Friday, October 28, 2005" Iran Leader defend Israel Remark

*At an utter loss for words*

I'm now more firmly convinced than ever that there will never be peace in the Middle East until the equivalent of the Second Coming or Nuclear Amaggedon wiping out nearly every single state in that region. But that's only going to recast the Balkans and Kashmir and the Taiwanese Straits as the next big hotspot.

I mean considering where Iran is now, in the grip of a conservative fundamentalist and about to be summoned before the Security Council of non-cooperation with the IAEA (I still can't believe they got the Nobel Prize, next thing you know they'll give it to Kim Jong IL...wait, they gave it to David Trimble and Arafat so nothing's impossible). Now making a remark that strikes at the very core of Israel's existance, I fear that Israel will no longer feel bound or restrained in its attempts to get nuclear weapons.

But even if we consider this to be some form of crazy brinksmanship politics at play here, designed to force Israel into some form of negotiations, Israel has always tended to respond to carrots more than sticks and always from a position of relative strength. Land for Peace with Egypt and Syria, negotiations with PLO when they gave up terrorism etc. Like Palestine, being born under a siege mentality does not make you terribly open to concessions under the threat of force.

And Iran comes with neither concessions or force. Unless Iran wants to normalise relations with Israel (which it has pretty much had prior to the current Iranian President), it has nothing to offer them except perhaps access to their nuclear facilities. Worse still, Iran does not seem to be in a terribly strong position. Firstly, they haven't got a tremendous amount of support from the other Arab States. Egypt and Palestine denounced it. Saudi Arabia recently won kudos last year for proposing a workable peace plan i.e. something with a limited right of return for Palestinian refugee. It's not just up against the US (Israel's unstinting supporter in the UN) but also the transatlantic alliance in the form of Britain and France.

But conversely and interestingly enough, Iran now has a President elected with a huge majority that has seemingly united with the Mullahs and Council of Guardians. This coupled with an Iraq that no longer quite hates it with the intensity of Saddam and arguably weaker than it was under Saddam. So perhaps it is not as weak as it appears to be, but the strength here seems to be primarily domestic which might be serving as a bulwark against the foreign isolation.

However, how many internation crisis does the international community want to deal with at any one point in time? The US is preoccupied not just with Iraq and Afghanistan but also at home. Iran still hasn't come up in front of the security council and besides, with China and Russia at the table, it's hard to see any particularly strong resolution. There's still that entire mess with Syria brewing (see pervious post). With all these on its platter, I really don't see the UN pushing Iran hard on this.

So it's not to much of a stretch to predict that within the next month, we're going to see some major changes in the balance of power in the Middle East. Assuming that some vast deal can be struck between Iran, Israel and the Western powers, we might see a diffusion of tension but one where Iran rises to the top of the Arab world. Possibly with a tacitly acknowledged right to civilian nuclear power, say by inviting back the IAEA but setting stringent conditions on inspectors.

We live in interesting times indeed like that old Chinese saying.

Peace (I hope).



Post a Comment

<< Home