Many military officials, political analysts, and strategy study groups anticipated the war against Iran to be launched at the beginning of 2007, sometime between mid January and late April, when weather conditions would be ideal for aerial sorties and naval invasion. The signs were apparent with the heavy naval traffic in the Arabian Gulf, and the number of the conducted war games on both sides.
Yet, we are now in August and war did not start. Did the Bush administration cancel its war plans after all the aggressive war-mongering rhetoric and threats, and after spending millions of Dollars sending American nuclear aircraft carriers with their battle groups to the gulf? Did Cheney’s fiery threats and promises to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities lose their flames? Or maybe Israel and its AIPAC had stopped pressuring the Administration to hit Iran’s nuclear facilities observing the statement of Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on 28th February 2007 that Israel can deal with Iranian nuclear threat alone if necessary. “We can face the country (Iran) even if we’re left to face them one-on-one”, he stated.
The decision to attack (nuke) Iran was not cancelled but obstructed.
Iran is different than Iraq. It is a larger country and has more natural resources than Iraq. Although the US had imposed economical sanctions on Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, and had pushed Iraqi Saddam Hussain into an eight-year war against Iran to exhaust the country, the Iranians grew more independent and industrious instead.
The economic sanction was not unanimous and many countries continued trading with Iran. Many European and Asian countries were dependent on Iranian oil and gas supplies for their own energy. They also had the large Iranian consumer market for their own goods. The sanctions against Iran were in effect sanctions against these other countries, which were in competition against American companies for consumer markets. European countries, led by France, had always been in economical and political competition against the US since its independence. This competition is apparent in France’s positions towards American policies in the Middle East. France opposed American invasions of Afghanistan and of Iraq. The French President, Jacques Chirac, stated in March 2003 “Iraq today does not represent an immediate threat that justifies an immediate war.” This drew a lot of opposition: the American administration dubbed France “Old Europe” and tried to change the name of the “French fries” to “freedom fries” in an attempt to belittle France. France feels it is loosing its footage in the Middle East due to American aggressive policies that is why it is keeping close contact with the Lebanese to counter the American meddling in Lebanon. Recently France had entered into agreement to build a peaceful nuclear reactor in Libya in an attempt to gain footage there.
Iran Sanction Act, expected to be passed by the congress, is calling for American disinvestment in any foreign energy company that invest more than $20 million in Iran. This Act is facing a fierce opposition from European countries such as France, Germany and UK, among others, who had sent their diplomats to lobby against the Act on Capitol Hills. The Act would hurt major European energy companies such as French Total, Royal Dutch Shell and Repsol of Spain. The latter two are involved in $10 billion investment to produce Iran’s liquefied natural gas. American divestment in such companies would adversely affect American public sector pension funds especially Calpers and Calstrs; giant California pension plans. Sanctions against Iran hurt the US itself more than anybody else.
Iran’s eight-year war with Iraq had really strengthened the Iranian military, who bought more advanced weaponry mainly from US competitor Russia, and who started building their own military equipments such as armored tanks, navy vessels, submarines, un-manned drones and missiles. Iran had also re-started its nuclear program under the supervision and help of Russia. This infuriated the American administration, who launched a political campaign to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions accusing them of manufacturing nuclear bombs.
The real reason of the conflict is not the bomb itself for the US, itself, is building more nuclear bombs – tactical bombs-, and Israel, Pakistan, India, and North Korea, all non-members of the NPT, had built their own nuclear bombs but the US did not send its nuclear carriers to their shores. Instead the US is turning its eyes away from the Israeli bombs, has effective control of Pakistani bomb through controlling the Pakistani leader Perves Musharraf, gained control over Indian nuclear facilities after entering recently into agreement to supply India with nuclear fuel, and finally has neutralized North Korean nuclear facilities through negotiations and economical bribes. The real reason of the conflict is the competition for exclusive monopoly of the perceived future energy resources (nuclear fuel) to rake in money, and to indirectly control other countries.
