No Existential Threat to Israel

Israel, the U.S and others are over blowing the threat from a nuclear Iran.

By Liam BaileyI received an e-mail from Israeli newspaper, Haaretz daily with the subject line: Stand up to –Ahmadinejad. Inside was an advertising banner with the subject line above a picture of an exuberant Ahmadinejad speaking into a microphone. The banner linked to a two minute video by Aish.com, [Aish HaTorah, a yeshiva in the Old City of Jerusalem].

The Video

It is actually a slideshow. It starts with a picture of Adolf Hitler. Followed by a gruesome picture of tens of undernourished adult males, one standing, the rest lying in what I can only describe as a wall of pigeon-hole bunks. I assume it was taken in a liberated concentration camp. The narrator says: “Imagine you could have stopped Hitler in 1938.” another wall of pigeon holes, this time much smaller filled with human skulls. “Imagine you could have stopped him, but didn’t.”

Showing Ahmadinejad above the quote, “Israel must be wiped off the map,” the narrator announces: “Today a new Hitler is on the world stage calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.” The narrator falls silent for the display of two more pictures of Ahmadinejad above the quotes: “The Zionist regime is a dried up and rotten tree which will be annihilated with one storm” and: “The Elimination of the Zionist regime will be smooth and simple.”

Ahmadinejad’s Intentions and Israeli Lies

The first quote about Israel being wiped off the map is a matter of international debate. Some analysts say Ahmadinejad has never made such a statement, that it is an intentional mistranslation by Israel or their supporters to overstate the danger from Iran. If they are right and only the latter two quotes can be accredited to Ahmadinejad, he is not alone in wanting Zionism to be eliminated, which doesn’t necessarily mean exterminating Jews or obliterating Israel. In my recent interview with Israeli author and academic Ilan Pape, he said: “Israel has to be de-Zionised to a point before any genuine reconciliation can be attempted.” He was talking about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

The Hitler/Ahmadinejad Comparison

Whether Ahmadinejad said “Israel must be wiped off the map” or not, the comparison to Hitler and the holocaust is a blatant misrepresentation of one of the world’s most horrific acts. In 1938 the world was a different place, not least in the perception of Jews. 1938 was in an era when stereotypes were treated as fact and taught to children. Discrimination was accepted, in some cases even expected of people. Jews were stereotypically evil, greedy and devious and persecuted because of it.

When Hitler’s views began emerging, for those who didn’t hate Jews, such entrenched stereotypes made them indifferent. In short the Jews had no friends in the world capable of or willing to stop Hitler. Today the situation is very different.

No Comparison

The holocaust was a horrific and tragic occurrence. The world not even attempting to stop it pre-emptively was a disgrace. However, the world’s guilt over not stopping the holocaust, even if only indirectly, led to the partitioning of Palestine for a Jewish homeland.

In its infancy Israel faced threats from the Arab countries surrounding it, who really did want to carry out a second holocaust, who really did want, and try to wipe Israel off the map. As Egypt’s President announced before the Sinai war: “Egypt has decided to dispatch her heroes, the disciples of pharaoh and the sons of Islam and they will cleanse the Land of Israel….There will be no peace on Israel’s border because we demand vengeance, and vengeance is Israel’s death.” The U.S began supporting Israel militarily in the sixties and rescued Israel from the brink of defeat by airlifting military supplies during the Yom Kippur war , the aggressors Egypt and other neighboring Arab states learned that the U.S wasn’t going to let Israel be defeated.

Since then and currently Israel faces a very small threat from neighboring countries, some have signed peace accords. The others are reduced to funding internal resistance groups against Israel’s occupation, none of which is anywhere near capable of wiping Israel off the map.

Let’s assume Ahmadinejad does want Israel wiped off the map.

Far from having no friends, Israel is now in the “in” crowd, with the most powerful friends in the world: the U.S., U.K. and any other states wanting to stay in America’s favor. With the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), perhaps the most powerful lobby in America, America’s world influence and massive nuclear arsenal, Israel is one of the world’s best protected countries. If this support wasn’t enough to deter anyone considering an attack, or “the destruction of Israel”, Israel has a sizeable nuclear arsenal of its own, widely thought to be 200-400 active nuclear warheads. This is a significant deterrent against attack.

If Israel has 400 nuclear warheads, then Tel Aviv has the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world, bigger than China or France. Iran is years from even having one workable nuclear warhead, and depending on the size and weight of the prototype building a missile to carry it could take just as long. Thus, Israel has sufficient capabilities to defend itself, along with protection from the U.S. as No. 1 nuclear proliferator.

What’s more Ahmadinejad’s patriotism is the driving force behind the dramatic showdown with the U.S. and the world over wanting the country’s right to nuclear power under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Israel has not ratified. His patriotism will prevent him from risking the total obliteration of his country by attacking Israel. So, Iran poses no existential threat to Israel, at least until they have the capabilities to disable the U.S and Israel. I’m sure you’ll agree, that, without outside help this is many years away.

The Lies

Israeli officials know that there is no such “second holocaust” or existential threat from a nuclear Iran. As Gareth Porter reported in the Electronic Intifada:

An article in the online journal of a hard-line think-tank, the Ariel Centre for Policy Research, in August 2004 revealed that “one of the options that has been considered should Iran publicly declare itself to have nuclear weapons is for Israel to put an end to what is called its policy of ‘nuclear ambiguity’ or ‘opacity’. The author, Shalom Freedman, said that in light of Israel’s accumulation of “over 100 nuclear weapons” and its range of delivery systems for them, even if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons within a few years, the “tremendous disproportion between the strength of Israel and an emergent nuclear Iran should serve as a deterrent.”Why the Lie

You may be wondering why Israelis would want to create mass hysteria on the basis of lies, the same reason it denies Palestinian right of return, and is building a great wall around the Jewish state… Zionism’s greatest fear, Israel becoming predominantly Arab.
You may be confused, Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh explained in an interview with the Jerusalem Post, saying that under the threat from a nuclear Iran:

“most Israelis would prefer not to live here; most Jews would prefer not to come here with their families; and Israelis who can live abroad will. People are not enthusiastic about being scorched.” Thus the danger, Sneh elaborated, is that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would “be able to kill the Zionist dream without pushing a button. That’s why we must prevent this regime from obtaining nuclear capability at all costs.”

The Real Threats

Therefore, the fear is not over the existence of Israel, but over how Israel exists. I suspect Washington’s war planners know the existential threat is non-existent, but have their own reasons for failing to dispel the myth. America does not want allied Israel’s Middle East hegemony to end, especially not in favor of an enemy as staunch as Iran.

Israel putting such weight on their lies taking hold in the world media, has guaranteed their fears will be a reality should Iran successfully enrich uranium to weapons grade. That is why you can rest assured, if diplomacy and sanctions fail to stop Iranian enrichment, Israel will attack with or without U.S help. There is a distinct possibility that the attack will involve the use of nuclear weapons, therefore Iran is more in danger of a nuclear holocaust from Israel.

This article has also been published on War Pages on Blogspot

“A Brighter Palestinian Future”

The new unity government accepts the demands, waters down the wording and expands on the stipulation.

By Liam Bailey

The new Palestinian Authority (PA) unity government is being hailed as a great thing for Palestinians. I don’t deny it is a step in the right direction but tough decisions, and hopefully negotiations lie ahead. If the right decisions aren’t made by all parties involved it will not improve one thing in the occupied territories. Speaking to Israel’s Haaretz daily, on condition of anonymity one Israeli official said: “The conditions have not been met. This is not something we can live with.” The U.S. State Department reiterated its call that the new government must meet international demands. It is clear from recent U.S. and Israel policies and their reactions to the new accord, that a serious change in Hamas’ overtures will be needed if the unity government is to be treated differently than its predecessor.

The reason for hostility towards Hamas is because their charter calls for the destruction of Israel and despite the international siege since early last year they have continually refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence and adhere to previous agreements made between the palestine Liberation Organization and Israel. The unity accord makes no mention of recognizing Israel or the other demand to renounce violence, only stipulating that Hamas will “respect” previous agreements made between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel. Abbas had held out for a commitment to adhere to previous agreements, but Hamas held firm and the wording was watered down.The watered down wording gave weight to the reactions from the U.S and Israel, and the European Union said it would study the new administration “in a positive but cautious manner.” The Quartet, (the EU, Russia and the UN) has been pressuring the U.S for an end to the PA blockade for months. The U.S and Israel have been as stubborn as Hamas.A Russian Foreign Ministry statement Feb. 9 welcomed the new deal between rival Palestinian factions and made a fresh appeal for the lifting of a freeze on direct aid to the Palestinian government. It remains to be seen whether the slight concession from Hamas, the first from them since they took power will allow the other Quartet members to sufficiently tighten the thumbscrews on the U.S. to end the blockade.

