Skip to comments.Eye of the Storm: Whose new Middle East? (Must Read)
Posted on 11/12/2005 7:37:38 AM PST by F14 Pilot
When Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made his "wipe Israel off the map" remarks last month, many diplomats on both sides of the Atlantic rushed to explain, read between the lines and relativize what was an unambiguous statement of Teheran's long-established policy. They expressed the hope that Iran would "clarify" - meaning soften - its position.
That was followed by feverish diplomatic activities, mainly by the United Nations' Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to persuade Teheran to tone down Ahmadinejad's remarks. (Annan was forced to cancel a planned visit to Teheran after the Iranians told him they would not allow any conciliatory phrases into the final communique.)
Last week, however, Iran's "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenehi, the nation's ultimate decision-maker under the Khomeinist Constitution, not only gave his ringing endorsement to Ahmadinejad's remarks, but went further by offering his "vision for Palestine."
Addressing a congregation at the end of Ramadan, Khamenehi said Iran rejected the two-states formula proposed by the US, and would fight for the creation of a single state encompassing Israel and the Palestinian territories. In such a state, power would be in the hands of Muslims, although some Jews would be allowed to remain, under unspecified conditions.
Khamenehi went further by suggesting that Israel's political and military leaders, especially Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, be tried on charges of crimes against humanity.
WHY HAS Teheran decided to play hardball? The answer is that it wants a clash with the US over the future of the Middle East, and is convinced that it can win.
For almost a quarter of a century the Islamic Republic has been trying to change the status quo in the region while the US sought to preserve it. After 9/11 President George W. Bush transformed the US into an anti-status quo power and introduced major changes by toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Ba'ath in Iraq. Sooner or later a new status quo has to emerge in the Middle East. The question is whether it will be shaped by the US or by Iran.
Ahmadinejad believes that Iran has a better chance of putting its imprint on the new Middle East. The US lacks staying power and Bush is an aberration in contemporary American history. All that the Islamic Republic needs to do is wait until the Bush presidency is either politically destroyed by its opponents in Washington or comes to the end of its term. Then, once Bush is crippled or gone, no American leader would have the stomach for a fight with Iran.
In the meantime, the only regional powers capable of challenging Iran's leadership are out of the race for different reasons. Turkey has decided to become part of Europe, and would not cherish the prospect of being sucked into the Middle East's deadly politics. Egypt, for its part, is heading for a period of instability under an octogenarian leader who just managed to retain power with the support of no more than 12% of the electorate in a rigged election.
Iran, on the other hand, has become more powerful. Internally, the soft-liners have been kicked out, allowing a new generation of radical revolutionaries to seize control of all levers of state power. Iran's oil income is at an all-time high, allowing the new president to buy popular support.
Abroad, while the US is bogged down by the insurgency in Iraq and the periodical resurfacing of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Iran has formed solid alliances in both countries. Iran has also emerged as the main supporter of Palestinian radical movements, some of which had been without a patron since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Next February, Teheran is scheduled to host the largest gathering of radical leaders from across the Muslim world to endorse its one-state formula for ending the Israel-Palestine conflict. Syria, isolated and terrified, has become even more dependent on Iranian support while Iran, operating through Hizbullah, remains a major player in Lebanon.
THE NEW Iranian leadership is also encouraged by the current weakness of the European Union. Germany is apparently unable to form a new government while Britain's influence is fading as Premier Tony Blair becomes a political lame duck. As for France, it is facing a Muslim intifada while its top three leaders are tearing each other apart over who should be a presidential candidate in 2007. Italy is heading for elections that seem certain to spell the end of pro-American Premier Silvio Berlusconi and the return of weak coalition governments.
Closer to home, Iran is positioning its pawns.
After more than a decade of relative quiet, Teheran has also reactivated its network of Shi'ite contacts in the Persian Gulf region.
A Shi'ite coalition was formed in Kuwait last month, while two Shi'ite parties in Bahrain have been told to go on the offensive against the emir and his policy of rapprochement with Israel. Teheran has also resumed contact with Saudi Shi'ite opposition leaders in exile.
In the meantime, Iran's massive military buildup has been accelerated, and it is no longer a mystery that the new leadership is seeking a nuclear arsenal within three to five years.
