The incoming elections in the US and the flashy rhetoric by Republican presidential candidates have stirred the question of nuclear Iran into the front page. The Muslim Gulf states and Israel have added to the rumbling; they have sustained their pressure on the US administration, urging it to act, to stop Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons. The Obama Administration has warned Iran: “pursuit of nuclear weapons is unacceptable; the US would use all means in its disposal, including force if necessary, to neutralize Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.” But to no avail.
Still, Iran keeps its macho talk loud and condescending. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has just issued a warning—Iran will not cave in to pressure; progress toward a nuclear bomb (he did not say “nuclear bomb”, but he definitely implied it) will not be brought to an end, no matter what sanctions the Americans or the EU impose on the Islamic Republic.
The Ayatollah is serious. Although macho talk in the Islamic Middle East is a standard adopted by all militant Islamic leaders, the Iranian government is flexing its muscles, flaunting its sharp teeth. It believes that economic sanctions will hurt, but not as much as caving in to American demands. In a culture where false honor precedes anything that moves under the sun, where life without “honor” is far worse than death, where honor killing is a religious diktat, caving in to economic sanctions is equivalent to an unconditional surrender. And surrendering to the “Great Satan” merely because life is a little tough is inexcusable, dishonorable behavior; it is treason that merits the death sentence.
The loud rhetoric from all sides has been underlined by considerable measures on the ground. The US has been and is about to keep on amassing a war machine in the Persian Gulf and on several islands within reach of Iran. American, British and French warships and aircraft have been acting around the Persian Gulf and around Saudi air bases respectively, while the Saudis have reinforced their anti-missile defense gear and their delivery facilities around Saudi oil fields and along the Persian Gulf respectively.
Israel has been readying itself for war on all fronts. It has recently conducted large-scale military exercises, both defensive and offensive in nature, including the drafting of reservists under projected heavy missile bombardment of every town, road and base, as well as a large scale parachuting by over a thousand paratroopers, signaling a willingness to engage ground-troops on foreign soil in addition to relying on its air force and its rockets.
Iran has not been sitting idle either. They have announced the start of a three-week exercise in southern Iran and the Strait of Hormuz under war settings. They seem to brace for a noteworthy retaliation with the objective of blocking the flow of oil out of the Gulf. In addition, they have been concocting terror attacks on soft Jewish and possibly other civilian targets throughout the world.
The American Administration is working hard at softening its seeming aim by masking its military buildup with wishful talking points. US Defense Secretary Panetta’s recent implications concerning Israel’s imminent attack plans are part of a grand-scale deception strategy. They have been designed to refocus the Iranians on the most suspicious front rather than the one that would deliver the ultimate blow—the US military. It is obvious that if Israel embarks on a preemptive strike on the Iranian nuclear project, Iran will try to retaliate. Retaliation will not be limited to hitting Israel. The Revolutionary Guards will attempt to attack American interests throughout the Middle East, thus provide a pretext for an American involvement in a large scale “defensive” war against Iran—a war that would be supported by the American public due to its defensive nature, a war that would boost Obama’s standing in the eyes of the American people, shortly ahead of the elections.
The scenario above may not necessitate an Israeli opening (of hostilities) since the Iranian regime is stuck in a macho syndrome, which blinds their rational reasoning. They will miscalculate. They may initiate hostilities against US interests in the Persian Gulf in order to lay bare the risk associated with any American attempt to force them into submission by aggressive economic means. They do not believe that the US would retaliate by initiating an all-out-war in response. They view the US and President Obama as paper tigers. The Ayatollah will repeat the same mistake that Hezbollah had committed in 2006 when they kidnapped dead Israeli soldiers before Israel responded with an all-out-war they had not anticipated and had not wished for.
There is little doubt that a war with Iran can be avoided. There is high likelihood that the US will lead the effort even if Israel initiates the campaign. There is little doubt that the US is hard at work preparing for war in the Persian Gulf. There is high likelihood that Iran will provide the American people with a sizzling justification by provoking the US and invite a massive retaliation.
There is no doubt. 2012 will see to a new Gulf war. This time, the Ayatollah will be the one to pay the price.