Iran’s attempts to ship arms to the Gaza Strip last year, and the more recent transit of the Suez canal and port visits of Iranian warships to Lebanon and Syria were precursors to the more sinister moves we are seeing emerge right now.
Syria’s President Assad is now supported by Iran – receiving arms and equipment from Iran, of the type used to subdue its own population. Assad is now paying a most unusual visit to the Saudi King – both men under serious pressure from their discontented populations, and intent on retaining power.
Whereas Iran seeks allies in the Saudi King and Assad – both dictators; it would like King of Bahrain to fall, creating chaos much nearer to home into which Iranian influence if not forces can eventually move. With the American withdrawal from Iraq next year, it looks like Iran will have the double benefit of very weak neighbours, and strong allies in the regions’ remaining dictatorships. An Iranian alliance with Saudi Arabia, even if covert, would be a very serious blow to the USA.
The regional war is developing nicely, with Libya distracting NATO, and the USA being squeezed over the Israel-Palestine question, Afghanistan – and the wisdom of leaving Iraq to the Iranians.
The USA has now fully developed all its military options for attacking Iran, but can’t get round the geopolitical reality; that Iran can flood the Persian Gulf with mines, stopping the export of most of the world’s oil. Any US strike on Iran risks this reaction.
All Iran needs is the time to get its nuclear weapon technology to the point where it can nuke Israel. If it can do that, it will also be able to threaten anywhere in Saudi Arabia, the rich Arab emirates and business centres, Turkey, Afghanistan and into the southern republics of the Russian union. Iran will thus be the most western Islamic nuclear state.
Once Iran achieves this, it will become the regional super power; still able to strangle the world’s oil supplies even if undergoing nuclear strike. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the other Gulf oil states will have to dance to its tune rather than America’s, so we could expect oil supplies to become Iran’s preferred tool of economic disruption.
The only way out of this, is to support the Arab Spring revolutions, taking steps to ensure more democracy throughout the region. This will in turn pressurise the regime in Tehran, which even if it does develop useable nuclear missiles with some 2,000 kilometres range, remains vulnerable to popular uprising.
The people of Iran will be watching Libya, hoping Gaddafi will fall; and at their new ally Syria, wondering if its repressed population can bring down President Assad. The survival of either of these regimes for the next two years, will give the Iran regime the confidence to impose it’s hegemony on the region. If the USA has allowed this to happen, it will find itself powerless to intervene.
If the USA is to remain the world’s super power, policeman and so on, it must ensure that the Arab Spring succeeds. Being coy about helping NATO in Libya isn’t a sensible option for Mr Obama – even though the Europeans are so pathetic about defence spending and agreeing to do things…