Monday, April 13, 2015

The Iran deal—and the burning fuse

Those who oppose the current nuclear weapons ‘deal’ with Iran do so mostly for two reasons. First, the deal won’t stop Iran’s drive to nuclear weaponry; and, second, so long as Iran’s top officials insist that Israel must be destroyed (“Iranian Military Chief: We Must Annihilate Israel” Arutz Sheva, March 31, 2015), the deal will remain an existential threat to Israel (“Netanyahu voices outrage that nuclear talks go on while Iran vows to destroy Israel”, Times of Israel, April 1, 2015).
There is a growing agreement that this deal won’t stop Iran’s drive to build nuclear weapons. According to some, the opposite will happen. Iran will get those weapons because none of its important nuclear facilities will be dismantled, Iranian cheating will not be stopped and the proposed nuclear ‘monitoring’—necessary to keeping Iran honest--is a ‘farce’ (Charles Krauthammer, “Krauthammer: Iran deal gives away the store,” Boston Herald, April 12, 2015).
Those who oppose this deal are correct to focus on these concerns. They are real.
But these opponents make a mistake. They ignore half the problem posed by Iran.
The Middle East is on fire. It’s on fire because, for the first time in 100 years, the fate of the Middle East is no longer determined by a dominant Western power (Joschka Fischer, “Iran versus Saudi Arabia”, Jordan Times, Opinion, April 11, 2015). Today, the Middle East has no Western outsider to keep locals quiet through the threat of force.
In other words, the region doesn’t have any ‘independent’ power to stabilize it (ibid). Instead of stability, there’s a vacuum.
Three local players want to fill that vacuum: Iran, Saudi Arabia, ISIS. Each one seeks to dominate the Middle East.
In this three-way competition, the winner will take all. That winner will control billions of dollars of oil sales. It will also win the right to determine whose brand of Islam will rule the more than 320 million Muslims who live in the greater Middle East.
So far, the Saudis and the Iranians appear to control this competition.  So far, their conflict has been marked by a certain caution. They fight through proxies--in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and, now, Yemen (ibid).
But the fighting in Yemen represents something new—and far more dangerous than proxies. For the first time, Saudi-Iran fighting unfolds directly on a Saudi border (ibid). For the first time, the Saudis have used direct military intervention in their fight with Iran (ibid). That intervention moves both countries closer to direct confrontation.
Leaving aside ISIS for a moment, this is what we’re looking at: while the West plays word games with Iran over the nuclear ‘deal’, Iran and Saudi Arabia gear up to confront each other over who gets to rule the Middle East.
Saudis are Sunni. Iranians are Shiite (ibid). Their conflict is about who gets to be the Islamic version of ‘king-of-the-hill’.
The Iran deal isn’t about centrifuges. It’s about Islamic power. It’s about tools for Islamic war.
Islamic war is Islamic tradition. It’s a bloody tradition.
It’s war at its worst. It doesn’t use the rules of ‘moral’ war. It doesn’t care about International Humanitarian Law. It doesn’t listen to the United Nations, Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch. It doesn’t protect women, prisoners of war or civilian property. It doesn’t care about genocide, disproportionality, war crimes or children.
It’s about conquest. It’s about the use of threat in order to conquer. It’s why Iran wants a nuclear weapon.
Saudi Arabia understands Iran. It understands Islamic war. It understands the power of a nuclear threat. It will not remain idle while its arch-enemy acquires that threat.
The current Iran deal does not defang Iran. It empowers Iran. It will release billions of frozen dollars to Iran. Those dollars will fund the violence needed to conquer.
The result will be a regional cycle of violence (ibid). This violence will escalate (ibid). This escalation will bring Syrian-style humanitarian disasters to the Middle East (ibid).
This is where nuclear weapons comes into play. Everyone knows that, with a single nuclear explosion, Iran can turn Saudi Arabia into today’s Syria—a heap of pre-historic rubble. With nuclear weapons in the hands of both Iran and Saudi Arabia (who now pursues nuclear capability in response to Iran’s move), Sunnis and Shiites could turn sections of the region into a nuclear waste where man won’t be able to walk safely for 10,000 years.
Perhaps this is where ISIS comes in. They’ll rule the rubble.
After the bombs kill, the region will belong to ISIS because they’ll walk fearlessly through the toxic waste. They believe allah will protect them.
This potential for Islamic-style nuclear war appears to be why Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes that a better deal with Iran is necessary. For him, a better deal would not only stop Iran’s nuclear ambition; it would handcuff Iran’s aggressive drive for conquest (Tom McCarthy, “Netanyahu continues attack on Iran nuclear agreement: it's 'a very bad deal'”, The Guardian, April 5, 2015).
The West ignores Netanyahu. It prefers to fiddle with Iran. Meanwhile, an Islamic fuse hisses.
How’s that going to work out?

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