It is almost certain the Arab states friendly to the Palestinians will make the most of a momentous achievement by the PA and use their leverage as a much needed Middle East ally for the U.S in stabilizing Iraq and ratcheting up the pressure on Iran’s nuclear regime, to secure they can get some badly needed aid back into to PA. However, while an injection of aid from friendly Arab states will alleviate the Palestinian’s plight, not least in allowing them to pay their employees a full salary for the first time since Hamas were elected. This will make things exponentially better for the workforce and the third of Palestinian families they take home the bacon to.

The normalization of relations with Israel and the U.S. is what’s really needed to bring PA life back to the Palestinian reality before Hamas were elected, which still isn’t western life but it is a good jumping off point for a new push for peace from both sides. This would include unfreezing bank’s and accounts and releasing the $800 million dollars of withheld Palestinian tax revenues and an end to the measure. The new unity in the PA gives its parties the chance to attempt normalizing their relationships with each other and the international community. They badly need the international community on their side, or at least not against them if they expect Israel to come to the table with a serious offer for peace.

What is also needed is the serious change in Hamas rhetoric towards Israel I mentioned, preferably in them accepting the three demands of the quartet. I suspect that their “respecting” past agreements will be enough to satisfy the Quartet on that demand, at least until the negotiation stage. The other demands are the hardest for Hamas to accept, and in fact, what the U.S. fails to realize, or, like Israel, doesn’t care about is that Hamas accepting the most crucial demand –Israel’s right to exist– will take away the unity governments credibility in the eyes of its members, and the population at large. Such an acceptance, to Palestinians would mean accepting that Israel had the right to expel Arabs in the 1948 war. Any negotiations would then risk being interrupted or at worst derailed by gunmen and/or armed wing members attacking each other or Israel.

I have a solution. The new unity government accepts the demands and maintains credibility by watering down the wording and expanding on the stipulation. For instance:
 

We, the PA unity government unconditionally recognize Israel’s existence within the 67 borders, as stipulated by UN Security Council Resolution 242.

The same can be done with the renounce violence demand:
 

We the PA unity government make a declaration to completely renounce all forms of violence for a period of 6 months to allow preparations to be made for the full reinstatement of aid, unfreezing of accounts and return of withheld revenues in Israel and elsewhere it applies, and fresh negotiations with the starting point that adherence to Security Council Resolution 242 and the formation of a completely independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem according to the borders before the 1967 war, are a guarantee, regardless of the talks outcome.

The ball is then well and truly shifted into Israel and the U.S’ courts. UNSC Resolution 242 calls for the return of the above stated land, which was occupied by Israel after the 1967 war. There are arguments that Resolution 242 could be backed up with force as it is legally binding under article 25 of the UN charter on the grounds of its incorporation in UN Resolution 338, presented to the UNSC by the U.S and Russia to end the Yom Kippur war. Resolution 338 may well have been backed up with force. The PA government could approach the UN about a reaffirmation of the resolutions demands for the Israeli/Palestine conflict.

There has never been a better time for Palestinians to maintain a peace, because the U.S needs friends like it never did before. The friendly Arab states, the EU, Russia, and the UN Security Council are all necessary allies for cranking up diplomatic pressure on Iran, The U.S also needs its Arab allies in stabilizing Iraq and possibly for airspace and bases in the event of war with Iran. Israel has always said that its main objective is peace and it is willing to give land to achieve it, whereas the Arabs objective is land, Israel expects them to give peace to achieve it. With the Palestinians doing everything that was expected of them, the U.S and Israel’s rhetoric and incessant peace overtures would back-fire on them. There would be no excuses left.

The Palestinians would need to ensure that they resist the Israeli tactics that would undoubtedly ensue, like the West Bank arrest Raids and new settlement in the recent ceasefire. And the most recent “renovations” at Al Aqsa mosque, which led to violence after the unity government deal was reached. The clashes add further difficulty for a new government that will undoubtedly struggle to regain control after the fierce factional fighting of the last few months. These tactics are aimed at drawing the Palestinians into actions that would end Israel’s uncomfortable predicament.

If the PA could keep to its side of the bargain any reluctance by Israel, which there would undoubtedly be, would be overruled by Iran’s nuclear program being firmly number one on the U.S’ agenda. Iran being such a U.S. priority is almost as much Israel’s fault as anyone else’s, vis-a-vis the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s influence in the current U.S administration. This would make it a double backfire when the U.S. applied pressure on Israel to give the Palestinians the talks they and the world community –badly needed allies– would be shouting for.

When talks commence the ball comes back into the Palestinians court on the basis of needing to compromise on other final status issues, such as the right of return. The Palestinians want refugees to return to the very land they were expelled from, after nearly 60 years this is impractical if not impossible for Israel to grant. I read about one Palestinian refugee who, if granted the right of return, would be building his house in the grounds of Jerusalem airport. Not to mention it would risk Israel becoming predominantly Arab, which would in turn further reduce the number of Jews immigrating to Israel under their Law of Return. Two things Israel will never risk.

A suitable compromise may be accepting a limited right of return, whereby refugees could only return on the grounds that they take up land in the now formally and completely independent Palestinian state. Three generations after the Naqba many of the people expelled in the 1948 war of [Israeli] independence are no longer refugees. They or their descendants have made lives for themselves and their families elsewhere in the world and wouldn’t want to return. The Palestinians clinging uncompromisingly to achieving this right in full is an unnecessary obstacle to peace.

The other thing that would undoubtedly be a new sticking point in any such negotiations would be the separation wall Israel has almost completed. When complete it originally would have enclosed the West Bank, Palestinians complained because it is built inside the land that should become the independent Palestinian state. Since it started there have been extensions to the planned route taking even more land the Palestinians feel is rightly theirs. The wall has been ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice. The new pressure on Israel should also be taken advantage of by the Palestinians to achieve the tearing down of the wall, again, simply by maintaining the peace from their side. If they did this, despite Israel’s delaying and provocative tactics, Israel would eventually have to face the inevitable:

No security wall is needed with the PA adhering to its commitments and peacefully waiting for Israel to meet theirs. However reluctantly the U.S supported the PA, with theirs and the rest of the international community’s support for the new, moderate and peaceful unity government, Israel would be left with nowhere to go.

This might prove difficult, the longer Israel delayed meeting its commitments, and, based on previous initiatives that could be years of provocative actions, the more time the Palestinians would have, for one person or small group to revert to the habits of a lifetime. I’d like to hope the Palestinians would give the new unity government the respect they expect from the international community and that it would well and truly deserve for having the courage to compromise for a brighter Palestinian future.

This article has also been published on War Pages on Blogspot

A Powerful Voice: An Interview with Ilan Pape.

Painting a worrying picture and offering ways to alleviate the Palestinians plight.

By Liam Bailey 

Prominent Israeli academic and author Ilan Pape is openly critical of Israel. In his latest article, he called Israel’s policies in the West Bank ethnic cleansing and felt safe to call their actions in Gaza “measured genocide”.

Let us not forget that Ilan Pape is an Israeli and for him to accuse his own homeland of these things must be very hard indeed, and without a strong basis I’m sure he would reduce the terms to something much weaker. Secondly Ilan Pape has extensive experience of the conflict; he is senior lecturer in the University of Haifa Department of political Science and Chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian Studies in Haifa.

He has also written books on the subject, including, among others: The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (London and New York 1992), The Israel/Palestine Question (London and New York 1999), A History of Modern Palestine (Cambridge 2003), The Modern Middle East (London and New York 2005) and his latest, Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006).

An Israeli with so much knowledge criticizing his homeland makes him a powerful voice. Ilan agreed to answer a few questions of mine on the above matters by e-mail.

Liam Bailey: Do you believe Israel will ever commit to peace?

Ilan Pape: Not in the near future and maybe not in the longer run. There is a need for a revolutionary change in global and regional balances of power before a genuine process of change takes place in Israel itself. If ever this happens, and it is likely to happen at one point, these are time consuming processes. Israel has to be de-Zionised to a point before any genuine reconciliation can be attempted.

LB: Do you think Israel would be more committed to peace if the U.S allowed resolutions against Israel, and threatened to withdraw U.S aid unless they make more concessions to achieve sustainable peace with the Palestinians?

IP: Yes by all means this is one of the revolutionary changes in the global balances I was taking about, above. It will be a crucial factor in forcing a new thinking within Israel and it would be a very positive message to the Arab world to believe once more in the possibility of peace.

LB: Do you share the opinion that the recent Gaza ceasefire was nothing more than appearing as committed to peace to guarantee continued U.S support from a Democrat Congress?