American violations of international law and invasion of Iraq gave a warning to all the countries of the world that US intends to take advantage of the global unipolar power situation to expand its influence over the global vital natural resources especially oil in order to subjugate the rest of the world. Countries, especially Iran, started forming economical and political alliances to counter the global bully – USA. The European Union invited Eastern Bloc states, separated now from Soviet Union, to join in. Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt, Libya, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bolivia, Brunei, and Tobago had launched a Gas OPEC in April 9th 2007 to counter American control over Oil OPEC. Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an Asian regional organization to enhance security, economic and cultural cooperation, was launched by China and Russia and encompasses central Asian states such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Iran has applied to enter this organization as a member to gain more support.
India, Russia, and China had entered into a trilateral cooperation agreement in February 2007 intended to promote international harmony and understanding. No doubt that the cooperation of these three Asian big powers is intended to counter the American influence in the region. Both China and Russia are allies of Iran, involved in extensive military cooperation agreements. They are major actors in Central Asian oil and have significant strategic and economic interests in Central Asia and the Caspian Sea basin.
The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been a very busy President. He traveled to many countries to build bilateral relations and to gain political support. He visited the US to explain his country’s position concerning its nuclear program. He visited Venezuela and formed alliance with Chavez. He attended the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Cuba in September 2006. He visited Sudan in February 2007 and met with President Omar Al-Bashir in an attempt to improve political relations and criticized the West for meddling with Sudanese affairs in Darfur. He visited Gulf States including Saudi Arabia last March explaining that Iran has no conflict with them, yet advising them to expel the American military bases in their countries. He warned that in case of American war against Iran his country would strike these military bases that might result in some collateral damages to their countries. This visit led Kuwait to announce that it would not allow its country to be used as a launching pad for a war against Iran.
Ahmadinejad had also visited Belarus last May to improve bilateral cooperation between the two countries. Monday, August 6th, Ahmadinejad visited Algeria, who had always stood against isolating Iran, to strengthen bilateral relations. Iran has also offered to share peaceful nuclear technology with Algeria; a clear statement that Iran has become a nuclear country, and a challenge to other nuclear technology exporting countries. Nicaragua has also singed an agreement with Iran on August 8th to export food stuff to Iran for Iranian help to build hydraulic power plants. Ahmadinejad’s visitations are clear proof of American failure to isolate Iran.
Iran has robust military capabilities as was demonstrated during August 2006 war games. Participating in the war games of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) with Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Iran had demonstrated large scale military capabilities. Iran has Russian sophisticated early warning radar stations, anti aircraft missile launchers, stealth long range Fajr and Shahab missile bases that could hit Israel, cruise missile sites scattered along Iranian borders, submarines and missile launching speed boats that could easily sink an aircraft carrier and block the Strait of Hormuz, and atop of all that Iran has 14 military airfields housing sophisticated Russian as well as Iranian air fighters. It was also revealed that Iran has produced pilotless stealth drones with a range of 700km that are undetected by radars. Iran is adding to its air power 250 advanced long-range Russian made Sukhoi-30 multi mode fighter jets that could function as air patrol, air defense, ground attack, and air-to-air combat.
The most feared and effective Iranian weapon is the carrier destroying supersonic Russian-built SS-N-27B missile, know to American military as the sizzler. This missile has the potential of performing high defensive maneuvers including sharp-angled dodges. This missile could not be detected until it hits its target. The American navy has no assurances that its Aegis system is capable of detecting, tracking and intercepting this sizzler.
Iran is capable of defending itself and would inflict large casualties on its attackers.
On the other side the American/Israeli position is getting weaker. Bush’s lies to attack Iraq were exposed, atrocities perpetrated by American soldiers against Iraqis filled foreign media, CIA’s illegal renditions and tortures became well known around the world, and the Israeli murders of Palestinian civilians, the destruction of their homes, the usurpation of their land, and Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights and their intent to wipe Palestinians off existence are being globally recognized and opposed by so many nations and political organizations. The world no longer trust the US nor Israel.
