War games over Iran: Rhetoric and realities

By Ameen Izzadeen
In the realm of international relations, Games Theory refers two speeding cars on a collision course. One must swerve. Otherwise both drivers will die. As they started the game they were determined not to swerve. When the two cars approached the crashing point, sanity prevailed and one of the two or both swerved. The situation applies to the crisis over Iran’s nuclear programme. While Iran travels alone in its car, its opponent’s car is loaded with hawks from the United States, Britain and Israel. They are cheered on by some western nations while the side referee, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), makes all the wrong decisions and finds fault with Iran.
In this one-minnow-against-many-giants game, Iran appears to have emerged unscathed, though the threat of an attack is not over yet.
Just a week before the IAEA released its report — a document, which Iran says was prepared at the behest of the US and its western allies — media reports revealed Britain was placing its forces on military preparedness in anticipation of a possible US-Israeli attack on Iran.
A report in Britain’s Guardian newspaper said hawks in the US were likely to seize on the IAEA report. An attack on Iran has become a hot campaign issue in the Republican Party. With the exception of Ron Paul, all the other major Republican contenders support a military attack on Iran’s nuclear sites.
A month before the IAEA report was released, the United States announced an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington. The US’ claim that Iran was behind the plot was probably aimed at scuttling moves in the direction of an Iran-Saudi Arabia thaw in relations which soured after Wikileaks revelations last year that Saudi Arabia had urged the US to attack Iran to halt its nuclear programme.
These reports along with Israel’s war rhetoric indicated that the attack on Iran was imminent, now that the western powers have achieved their objective in Libya. But the hawks appear to have chickened out, like the driver who swerved. It’s largely because, Iran is not Iraq or Afghanistan or Libya.
The west’s modus operandi for regime change in a target country is to first befriend an opposition group within that country, support it militarily and financially and then send in troops. In Afghanistan the invaders’ ally was the Northern Alliance, in Iraq the Kurds and the Shiite opposition and in Libya the National Transition Council. But in Iran, the US could not find a partner. It failed dismally in its attempt to convert the post-election demonstrators into a formidable anti-regime ally. In desperation, the regime-changers in the US are hanging on to Iranian dissident group Mujahideen Khalq, though it is on the State Department’s list of terrorist organisations. This group has hardly any following within Iran. These regime-changers also backed the Jundallah, another terrorist group on the State Department list, but Iran has crushed this group which operated in the country’s Sunni-dominated Baluchi region. Last year the group’s leadership were arrested and publicly executed for their role in a series of terror attacks.
So the West’s regime-change modus operandi that worked in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya will not work in Iran. Besides, Iran has over the years developed its arms industry with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards playing a lead role. Iran has developed missiles that can reach Israel while its cyber war capabilities are a cause for concern for the US and Israel.
Two recent incidents must surely have added to these concerns. One was the hacking of computer systems in Israel’s defence and intelligence establishments. Israeli officials suspect an Iranian hand behind the hacking, perhaps in retaliation for the Stuxnet virus that sabotaged computer systems at Iran’s key nuclear plants last year.
The other incident, a more serious one, was Hezbollah’s jamming of a hi-tech Israeli drone that flew over Lebanon last month. The incident took place as reports said Israel, in parallel with air-strikes, was planning to launch a cyber war against Iran’s electric grid, Internet and mobile-phone networks.
A report in Lebanon’s Daily Star said the mysterious disappearance of the pilotless Israeli reconnaissance plane had raised speculation that the pro-Iranian Shiite-militant group Hezbollah had found a way of electronically jamming and disabling drones.
In a 2006 incident that vouched for Hezbollah’s Iran-supplied fire power, the militant group fired a surface-to-sea missile to neutralise an Israeli naval craft that was attacking Southern Lebanon.
If Israel or the United States attacks Iran, Hezbollah has warned it will retaliate. So unlike, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, Iran has friends, although the Islamic Republic cannot rely on the verbal friendship of China and Russia — two big powers whose track records in the case of Iraq and Libya speak of their untrustworthiness.
Thus a regime change in Iran is inconceivable. Neither is an attack on Iran because such an attack is sure to invite a powerful response that may set the entire Middle East on fire. Another factor that rules out an attack on Iran is next year’s US Presidential election. President Barack Obama is not so naïve as to give his nod for an attack that is likely to send oil prices soaring at a time when the US and Europe are in an economic quagmire. Such a decision will only invite a humiliating defeat for him at 2012 November election.
With an invasion or an attack out of the question, those who seek to punish Iran for pursuing a nuclear programme, which Teheran insists is for peaceful purposes, are concentrating on acts of sabotage and assassination. A number Iranian nuclear scientists have been killed or wounded in terror acts carried out by Iranian criminals working for Israel.
Some reports said last Saturday’s blast which killed Iran’s top missile expert was an Israeli-sponsored act of terror, though Iran insists it was an accident at an ammunition dump.
In the meantime, the US, Israel and their Western allies depend on the IAEA to introduce more economic sanctions on Iran.
(This article first appeared in the Daily Mirror, Colombo on November 18, 2001)

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About ameenizzadeen

journalist and global justice activist
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2 Responses to War games over Iran: Rhetoric and realities

  1. Robert Lorimer says:

    Yes.But I´m not sure I agree that an attack on Iran is inconceivable.It certainly defies logic and will clearly be a disaster for everybody but the history of USA´s foregn policy is full of completely irrational and disasterous decisions.Self-defeating actions.I don´t need to list any of them to you! And as for Israel….it is out of control. In your game plan analogy it´s as if their car had a driver high on cocaine.The israeli leadership and the religious fanatics they represent are so confident that they can do absolutely anything because of course they are God´s chosen people and their holy book tells them this.Plus the Israeli lobbies in the USA are in almost complete control of the agenda.Especially with the election coming up when no politician stands a chance of winning without the support of those lobby groups.Or so it is believed.

    • Dear Robert,
      I agree with your comments. Part of the problem is that a section of the Church believe the God’s chosen people are always right. They believe it is their religious duty to help Israel. It is blasphemy to believe that God approves wrongdoings, illegal occupations and profit-driven wars.

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