Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Iran has a Right to Develop her Nuclear Potential

January 22, 2012

By Saeed Qureshi

Iran faces a persistent existential threat from the Arab regimes most notably from Saudi Arabia. Iran has centuries old conflict with Arab dynasties initially of regional import and sectarian after the advent of Islam. Iranian population predominantly professes Shia brand of faith that is markedly different from the Sunni faith practiced in Saudi Arabia, several other Middle Eastern countries, as well as beyond.

It is also a question of regional domination. Before the advent of Islam in 6th century A.C., most of the Arab peninsula was under the occupation of the successive Persian empires. This tide turned when for the first time, the Muslim army under the command of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) defeated the Persians in a battle known as “Ziqar”.

That trendsetting battle was followed by a succession of more decisive victories by Arabs against the Persian empires consequently occupying the entire Persia. While the Islamic dynasties were later ruled by the families hostile to the family of prophet, the dissidents had been taking refuge in Iran.

The notable Shia spiritual leaders called Imams (blood descendents from prophet) are buried in Iran. Iran has been hosting members from the lineage of the prophet. In Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Iraq, mostly the Sunni sects have been ruling for centuries together. In Syria however, after the World War II, the extremist Shia faithful called Alawi( 12 % of the population) headed by Hafiz al Assad captured power in 1970.

While Saudi Arabia and Iran have a clear-cut divide as being Sunni and Shia regime, the other Arab regimes are dived into Shia or Sunni majority lands. For instance in Bahrain while it is the Sunni minority government, in Syria, the hardcore Shia minority Alawi rules the country. Iran therefore, is the only sanctuary for the Shias faithful not only living in Iran but elsewhere in the world.

The Islamic Arab regimes mostly being the family dynasties or autocracies are friends of Israel and the United States but hostile to Iran. As such the interests of these dynasties and those of Israel converge. Although Israel and the Arab countries are religiously opposed to each other, yet they are united and are one when it comes to destroying or debilitating Iran which they perceive as a common threat to the overbearing domination of Israel and the survival of the Arab regimes.

Iran is therefore, faced with two-pronged threats: one from the inveterate enemy of Islam which is Israel and the other from half brothers, fellow Muslims for being a non Arab Muslim state with a divergent faith that is considered as heretic by the Sunni brand of Muslims.

Both Saudi Arabia and Israel want and need the American military prowess and economic vibrancy to check or contain Iran’s nuclear advancement that is reportedly moving towards the manufacturing of a nuclear bomb or the so called weapon of mass destruction. The United States too does not want nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and even elsewhere in the world.

But along with both of its protégés namely Israel and Saudi Arabia, America would not want a radical Islamic theocracy to develop a bomb that would pose a potential threat to its client state Israel whose defense has become the abiding priority for the United States after the WWII.Israel is currently believed to possess between 75 to 400 nuclear warheads with the ability to deliver them by intercontinental ballistic missile, aircraft, and submarine.

Iraq -Iran war (1980-1988) taught Iran a lesson. The entire Arab bloc was arraigned against a nascent clerical regime that was brought into being in 1979, upon the ouster of the Iranian monarch Raza Shah Pahlavi after a bloody domestic uprising. The nearly decade long war between Iraq and Iran, primarily imposed on Iran by Saddam Hussain in 1980, took a toll of a million Iranian casualties without any conclusive outcome in either belligerent’s favor.

If a similar deadly war is again imposed on Iran either by Israel or Saudi Arabia with American support, what options would be available for Iran to defend herself against a sudden preemptive attack. If it is a nuclear yet limited attack by Israel either for the regime change or for dwarfing or curtaining the Iran’s economic or military prowess and ability to make nuclear bombs, what course should be left for Iran to fall back, Should it surrender, remain silent or fight back?

Saudi Arabia will buy military weapons of all categories from USA at a cost of 60 billion dollars. That military hardware is not for showoff or to be used against Israel but understandably against Iran. Saudi Arabia may even ask the United States for a missile umbrella or atomic deterrence as provided to Israel.

