Saturday 18 February 2012

Iran: Scapegoat for triple blasts (PO)

By M D Nalapat
On February 13,a small bomb was discovered and defused in Tbilisi, Georgia, in the vehicle of a local employee of the Israeli embassy. Soon afterwards, a bomb attached seconds before to an Israeli embassy car in Delhi exploded. The next day, three individuals in Bangkok (one carrying an Iranian ID) were caught with explosives. In this case, there was no obvious Israeli link. Within minutes of news of the February 13 terror attack in Delhi, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel named Iran as the culprit, of course without furnishing any proof. Several days later, and after India gave Mossad unlimited access to the blast site, not a single clue has been discovered that has a link with Teheran. Indeed, the Israel-Iran conversation resembles the India-Pakistan duet at its worst, when either country would reflexively blame the other for any act of violence perpetrated against itself. Iran has, of course, blamed Mossad for the three blasts.

It is unlikely that Mossad is the perpetrator of at least the Delhi blast, for the reason that Israel - being a small country with a memory of death and persecution - would not place one of its own citizens at risk just to point a finger at its foe. The blast severely wounded the wife of the Israeli defense attache in Delhi, paralysing parts of her body and affecting vital functions. But if it is not Israel, it also cannot be Iran that is responsible for the three blasts. The very selection of the countries involved makes this clear. Georgia is the country in Europe that is closest to Iran. Indeed, citizens of the Islamic Republic need no visa to enter Georgia, and many tens of thousands do each month, most as tourists. In contrast, most European countries are very sparing in the issuance of visas to Iranians. As for India, now that China is heeding the command of the US and EU to reduce imports of oil from Iran, the largest consumer of petroleum from that country will be India. Hence Iran has every incentive to avoid provoking Delhi. As for Thailand, this too is a country where Iranian citizens operate freely, especially in matters of trade and tourism.

It is clear that the group that planned the three attacks chose locations carefully, with the intention of disrupting relations between Iran and three countries of great value to it. In all three countries, large sections of the media are susceptible to the handouts that they receive from NATO embassies, who have joined Israeli missions worldwide in feeding the line that Iran was responsible for all three blasts, even though their secret services probably know the truth. Indeed, the attacks have been followed in all three capitals by diplomatic pressure from NATO members to cut off relations with Iran. Thus far, neither Tbilisi, Bangkok or Delhi have obliged.

Clearly, however, some forces are at work whose objective it is to weaken the Islamic Republic of Iran. These may be NGOs based in the Middle East, especially those with sectarian hatred towards Iran, and the probability is that it is these forces that carried out the bombings, aware that Israel would immediately blame Iran for them The only real gainers from such an increase in tension would be the global oil interests, who will be salivating at the prospect of oil at $300 a barrel that would be the consequence of a war between NATO and Iran. For although it may be Israel that would initiate such a conflict, this being an election year in the Us, it would be politically impossible for President Barack Obama to ignore calls to mobilise the military on Tel Aviv’s side. And once the US enters the fray, so would the rest of NATO. It would be a conflict far more intractable than the two conventional wars against Saddam Hussein.

This is because the leaders of Iran have watched geopolitical developments and drawn lessons from them. They saw how Saddam Hussein acted like a sitting duck while the US mobilised its troops, aircraft and naval vessels in the region in 1990. Had Saddam Hussein acted first, say by going into Saudi Arabia after having occupied Kuwait, it would have been a nightmare to prise him loose from the territories of these two US allies. However, he stayed put in Kuwait, waiting for a nearly a year doing nothing. till the storm broke. Every step of the way, Saddam only reacted rather than acted, and in the process, he lost his liberty and then his life. It needs to be remembered that the second attack on Saddam came only after his weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed by UN inspectors. NATO moves only against enemies whom the alliance is certain can be overwhelmed.

A country such as North Korea presents a challenge that NATO hesitates to take up, aware that Pyongyang would actually fight rather than remain paralyzed, the way the Iraqi army was when attacked by the US and its allies. Teheran is aware that action is needed, not just reaction, and its cutoff of oil supplies to the EU and showcasing of uranium enrichment indicate that it has learnt the lesson of Iraq. It would also have learnt the lessons of Libya. That Muammar Kaddafy surrendered his nuclear devices and technology, gave away his WMD, and opened his intelligence trove to the US and the UK did not prevent him from being given a dog’s death. Certainly he could have been saved, had NATO wanted to. However, a dead Kaddafy is a silent Kaddafy, unable to reveal the secrets of his collaboration with the NATO powers, and hence his brutal execution, as indeed that of Saddam Hussein earlier. Given what he knows about collaboration with the NATO powers, t is a reasonable surmise that former president Hosni Mubarak is likely to get a “heart attack” before he gets an opportunity to testify. The rulers of both Syria and Iran know that calls for surrender, if complied with, will be followed by their execution. They are therefore likely to fight to the end, in a way not seen in Libya or Iraq. Even to this day, people in Iran remember Mohammad Mossadeq and the role of the CIA in bringing back the Shah of Iran after toppling the democratically elected tribune of the Persian people. What they are seeing these days is reminding them of that humiliation, and thereby strengthening the hold of the government.

An attack on Iran by Israel would not have the same effect as an attack by the US and the rest of NATO. Should a surgical strike get conducted by the Netanyahu government, the impact on the rest of the region may be containable. However, should NATO join in the attack, passions would be inflamed across the region. Sectarian tensions would rise, and people of European descent would be at risk of attack in much of the Middle East. World War Ibegan in a limited way but quickly went out of control, so could a war involving NATO and Iran.

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