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The War Dogs Are Howling, Yet Again, In The Middle East – Analysis

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It seems that the geographical name Middle East is truly inappropriate for the region that has been unstable for over seven decades, experiencing many regional wars: between Arabs and Israelis, between Iraqi Arabs and Americans and Arabs and Iranians and not to forget, of course, Arab civil wars as a follow up to the Arab Spring.

Probably, the region should be renamed the War East instead of the Middle East.

As a matter of fact, for many Arab political analysts the name Middle East in Arabic الشرق الاوسط (sharq al-awsat) has been changed, tongue in cheek, into the humiliating name الشرق الاوسخ (sharq al-awsat) meaning “the dirty east.”

The Middle East is, yet again, gearing up to another war, but this time probably more destructive and more horrible. A war that could last longer than what is planned by the protagonists, on paper, because when ignited nobody will be able to stop it unilaterally.

The risks seem to be very high and the gains, probably, very low.

War Drums Are Rolling Anew

On April 30, 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu presented to the Israeli people and by extension to the world what he called evidence that Iran is lying, short of the “smoking gun.”

This media exercise well orchestrated to come in the heels of the American campaign to disengage from the nuclear agreement with Iran and to engage in a war with it, probably, afterwards.

This war to be, will be waged by America, Israel and Saudi Arabia allied to Arab Sunnis in the region.

On the double standards of Israel as to what concerns Iran’s nuclear program, The Maghreb Times writes:i

“When Benjamin Netanyahu proved with file folders that Iran lied about its nuclear program, not one person thought Israel was the last country on earth that should have had the nerve to complain about this. After all, how has Israel acted on this very same issue for decades? Iran’s nuclear archive doubtless looks like a neighborhood lending library compared to Israel’s nuclear archive.

But Israel doesn’t sign conventions, it doesn’t allow inspections and it lies. It mocks and winks – 60 years of continuous nuclear lies. In fact, it has never said a single true word about its nuclear program. It’s all for peaceful purposes, just as Iran claims its nuclear program is. The Dimona reactor was built for lifesaving PET/CT scans at Ichilov Hospital’s nuclear medicine department.

Israel is allowed to lie. Israel is a special case. “Israel won’t be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East,” Shimon Peres said. He was proud of making up this claim, which was the fraud of the century. What is Israel’s policy of nuclear ambiguity if not a series of refusals to tell the truth?”

On the same topic Zaid Jilani wrote in AlterNet on February 25, 2015 that “Benjamin Netanyahu Has Been Lying to Americans for 20 Years:”ii

“Next week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will present his case against President Obama’s talks with Iran; he is expected to portray Iran as an untrustworthy actor and Obama’s diplomacy as naive and a distraction from more sanctions or even military action.

This case suffered a major setback this week as a major intelligence leak showed that Israel’s own intelligence service, the Mossad, privately contradicted Netanyahu’s public statements on Iran. The leaked secret cables show that as Netanyahu was presenting at the United Nations in 2012 a narrative that Iran that was just “weeks” away from producing enough enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb, Israel’s own intelligence service found a very different conclusion.”

And this is corroborated by the British paper The Guardian on February 23, 2015 in an article entitled: “Leaked cables show Netanyahu’s Iran bomb claim contradicted by Mossad” written masterfully by Seumas Milne, Ewen MacAskill and Clayton Swisher.iii

In the past, the Obama administration was willing to give Iran a regional leadership role short of becoming a nuclear power but the actual administration has other plans for this country: an Iran without nuclear capabilities and Mullahs; an Iran secular and not willing to export its revolution or religion to the neighboring countries and threaten, thereby, their stability.

The Play Within The Play

In reality, Netanyahu did not come up with anything new, the whole world knows that Iran is working hard to become a nuclear power. This is no secret. It is an old dream that started with the Shah of Iran in the 60s of the last century and continues today, with open support from Russia that wants to build an eastern coalition to counter American hegemony.

Nevertheless, It seems that this coming war is fully scripted by Washington and especially by the Trump administration. The main actors of this play are: Trump himself in the leading role and Mohamed Ben Salman -MBS- and Benyamin Netanyahu in support roles.

Since arriving to the Oval Office, Trump has been demonizing Iran and expressing willingness to pull out from the nuclear agreement and next came on stage MBS who recognized Israel to make the American-Israeli-Saudi alliance legitimate and official. In an interview with the Atlantic newsmagazine,iv he called the Iranian Supreme Leader Khameini: Hitler, very much like what President Bush did before declaring war on Saddam’s Iraq. And last but not least, Netanyahu who, “brought to light” the Iranian hidden game.

