Red Countries> Iran

Iran is the major focus of the current crisis. There has been a long enmity between the US and Iran but it is quite surprising that it has suddenly escalated to the brink of war in the past 12 months. The main cause that the US is using to try and spark the war with Iran is it’s nuclear program. The Iranians claim that they are attempting to build nuclear reactors for nuclear power generation. Technically, they have the legal right to do this under the auspices of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which they are a signature to. The US however, is suggesting that they are in fact, attempting to build a nuclear bomb and are thus a threat to the world.

Given that Iran’s new maverick President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has made several speeches in which he has indicated his desire to see Zionism as a political force thwarted and the nation state of Israel dissolved, the Israelis have also seized on Iran as the potential new super-threat to the region. However, the Israeli press has tended to a hysteria claiming that President Ahmadinejad wants to launch a new holocaust against the Jewish people in general. Ahmadinejad denies this, stating that he only wishes to see the political system of the state of Israel dissolved and does not want its peoples killed. Given the fact that there is a sizable population of Persian Jews currently living in Iran this seems like it could be a believable statement. He has every opportunity at his disposal to commit a holocaust or pogrom against Jews if he really wanted to in his own back yard and yet has never done this. However, he has not furthered his cause by also stating that he has doubts about the veracity of the original Holocaust’s existence.

This aside, Holocaust denial by one elected official is hardly the reason that the US is preparing for an insane and potentially suicidal war with Iran. The US is marching down an almost identical line that it did in the lead up to the Iraq war. It is claiming that Iran will shortly be a possessor of weapons of mass destruction and must be stopped at all costs. The international watchdog agency assigned by the UN to investigate such matters however, denies that this is the case. It has taken the step of issuing a letter to say that it takes “strong exception” to “incorrect and misleading statements” that are being circulated around Washington as it tries to muster support for the war. This is almost an identical repeat of the circus that led up to the Iraq invasion, with claims being made by the White House about WMD that the UN weapons inspectors themselves refute. After the Lebanon conflict failed to escalate to a point that sucked Iran in, the US is now reverting to its new doctrine of pre-emptive strikes based on flimsy or fabricated evidence.

Such a strike would have enormous consequences and the Iranians are aware of the power that they currently hold. The Iranians control a major flow of the world’s oil reserves. They are the fourth largest oil producing nation in the world. On top of this their navy is able to exert control over the Straits of Hormuz, the narrow strait of water at the tip of the Persian Gulf. Two fifths of the world’s oil flows through this small choke point. As such any attack on Iran would see a massive disruption to the world’s oil flows. The Iranians have the ability to mine or otherwise block with naval vessels this strait of water. As well, they have a missile capability which rather than being fired at Israel in a retaliatory strike, could instead be used to destroy most of the oil refineries on the Arabian Peninsula and in Iraq. The economic shock wave of this oil crisis would be felt around the world. Given that much of the world’s economy is currently under inflationary pressure a soaring oil price could be devastating to the entire global economy. As well, the Russians and the Chinese would be far from pleased about such an attack as they have been increasingly tied to Iranian oil for their economic prosperity.

Against this backdrop Iran continues to defy the US and refuses to shut down it’s nuclear program. The US is attempting to garner support for economic sanctions against Iran in the UN Security Council as a first step of punishing them instead of or as part of a military showdown. But even this is not upsetting the Iranians. They are fully aware that Russia and China will keep the worst sanctions at bay, as they are increasingly concerned about protecting their oil supply. Coupled with this, the Iranians could just choose to switch their reserve currency from US dollars to Euros. This could spark a flurry of nations to follow suit, as the main oil pricing currency would then be Euros and not US dollars. Again this would be disastrous for the US economy. So for the US to be considering a military act against Iran shows either outright insanity or total desperation on the part of the Bush administration. And Iran also holds the cards to spark a great chaos on several of the flanking fronts of the greater war that are raging in neighbouring countries. They could even decide to invade across the borders into some of these countries with their roughly 700,000 strong army. The US and NATO forces in the region could be severely compromised by such an assault and would need a drastic reinforcing very quickly once such a war is instigated.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is aware of the stakes at hand and announced to his people back during the Lebanon crisis that the US was “pulling the trigger on a new world war”. He was fully aware that if the conflict had spiralled out of control and dragged his nation into it that a new world war would indeed be commencing. In light of this he held a huge war game practice run in August following the cessation of the Lebanese hostilities in order to signal his readiness for any conflict. His stance has somewhat softened though, in the last week. He still claims that Bush is being inspired by the “Devil”, terms that are reminiscent of his newfound Venezuelan friends take on things. However he is now telling his people that he does not believe the US will actually attack. He states that some people are making an unnecessary fuss about the US naval ships reportedly sailing towards the region. This newfound confidence could be inspired by the fact that he feels emboldened by the recent North Korean nuclear tests. Maybe he feels that the US is now outflanked and can no longer commit to a military attack with so many potential fronts opening up if they are crazy enough to go ahead with it. But he does not take into consideration the Israeli factor in these new speeches he has put forth. Possibly he is trying to quell domestic fears in the lead up to the war.

There has been a steady attempt to continue to link Iran’s ambitions with North Korea’s in the US press. This is undoubtedly to continue to shore up the veracity of the so called “Axis of Evil”. However there are very few cultural ties between these countries so it is a bizarre new alliance that seems to have formed here. One wonders if it really existed prior to Bush forcing it into existence with his policies. There was talk of Iranian military officials being present in North Korea for the missile launches back in July. Since the North Korean nuclear test, Ahmadinejad has also announced that Iran will officially reject the UN sanctions against that nation. So the links between the countries do appear to be becoming a reality. On some level the connection could be China, given their oil interests in Iran. As such, Iran really is now the key to the whole mess.

Blowing up Iran could blow up the world.