IP: I think the ceasefire was less to do with US policy as with two other factors: one, Israelis want to see how a civil war inside Gaza serves them and secondly, foolishly, Hamas and Fatah are willing to divert their energies and attention from fighting the occupation into trying to struggle one against the other.

LB: When this article is published, going by my past articles, I will be inundated with e-mails and comments saying that genocide in Gaza is a ludicrous suggestion, that Israel is only attacking Gaza in self defence, and that if the Palestinians would stop launching rockets and committing other acts of terrorism Israel would stop retaliating. What would you say to those people?

IP: The Israeli actions, as the Israeli army admits, increase the motivation for more rockets and missiles. The Israeli army itself admits the punitive actions have very little to do with the missile attacks and are meant to achieve ‘deterrence’. Moreover, ever since 1993, whenever any Palestinian group was willing to ceasefire and give a chance for a peace dialogue, the Israeli army immediately launched a provocative action so that the lull would not continue for too long. After the recent ceasefire was agreed upon, the Israeli army arrested a large number of leaders and killed activists and civilians in the West Bank; knowing perfectly well that this was a cassis belle in the eyes of the Palestinian groups.

LB: You paint a convincingly horrifying picture that Israel is actively committing measured genocide in Gaza and ethnic cleansing in the West Bank. The only problem I have is that both policies cannot be achieved quickly, and will likely run through several governments. How can the people in Israel who want to carry these actions through be sure that the people don’t elect a more liberal government, which would put a stop to their well laid plans?

IP: The cleansing of the Jewish space or the area of Palestine that all the Zionist parties, including the liberal ones, covet as a State, is a pillar in Zionist thought. As long as Israel is a Zionist state there is ‘no danger’ that a counter policy would ever be adopted by a Zionist government. After all, it was liberal Zionists who committed the greatest act of ethnic cleansing so far, the 1948 one, and a pure Jewish space is accepted by liberals as well, as a noble target. They are willing to be happy with a smaller part of the land for achieving this goal but there their liberalism ends. This is why there is ‘no rush’ and in fact it is a liberal Zionist concept that a slow measure nowadays is best for silencing world criticism or internal doubts.

LB: I know one Israeli, Reuven Kossover who openly criticises the government, but not for the Gaza siege or the years of disproportionate reactions and collective punishment, but because they don’t do enough to squash the resistance. He believes that Israel should either declare a border excluding Judea, Samaria and Gaza and expel all hostile Arabs from green line Israel, or annex Gaza and the West Bank completely and expel the hostile Arabs. In your experience do a lot of Israelis share similar opinions?

IP: I think yes, but I do think when it comes to voting we alternate every few years between the ‘Left’ a slower pace of ‘squashing’ and the ‘right, an accelerated one. From the victim’s point of view, alas, the result is the same.

LB: How do you think Israel can be stopped from committing ethnic cleansing and genocide?

IP: Only through a coordinated campaign like the one that stopped the apartheid system in South Africa. But for the boycott, divestment and sanction campaign to succeed you also need a strong, united and well orientated Palestinian leadership and strategy. We lack both.

LB: It is currently in the news that Israel faces an existential threat from Hamas and Hezbollah and most Israelis believe Ahmadinejad is synonymous with a second holocaust. Do you share the opinion that Israel currently poses a far bigger threat to the Arab world than the Arab world does to Israel?

IP: Indeed, Israel is an unfinished project of statehood, and would go to any length to impose its will until most of the West Bank would be annexed to it, together with the Golan Heights and strategic control up to the Litani River in Lebanon. Anyone that stands in the way is or will be attacked.It is interesting that Israeli generals here say that Hizballah and Hamas are mere irritations and not strategic threats, which I think is an accurate description.LB: It seems to me that the fear of a counter-attack by Israel, the U.S, or both obliterating Iran completely will prevent Ahmadinejad from launching a nuclear attack, or any kind of attack. If it occurs to me then someone in Israel’s leadership must also realize the great threat their nuclear arsenal projects. Am I right that Israel always presents fears for its existence, allowing it to remind people of the holocaust at regular intervals, to stop the world criticising its actions against Palestinians?

IP: Yes the manipulation of the Holocaust memory is to allow the policies I have described above to be carried out without interruption. But I do think the fear in Israel is not from a nuclear attack from Iran, it is clear that the worst that can happen is deterrence policies such as the ones that took place in The Cold War. The fear is from a serious challenge to Israel’s absolute military hegemony in the area.

LB: Or does Israel do the above so that anyone who reads they are committing genocide will not believe it because of the way them and their ancestors suffered at the hands of the Nazi’s.

IP: I think what the Israelis rely on are two things. The slow measures that can obfuscate the general picture and hide the accumulative effect and secondly, the Jewish communities who would back unconditionally even the worst Israeli atrocities.

LB: Finally, I read the other day about a new youth movement –similar to the Hitler youth– that has been formed by Israeli MP, Ariyah Eldad. Its stated aims are hiking scouting and promoting the forced transfer of Palestinians from the West Bank. The group’s formation is clear evidence of his intention to carry on Israel’s policies into the next generation. Eldad said he formed the group because he was being asked by a lot of youths while touring schools, “where are we to go?” “What can we do now?” Do you believe he is telling the truth and that his group will attract significant numbers of Israeli youths?

IP: I am sure this will be a very popular youth movement given the present mood in the country, but the Israeli establishment will be very careful from openly endorsing it.

My interview with Ilan Pape has reinforced my view that this conflict is a long way from a peaceful solution. I just hope that the campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions will achieve more popular support and have the desired effect of changing Israeli policies.

Unstoppable Iran: Is Military Action the Answer?

Military action may be the only way to stop Iran from achieving weapons grade enrichment, but is it really worth it? Asks, Liam Bailey.

Nobody who knows anything about the current relationship between Iran and the west believes that the latest Resolution, imposing minor sanctions against the Islamic theocracy will have the desired effect of ending Iran’s nuclear aspirations. UN Resolution 1737 was passed unanimously by the 15 member Security Council and prohibits the sale of any materials to Iran that could be used in their “enrichment related, reprocessing or heavy water related activities”. It also imposes restrictions on the movements of twenty-two people or entities involved in the nuclear program, the Ballistic missile program or both as well as freezing their “funds, other financial assets and economic resources.”

The resolution was passed, in a nutshell because of “serious concern that the IAEA Director General’s report of 27 February 2006 (GOV/2006/15) lists a number of outstanding issues and concerns on Iran’s nuclear programme, including topics which could have a military nuclear dimension,” and that after three years of intense efforts “the IAEA is unable to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran,” which is guilty until proven innocent. Also because Iran has failed to stop its nuclear activities in line with Resolution 1696, which gave them till Aug 31 to stop all enrichment and other nuclear activities.

The sanctions may yet be increased in frequency, functionality and severity, but Iran will carry on regardless. Many analysts believe that the west’s actions to stop Iran’s enrichment, puts their theocratic back further up and in fact reduces the chances of them terminating the program.

This is supported by the reaction to the resolution from Iranian leadership, since the resolution was passed Rafsanjani has said it will backfire, Ahmadinejad called it invalid, and said that Iran will humiliate the west, and in the event of a military strike, deal them a “historic slap” on the face. He also vowed to accelerate the program. So, accepting that resolutions, sanctions and other externally applied pressure will not effect an Iranian enrichment freeze, what will?

According to the old analogy “everybody has a price”, perhaps Iran could be persuaded to reconsider their decision on the six-nation incentives package, which included assisting Iran’s efforts in civilian nuclear energy and removing resistance to their entry into the World Trade Organization. Iran rejected the package on the grounds that further negotiation was needed on some of the points. The rejection was followed by intense but futile efforts on the part of the EU to iron out any difficulties Iran had with the package.

The E.U’s efforts were futile because Iran’s problems required direct negotiations with the U.S, who refused, demanding Iran stop enriching Uranium first. This was an obstructive, bloody minded and pig-headed policy. Bush still refuses to accept that Iran holds all the cards in the negotiations. Iran is already enriching Uranium without the E.U’s help and Russia is building them a nuclear power plant at Busheur, despite the current stand-off.

A signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran is entitled to enrich Uranium for civilian purposes, there is as yet no evidence to suggest Iran’s enrichment is not for civilian purposes, only concerns. Nuclear powers Russia and China are Iran’s biggest defenders. So why would Iran stop what it claims is enrichment for civilian purposes, to gain talks with the U.S about western help with a civilian nuclear power program, when Russia is already assisting them? There is no incentive to accept the incentives package, other than the threat of Israeli, U.S or both using military force, including the threat of a nuclear attack, making it clear why Bush refuses to remove the latter option from the table.