Now that every actor has pronounced his faith and acted his part, action will probably ensue after the Holy month of Ramadan. The war operations will be field shouldered by America and Israel and the role of Saudi Arabia will be to finance the effort (produce the play), maybe, fully and what else can Saudi Arabia do, anyway?

This action by Netanyahu and the previous action of MBS recognizing Israel and demonizing Iran is very similar to “the play within the play” in Shakespeare’s Hamlet,v especially when Hamlet instructs the players on proper delivery (Trump coaching Natanyahu and MBS):

Hamlet:
Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounc’d it to you,
trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth it, as many of our
players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines.
Hamlet Act 3, scene 2, 1–4

And on top of this play of the two actors, Netanyahu had to elicit the proof by presenting the archives exclaiming forcefully: “the play’s the thing”:

Hamlet:
I’ll have grounds
More relative than this—the play’s the thing
Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.
Hamlet Act 2, scene 2, 603–605

How Is The War Going To Unfold?

Hezbollah Patrol in Syria. Credit: Aberfoyle International Security (AIS
Hezbollah Patrol in Syria. Credit: Aberfoyle International Security (AIS)

America and Israel are hoping to conduct an aerial war, short and sweet. Bombard the strategic locations where the nuclear installations are and destroy military targets to cripple the possibilities of Iran to respond adequately in the initial stages of the military operations. America and Israel are not planning to commit ground forces in this war to avoid colossal troop losses. They are banking on crippling the enemy with a massive initial blow that will lead, probably, to a popular uprising in the major cities of Iran that will finish off the regime.

As for Iran it has another plan: a war of attrition that could be costly in human life to America and Israel and an uprising of the Shiites in the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia. For Iran the war will be total. Attacks will come from Syria and Lebanon where Hezbullah will play a major role. Indeed Hezbullah’s missiles will rain on Northern Israel and aim to cause as much casualty as possible.

If America and Israel are planning on a short war, Iran is reserving them an attrition war long and costly which will make the Mideast a real inferno for a long period of time. No navigation in the Persian Sea, no security for a aviation in the airways and no peace on land.

The strengths of Iran are:

  1. geographical depth;
  2. Shiite sense of sacrifice;
  3. religious duty and discipline; and
  4. military discipline and combat-readiness.

As for its weaknesses, they are as follows:

  1. aerial power weakness;
  2. land encirclement; and
  3. lack of active alliances.

The Iranians are planning to wreck havoc on the Arab world whom they suspect to be aligned with America and Israel in this war. The Iranians will activate their dormant cells in the Arab world and, probably, also, in the West to punish those who support the war, bearing in mind that if they have to go down the drain they will incur as much damage as possible: après moi le deluge.vi

However, for Suzanne Maloney, Deputy Director of Foreign Policy and Senior Fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy, Energy Security and Climate Initiative in an article entitled: “After dumping the nuclear deal, Trump has no strategy for Iran” in Brookings:vii

“The premediated American dismantling of an agreement that was the product of more than a decade of intense diplomacy and economic pressure marks a staggeringly counterproductive step. That it was undertaken over the vocal objections of Washington’s closest allies and without a clear strategy of mitigating the newly heightened risks of Iranian proliferation and conventional retaliation represents an abdication of American leadership on the international stage that is unparalleled in recent history.”

Expectations

The war might be destructive for Iran but that will not finish off the regime of the Mullahs because in the field they can rely on the Revolutionary Guards and the Basijviii to protect them from any internal uprising. So, the onslaught might diminish their power but will not put an end to the theocracy at the country’s helm.

Iran Army fires cruise missile in war game. Photo Credit: Tasnim News Agency.
Iran Army fires cruise missile in war game. Photo Credit: Tasnim News Agency.

However, a weak Iran in the Middle East will be good news to Israel and its Arab allies because it will lead to the probable downfall of Hezbuallah in Lebanon, the Alaouites in Syria and the Houthis in Yemen and this will, ultimately, destroy the Shiite Crescent in the Mideast and put an end to the expansion project and dream of the Islamic Republic of Iran, once for all.

Consequently, Israel will come out of this painful war as the only power of the region and even as co-protector of Arab countries alongside America. The demise of Iran will mean the demise of Hamas in Gaza and Abbas will take over the strip and sign, under gentle pressure, a peace agreement with Israel. Saudi Arabia will regain its leadership of the Muslim world but will be totally broke.

