That sinking feeling!
by Aijaz Zaka Syed
IRAQ is burning. This is something even the most brazen of neocons can’t deny. And given the extent of America’s woes in Iraq and the intolerable heat the current occupant of the White House faces over this war right now, you would think starting another war is the last thing this administration would want.
But then this administration is like no other. Incredible as it may sound, Iran is back in the sights of US hawks as the next target of the Zionist-neocon brigade. French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner’s warning to Iran last week promising war if it didn’t fall in line was no slip of Gallic tongue. France’s Nicolas Sarkozy has lost little time in stepping into Tony Blair’s shoes as the handmaiden of friends across the Atlantic.
If signals emanating from Western capitals and broad hints dropped by Israeli and neocon hawks are anything to go by, the Middle East may be in for yet another war. The fact that Iran happens to be only next door from the current battlefield fits rather nicely with the general scheme of things of the Zionist-neocon lobby.
All that the coalition of the willing, entrenched in Iraq, has to do is broaden its horizon, extending the battlefield from Iraq up to Iran. And maybe further up — to include Pakistan, in one long sweep — from the Middle East to Central Asia. After all, this was the original blueprint of our neocon friends — to take over the reins of the whole of the Middle East and Muslim world in what was to be an American century.
So let’s get ready for the hunt. Jackals have smelt the blood and are moving in for the kill, all over again. In any case, having sucked Iraq bone dry, there is little for the coalition of the willing to do in the land of Abraham and Salahuddin.
It is time to move on. To a new target and to a new battlefield, then. The masterfully choreographed charade of smoke and mirror on Iran has begun in all earnest. Don’t be surprised if the tricks and players look a tad familiar. Remember, we saw them not long ago next door?
Just as they linked Saddam’s Iraq to uranium stocks in Niger and Weapons of Mass Destruction that — Colin Powell assured the UN — were a clear and present danger to world peace, Iran and Syria are being accused of toying with ‘biological weapons’.
Syria has been charged with building WMD for Iran, with the help of North Korea. What a fine coincidence! What fantastic way of throwing Bush’s original Axis of Evil together!
The whole of Western media, led by big names like The New York Times and Washington Post, has dutifully bought the Lobby’s fiction that Syria and Iran are hobnobbing with North Korea to build what Saddam once pretended to in Syrian territory. It is being claimed that Israel’s air strike inside Syrian territory recently targeted those WEAPONS!
Haven’t we been here and heard that before? I mean, how many times the world would be taken for a grand ride in this manner? Damn it, they don’t even have the ingenuity to change the route.
However, reality may be a little different from what the Lobby and its friendly media would have us believe.
Israel’s air strike in Syria, which the Jewish state has in its characteristic smugness neither denied nor confirmed, could be a dry run for the next war on Iran. This is no flight of fancy of a paranoid hack. Britain’s Observer and Daily Mail have carried in depth reports detailing how Israel’s Iran Command — responsible for planning and executing an attack on Iran if ordered — carried out the Operation Orchard deep inside Syrian territory earlier this month. Quoting highly placed sources, the UK papers confirm the fears that the operation in Syria was indeed a drill for Iran attack.
This may not be a full-scale invasion like Iraq but a quick and target specific one, thoughtful pundits reassure us.
If there were any doubts about Israel’s designs, they were cleared by its former PM Netanyahu on Thursday when he broke official silence to croak that the operation had been a “success and of strategic significance.”
So there you go. The noose is tightening around Iran’s neck. Slowly and decisively. Helpfully, Condi Rice was in the region to use her good offices for the mission. America’s top diplomat blasted IAEA’s ElBaradei for his ‘unhelpful’ stand on Iran. Demanding bold action against Iran ‘with teeth,’ Condi reminded him that IAEA “is not in the business of diplomacy.”
Of course. Diplomacy is not for straight-talking men like ElBaradei. Diplomacy is for big bullies who can use it to cut troublesome players like Iran to their size. The IAEA chief, clearly wiser after the Iraq disaster, has been resisting the US pressure to declare Iran a rogue state. Carefully avoiding Western traps to ensnare the Middle East in another dangerous conflict, ElBaradei has been trying his best to find a peaceful solution to Iran question.
Recently, IAEA sent a compromise formula to Big 5 of UN that allows Iran to continue limited uranium enrichment. Which is its right in any case, as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran for its part will open its nuclear installations and sites to international inspections; which Teheran has already been doing anyway.
This is not acceptable to the US and company though. For it leaves with them no excuse to teach Iran a lesson or two. No wonder Condi is upset with IAEA.
But IAEA or no IAEA, this administration is building its case for another war before Bush leaves the White House. Addressing the American Legion on the 9/11 anniversary, the commander-in-chief used rhetoric against Iran equal in bellicosity to anything he used before invading Iraq:
Iran “is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”
Iran “funds terrorist groups like Hamas. …Iran is sending arms to the Taleban.”
Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology threatens to put the Middle East “under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust and America will confront this danger before it is too late.”
So here we are — the Arabs, Muslims and rest of the world — hurtling towards yet another disastrous war in the world’s most volatile region.
This is a war that we do not want. This is not of our making and is not in our interest, not that other wars serve any purpose. Yet it is being forced on us. Just as Iraq had been and the wars before that were.
Aren’t we going to do anything to stop this war? Are we going to stand and stare while another Middle Eastern country with a great civilisation is thrown to hungry lions, as they did in a Roman coliseum?
And for goodness sake, let’s cut this crap about Shia Iran scheming to rule the Sunni Arab world. Okay, Iran’s Ayatollahs may still talk of the Islamic Revolution and could be playing their little games in Iraq with their blessings for the Shia alliance and militias.
And Ahmadinejad may have his moment in the sun once in a while with his outbursts of political incorrectness and absurd periodic reports on nuclear programme.
But Iran is no threat to its neighbours and rest of the Arab world. In fact, it is as vulnerable as its neighbours to the machinations of big powers.
The Sunnis and Shias have lived in peace with each other over the past 15 centuries across the Muslim world — until our colonial friends came along. Would we allow the old imperial game of divide and rule to succeed once again?
Yesterday they came for the so-called Sunni Saddam Hussein. Tomorrow they’ll come for the Shia Iran. Who knows who is going to be next?
Aijaz Zaka Syed writes a weekly column on the Middle East and Muslim world affairs in the Khaleej Times.