It doesn’t however, make clear why Russia finally agreed with the U.S. and U.K. that sanctions should be imposed on Iran. Russia has recently called for a joint approach on the issue, but previous to their agreeing to sanctions Russia with China had actively impeded every effort to end Iran’s enrichment, accepting only when they had sufficiently watered down the wording and the impact. China is of course heavily depended on Iranian oil and gas to fuel its booming economy. The U.S has been calling for this resolution since shortly after the deadline of Resolution 1696 was ignored, the long delay was caused by the reluctance of Russia and China.

The actions of Russia in particular make me wonder whether they can really be trusted as a partner in ending Iranian enrichment. For a start Iran was invited as an observer to the last meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a trade, military and strategic alliance set up by Russia and China. At the meeting a pledge was made to defend the sovereignty of member states, if you like a verbal military agreement.

Since then the SCO and Collective Security Treaty Organization have held unilateral and bilateral military exercises, both coinciding with massive Iranian war-games. Russia has sold twenty-nine TOR M1 advanced missile Defense systems to Iran. Half of the systems, which are capable of targeting and shooting down the west’s Tomahawk Cruise Missiles, have been delivered.

We can’t expect the threat of a military or even a nuclear strike to pressure Iran into accepting the incentives package, while China and Russia are giving Iran every reason to believe it would have their support in the event of such a strike. Nor can we continue to allow Russia and China to take key roles in both sides of the debate. In civilian life a judge would not be allowed to rule on a case involving a party he had dealings with –like the Russia/Iran arms deal– so Russia should be given the choice: stop selling arms to Iran or be removed from UNSC meetings on ending Iranian enrichment. The U.S has courted controversy and heavy criticism from Russia for imposing sanctions on Russia for its arms deals with Iran.

That isn’t going to happen, the U.S. isn’t going to lift its precondition for talks and Iran isn’t going to meet the precondition. So, the incentives package is dead in the water. With such firm support from two of the world’s super-powers and Iran’s desire to develop their own nuclear knowledge it is doubtful whether any offer would be sufficient incentive to freeze Iranian enrichment anyway. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini confirmed this Monday, saying that Iran will never stop its nuclear work.

So, we’re running out of options fast, perhaps military action is the only way to stop Iran from enriching Uranium…

Such an attack, if mounted by the U.S would likely come under immense pressure from Israel mounted on the most heavily pro-Israel President for decades; Israel is likely pushing for the regime change option. The consequences of such an operation would be, at the least a catastrophic conflict liable to engulf the entire region. If any or all of the SCO members (China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) were dragged into the conflict in allegiance to Iran, in turn bringing possible involvement from U.S. allies (Azerbaijan, Georgia, Bulgaria, Romania, Japan, Israel and the U.K., although the latter two would quite possibly be involved in some capacity from the beginning), a

catastrophic global conflict could become World War III.

Israel may not manage to pressure the U.S into regime change but a pre-emptive strike against the nuclear facilities only. If conventional weapons are used Iran is likely to retaliate against Israel with missiles and may block the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil channel. They had threatened this as a consequence of sanctions, now sanctions have been imposed it seems Iran have realized that blocking the Strait would only tighten the noose. Iran could also re-evaluate the consequences of a failed state in Iraq against a bloody defeat for the U.S in its neighboring country if Israel goes it alone, which would undoubtedly need a green light from the U.S in any case. It would be a definite if the U.S were involved in the strike. Such a strike also carries the risk of drawing countries from the opposing strategic alliances.

The Sunday Times reported that Israel is planning an independent strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, many of which are underground, using nuclear bunker busting bombs. Israel has denied the report that brought retaliatory threats from Iran. If such a pre-emptive strike were mounted by Israel, the U.S. or both using tactical nuclear weapons, the world’s fate will be in the hands of Russian and Chinese leaders and whether or not they decide to honor the SCO verbal military agreement and unleash any of their nuclear arsenals to retaliate on Iran’s behalf.

Given such a possible chain reaction of unintended, but foreseeable consequences, I ask:

Wouldn’t it be better to allow Iran to continue enriching and instead apply the current amount of pressure on them to allow IAEA inspectors to roam freely around Iran in search of the covert weapons program the U.S is so sure exists?

The worst case scenario of that course of action would be the inspectors missing something and Iran enriching Uranium to weapons grade, possibly even diverting some and making a few warheads. Now, if you listen to Israeli military advisers, ex generals, think-tanks, lobbyists, and you get the idea, if Iran got nuclear weapons, in a fit of un-bridled, religion induced madness Ahmadinejad would make good on his calls for Israel to be wiped off the map. You have to ask the question, what would Iran gain from wiping Israel off the map?

Below I will briefly cover the possible consequences of several nuclear attack scenarios, the Physicians for Social Responsibility [PDF Chapter 5 p77] paint a more complete picture.

Some people may think Iran would attempt to wipe Israel off the map to give the Palestinians independence.

The only thing it would give the Palestinians is a slow and painful death from the radiation sickness spread by the toxic dust cloud engulfing everything. In the miracle that some of the Palestinians and/or Israelis survived the attack and by some miracle didn’t catch radiation sickness, the land would be infertile and anything that did grow would be full of radiation. They would also stand a much higher chance of catching Leukaemia and It wouldn’t be a gamble whether any children born would be deformed only on the degree of the deformity. That is assuming the Iranian weapons are close to the yield of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the Pacific leg of WWII, which is highly unlikely.

A more likely scenario is Iran attacks Israel with whatever they have thrown together as nuclear missiles; thousands of people die and the above consequences are inflicted, but only on a minute fraction of the scale of Israel’s retaliation. The Israeli reaction to such an attack would leave Iran in total devastation, hundreds of thousands maybe even millions killed by the original attack alone, the aftermath as I detailed above would leave hardly anyone in Iran alive and again, with radiation in the ground, all the crops and the water system, they couldn’t survive. Any miraculous survivors of the blasts and their immediate aftermath would have to be airlifted straight into quarantine to be monitored. Iran as we know it would cease to exist.

Even if the Iranian weapon is on a par with Hiroshima and Nagasaki or better and Israel was wiped off the map, Iran would still cease to exist after the U.S retaliated on Israel’s behalf. Either way Iran would be no more and the world would hang in the balance of a Russian and Chinese decision.

If anything comes through from Ahmadinejad’s supercharged speeches, apart from strong religious beliefs and utter commitment to continue enrichment, it is unrelenting patriotism. The very patriotism that gives such fervour to his continued defiance, in that he is determined that the state he is so proud to be a part of enjoys the right it is entitled to under International Law.

If it strikes me as slightly hypocritical that the biggest nuclear proliferators in the world should be telling Iran that their signature to the Non-Proliferation Treaty isn’t worth the paper it is written on and they are guilty until proven innocent of breaking it, you can’t blame Ahmadinejad and other patriotic Iranians for their reaction. Ahmadinejad’s patriotism would also surely prevent him from doing anything to risk the total obliteration of his country, which would mean he wouldn’t attack another country with nuclear weapons, especially not Israel.

Unfortunately it looks like Israel will attack Iran, either themselves or using the their U.S lobbying group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) widely thought to be the most powerful lobby in America to convince Bush Iran needs to be stopped.

The forecasts I have made in this article could well mean the end of the world and yet I am not running out to build a fall out shelter. Though it may not seem like it from my writing I am ever the optimist. I have written this article in the hope that the U.S will vote for President, the candidate they feel is the least likely to be influenced by the Neocons, AIPAC and Israel. In other words, NOT BUSH, who could well wipe out the whole map trying to keep Israel on it.

US: End of Middle East Dominance: What Dominance?

Previously suppressed states are exploiting the mess in Iraq and vying for supremacy.By Liam Bailey

With the Baker report suggesting America talks with its staunch adversaries Iran and Syria, and the public’s apparent support for Baker’s findings. It is beginning to look like Bush might finally be forced into –unthinkable for him– acts of history validated common sense. Since talking to Iran and Syria was first suggested by Blair after he gave evidence to the Baker Commission, analysts have been questioning the end of U.S domination in the Middle East.

The question should be: did the U.S ever dominate the Middle East? Sure, unconditionally supporting Israel ensured their influence in that conflict, IDF style. Bombing and shooting the Palestinians into agreement with the U.S’ –fad– peace plan at the time. Meanwhile the U.S exerted little or no influence in Israel’s often ill-advised and frequently illegal actions. Israel currently has little or no influence in Middle East affairs anyway. It couldn’t get by without U.S aid [PDF], let alone suppress the latest Palestinian Intifada.

There was a tradition of U.K and U.S influence in Iran’s monarchical rule after we imposed a suitable Shah. The current stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program, and its meddling in Iraq [PDF] show how much things have changed. Not only recently but since the Iranian revolution in 1979, the hostages taken in the U.S embassy during the revolution flipped the bird to U.S influence in Iran.

