Monday, November 29, 2010

Robert Gates on Iran

Excellent Guardian article on the situation in Iran, published yesterday. Some interesting highlights:

Ringed by professional "Iran watchers" based in neighbouring countries, besieged
by electronic, cyber and human intelligence gathering and surveillance, squeezed
by sanctions, bans and prohibitions, destabilised by unacknowledged internal
covert action programmes, and isolated by myriad diplomatic and political means,
Iran is the most scrutinised, interrogated country on earth.

But as the
cables also show, Iran is fighting back. From Iraq to Afghanistan and from
Azerbaijan to the Gulf, the battle between the US and Iran for the upper hand in
the Middle East is, as one regional diplomat put it, "the great hegemonic
contest of modern times".

A very good introduction to something I have been saying for a long time here at Maysaloon. The events occurring in the region concerning Iran's rise to regional power are titanic in proportion and not given the importance they deserve.

Washington's thinking proceeds from three premises. First, Iran is
developing a nuclear weapons capability and matching missile systems. Second, it
is intent on regional hegemony in Iraq, the Gulf and across the Middle East.
Third, Iran's leadership poses a clear and present – and growing danger – to

These three points are extremely important. There must be nobody who has any illusions that Iran's nuclear programe is peaceful, in fact for the Islamic republic to survive, it is a political and strategic necessity that they develop nuclear weapons. Of course, the big worry is that Israel and America's Arab allies also acquire these weapons. The division in the Middle East today is not between 'moderate's and 'extremists' but between those who have accepted becoming vassals to the United States and those that are driven by a more independent vision of their role in the Middle East. It is interesting to see the clear and present, "and growing danger" statement made with regards to the threat to Israel. Yes, Israel's role as the regional superpower is being undermined and challenged each day. Anybody who listens to Hassan Nasrallah's speech, or the words of Ahmedinejad's speech, outline a narrative that is underlined by a different understanding of the dynamics of power in the region. This is very important to understand.

The Guardian summary of the Wikileak document shows how alarmed Western powers and their vassals are with regards to Iran and how seriously they consider its threat. One good thing I believe will arise from this massive leak is that a modicum of intelligent analysis will return to coverage of events in the region. For far too long there has been so much confusion and stupid analysis of what is happening that the most outrageous twists to events in the region have been given by many clueless commentators. Arguing against this idiocy has been particularly tiring, but this readjustment should help make discussions less contentious about basic facts.

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