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  • As if it were War
    Sun, 15 January 2012
    Abdullah Iskandar

    Russia these days stresses the existence of Western plans to change the ruling regimes in Tehran and Damascus. Such claims could be connected to Moscow’s desire not to get involved in international stances opposed to the two countries, for its own considerations, or in anticipation of future trade-offs with the return of Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin. Nevertheless, the end result of such accusations is that Iran and Syria still consider themselves to be out of the reach of international action through the Security Council. And thus a loophole remains on the Western political front, where any decision taken regarding those two countries remains a unilateral one.

    It is well known that the Western stance opposes what it calls Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, as well as the way Syrian authorities are handling the protest movement – making of the West a single front in opposition to the single Syrian-Iranian front.

    On the occasion of the debate on the possibility of Western intervention in Syria to protect civilians, and with US troops having withdrawn from Iraq and preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan, many consider it out of the question for the West to intervene militarily, having learned some lessons from its interventions in each of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. They also consider that the current US Administration prefers to focus on its own domestic situation, on the eve of the start of the presidential election campaign, as does the current French government. Furthermore, the economic and financial crisis that has struck the United States and Europe limits a great deal of the enthusiasm for further exorbitant spending. In fact, some Iranian and Syrian officials, who are to begin with those most concerned with the possibility of such intervention, go as far as saying that the West has suffered a defeat in its military adventures in the region, in a manner that has made it put a great deal of thought before taking the initiative of starting a new adventure. They also add that they are fully prepared militarily to respond to any attack, having developed weapons for land, sea and air which should deter any offensive. Moreover, they threaten to turn the tables on everyone through various means, from sealing off the Strait of Hormuz to destroying Israel with long-range, mid-range and short-range missiles.

    All of this is to say that there are those who consider that reaching the edge of the abyss politically does not necessarily mean heading towards inevitable war and full-blown confrontation, and that all the political and military maneuvers and threats we are seeing fall within the framework of exchanging pressures and laying the groundwork for negotiations. Those who hold such a view point to the American-Israeli settlement in Iraq, to Iranian activity aimed at resuming negotiations over the nuclear issue, and to the outcome of the Arab League initiative in Syria, which has relieved the West at the Security Council from the trouble of starting heated arguments to ratify a resolution that would condemn the authorities in Damascus.

    Yet facing such indications are other indications that show that wide-ranging diplomatic activity in the region, as well as to it and from it, is paralleled by factors on the ground showing that war has effectively started, and that it is now a matter not of whether there is war, but simply of the extent to which it will expand.

    It is at such a level that one can point to the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, the latest having taken place only a few days ago. It is true that assassinations such as these are aimed at delaying the Iranian nuclear program, which has already been delayed as a result of sanctions. Yet the mere fact of opting for assassination as a method, especially as the main suspect remains Israel, means having moved to the phase of killing, which expresses war.

    On the other hand, the protest movement in Bahrain and in Yemen, as well as in other Gulf countries, is taking on an increasingly violent character, with some of its parties openly speaking of referring to Iran, which currently represents a kind of possible response, within the framework of a confrontation headed towards becoming full-fledged.

    Such indications are not mere preludes that could lead to a war, one to which ground forces, fleets and missiles would participate, but rather phenomena that suggest that it is as if the war had already started. As for the formal declaration of such a war, it could come from any marginal incident or mistake that could take place at a certain moment.

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