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The pernicious Persian provocation

Anthony Gomes

Wednesday, February 22, 2012    

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This unholy troika (from left) Iran's President Ahmadinejad, Pakistan's President Zardari and Afghanistan's President Karzai are a formidable force to be reckoned with

The increased frequency of bellicose rhetoric combined with dangerously provocative gestures by Iran have served to heighten alarm throughout the Middle East, including Israel with the United States, the United Kingdom and other Western countries. Iran's announcement that they have commissioned some 3000 centrifuges to hasten production of uranium enrichment, and the manufacture of "Yellow Cake" -- also a main ingredient in the process of enriching uranium -- for the dubious peaceful purpose of public welfare, has intensified anxiety of the international community. Simultaneously, the scientists revealed that they had also successfully manufactured fuel rods which are a critical element in the production process which were previously imported from outside sources.

Meanwhile, it was disclosed that a new deep shelter had been constructed in a remote secret location where nuclear projects are developed, and these are widely believed to be concerned with weaponry. The US is developing a heavy-duty bomb, termed the Massive Ordinance Penetrator (MOP), weighing 30,000 tonnes and which should be capable of destroying such an underground bunker. In a show of strength superiority, the US navy sent an aircraft carrier battle group to the Strait of Hormuz. The US ships were the centre of attention by Iranian speed boats that continuously "buzzed" the American ships that warned the Iranians to keep their distance. Iran's threat to close the 21-mile wide Strait of Hormuz is unlikely, as their oil, destined to Western Europe, also has to transit the Strait of Hormuz. Such a closure would constrict Iranian oil exports, thereby seriously damaging their foreign exchange inflows. It is evident from these increased belligerent activities that the sanctions applied by the international community are taking their toll.

The recent visit to Afghanistan by President Ahmadinejad, accompanied by Pakistan's President, and their warm welcome by President Karzai have further elevated the concern of the international community. Western intelligence agencies must have known in advance of this sinister development that has raised eyebrows in Washington, at a time when the US and President Karzai revealed that meetings are being held with the Taliban to explore a possible solution to the nine-year-old conflict. The meetings with the Taliban are an indication that NATO and its supporters consider that the war is unwinnable by military means, and therefore a search has begun to find a dignified method of withdrawal from the battlefield.

This first appearance of the high-powered anti-American troika has created a new dimension to the Afghanistan conundrum that will probably necessitate a fundamental review of US strategy to deal with the explicit danger created by this expanded area of anti-American hostility. Despite the many assurances by high-powered military generals and politicians, it must be obvious to all that the war in Afghanistan has not been the success anticipated, and as the Russians experienced, it has become a lost cause. The tragedy of all the young Christian lives sacrificed is a difficult pill to swallow, and should put an end to such tenuous overseas military adventures in the future.

The world has now become a more dangerous place and the word "war" is being heard more often in current affairs discussions, while Western countries endure the effects of deep recession, and military resources are being severely reduced, yet the opposite is happening in the Far East. The longer it takes for Western nations to recover from the recession, the greater their exposure of weakness and consequently their inability to stave off any likely deleterious effects of further economic disruption such as the restriction of the oil supply from Iran, OPEC's second largest producer, that would cause an inordinate rise in the price of all types of fuel.

No assessment of the present uncertain circumstances in today's world would be complete without recognising the two cardinal divisions, created by religious and economic motivation, that are hampering attempts at reducing international tensions. First, the coalition of certain Islamic nations with an anti-Western attitude, experienced in the Middle East and elsewhere, and second, the support given by Russia and China to such "rogue" nations as Syria, motivated by commercial interests which override any humanitarian considerations. These two forces have the propensity to disrupt the world order beyond what is being experienced at present, unless they can be persuaded to join forces with Western nations in an attempt to lower the fractious temperature of world disharmony.

Something has to be done about reorganising the United Nations to improve its effectiveness when dealing with world affairs. As seen currently, the UN is impotent in resolving the situation with Syria, in the face of Opposition from two of its most powerful members, Russia and China. Even the strongest language by the secretary general has failed to change their attitude towards the carnage being wrought on innocent civilians by a tyrannical president.

Finally, the unholy troika consisting of the presidents of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan are a formidable force to be reckoned with, one a nuclear power, and another believed to be aspiring to join the nuclear "club" regardless of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty. The wild card in the puzzle is Israel and its role in the situation having to face Hamas and Hezbollah, both termed "terrorist" organisations, the latter reported to have been trained and equipped by Iran.

It is hoped that the US will keep its "eye on the ball" and not be too distracted by election fever. Only time will tell.

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