Iran currently showing disregard for U.S power is a facade to amplify its own strength and help their hegemonic aims.

Syrian diplomats have always adhered strictly to agreements reached with their U.S counterparts. But they have also been close to all-out war over the Israeli Lebanon conflict in 1983. The U.S, recognising that Syria plays a central role in the Middle East and in global Jihad, attempts to exert its influence. And turn the “rogue state” from a supporter of terrorism to a supporter of democracy and U.S hegemony. They have and probably will never succeed in that aim.

The U.S has enjoyed 70 years of good relations with Saudi Arabia’s monarchy, until 9/11 put a significant strain on the “special relationship”. Saudi Arabia’s condemnation of Israel during the Israel/Hezbollah conflict and rhetoric of going to war showed that the U.S doesn’t hold much influence over Saudi Arabia.

In Iraq’s case, we all know the current scenario. The U.S has as much influence in Iraq now as any of the rival militia factions. The same influence it has recently had over every other Middle East country, very little.

The U.S has had reasonable influence in Turkey since shortly after World War II, with the exception of the mid-late 70’s when Turkey invaded Cyprus. The U.S’ influence in Turkey crumbled in the build up to the Iraq war. Turkey refusing U.S forces entry to hit Iraq from the North, showed that –unlike Saudi Arabia– Turkey’s loyalty to their Iraqi Muslim brothers and sisters influenced their policy more than U.S relations. U.S aid [PDF] was cut-off 2003. Except a small military grant, which I presume was necessary for Turkey’s involvement in Afghanistan.

Relations fell apart in Mar. 2005, when the U.S ambassador to Turkey resigned after two years. Because Turkey’s government came out in support of their President’s decision to visit Syria in early April that year, despite the U.S warning against it. Also for ignoring the ambassador’s calls for Turkey to join an international coalition concerning Syria.

The U.S weighs its relationship with and influence of Egypt perhaps higher than any other Middle East country, because of its leadership role in the region. A role which was set when Egypt was actively fighting Israel and sought military aid from the Soviets. Several other Arab states shortly followed suit. U.S Israel relations improved after the 1979 peace treaty was signed with Israel. Since then the U.S has given billions of dollars [PDF] in military and financial aid to sustain Egypt’s moderate voice in Arab councils. Persuade less moderate regimes of the benefits of compromise and to maintain the Egypt-Israeli peace treaty.

The latter has been more successful than the other two by far. As the U.S failed to realize that the feelings of Egypt’s leaders toward Israel’s treatment of their Arab Palestinian brothers didn’t change overnight. More likely they realised they would be in a much better position to help the Palestinians in every way with a whole whack of U.S aid.

Jordan’s monarchy has perhaps the best relationship with the U.S. The U.S began providing Jordan with economic and military aid in 1951 and 1957 respectively. Relations were slightly soured by Jordan’s reluctance to participate in the first Iraq war to liberate Kuwait. Relations improved throughout the 1990’s as Jordan began to take a more favourable view of normalization of relations with Israel. Over the years the U.S has provided billions of dollars [PDF] in aid to Jordan. In return Jordan provided logistical support in the Afghanistan war, and, informally the same in the current Iraq war, although the monarchy was publicly opposed.

King Abdullah’s policies of normalization with Israel and alliance with the U.S cause much unrest from Jordan’s Islamic fundamentalist groups. Like the Jordan Muslim Brotherhood, an influential part of the political mainstream. It also causes unrest in parts of the Palestinian communities, and in prominent professional and trade organizations.

The Middle East and its rich oil reserves have always been at the fore-front of U.S policy. So much so that they have taken their eye off the ball elsewhere; allowing China to become the main influence in Asia and enter the fight for global supremacy. The North Korean nuke test is another example of the Bush administration taking their eye off the ball.

Given all this focus on their Middle East policy it is ludicrous that it has descended into such a farce.

Little wonder as it is largely the world’s most backward foreign policy. Unconditionally supporting a country surrounded by enemies –Israel–, while hoping to exert influence over its enemies. Is like a boxer’s coach shouting orders at the opposing fighter. Stupid. Previously however the U.S had tried to exert their influence over Israel’s enemies by diplomacy in the main. Bush Jnr coming in with his complete ignorance of foreign policy and its relation to even recent history, alongside his policy of never talking to your adversary. Combined with the backward policies above, are perhaps the main reasons for the current state of the Middle East.

Something else I find laughable however is Bush Snr, responsible for another reason for the current mess. Coming in now and telling his son what he needs to do in Iraq. If he had honoured his statements to the Iraq’s Shia and Kurdish populations, by ordering U.S forces to go on into Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein’s regime, in the first gulf war 1991. Embracing the uprising started by the Shia in the south and driving Iraqi forces into the Kurdish uprising in the North. Both of which were started because of Bush’s suggestion of support.

Saddam would undoubtedly have been easily defeated. As he was 2003, but the occupying U.S or U.S/U.N forces would have probably had the support of the Kurdish minority and Shia Majority. Giving the Sunni’s no choice but to join the new diplomatic efforts or be left out of Iraq’s democratic future. As oppose to miss-trust for Bush Jnr by Shia and Kurd’s after being lied to by his dad before him. And resentment because of the massacres his lies led them into.

I believe had Bush Snr done this Iraq would have been a stable democracy by now, certainly closer than has been for decades.

In closing, the U.S never really had much influence in Middle Eastern affairs. The little it did have from supplying heavy financial aid to needy countries in prominent positions. And U.S and Israel’s superior military force were sufficient to secure the things they really needed and manipulate affairs to ensure no-one else gained more control.

The Iraq war in 2003 showing that U.S military force was useless against sporadic Jihad’s guerrilla warfare. Accelerated the rate at which the little Middle East influence the U.S had is disappearing. All that remains is moderate influence in return for heavy aid to countries with even less influence –than the U.S– in Middle East affairs.

The rich and influential Middle East countries are exploiting the exposed weakness to secure their own hegemony.

It will be interesting to watch the changing political and military landscapes in the coming months. Especially if a serious U.S strategy shift in Iraq coincides with a policy shift in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Liam Bailey is a writer from the UK, he runs the War Pages weblog and can be contacted by e-mail.

Al Qaida: The Iraq Trap

New book author on BBC2 suggests Al Qaida tricked the U.S into (their downfall) the Iraq war. By Liam Bailey

Released Oct. 17, “Inside the Global Jihad how I infiltrated Al Qaeda and was abandoned by Western Intelligence” is the story of Omar Nasiri, who started out running guns for Algerian Islamic Radicals: Groupes Islamiques Armés; Armed Islamic Groups in English, GIA as they are most commonly known. After stealing money from the radicals he was forced to seek the protection of French intelligence in Belgium, who were taking the GIA threat very seriously. Omar Nasiri, which is a pen name to protect his identity, was given the money to return to the radicals and over the next 7 years became a vital French intelligence asset.

As the various splinter Islamic radical groups began to coalesce into the global threat of Al Qaida. Nasiri was sent to the training camps of Afghanistan, losing contact with his French intelligence controllers. When his training was complete he was sent to the UK, to form a sleeper cell. Picked up by British intelligence he again became a spy under the joint control of British and French intelligence, the French were worried that London wasn’t taking the threat seriously, naming the capital Londonistan because of the number of radicals taking refuge there. While in London Omar Nasiri provided intelligence on radical clerics like, Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza and mosques like Finsbury park; a haven for radical preaching. Until he parted company with the intelligence community in the late 90’s when they began to lose trust in him and he began to become frustrated that they weren’t taking his information seriously enough.

Omar Nasiri’s account of life inside Al Qaeda training camps is, according to Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden Unit, “more complete than any intelligence we had available to us in the 1990s” and “has no peer in the publications of the American intelligence community.” As well as being checked for validity by Michael Scheuer, the facts were also checked by members of various European intelligence agencies before publication.

The above facts about Nasiri’s story came from his Oct. 16 interview on BBC2’s Newsnight. During the interview Nasiri gave some details about the training regime inside Al Qaida camps in Afghanistan. Nasiri talked of seeing one of his fellow trainees hanging by his feet from the ceiling, his trainer explained to him that the man wasn’t being punished; he was being trained in what to do if he was captured and tortured under interrogation. Nasiri said that Al Qaida operatives are taught, not how to maintain silence under torture, but to lie; to tell the enemy what they think the enemy wants to hear.

