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Thursday, 16 February 2012

Game of ‘pin the tail on Iran’ intensifies (Sunday Guardian)


MADHAV NALAPAT  NEW DELHI | 15th Feb
Police and forensic officials examine a damaged Israeli embassy car after an explosion in New Delhi. REUTERS
ndia is one of Iran's single biggest buyers of crude oil, while China is that country's main prop in the UN Security Council. However, if much of the media is to be believed, the authorities in Tehran were responsible for the 13 February bomb attack on the wife of an Israeli diplomat. And now, multiple blasts have taken place in Bangkok, in which a person with an "Iranian ID" was injured while transporting a bomb.
To our television anchors, moored as they are most evenings to the embassies of countries that are tightening the screws on Iran, nothing could be more conclusive. Some may say that "Bibi" Netanyahu reflexively blames Iran for any mishap the way the ISI sees a RAW hand in each manifestation of anger in the Pakistan public. But our media hounds are not looking in any direction except that to which they have been pointed: "Pin the tail on Iran".
Certainly the rationality of both Khamenei and Ahmedinejad leave a lot to be desired, especially when they froth and foam about Israel. However, despite the cowboy talk, Iran's leaders are almost as cautious as the Soviet Politburo was in the time of Brezhnev. They want only to survive as a ruling system, and know that unless they retain the economic backing of India and China and the diplomatic support of Russia and China, this will soon become impossible. It is therefore hard to believe that Tehran would carry out a series of low intensity bombings in capitals that are still favourable to them. Rather, what seems likely is that other players in the Middle East — with an interest in further discrediting Iran — have been carrying out these operations, knowing that the Netanyahu government will look only towards Tehran and never towards them for an explanation.
Carrying an ID on a terror mission, as was seen in Bangkok on 14 February, seems an error that the very professional groups patronised by Iran are unlikely to commit. And while the bomber may be Iranian, purchasing the services of a national of that country, or motivating him into a terrorist act, could have been done by a source other than Tehran, which would have had every incentive to avoid using its own nationals for such a high-risk operation. If even the Delhi blast is discovered to have an Iranian connection, then it will be clear that the nationals of this country are being targeted to carry out such bombings. It may even be that they have been told that the Mullahcracy in Tehran would get the blame for such attacks. Most Iranians loathe the mullahs who have misruled their country since 1979.
And what about Hezbollah? This organisation is not known to recruit anyone other than Lebanese into its fold, and certainly not Iranians.
However, to the television anchors feeding off embassy troughs, do such considerations matter? In the game of "pin the tail", they are allowing themselves to be the donkeys. While neither the US nor Israel would be responsible for the bombings (unlike what Tehran is reflexively claiming), certainly groups in the Mideast out to set other countries against Tehran have every incentive to organise such attacks and then sit back while Iran gets the blame. We have seen this in Syria, where the Assad regime (in a manner reminiscent of conspiracy theories blaming the CIA for 9/11) is, or so BBC and CNN are darkly hinting, guilty of launching terror attacks on its own personnel and facilities. Those who believe that are ripe for any other kind of disinformation. The worry is that our indomitable Home Minister, with his love for France and other civilised countries, may have joined television anchors in running after the bait that has been thrown by those eager to reverse Indo-Iran business cooperation. The poor man could not stop a terror attack 50 metres from the PM's residence, but he can be relied upon to adopt the brief of the "civilised" world about the terror blasts.

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