The Islamic Republic of Iran
The Islamic Republic of Iran is geographically the 18th largest country in the world and has more than 70 million inhabitants. It ranks third worldwide in proven oil reserves (after Saudi Arabia and Canada), and second in natural gas (after Russia).
Iran is governed by a radical Islamic regime which hangs homosexuals and stones adulterers, persecutes religious minorities and political dissidents, executes juvenile offenders, and arrests women for ‘improper’ dress (see: Human Rights Watch, Iran).
Crude oil futures yesterday closed at more than $110/bbl. and a gallon of gasoline in the US will shortly cost $4.00 (this especially benefits Iran, whose cost of production is greater than Saudi Arabia’s). As the American economy weakens — in part due to the increased outflow of dollars for petroleum — Iranian influence throughout the world increases.
One of the things Iran is doing with its huge windfall of oil profits is to develop nuclear bombs and missiles to deliver them. Some analysts say that Iran is likely to have a usable nuclear weapon by 2009. That’s next year, folks.
One of Iran’s goals is to dominate the Middle East, replacing Saudi Arabia as the predominant power. To this end it has allied itself with (or made a satellite of) Syria, through which it supplies Hezbollah, its proxy in the struggle for control of Lebanon.
Another goal is to destroy Israel, which has only 7 million people, an area 1.3% of Iran’s, and no oil reserves. The Iranian leadership is quite outspoken about this.
One strategy is to train and supply anti-Israel terrorists among the Palestinians and others. The rocket arsenals of Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas are bought and paid for by Iran. If you wonder how Hamas, allegedly “under seige” in Gaza, manages to fire tens of rockets a day and continuously attempt to attack Israeli soldiers and civilians near the Gaza/Israel border, wonder no longer.
This explains how the supposedly weak and oppressed Palestinians can present a real threat to Israel: Iran has their back.
There are multiple reasons for Iranian policy towards Israel, which include religious motives, the desire to earn propaganda points in the wider Arab and Muslim world, and their understanding that Israel is a base for American power in the Mideast which must be neutralized in order to expel Western influence from the region.
Unfortunately, many Westerners (like the Yale and Harvard educated cupcake discussed in the previous post and British PM Gordon Brown) ignore the last part, and assume that Iran is just Israel’s problem.
So long as the international community tries to create a Palestinian state without seriously confronting the jihadists, Iran and its proxies will continue to make peace impossible–not by “derailing” negotiations, but by making those negotiations irrelevant.
And if the community does not succeed in stopping Iran’s anti-Israel program, the results will not be pretty.
Understandably, Israel has avoided a confrontation with Iran, which could result in the most devastating war Israel has fought. But as the siege around Israel’s borders tightens and as the Iranian nuclear program quickens, that direct confrontation becomes increasingly likely.
According to a just-released strategic assessment by the Israeli intelligence community, 2008 will be the “Year of Iran.” The Lebanese government, warns the assessment, could collapse in the coming months, allowing Hezbollah to take power. Meanwhile, Hezbollah and Hamas are considering a coordinated rocket assault on Israeli population centers, almost all of which are within rocket range of either group. And, according to the strategic assessment, sometime within the coming year, or by early 2009 at the latest, Iran will achieve nuclear capability. The threat that emerges from the intelligence assessment may well be the most acute that Israel has ever faced.
Western inaction will force Israel to act out of simple self-preservation. Maybe that’s the intention?