergirds all of these potential developments: the United States is no longer dependent on oil produced in the Middle East. Recognising this is key to gauging the future of the Middle East and its implications. It has been eighty years since the beginning of the United State’s takeover of this region rich in black gold. This takeover was initiated and sustained through America’s displacement of Britain as the primary investor in Middle East oil production, the new world order crafted by the Yalta agreements, the oil boycott games, the Middle East war of October 1973, the Iran-Iraq war, and the Gulf wars. Now, imperialist interests see all of these as issues of the past. Consequently, the current situation constitutes a historical turning point that requires new analyses and action. Middle East oil, which in the past decade was essential for American industry, has become non-essential and perhaps even superfluous.
The continued flow of Middle East oil and the opposition of members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)to reduce oil production for fear of losing customers currently protect the low price of oil in world markets. The primary beneficiary of this arrangement is German industry, which has flourished in recent years. Additional countries that enjoy the current situation include China and Japan, which are dependent on Middle East oil. However, the recent decline of Chinese industry has depressed low oil prices. From the United States perspective, with the huge oil surpluses it now creates, there is need for a rise in global oil prices. Such a rise will primarily harm the United States’ major competitors and allow it to increase oil-sale profits. This situation will of course render it difficult for Germany, China and Japan to compete against the American economy. Furthermore, oil production in areas such as the North Sea is quickly spiraling. On the global level, numerous oil companies are suffering from dwindling returns on their capital and rising costs harm their profits.
The average yearly expenditure of oil companies in the past four years is approximately $700 billion. Despite the predictions of an increase in investments, however, there has actually been a decrease. The big international oil groups in the United States and Europe, such as Exxon-Mobile, Royal Dutch, Shell and Total Global, report a decline in the yields of their investments. The big companies have thus decreased their investments in recent years. Declining investments will necessarily result in a period of reduced production, which is liable to cause a rapid rise in oil prices. Yet as we know, oil prices are forever volatile, and various events, such as a sharp economic decline in China, can quickly depress them for a period. Long-term, however, the demand for oil in ‘awakening economies’ will only increase, which will cause prices to increase. In the meantime, local oil producers are fearful, primarily due to the United States’ oil glut. This fear will drive prices down and cause clients to flee. Within this environment, a temporary alliance between the reactionary Arab monarchies and Israel may develop.
Despite satisfaction from this alliance amongst the majority of Israelis, the long-term interests of Saudi Arabia are antithetical to Israel’s. Saudi’s goal is to preserve the flow of oil to the global market, which will require a reduction in regional risks. Israel, on the other hand, whose regional importance is degraded by the Iran deal, is historically and even structurally conditioned to attempt and change the situation as it always has – through war. Israel’s possible incitement of war in the near future is, of course, related to the fact that Israel’s establishment and survival hinges on it serving as army for imperialism.
Israeli opposition to the agreement derives not only from fear that Iran will disregard the deal and attempt to create nuclear weapons, but the opposite: that Iran will respect the agreement. A ten-year postponement of any Iranian attempt to create nuclear weapons is liable to bring back pressure on Israel to stop hiding behind its policy of ambiguity and openly join the international nuclear non-proliferation agreement. The Israeli contention that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey will aspire to develop nuclear weapons could actually renew American pressure on Israel to take the demands for a nuclear-free Middle East seriously. If there will be such pressure from the United States and other world powers, Israel’s situation will become incredibly delicate.
For these reasons, this deal is the nightmare of Zionist politicians and generals. And Zionist Israel, the Jewish apartheid state, will surely fight to prevent such a situation. It is therefore possible to fear that Israel may provoke Iran until it responds. Considering its objectives, this would be a logical path for Netanyahu’s government.
Thus, global imperialism’s need for this new regional order is a result of the decline in the region’s importance for American industry, which de-escalates the need for direct American intervention and replaces such efforts with more distant mechanisms of control, such as a nuclear agreement with Iran. The United States is attempting to build a “new Middle East” in which Iran, Israel and Turkey will serve as a regional control trifecta, freeing the United States from direct involvement. Within this triangle, Iran will be, due to its size, technology and natural resources, the central pillar.
The American arms industry and oil companies have most of their assets invested in the region, and thus still oppose the deal with Iran because it will reduce limitations on the sale of Iranian oil and discourage American intervention in the region. It is known that huge corporations control not only American politics but also American politicians, although their grip on leaders of the Republican Party is stronger than on the Democrats. In this system, Israel can be the “largest American aircraft carrier” and influence American politics through its leaders, especially through Netanyahu as he is an open agent of American capital.
The harsh disagreements taking place within the American bourgeoisie concerning the new imperialist strategy will move in the coming months to Congress. Like in war, everything will be permissible. Netanyahu is a representative of veteran oil companies and arms industry, a role that most Americans look upon favourably. Moreover, the senior representative (thus far) of American imperialism in the Middle East will be seen as a legitimate participant in such discussions, as they affect his country’s future. However, Netanyahu’s chances of winning this battle are minuscule, because he stands with corporations interested in a continuation of the existing situation, rather than new developments that support the evolution of American industry. At this stage, it appears that President Obama is still better at advancing the interests of American imperialism than Netanyahu.
Netanyahu is certainly able to surprise and, in one way or another, could push the region into a new war, the consequences of which are unpredictable. Such a war could help the American economy weaken its competitors in China, Japan, and Germany and renew American supremacy within the global imperialist system. A regional war that significantly harms the flow of oil from the Middle East to other countries will provide the American economy, which now uses American oil, excellent conditions compared to its competitors. Either way, yet again the masses of the Middle East will be crushed by financial capital.
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