Suffocating Iran for 'regime change' Tuesday, July 24, 2007
By: Nazila Bijari
U.S. economic threats mount
A key aspect of the U.S. drive for "regime change" in Iran is the application of economic power to suffocate Iran financially.
Since January 2007, Washington has barred banks and financial institutions from doing any business with the major
Iranians protest U.S. threats against their country.
Iranian banks Saderat and Sepah. Currently, the United States is spearheading imperialist efforts to impose a third layer of sanctions to further isolate Iran financially.
Imperialist pressure on Iran through financial institutions is nothing new.
Since 1908, the British government ruled Iranian oil through the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, depriving Iran of any substantial oil income. This led to rising mass opposition spearheaded by leftist and nationalist forces. It culminated in the election of Mohammad Mossadegh as prime minister in 1951 and the nationalization of oil.
In retaliation, Britain, the United States and other imperialists quickly imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil industry. When the sanctions did not bring about regime change, the CIA staged a coup and ousted Mossadegh in 1953.
After the coup, U.S. oil companies replaced Anglo-Iranian Oil by taking the largest share of the oil. The British were allowed a share of the loot as Washington’s junior partner.
The siphoning off of Iran’s oil was safeguarded by the U.S.-installed regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who ruled for 25 years. Under the Shah’s dictatorship, not only did Iran become a favorite source of raw materials and a market for U.S. corporations, it turned into a primary U.S. garrison state in the region.
But the plunder of Iran’s resources ended in 1979.
Mass uprisings led to a revolution that overthrew the Shah and drove out his U.S. masters. The U.S. and other foreign oil companies were ousted.
Iranian oil has been owned by Iranians ever since.
Soon after the revolution, Washington imposed comprehensive sanctions and cut off all economic and diplomatic relations with Iran.
Today, aside from the well-known threats of military attacks and bombing campaigns, the United States continues to wage economic war against Iran. The imperialists’ current excuse is Iran’s nuclear program.
Shunning the dollar
To make matters worse for U.S. imperialism, Iran has recently moved away from taking its oil payments in U.S. dollars.
This is quite a significant development. Since World War II, the U.S. dollar has been the international currency. Virtually all international oil purchases have been in U.S. dollars. This was the price that German, Japanese, French and British imperialists had to pay in
Iran is moving away from the U.S. dollar in its oil transactions.
exchange for the resurrection of capitalism in their war-ravaged countries.
The governor of Iran’s central bank, Ebrahim Sheibany, announced in March 2007 that the country had cut its holdings of U.S. dollar assets to around 20 percent of its foreign exchange reserves. In favor of other currencies, Iran’s dollar holdings have been cut in half since December 2006.
Also since late 2006, China’s state-run Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp.—the biggest buyer of Iranian crude oil worldwide—has been making its oil payments in euros. China has expressed an interest in buying Iran’s oil in yuans, an idea to which Iran has been receptive.
In a July 10 letter sent to Japanese refiners, Iran requested yen-based transactions for all of its crude oil exports to Japan. Japan, which buys 550,000 barrels of oil a day from Iran, has announced its willingness to switch from U.S. dollars to yen.
Iran’s decision to manage its foreign reserve currencies from oil exports in a variety of currencies, not just U.S. dollars, was announced as a purely economic decision. The slide in the value of the dollar in recent years has become worrisome to a number of central banks, including those in China, South Korea and Japan.
But in the case of Iran, the move away from the U.S. dollar signifies the country’s bracing for the possibility of tighter sanctions to come. With its oil sold in euros, yuans and yen, and the country’s reserves being increasingly in non-dollar currencies, Iran will be better prepared to withstand economic sanctions.
Iran is not the only country that wants non-dollar currencies for its oil exports. Russia has been examining plans to price the Urals oil exports in rubles.
If a pattern of trading oil in a variety of currencies catches on, it is a serious threat to U.S. domination over international trade. The loosening of that domination can only mean new openings for the U.S. working class in its struggle against the capitalist class.