This brought the interviewer to ask about the top Al Qaida operative Iban al Shakh al Libby, who, when captured revealed the intelligence that Colin Powell presented to the UN in the run up to the Iraq invasion. Nasiri said that al Libby was accomplished in the training techniques of remaining calm and telling the enemy what they want to hear under interrogation. Evidence emerged recently that the intelligence from al Libby that formed the basis for the Iraq war was art of a confession extracted under torture in a CIA prison in Egypt. When Nasiri was asked what al Libby would do if tortured, Nasiri said, “he would lie.”

Nasiri went on to suggest that, before the Iraq war, Al Qaida had wanted to draw the U.S into invading a Middle East Muslim country, and said that Iraq was believed to be the weakest. Given the long running battle between the U.S and the UN as to whether Saddam’s reluctance to cooperate with weapons inspectors was strong enough evidence that he was concealing an active WMD program, and given that U.S Neocon plans for an Iraq invasion since 1998 were almost common knowledge. It is easy to see that the intelligence al Libby provided on Al Qaida links with Saddam were –knowingly– exactly what the enemy wanted to hear, and according to Nasiri, exactly what Al Qaida wanted the U.S to believe.

This adds yet more doubt in the ability of President Bush to run his country effectively. Not only were Bush’s father and his aides, many top U.S intelligence analysts and many respected media analysts able to predict that an Iraq invasion would go horribly for the U.S. But Al Qaida, the U.S’ biggest enemy at the time were also able to predict that among other things, their activities would turn Iraq into a quagmire for coalition forces, also adding weight to the claims that Al Qaida have stirred up Iraq’s sectarian misery. So again I ask: why wasn’t Bush Jnr or anyone by his side able to see that they were right?

If Nasiri is correct, and what al Libby revealed under torture did draw the U.S into the very invasion of a Muslim country that Al Qaida were praying for. Then the U.S has been given a taste of its own medicine in Iraq.

Although the official line remains that U.S funding for the Afghan Mujahideen began after the Soviet invasion in 1980. A 1998 interview with President Carter’s national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski revealed that the U.S had begun covertly funding the Mujahideen in Afghanistan July 3 1979, long before the Soviet invasion Dec. 24 the same year. Brzezinski advised the President the day funding began, that he believed it the covert aid would induce the Soviet’s to invade Afghanistan, and, so called the Afghan trap, would be an opportunity to give the Soviet’s their Vietnam War.

Just as the Afghanistan war effectively ended the Soviet’s run –against the U.S- for world supremacy. The Iraq war, with the U.S now considering seeking their enemies help has effectively ended the U.S’ run for joint –with Israel- Middle East domination and their reign of world supremacy.

This article was published by OhmyNews International 18/11/06

Begging for Help in Iraq

The end of U.S supremacy in the 21st century.By Liam Bailey

When Bush announced Iran and Iraq as part of an axis of evil with N. Korea, shortly after the announcement invading Iraq, there is no doubt in my mind that Ahmadinejad and Khomeini must have believed they would be next. Because of this there is also no doubt in my mind that Iran’s leadership set about an active and major campaign to make the Iraq war as costly for coalition forces as U.S support of Saddam made theirs. In an effort to prevent invasion of Iran, at least long enough to see Bush expelled from power in favour of a less war hungry President.

Bush being elected for a second term was undoubtedly viewed by Iran as a set-back in this aim, which might well have led to their campaign in Iraq being stepped up. This would certainly account for the constantly rising violence despite the U.S’ best efforts to squash the insurgency. But I doubt even Iran could have foreseen their plan would have gone this well. As now the two leaders of the coalition, Bush and Blair are both beating a path to Iran’s door in seek of help with the massive problem in Iraq. Little wonder then that Ahmadinejad intends to make America beg.

In yet another U.S unintended consequence going to an unnecessary war in Iraq, may well have put Iran in the driving seat over its nuclear programme. Who would have thought that Iran would be putting conditions on the U.S for direct talks, drawing attention to yet another Bush mistake. I bet that Bush is wishing he had agreed to direct talks with Iran without conditions all those months ago, when the theocratic regime made such an offer over their nuclear program.

Although in a televised press conference Oct. 14 Ahmadinejad said he has “no problem” talking with Britain, because the UK and Iran have maintained relations, talks with the U.S however, mutually rejected since the 1979 Islamic revolution could only come at a price.

“We have said from the beginning that we will talk with the American government, but under conditions. The conditions concern the US attitude. If they correct their behaviour, we will talk to them like others,” Amhadinejad said, making little or no effort to conceal the confidence in his voice. Iran talking of correcting the U.S’ behaviour is a stark turn around in world affairs.

Ahmadinejad’s statement could have been in reference to many things, returning Iranian assets seized in the U.S since the 1979-81 U.S embassy siege, an end to the U.S imposed sanctions putting pressure on the Iranian regime and/or a reversal of the U.S’ refusal to accept the Tehran regime’s legitimacy. The one issue Ahmadinejad made clear his conditions would concern was Iran’s fledgling nuclear program, saying: “We are not going to withdraw from the Iranian nation’s rights,”

This declaration implied that any Iranian help in the U.S’ problem of Iraq would mean the U.S’ dropping their hard-line stance and ending their concerted efforts to have UN sanctions imposed on the Tehran regime’s fledgling nuclear program. This will be the clincher, whether the U.S can accept a nuclear Iran to save face in Iraq.

Whether Bush accepts Ahmadinejad’s conditions or not will not change Israel’s stance towards a nuclear Iran. In response to the possible shift in U.S policy over Iran’s nuclear program, there have already been yet more threats from hard-liners in Israel, like finance minister Netanyahu that Israel will launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Olmert who has also warned of the consequences should diplomacy fail to stop Iran’s nuclear aims, is in the U.S discussing the issue with Bush. Bush has assured him that the U.S resolve against Iran’s nuclear ambitions will not be weakened by the Democrats taking Congress as the pair called Oct. 15 for more support from the international community on ending Iranian enrichment.

Given the Bush administration adherence to strongly pro-Israeli foreign policy, and it maintenance of refusing to accept a nuclear Iran I find it difficult to believe that a new defence secretary and a change in Congress will change Bush’s stance on Iran’s nuclear program. Israeli doubts about American resolve however could well lead to a strike against Iran’s nuclear capabilities similar to their attack on Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981. Iran’s tendency to run their nuclear program covertly prior to their announcing it, and given Uranium enrichment facilities being easy to conceal it is doubtful Israel could take out all of Iran’s capabilities in one strike.

The consequences of such a strike, and the millions of Iranians possibly dying from radiation poisoning would undoubtedly result in a wave of terror against Israel, definitely from Iran and Hezbollah and quite possibly other militant groups. If such a strike doesn’t come from Israel, it will be interesting to see how new U.S defence secretary James Baker weighs a nuclear Iran against ending the U.S death camp of Iraq, whether he will enjoy the same influence over Bush that Rumsfeld did and how this will change the effect U.S policy has on the world.

This article was published by OhmyNews International 15/11/06

Assistance Needed in Iraq

The end of U.S supremacy in the 21st century.

When Bush announced Iran and Iraq as part of an axis of evil with N. Korea, shortly after the announcement invading Iraq, there is no doubt in my mind that Ahmadinejad and Khomeini must have believed they would be next. Because of this there is also no doubt in my mind that Iran’s leadership set about an active and major campaign to make the Iraq war as costly for coalition forces as U.S support of Saddam made theirs. In an effort to prevent invasion of Iran, at least long enough to see Bush expelled from power in favour of a less war hungry President.

Bush being elected for a second term was undoubtedly viewed by Iran as a set-back in this aim, which might well have led to their campaign in Iraq being stepped up. This would certainly account for the constantly rising violence despite the U.S’ best efforts to squash the insurgency. But I doubt even Iran could have foreseen their plan would have gone this well. As now the two leaders of the coalition, Bush and Blair are both beating a path to Iran’s door in seek of help with the massive problem in Iraq. Little wonder then that Ahmadinejad intends to make America beg.

In yet another U.S unintended consequence going to an unnecessary war in Iraq, may well have put Iran in the driving seat over its nuclear programme. Who would have thought that Iran would be putting conditions on the U.S for direct talks, drawing attention to yet another Bush mistake. I bet that Bush is wishing he had agreed to direct talks with Iran without conditions all those months ago, when the theocratic regime made such an offer over their nuclear program.

Although in a televised press conference Oct. 14 Ahmadinejad said he has “no problem” talking with Britain, because the UK and Iran have maintained relations, talks with the U.S however, mutually rejected since the 1979 Islamic revolution could only come at a price.

“We have said from the beginning that we will talk with the American government, but under conditions. The conditions concern the US attitude. If they correct their behaviour, we will talk to them like others,” Amhadinejad said, making little or no effort to conceal the confidence in his voice. Iran talking of correcting the U.S’ behaviour is a stark turn around in world affairs.