Teheran also counts on support form China and Russia. Thirsty for energy, China needs Iran, which holds the world's third-largest oil reserves and second-largest gas deposits. A plan, originally negotiated under the shah in 1975, for building 25 oil refineries in China was revived last September as part of Ahmadinejad's "Look East" policy. Russia needs Iran for two reasons: to help counter American influence in the Caspian Basin and Central Asia, and to forestall revolt among Russia's Muslim communities.
Iran also hopes to revive the moribund non-aligned movement as a global anti-American forum, with the help of allies such as President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.
The state-owned media in Teheran are in combative gear. Echoing Ahmadinejad's analysis, the Iranian media present the West, led by the US, as a "sunset" (ofuli) power that must be taken on and defeated by a tolue'e (sunrise) Islamic power led by Iran. In that context the destruction of Israel becomes a key element in Teheran's strategy in the Middle East because Ahmadinejad knows that radical Sunni Arabs will not accept the leadership of Shi'ite Iran unless it is perceived as the only power capable of realizing their dream of wiping Israel off the map.
Ask Hitler, Hirohito and Mussolini, or the Commies, how well that sort of thinking worked out for them. But that is ok, if our foes what to help us move their conflict with us from covert to overt, I suggest we get out of their way.
Let's drop a small piece of the Sun on them and see how they feel then.
Mr. Reid and Minions, Inc., are you listening?
If we keep waiting and not disarming Iran's nuclear program they'll be dropping it on us first.
If the French would only allow the muslims to have autonomy in several departments, there would be peace with Iran
Wow, you really ARE a "ClearCase_guy"!
Umm no. They cannot reach us. They will drop it on Israel if they are stupid enough to use one.
As usaual Amir paints it like it is. As America pleads to go back into slumber mode and get fatter watching the idiot box's usless garbage, the US congress will gear up to go back into isolation mode and 'stop bothering the world". Iran knows only to well it will have little trouble carrying out it's global plans. Who will stand up to them, other then Israel when it reaches a point where they can no longer stand the thought of getting nuked, as the Iranian's get close to assembling a functional fission bomb. The US will have no coalition partners to invade. And if Iran does not attack the US, it is going to be very hard to convince the congress to invade. As usual the only solution is for the Iranian's that truly want a secularized democratic government to be installed is to spill their own blood in a counter revolution.
About 15 years ago I used to hear people say this about China too. But time passed quickly and ..........
We can thank our resident traitors for giving Iran this impression. Unfortunately, it is likely a correct one if the Dems win in 2008!
Its a sad fact that the elected representatives of this country can't get their heads out of their narcissistic butts long enough to see the coming storm.
To the libs, its all about Bush.
Its America, you idiots!
America, the Great Satan....is the GREAT OBSTACLE!
America, with its nuclear umbrella, protects all the INFIDELS.
Its not about Bush or Rove or Libby or anybody else.
Its about the American way of life as we know it!
Its time for all the Commander-In-Chief wannabees and polsters to wet their fingers, stick them in the air, and feel that ill wind blowing.
"Ahmadinejad believes that Iran has a better chance of putting its imprint on the new Middle East. The US lacks staying power and Bush is an aberration in contemporary American history. All that the Islamic Republic needs to do is wait until the Bush presidency is either politically destroyed by its opponents in Washington or comes to the end of its term. Then, once Bush is crippled or gone, no American leader would have the stomach for a fight with Iran."
Taheri is exactly right. Something drastic has to happen in Iran in the next 3 yrs, and the longer it's put off, the worse it will be when it finally happens. [Unfortunately, I think the best opportunity may have been sometime last year.]
Gee, and Pat Buchanan told me that we could sit this out. That we really don't have enemies in the middle east.
"Today Tehran has report a massive heatwave with noon-time temps hovering about 8000 degree's F. It is expected the temp will cool off later in the afternoon. The much needed rain to help clear the dust from the air is not in the immediate forecast."
I think they are overlooking the Israeli military...
If we keep waiting and not disarming Iran's nuclear program they'll be dropping it on us first
Umm no. They cannot reach us. They will drop it on Israel if they are stupid enough to use one.
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