16
November , 2018
Friday

People Aur Politics

A liberation zone for democratic rights, multiculturalism, international brotherhood and peace.

Israel vs Iran: the regional blowback-Paul Rogers

Posted by admin On November - 12 - 2011

The prospect of an Israeli military assault on Iran’s nuclear assets is growing. The scale and impact of any attack would be far greater than most observers expect.
The pre-publication hype surrounding the new report on Iran’ s nuclear ambition

s from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) indicated that the conclusions would be definitive. In light of it, the document [8] – released on 9 November 2011 – is rather cautious. It does claim that Iran has made sustained efforts to develop nuclear-warhead technology, though many of these occurred in the early 2000s and there is little hard evidence of what is happening now.

It is the link between the weapons research and two other factors that makes the case [9] for revisiting Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The first is the programme [10] of uranium enrichment which is steadily accumulating stocks of lower-level reactor-grade uranium (about 4% enrichment) and a much smaller amount of research-reactor fuel (rated at 20%). Weapons-grade fissile material requires enrichment to well over 80%, but that could be within grasp; alongside the warhead work, this suggests Iran has made real progress towards a virtual bomb, even if it is still some way from being a nuclear power or even taking the final decision [11] to become one.

The second factor is the Iranian construction programme, which includes several major underground [12] facilities. These were created in expectation of an attack, either from Israel or the United States, and from determination to ensure the nuclear project’s survival. Moreover, Iran has already experienced a cyber-attack (in the form of the Stuxnet worm) and the assassination [13] of several nuclear scientists – so it is already on something close to a war footing.

The comments [14] of US defence secretary Leon Panetta on 10 November that any military action would have “unintended consequences” and should in any case be a “last resort” indicate, in the context of the wider current political environment, that Washington will not become directly involved in a war with Iran at an early stage. But an Israeli attack would create a risk [15] that Barack Obama’s administration becomes embroiled [16] in the aftermath – for an initial assault will be only the beginning of a war which will bring major change to the region and possibly beyond (see “A war on Iran: the delusive logic [17]”, 20 October 2011).

The operation

The nature of an attack shapes what is likely [18] to follow. Most observers envisage a series of air- and missile-strikes against the material centres [19] of Iran’s nuclear programme. Such strikes would happen; but Israel’s extended target will be far wider as it seeks to thwart [20] Iran’s nuclear ambitions for several years at least. This means systematic efforts to demolish the programme’s intellectual infrastructure: the scientists and engineers directly involved (who themselves will be crucial targets), research centres, factory drawing offices, university departments and even elements [21] of the leadership (see “Israel military strike on Iran would lead to protracted war and wouldn’t solve nuclear crisis [22]”, Oxford Research Group [23], November 2011).

But Israel cannot guarantee effective results by operating from its own territory alone; it needs local allies.

Here, Kurdish (northeast) Iraq and Azerbaijan [24] are important. Israel has assiduously developed close relations with both. In the latter [25] case, this has meant taking sides with a Muslim country locked in a frozen conflict [26] with (Christian) Armenia [27] – in turn supported [28] by Iran – over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Kurdish Iraq and Azerbaijan would not necessarily offer Israel forward operating bases for strike aircraft; but their numerous support functions [29] could include the insertion of special forces into Iran; search and rescue; overflying by tanker aircraft; and, above all, launch sites [30] for some of Israel’s many and potent armed drones.

In short, an Israeli operation [31] against Iran will be comprehensive and will use regional facilities to inflict maximum damage on Iran’s nuclear programme. But the moment it starts, the political dynamics change.

The response

Iran will at the outset present itself as the victim of an attack by a state that already has a powerful nuclear arsenal and is regarded across the region as a belligerent pariah. Some regional elites – such as the House of Saud [32] – may privately welcome the Israeli [33] action, but the popular response across the region would be very different and create huge problems for governments.

Iran will have built these outcomes into its analysis, and might as a result limit its reaction [34] to immediate withdrawal from the nuclear non-proliferation [35] treaty. It may even restrain its Hizbollah ally in Lebanon, in combination with the incremental application of a range of asymmetric [36] measures in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf. These would respectively seek to exacerbate tensions between Iraq’s prime minister Nouri al-Malaki and the Kurds; complicate and disrupt the American war effort; and increase oil and gas prices. Iran might also act against Azerbaijan if its provision of facilities to Israel was proved – which, given the size of Azerbaijan’s energy exports [37], could affect world markets.

But Iran is also certain to seize the moment to develop nuclear weapons. This may be sooner than many expect, because Iranian planners will already have thought [38] through the nature of an Israeli strike and sought means of protecting the physical infrastructure (by hardening facilities) and the intellectual infrastructure (by dispersal).

The chance

The near-unavoidable reality is that out of confrontation Iran will soon acquire a limited nuclear arsenal. This is because even a limited bombing of Iran will create a new dynamic where Iran is at the centre of the post-attack region; will have several new options to impose costs on its opponents; and will go full-tilt for its own deterrent.

There remains some scope within the region to avert a crisis [39]. That would require a move to address sources of disabling tension (such as the Israel-Palestine and Iran-Saudi Arabia disputes) amid wide endorsement of the need to create a stable nuclear-free zone. Any such process would be tortuous and protracted – but the belief that there is a military solution to the Iran dilemma is so dangerous that this alternative approach simply must be considered.

The perilous [40] situation over Iran reflects world leaders’ long-term and heedless pursuit of nuclear weapons, and their failure to make serious attempts [41] at wholesale denuclearisation. The lack of political wisdom, after almost seventy years of the nuclear age, is striking.

The need for it is more acute than ever.

Paul Rogers is professor in the department of peace studies [7] at Bradford University. He has been writing a weekly column [7] on global security on openDemocracy since 28 September 2001, and writes an international-security monthly briefing for the Oxford Research Group [7]. His books include Why We

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
Ahmed Shawki: Perspectives for the Left - Socialism 2013 Tsar To Lenin Tariq Ali & Oliver Stone "Untold History of the US" (May, 2013) Marx's Early Writings: Once More Unto the Breach: Video 2 of 2 Marx's Early Writings: Once More Unto the Breach: Video 1 of 2 Marxism & the Legacy of Subaltern Studies Tariq Ali: the crisis in Syria - questions and answers Scotland: Tariq Ali on independence;Dismantling the British State: Strategy, Tactics and Ideology Luxemburg, Lenin, Levi: Rethinking revolutionary history The power of the people Anti Stalin Left . How should socialists organise? Paul Le Blanc, Gilbert Achcar discuss Leninism, left unity, revolutionary parties Is religion good or evil? Michael Lebowitz: Primitive accumulation versus contested reproduction Adam Hanieh: A strategic overview of the struggles in the Middle East Relevance of Marxism Today The future of the Bolivarian Revolution after Hugo Chavez Enter the video embed code here. Remember to change the size to 310 x 250 in the embed code.

Recent Comments

There is something about me..

Recent Comments

80 Years Since the Russian Revolution-Ahmed Shawki

On Mar-27-2018
Reported by admin

The High Stakes of Turkey’s Election-Sinan Ulgen

On Oct-31-2015
Reported by admin

Is Any Hope Left for Mideast Peace?-RASHID KHALIDI

On Mar-13-2013
Reported by admin

A life in writing: PD James-Sarah Crown

On Nov-5-2011
Reported by admin

Recent Posts