Ahmadinejad’s statement could have been in reference to many things, returning Iranian assets seized in the U.S since the 1979-81 U.S embassy siege, an end to the U.S imposed sanctions putting pressure on the Iranian regime and/or a reversal of the U.S’ refusal to accept the Tehran regime’s legitimacy. The one issue Ahmadinejad made clear his conditions would concern was Iran’s fledgling nuclear program, saying: “We are not going to withdraw from the Iranian nation’s rights,”

This declaration implied that any Iranian help in the U.S’ problem of Iraq would mean the U.S’ dropping their hard-line stance and ending their concerted efforts to have UN sanctions imposed on the Tehran regime’s fledgling nuclear program. This will be the clincher, whether the U.S can accept a nuclear Iran to save face in Iraq.

Whether Bush accepts Ahmadinejad’s conditions or not will not change Israel’s stance towards a nuclear Iran. In response to the possible shift in U.S policy over Iran’s nuclear program, there have already been yet more threats from hard-liners in Israel, like finance minister Netanyahu that Israel will launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Olmert who has also warned of the consequences should diplomacy fail to stop Iran’s nuclear aims, is in the U.S discussing the issue with Bush. Bush has assured him that the U.S resolve against Iran’s nuclear ambitions will not be weakened by the Democrats taking Congress as the pair called Oct. 15 for more support from the international community on ending Iranian enrichment.

Given the Bush administration adherence to strongly pro-Israeli foreign policy, and it maintenance of refusing to accept a nuclear Iran I find it difficult to believe that a new defence secretary and a change in Congress will change Bush’s stance on Iran’s nuclear program. Israeli doubts about American resolve however could well lead to a strike against Iran’s nuclear capabilities similar to their attack on Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981. Iran’s tendency to run their nuclear program covertly prior to their announcing it, and given Uranium enrichment facilities being easy to conceal it is doubtful Israel could take out all of Iran’s capabilities in one strike.

The consequences of such a strike, and the millions of Iranians possibly dying from radiation poisoning would undoubtedly result in a wave of terror against Israel, definitely from Iran and Hezbollah and quite possibly other militant groups. If such a strike doesn’t come from Israel, it will be interesting to see how new U.S defence secretary James Baker weighs a nuclear Iran against ending the U.S death camp of Iraq, whether he will enjoy the same influence over Bush that Rumsfeld did and how this will change the effect U.S policy has on the world.

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Global Nuclear Arms Race

The consequences of Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs are globally catastrophic.By Liam Bailey

Nov. 3 2006 will be remembered as the day the Middle East changed forever, six Arab states announced their intention to initiate programmes to master atomic technology. Morocco, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, want to start civilian nuclear energy programs, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates also showed interest. So many states, all predominantly Sunni Arab making simultaneous announcements of seeking nuclear power has prompted fears that their true intention could be to master the technology on the path to the first Arab atom bomb.

Despite these fears the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has consulted with all governments and will offer technical assistance in their development of nuclear power plants. The announcement was a complete reversal of Arab policy, which had previously been joint calls for nuclear disarmament throughout the Middle East, in other words the nuclear disarmament of Israel, the only Middle East state known to have a useable nuclear arsenal.

In my opinion the trigger for the Arab announcement was Iran firing “dozens” of long range missiles Nov. 2, including the Shahab 3, capable of carrying warheads of 1400 cluster bomblets anywhere within 1000 miles and the Shahab 2 with a shorter range but just as deadly. The Iranian missile tests came in response to the Oct 31 U.S led Naval exercises in the Persian gulf, in which 25 nations practised an operation to intercept and search a ship thought to be carrying weapons of mass destruction 20 miles from Iranian territorial waters. Despite what is becoming a significant U.S naval presence in the region, only one U.S coastguard vessel had an active role in the exercise; making the U.S Naval build-up seem somewhat suspicious.

One of the six Arab states announcing an intention to go nuclear: United Arab Emirates was involved in the exercise as an observer, all six are part of the Arab League, and all among the League’s ten richest states. Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait the other three Arab states involved in the exercise are also members of the Arab League, which has a long running rivalry with Iran.

With the exception of Iraq and Bahrain, the Arab League is made up of predominantly Sunni countries, many Sunni Arab countries in the Middle East are thought to be suspicious of Iran’s nuclear program, so you could say such an announcement from the countries rich enough to go nuclear was to be expected. In my opinion Iran’s firing of long-range missiles in response to an exercise involving Arab League countries was the trigger for six of the richest Arab League states to take a step towards mastering nuclear technology. What they will use this technology for and the reactions to their intended use remain to be seen.

So while Iranian missile tests threaten to provoke a nuclear arms race across the Middle East Pyongyang’s nuclear test Oct. 9 caused and is still causing reverberations throughout Asia. The test, which could have killed thousands in North Korea and neighbouring countries if in going wrong radioactive material was spewed across the region at the mercy of wind speed and direction. The test didn’t go wrong but the consequences look to be just as dire.

In the days and weeks before Kim Jong Il’s irrational act some hard-line Japanese conservatives such as former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone were quietly stating the need to develop nuclear weapons in the face of nuclear sabre-rattling by North Korea. Although his comments caused controversy among the Japanese political community, according to the Korea Times a large number of strongly nationalistic Japanese politicians supported his views. The successful test Oct. 9 added further validity to their cause and in the following weeks their case has been further strengthened by main-stream and prominent ministers like Foreign Minister Taro Aso showing his support for the controversial stance, saying Oct. 18 that it may be time for Japan to start discussions about nuclear armament.

Japan possesses enough Plutonium to make thousands of nuclear bombs and given its economic, academic and technological strength it is widely thought that they could develop nuclear weapons within months of starting such a program. Shinzo Abe’s assurances that Japan will neither have, make nor allow the import of nuclear weapons in Japan have done little to reassure their understandably anxious neighbours. Whether reflective of a genuine change in Japan’s stance on nuclear armament or not Foreign Minister Taro Aso adding credibility to former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone’s comments prompted a similar debate in South Korea. The day after Taro Aso’s remarks, former leader and presidential candidate for South Korea’s opposition GNP party Lee Hoechang questioned whether South Korea should reconsider nuclear armament in the face of Japan’s changing attitude and the recent actions of Kim Jong Il, saying during a lecture: South Korea will need to develop its own nuclear weapon when Pyongyang’s possession of a nuclear weapon becomes an accomplished fact and Japan starts moving for nuclearization.

A nuclear domino effect in Asia, long feared by the west and a main reason for preventing a nuclear armed North Korea threatens to become a reality. If Japan does move towards nuclear armament, likely pushing South Korea to follow suit, not only will it lessen the chance of denuclearisation in Pyongyang, no doubt it will prompt Kim Jong Il to further augment his nuclear prowess, possibly with another test. These actions could then become a catalyst for China, Russia and other regional powers to do the same; triggering a catastrophic arms race, which given the current tensions between the west, China and Russia over Iran’s fledgling nuclear program, could quickly spread around the world.

Depending on the Arab League intentions and the restraint of the Japanese and South Korean governments; two already unstable regions could well enter into a nuclear arms race. A race that would make both regions much more unstable, possibly drawing in other regions and undoubtedly bringing the world one step closer to its second use of the world’s deadliest weapons; something I hoped I wouldn’t see in my lifetime.

Is Attacking Iran a Viable Option?

This article was also published by the Centre for Research on Globalisation, one of my best achievements so far…

Is Attacking Iran a Viable Option?

The definitive end of U.S military supremacy.

By Liam Bailey

I have written several articles on the Iran crisis pitting two expanding and important strategic alliances against each other and the similarities to the powder keg of Balkan and European alliances that erupted into World War I.

On one side is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Led by China and Russia, the SCO has four other permanent member states: Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Along with a senior official from India’s oil and gas industry, the prime ministers of Pakistan, Mongolia, Afghanistan and Iran attended the last meeting in Shanghai on June 15. It was the first meeting since Iran announced that it had successfully enriched Uranium: Iran was invited to become a full member.

The meeting was about strengthening trade and exports but also had a strong undertone of strengthening the alliance. A verbal oath was sworn for defending each other in the event of any attack. China and Russia have already signed military cooperation agreements with and are the main suppliers of advanced weaponry to Iran and Syria. This gave them verbal military cooperation agreements with all the SCO members, including Iran.

A senior spokesperson for U.S. ally Japan said: “The SCO is becoming a rival block to the U.S. alliance; it does not share our values. We are watching it very closely.” The U.S. too was watching it very closely, but from afar because their request for observer status at the meeting had been denied on the grounds that they shared neither land nor fluvial border with any of the SCO member states.

