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Sunday
Oct302005

Storm in a Tehran teacup

It is definitely not surprising that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent statement that Israel represented a "disgraceful blot" that should be "wiped off the map" caused such a furore in Washington, London and Tel Aviv.

Washington says the anti-Israel outbursts by the Iranian president (pictured, below) confirmed their fears about Iran's nuclear ambitions, London says something would have to be done, while the Israelis want Tehran kicked out of the UN.

Ahmadinezhad.jpgSo far, so predictable. No-one fluffed their lines, getting all hot and flustered and rattling sabres like there was no tomorrow. You could almost hear the war drums bleating in the distance. But however much they may wet-dream about doing another Iraq on Tehran, they know they can't get away with it, given the massive fallout from that ill-fated adventure. Nor could an over-stretched "allied" military cope with the demands of such an expedition.

                                                            "New Hitler"

The surprise here is that many who should know better, including some "reputable" commentators and media organisations, are busy raising the temperature: Ahmadinejad is the new Hitler, he will start World War III, and on and on and on.

But ever since the Khomeinei-led Islamic Revolution of 1979 it has been the norm for sundry Iranian leaders to call for the destruction of Israel and her sponsor, the "Great Satan" America. Ahmadinejad's comments were thus no deviation from expected and, if you like, accepted behaviour for a new leader trying to widen his populist base and appeal to clerical hardliners. This is a storm in a Tehran teacup.

And I certainly don't buy the argument that those sentiments take on a different, dangerous complexion when coupled with Iran's determination to join the nuclear club. India and Pakistan both have the Bomb, but where is the whiff of a nuclear conflagration?

One could infact argue that nuclear parity in the Middle East would paradoxically lead to peace and stability, like that which has flourished on the Indian subcontinent.

                                                                         Nuclear Parity

A nuclear-armed muslim country in the region would make Israel think twice about attacks on a brother/sister country. The strength of this argument is reflected in the fact that no regional player has attacked Israel since it acquired the bomb. There have of course been pot-shots, but that has been the work of smaller, sometimes freelance groups against which the bomb is patently useless.

But we know nuclear parity can never be allowed to happen. Israel does not want it, nor does the US, with its powerful Israeli lobby. Hence Israel's 1981 bombing of Baghdad's nuclear reactor with tacit American support.

Dear Gentle Reader, the morale of this narrative? The war party and their representatives in the media are using Ahmadinejad's predictable, unimaginative populist tirade to prepare the ground - and international public opinion - for an Israeli air strike or missile attack on Iran.