The IAEA working under the influence of the western countries and America has been banking upon fake and concocted reports in the past to legitimize sanctions or military actions against the target countries. The most astounding example is that of Iraq, invaded under the fabricated charges that she was making or was in possession of nuclear weapons.

Iran therefore, cannot take chances. It has to beef up her security and defense by resorting to every conceivable measure that would guarantee its survival as an independent and sovereign state with credible defense. As for change of regime in Iran, it will come gradually with the change of internal dynamics and conditions and with the home grown urge for change.

The models of such a gubernatorial change are manifest in various Arab countries where absolute despots whether from well entrenched family dynasties or independent revolutionaries were in power for decades. These strong tyrants have been finally uprooted by the mass movements and now a transitional interregnum is underway that would enable these countries to shift from absolute autocracies to pluralist democracies.
Any adventure whether military or by covert intriguing and media blitz against Iran may fizzle out. In the aftermath of the Iranian elections in 2009, the opposition tried to whip up a frenzy and agitation but failed to dislodge or rock the government. The commonality of shia faith by nearly 95 percent Iranian population is also the bedrock of their unity. Any underhand efforts or arm twisting maneuvers to change the regime would turn abortive and in return could prove to be a blessing in disguise for the Ayatollahs of Iran.

The much talked about preemptive surgical strike by America in tandem with Israel is fraught with grave dangers for the region and the world peace. Iran unlike other tin pot regimes in the Middle East is, by its own right a very strong military force to reckon with. It cannot be defeated or invaded or attacked as was done in case of Iraq and Afghanistan. If during the conflict it expands the war theatre, the neighboring states like Bahrain and Kuwait and even Syria would fall like the leaves falling from trees in autumn.

America and Israel would have to correspondingly up their ante and intensify military response and thus this kind of warfare may elongate. The regional peace would be torn to shreds and Israel would be one major casualty in this cataclysmic conflict that might turn into a kind of Armageddon swallowing the peace with use of the most fearsome atomic weapons.

This is a very scary and horrendous picture that could be the consequence of a military misadventure on the part of America and Israel that are eager to annihilate Iran. A similar strategy was adopted by NATO and America, although for different reasons, in Libya and Iraq. But as stated earlier Iran’s case is drastically different from the weak Arab regimes that are run with uninhibited oppression and naked force while Iran has a modicum of democracy that might flower as the time passes.

If the underlying objective of the anti-Iran saber-rattling is nuclear non-proliferation and to clear the region of weapons of mass destruction, then in all fairness it can be attained only if it covers all the countries of the region.

If Iran is to declare its nuclear sites for inspection and to keep the level of enrichment of uranium to a permissible level, then Israel should also follow this yardstick. While Israel’s stockpile of nuclear warheads is not even mentioned in passing, Iran is being brought under all kinds of pressures to wrap up or curtail a project which is yet far from the threshold of weapon production.

There should be no holy cows and untouchables for the attainment of nuclear free globe. In order to attain universal non proliferation and obliteration of deadly nuclear arms, then all those nations that possess huge nuclear arsenals should also destroy those stockpiles. If some nations can make and maintain nuclear weapons while the others cannot, then the whole excercise of saving humanity from a nuclear holocaust looks, partisan, sham and farcical.

Ironically while Israel is protected by American missile system, Iran has no such outside help that could come to its rescue when faced with a grave situation of being under attack. Russia and China would not commit to Iran’s help to the extent as America is wholeheartedly committed to that of Israel. So it is patently a very one sided and unequal situation that impels Iran to beef up her defense by any means she deems desirable and emergent.

Instead of issuing ultimatums, imposing crippling sanctions and planning to launch deadly surgical strikes on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and facilities, it would be decidedly desirable and a saner approach to negotiate with Iran in order to find out the truth and take the word from Iran on its face value that her nuclear program was geared towards energy production and not to fabricate weapon. Even if, per say, Iran finally makes a weapon, it would still be no match to what Israel or United States are in possession.

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