All in all, if everyone plays his cards right in this war, Israel will probably pay the biggest price in human casualties, but will undoubtedly win, also, big: destroy Hamas, rein in Abbas and emasculate the Arabs and, in addition, gain peace in the Middle East and a huge market for its products and strong economy in the region.

Make-Believe Scenario

America, Israel and Saudi Arabia are not probably meaning war for fear to destabilize a region that has already so many problems: Palestinian problem, Syrian conflict, Yemeni war, etc. What if these countries are only putting pressure on Iran to make it abandon its nuclear program totally, without firing a single shot?

Probably, these countries are attempting the North Korean scenario, whereby the Americans on bearing tremendous pressure on North Korea made it accept to talk to South Korea first and later on to them, in order to arrange future denuclearization.

Will such pressure bring the Mullahs to their senses and make them abandon their threats towards Israel and destabilization schemes vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia and the Sunni world?

Iran's IRGC's Naval special forces, S.N.S.F. Photo Credit: sayyed shahab-o- din vajedi, Wikipedia Commons.
Iran’s IRGC’s Naval special forces, S.N.S.F. Photo Credit: sayyed shahab-o- din vajedi, Wikipedia Commons.

The Mullahs have always been practical and sensible in politics and the chances are they will choose moderation and negotiation to avoid annihilation. If they do so, Trump, thus, would have won a political gamble which will add to his apparent present success in the Korean peninsula. These two political breakthroughs will probably ensure his reelection against the odds and will prove him right vis-à-vis the American people by making America great again.

The war on Iran will, probably, be costly and horrible as all wars are, anyway, but in the end it will be probably worthwhile in the sense that it will bring peace to the region and a new era of cooperation and goodwill much needed by the population of the Mideast.

However, will this war if it ever happens, bring democracy to the Arab world, at long last, or will the Arabs continue to prefer bread over a political system of representation and full accountability. It is difficult to see the outcome because the horizon is very hazy, to tell the truth. All in all, only time can tell, in the end.

You can follow Professor Mohamed Chtatou on Twitter:@Ayurinu

Endnotes:
i. https://themaghrebtimes.com/05/03/netanyahu-claims-iran-lied-about-its-nuclear-program-but-israel-has-been-lying-for-decades/

ii. https://www.alternet.org/world/benjamin-netanyahu-has-been-lying-americans-20-years

iii. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/23/leaked-spy-cables-netanyahu-iran-bomb-mossad

iv. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/04/mohammed-bin-salman-iran-israel/557036/ Saudi Crown Prince: Iran’s Supreme Leader ‘Makes Hitler Look Good’

v. Edwards, Phillip, ed. (1985). Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. New Cambridge Shakespeare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521293662.

vi. ttp://tradicionclasica.blogspot.com/2006/01/expression-aprs-moi-le-dluge-and-its.html On the subject of this famous saying, Gabriel Laguna from Córdoba, Spain.

The phrase “Après moi, le déluge” (“After me, the deluge”) is attributed to the King of France Louis XV (1710-1774):

According to another interpretation, the phrase may have been coined not by the king himself, but by his most famous lover, Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764):

In any case, the phrase had a certain prophetic quality, if we interpret it post eventum as alluding to the breaking out of the French Revolution (1789-1799), which took place fifteen years after the king’s death and which cost the life of his grandson and successor, Louis XVI.

As a first approach to the saying, note that one is dealing with a nominal phrase, that is, without an explicit verb. The phrase can have two distinct, though related, meanings, according to the verb which we implicitly supply:

a) On the one hand, if we understand After me the deluge will come, the saying seems to imply, as an assertive affirmation: “After my reign, the nation will be plunged into chaos and destruction.”

b) The verb could also be understood as a subjunctive concession: After me, let the deluge come (it can come, but it makes no difference to me). In this second case, the speaker asserts that nothing that happens after his disappearance matters to him.

vii.

viii.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basij Basij

Formation
26 November 1979; 38 years ago (Decreed)
30 April 1980; 38 years ago (Founded)
Founder
Ruhollah Khomeini
Type
Paramilitary volunteer militia
Purpose
Auxiliaries


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Dr. Mohamed Chtatou

Dr. Mohamed Chtatou

Dr. Mohamed Chtatou is a Professor of education science at the university in Rabat. He is currently a political analyst with Moroccan, Gulf, French, Italian and British media on politics and culture in the Middle East, Islam and Islamism as well as terrorism. He is, also, a specialist on political Islam in the MENA region with interest in the roots of terrorism and religious extremism.

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