Saturday, December 30, 2006

WASHINGTON DIARY: Iran-the new front

WASHINGTON DIARY: Iran-the new front —Dr Manzur Ejaz
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Contrary to prevailing expectations, the Bush Administration is going ahead with its old plans to invade Iran. Since Israeli interests define the US agenda in the Middle East, the only chance that the US will abandon its decision of invading Iran is if the Zionist state changes course. So argues Scott Ritter in his new book, Target Iran: The Truth about White House’s Plan for Regime Change. But for now, it does not seem likely. In the aftermath of debacle in Iraq and the electoral backlash of the November 2006 Congressional election, one would expect the Bush Administration not to take on another disastrous adventure in the Middle East. However, the newly initiated mammoth naval build-up in the Persian Gulf confirms fears that the Bush Administration has not learned its lesson and is going ahead with its old plans to invade Iran. Stretched to the limit, the US army may be resisting such a venture, but if the invasion is limited to using Air Force and the Navy, the Bush Administration may get its way. The hawks in Bush Administration argue that the US public is against losing the war in Iraq and not against the invasion itself. Therefore, if the US humbles Iran through aerial bombardment, the Bush Administration can declare a victory and keep her hegemonic and interventionist doctrine alive. The US public will greatly approve of such an outcome and President Bush can lift up his sinking approval rating and improve the chances for Republican victory in the presidential and other elections of 2008. The Democrat-controlled Congress may try to create hurdles for an Iran invasion but, eventually, it will give in. Constitutional experts argue that President Bush does not need fresh Congressional approval for his Iran invasion: He will use the umbrella approval that he obtained for the Iraq invasion, which allows him to attack any country which is accused of abetting terrorism. Furthermore, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)—the main lobby for the Zionist state — is equally influential with Democrats. AIPAC has successfully established the notion among the US public and legislators that Israel’s interests are identical to the US’s. They have created such an environment that even ex-President Jimmy Carter cannot get away with criticising Israel. Nowadays, the bulk of the media is attacking him for his scathing criticism of Israel in his new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Scott Ritter, an ex-UN weapon inspector, provides substantial proofs in his above-mentioned book that the Israeli lobby has successfully confused the Israeli with US interests. In his view, the US has no real conflict with Iraq, Iran, Syria, Hammas or Hezbollah. It is Israel that considers these countries and outfits detrimental to its own interests and the AIPAC deftly turns them into US interests.“One of the big problems is — and here goes the grenade — Israel. The second you mention the word ‘Israel,’ the nation Israel, the concept Israel, many in the American press become very defensive. And the other thing we’re not allowed to do is discuss the notion that Israel and the notion of Israeli interests may in fact be dictating what America is doing, that what we’re doing in the Middle East may not be to the benefit of America’s national security, but to Israel’s national security,” writes Mr. Ritter. Mr. Ritter goes further in saying that the Israeli intelligence has become very ideologically oriented and has lost its flair for fact-finding. He claims that he has a long experience of working with Israeli intelligence, which used to be excellent in uncovering facts. However, with the rise of the extreme right in Israel, the intelligence agencies have become ideological. They don’t go for facts but for what they believe is or should be true. It has marred their ability to foresee and act. Consequently, the US is also led by those make-belief intelligence reports compiled by Israel and filtered to the US by various means.Given the present Israeli mindset, not only Iran’s nuclear weapon program is unacceptable, but even its civilian use of nuclear technology. Israel does not want Iran to have any nuclear technology at all, Mr. Ritter asserts. According to his account, Israel and the US have conducted investigations many times over to find traces of the Iranian nuclear weapons program, without any success. Other investigators also concur that Iran is too far away from enriching weapon grade Uranium: Iran may be enriching the Uranium at the level of less than 5%, while it needs to get to above 90% to be able to make nuclear weapons. However, the US and Israel are campaigning as if Iran is making nuclear weapons. They are using Iran’s dissident group Mujahdeen-e-Khalaq (MEK) for disinformation. MEK is playing the same role that Ahmad Chalabi played in spreading disinformation about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. US declared MEK as a terrorist organisation, but such categorisation has not stopped the Israeli-US intelligence agencies from using their services. Saudi Arabia has also told Vice President Dick Cheney that US should not resume diplomatic dialogue with Iran. This indicates that the Saudis are also encouraging the US to confront Iran. Saudi Arabia and Jordan, the US’s closest allies in the Middle East, are afraid of Iran’s increasing influence in the area. The Saudis, like the Israelis, do not want Iran to have any nuclear technology at all. Somehow, their interests coincide with Israelis in this regard. Therefore, almost all major US allies are keen to see the US destroying not only Iran’s nuclear facilities but also its economic infrastructure, to push it many decades behind. Israelis ran the trailers of such destruction in Lebanon.Only a changed Israeli strategy can derail the US invasion plans, argues Mr. Ritter. He hopes that Israel may have learned its lesson in Lebanon that war does not pay and change its outlook about Iran and its other perceived enemies. A Democratic Congress’s resolve not to fund the new war might also tie the Bush Administration’s hands. However, the chances for such an Israeli about-face and Congressional resolve are quite dim. The US naval build-up in the Persian Gulf is for real. It is hard to say when and how the Iran invasion may be triggered but preparations are underway.