Americans themselves had lost confidence in their administration and in their decisions. The US army is having trouble meeting their recruiting goals, so it is offering $20,000 bonus to new and prior recruits, who would ship out to Iraq and Afghanistan within 30 days after training. The Administration finds it very expensive to replace cheap regular soldiers with the very expensive “Blackwater” professional mercenaries.
Arab governments allied with the US, such as Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States are afraid that war on Iran would engulf and consume their countries and results in their loss of leaderships. US ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, had accused Saudi Arabia and other Iraqi neighboring countries (CNN interview Sunday 7/29) of destabilizing Iraq and opening their borders to terrorists to enter Iraq. Iraqi officials had also accused Saudi Arabia of funding Sunni fighters in Iraq. Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates needed to exercise arms twisting during their visits to Egypt and Saudi Arabia (end of July) to put these governments back in line.
The Administration is still having trouble drawing and implementing plans to create an emergency oil reserve in case Iran closes the Straits of Hormuz. Oil prices are swinging up and down every week.
The neoconservative Bush administration, and its supporting military complex, considers war on Iran as the fuse that will explode the whole Middle Eastern region into a state of “constructive chaos” that would allow them to implement their “New Middle East” plans. Unlike the war on Iraq, which was merely a testing experiment, the war on Iran, as was discovered lately, needs thorough planning due to anticipated long lasting effects on global economy, and reshaping of global political structures especially in the Middle Eastern region.
Although Iran is a member of the NPT and it keeps emphasizing that its nuclear program is peaceful and had offered international monitoring of its nuclear facilities, there is still fear that Iran might one day develop a bomb. Such bomb would tip the power balance in the Middle East and become a deterrent to Israeli aggression and expansion, and might force Israel to accept a peace treaty with the Arabs. It could also form an obstacle to the American expansion in the Middle East and South East Asia. The French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin, at the time, stated that Iran wants to have the bomb as a self-defense deterrent weapon, while French President, Jacques Chirac, stated that “nuclear Iran does not pose any threat on world peace”. He, later, was pressured to withdraw this statement. Israeli officials, on the other hand, keep threatening to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities if the US does not do it.
Continuously threatening to strike Iran, Cheney keeps urging Bush to directly confront Iran by launching air strikes against alleged Iranian terrorist training camps. Despite Afghan President, Hamid Karzai’s declaration during his interview on CNN Sunday August 8th that “So far, Iran has been a helper (in the fight against terrorism)”, President Bush keeps threatening Iran of consequences of “… transporting, delivering EFPs (explosively formed penetrators), highly sophisticated IEDs (improvised explosive devices) that kill Americans in Iraq”. Bush ignores the fact that the British Independent had revealed on March 5th 2006 that these alleged Iranian explosive devices were initially created by the British Security Services in the early 1990s, and that when the military provided reporters with pictures of theses explosives they had names, specifications and manufacturing dates in English not in Farsi.
The Administration is spreading fear of expanding nuclear Iran in the Gulf States. To allegedly counter and contain the growing power of Iran in oil Gulf region the Administration is seeking a congressional approval of an arm sale package to the Gulf States; Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and UAE, totaling to $20 billions. This sale would include advanced weaponry such as advanced satellite-guided bombs, upgrades to fighter planes, and new naval vessels.
These advanced weapons would be stored in the desert for the use of the American military if and when a 911 or a Gulf of Tonken similar attack happens against an American base or naval vessel in the Gulf. Then the Administration would claim it its duty to retaliate against Iran in self-defense. Such a scenario might take place at the end of Bush’s presidency, when his administration would start the war and leave the mess to the next administration to clean up.
Dr. Elias Akleh is an Arab writer of Palestinian descent, born in the town of Beit-Jala. Currently he lives in the US.
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