The meeting’s undertone of warning the U.S. against attacking Iran was evident in Chinese President Hu Jintao’s closing statement: “We hope the outside world will accept the social system and path to development independently chosen by our members and observers and respect the domestic and foreign policies adopted by the SCO participants in line with their national conditions.” Jintao’s statement was immediately followed by the verbal agreement — all members vowing to defend each other’s sovereignty and the alliance as a whole.The strengthening of this rival alliance and its challenge to U.S. supremacy was worrying amid speculation of advanced U.S. plans for war in Iran. The developments in the coming weeks and months increased the powder keg tensions of a well-backed Iranian nuclear standoff.The start of July, with joint military exercises by U.S., Romanian and Bulgarian armed forces, which continued until September, coincided with the North Korean missile tests of July 5 and began an intense period of war-games and weaponry testing from all the major players in both alliances.

Aug. 19 saw the beginning of Iranian military exercises and missile tests in all the border provinces likely to become the frontline in the event of a U.S. attack. The SCO and Collective Security Treaty Organisation) (CSTO) headed by China and Russia respectively, held joint exercises in coordination with the Iranian exercises, both launched Aug. 24 in Kazakhstan, which between them involved all 10 members of the SCO except Uzbekistan.

The Russian and Chinese exercises were thought to have come in response to mistrust of the U.S.’s intentions in the region, the threat of attack on Iran, the U.S. navy’s involvement in the rebuilding of Kazakhstan’s navy since 2003, and Iranian fears that the U.S. was attempting to build up their ally Azerbaijan to counter Iranian influence and dominance in the region. Hence, the Iranian exercises along the Azerbaijan border.

These provocative drills from all sides of the powder keg of alliances could easily have took us one step closer to war, because of the strong support from the Muslim world, Russia and China for Iran’s stance that it has a right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes under theNuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. As the exercises continued, they coincided with Iran’s response to the six-nations incentive package on Aug. 22, which was a practically flat refusal to suspend enrichment as a precursor for U.S.-involved talks. This made Iran’s failure to comply with U.N. Resolution 1696 and suspend enrichment by Aug. 31 inevitable.

This lead to a stalemate, the U.S maintaining its hard line toward the rogue regime and immediately pressuring for sanctions, the EU taking the middle ground, and Russia and China effectively vetoing any form of U.N. punishment against Tehran. China is of course heavily dependant on Iran’s oil reserves on its path to becoming a world superpower.

As October comes to an end, we are still no closer to a compromise on ending Iranian enrichment and possible proliferation. The U.N. is split and sanctions just do not look viable in the foreseeable future. Yet another draft resolution has been drawn up by the U.S. and its allies and diplomats say it could be presented to Russian and Chinese officials this week. The proposed resolution aims to impose restrictions on Iran’s nuclear progression similar to those imposed on North Korea last week with the passing of U.N. Resolution 1718.

However, the fact that North Korea angered China and Russia with its openly defiant and dangerous (for China) nuclear test, has put the bond between China and Russia, and the dependence of China on Iran, foremost in their decision making processes, not to mention strengthening the SCO alliance. All of which makes the passing of this draft resolution unlikely.

As the U.S. has always maintained that it will not let Iran get the bomb, decisive military action continues to become increasingly likely. Who knows, Bush may give us one last expensive war on his way out of office. All the signs seem to indicate that this is highly possible. North Korea, named alongside Iran and Iraq as part of Bush’s axis of evil, performed its first nuclear test on Oct. 9. Its defiance of the international community in its six-nations format could and in my view will harden Bush’s already hard-line stance toward Tehran’s enrichment program and make military action a real possibility should Iran seem close to obtaining the bomb.

The months between Iran ignoring U.N. Resolution 1696 and North Korea’s nuclear test brought many statements from senior Iranians. Many speaking on condition of anonymity threatened tough retaliation against any imposed sanctions. The latest announcement, on Oct. 23, that Iran had launched a second batch of 164 centrifuges, bringing the total to 328 interconnected centrifuges, which can enrich uranium for energy or weaponry purposes, further exasperated the Bush administration.

But according to a diplomat close to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, no UF6 uranium gas is being fed into the cascade, as has generally been the case with the first batch: “The second cascade was brought on line earlier this month but they appear to be just running it empty. That is, vacuum-testing to assess durability.”

These reported advances in Iran’s quest for nuclear power, either for civilian or military use, are increasing the pressure on the U.S., the EU and the fractured UN to end the standoff before it reaches a critical point like North Korea’s defiant test. As is Israel’s leadership, who have also constantly fueled the tensions over the past months by periodically threatening the use of its military might to end Iranian enrichment, a cycle of responding to Iran’s slow but propagandized advances tit-for-tat. Therefore, in such a heightened climate, if Bush puts another wrong foot forward in his handling of Kim Jong-il (that is, concentrates on Iraq and pressurizes Iran while allowing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions to become nuclear weapons and reach a catastrophic climax), it could strengthen the Iranians’ resolve, which is already strong because of China’s large dependence on Iranian oil.

Chinese dependence, which is empowering an Iranian regime bent on becoming a nuclear power, is a dangerous mix in itself. Add to this, reports from Chinese and Russian defectors that a catastrophic conflict with the U.S. has been in the planning for years and that the timetable is to be stepped up in the event of an attack on Iran, and it becomes very dangerous indeed.

Despite the consequences of a U.S. attack on Iran ranging from bad to catastrophic, depending on the strategy and success of the attack, the stalemate within the dysfunctional U.N. is threatening to leave Bush with no option. Speculation over the use of military force against Iran has been rife since Tehran’s April announcement of successful uranium enrichment.

The latest surge in tensions is over proposed U.S naval exercises with Britain, France, Bahrain and Kuwait in the Persian Gulf next week. Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) quoted an unnamed Foreign Ministry official as calling the maneuvers dangerous and suspicious. The official also said the exercises, reported to be practice runs for intercepting and searching ships carrying WMDs, were not in line with the security and stability of the region but instead aimed at fomenting crisis. The source blamed the neoconservatives’ warmongering, which is being used in an attempt to achieve success in the mid-term elections.

I believe the proposed exercises are another attempt by the U.S. to provoke Iran into a knee-jerk reaction, which would further alienate it from Russia and China and ultimately allow Bush to use military action to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

According to a war game organized by The Atlantic with the help of retired air force colonel and specialist in the field Sam Gardiner, which simulated preparations for an assault on Iran by the next American administration be it Republican or Democrat, such an assault could involve any or all of three separate strategies: (1) a punitive raid on key Revolutionary Guard units to retaliate for Iranian actions in Iraq and elsewhere, (2) a pre-emptive strike on all possible nuclear facilities or (3) the forceful removal of the Mullah regime from Tehran in a regime change operation.

The war games panel decided that the first two could be carried out independently but that the third would require the success of the first two as preparation. In reality, the second option — a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities — is the one most often discussed. Also in reality, any one of these actions or the encouragement of similar actions from Israel’s military forces could well unleash a catastrophic global conflict.

The earliest retaliation would likely come in the form of missile attacks on Israel and other U.S. allies within the range of Iranian missiles (1,280 kilometers), followed by the blocking of the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil channel, as threatened in the event of sanctions. Also, Iran may decide that a bloody defeat for the U.S., even if it means chaos in Iraq, is something they might actually prefer and begin exerting their significant influence over the majority Shia militias in Iraq to more heavily join the war against U.S. forces. Iran has so far discouraged the Shia communities from becoming involved in the insurgency. This would mean that the number of U.S. forces in Iraq would be greatly reduced for the first time as forces would be needed for the Iran invasion, which would coincide with the most dramatic rise of violence against U.S. forces since the Iraq invasion began.

If the Iran invasion did not go according to plan, the subsequently shrinking number of U.S. troops in Iraq could shortly find themselves unable to control the rising violence and forced into a hasty withdrawal from the Green Zone. Such an outcome would be seen as a defeat and empower the Jihadists for decades to come.

If any or all of the SCO members (China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) were dragged into the conflict with allegiance to Iran, in turn bringing involvement from U.S. allies (Azerbaijan, Georgia, Bulgaria, Romania, Japan, Israel and the U.K., although the latter two would quite possibly be involved in some capacity from the beginning), a catastrophic global conflict would become World War III.

If none of these countries became involved but the badly overstretched U.S. military failed to achieve regime change in Tehran, whatever Iranian nuclear capabilities remained would undoubtedly be channeled toward the rapid advancement of any existing nuclear weapons program.

Military action in Iran, therefore, should be consigned to the realm of fiction. But Bush’s predisposition to falling for his own rhetoric, and the slim chances of achieving any form of sanctions against Tehran, leave a catastrophic global conflict that could easily become World War III looming over our heads. Whatever the strategy, if Bush or the next American president decides to use military force against Iran, it could easily result in the definitive end of U.S. military supremacy in the 21st century.

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