When the Chief of Mossad, Meir Dagan is saying loud and clear that Iran is the central problem of the Middle East – people should better listen. His declaration come right after President Bush inaugural speech for a second term in the White House, when he promised to spread freedom to the darkest corners of the world. It is not a secret anymore that two of those darkest corners he has spoken about are Syria and Iran. Thus, the Iranians and the Syrians should consider themselves warned. The region cannot be drawn back by their megalomaniac desire to acquire nuclear power (Iran) or to trespass the sovereignty of a neighbour country (Syrias case with Lebanon). Without a strong sense of freedom, democracy and respect for each and every human being, the power they want so badly to acquire will eventually have a global impact and most likely will put in danger the very existence of Israel as a nation.
The Iranian government sustains that the WMDs they have are for domestic use in electricity and to protect themselves from outside attacks. Their policy is: if Israel has WMDs, (fact that is neither recognized, nor denied by PM Sharons government), then why cannot we?
The answer to this question can be easily found in the policy and aims of both, Syria and Iran.
For decades, Israel called over and over again for peace in the region. It did not attack other countries, unless it was directly attacked or its interests have been seriously damaged. So, it was the case with Lebanon, Syrias Golan Heights or with the Palestinians. The Arabs response to Israels peace offer was so far violence and terror. After 57 years of being under attack and harsh scrutiny of its unfriendly neighbours, Israels todays aims are still peace oriented, but with a more radical policy.
Iran has made clear public statements that its main enemies are the Zionist state of Israel and the United States. In response to this statement, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared that Israel will not allow Iran to be equipped with a nuclear weapon.
As for Syria, its goal has been and continues to be the containment of Israel within its 1967 boundaries. Given Israel’s superior military force Syria has come to acknowledge that its aim cannot be achieved that easy, thus its rhetoric towards Israel is somehow less violent than the Iranian one. Nonetheless, the Iranian threat towards Israel and regions stability is serious and growing.
The theocratic state of Iran, which borders American nation-building projects in Iraq and Afghanistan has been a continuous challenge for every American administration, since 1979 when the Islamists seized the power. The US Commission who investigated 9/11 stated that Iran had provided safe passage to Al Qaeda terrorists who carried out the suicide hijackings and continues to harbour terrorists. In the last year, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) complained about the fact that its inspections have been hindered by the Iranian’s lack of cooperation.
The United States and EU, together with the IAEA accused Iran of having acquired in a hidden manner WMDs not for electricity use, but rather for offensive actions.
The threat of terrorism and proliferation of nuclear weapons are a central part of the United States foreign policy and in this context the US and Iranian interests interact and oppose one another.
A couple of years ago, there were five countries pursuing proliferation and supporting terrorism Lybia and Syria and the well-known evil axis country members Iran, North Korea and Iraq. Since then, Saddam Husseins regime was toppled using military means and Lybia was economically and diplomatically forced. Saddams regime was toppled, Lybia was diplomatically and economically forced to give up at its bid to join the nuclear club, Syria is too weak to take any bold actions against US, or Israel for that matter and North Korea is untouchable since it already is a nuclear power. Therefore, it remains Iran. The US economic sanctions and the EUs stick and carrots policy approach did not change the policy of Iran. The mullahs have seen harsh rhetoric from Washington and Brussels before and the follow-up has usually been less fierce, thus now they ignore the warning signals.
Iran may be convinced to change its path either by an inside revolution, or by an attack on its nuclear facilities. However, while stirring peoples deep dissatisfaction with the theocratic regime is not that difficult, the result may not be in USs interest. It is possible to change the existing regime with a yet, another Islamic regime but with a more moderate voice. Either way, after the Iraq invasion, the US direct interference in the internal affairs of the Arab countries is not welcome anymore.
The attack alternative poses risks, as well. Many in the region believe that US may use Israel to do the dirty work for them. In 1981, Israel did destroy Saddam Husseins nuclear reactor. However, if Israel will attack Iran it will serve an excuse for the so-called mujaheedins to attack Israeli and American citizens and interests around the world.
The issue here is: sanction or bargain with the Iranian mullahs now, or let them develop their nuclear capacity and deal with the threat they will pose later. No matter which path is chosen, the future does not look reassuring.
— Manuela Paraipan – INS News Contributor reporting from Arad, Romania