Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Iran Reconsidered

The military intervention of the United States in Iraq may well back fire. It appears to have transformed Iraq from a secular Arab republic, albeit authoritarian, to a state that increasingly reflects the ideological inclinations of its Shi'ite majority. 60% of Iraq's population is Shi'ite Muslim. 20% is Kurdish, a Sunni ethnic group that speaks an Indo-Iranian language. The psychological affinity to Iran can not be under-estimated in such a context. The rising influence of Shi'a clerics in Iraq is all too visible as witnessed in the constitutional deliberations a few months ago. The issue of women's rights is a case in point.

Iraq can come under increasing Iranian influence. The Iraqi Minister of Defence visited Iran in early July. The Iraqi Prime Minister and his team of 10 senior ministers traveled to Teheran a week later. The Iraqi President visited Iran this month. These high level contacts were a first in four decades. When the United States-led coalition leaves Iraq sometime in 2006 or 2007, one may witness a Shi'a dominated security edifice in the Persian gulf that overshadows the traditional Sunni monarchies of the Arabian peninsula, many with restive Shi'ite minorities of their own. Iran would be transformed into a regional power that threatens Israel and Sa'udi Arabia.

Iran under its current administration is unlikely to ally with the United States despite repeated American overtures. The United States provided arms to Iran under the Iran-Contra Affair in the mid-1980s. This failed to soften the anti-American policy of Iran. Newsweek now reports that the United States Ambassador to Iraq has been authorized to initiate a diplomatic dialogue with Iran. Iran continues to invest in a nuclear, missile and space technology program that threatens western geo-strategic interests. It resumed the enrichment of uranium in August as part of reported efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran has the ability to impede shipping through the Straits of Hormuz - an action that could reduce American GDP by 7% after thirty days.

Iran continues to fund Hezbollah to the tune of between US$ 100 million to US$ 200 million a year. The Canadian Secret Intelligence Service estimates that Iran transfers up to US$ 18 million a year to Hamas. Other reports give higher numbers. Iran provides logistical support and military training to Hamas. It finances Islamic Jihad as well. These Islamist groups have repeatedly attacked Israeli and American interests. The British have alleged that Iran sponsors Shi'ite radicalism in southern Iraq. And Iran is not likely to shift policy gears in the near future.

Iran's anti-American obsession will continue under its hard-line Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamene'i and its fundamentalist President Mahmood Ahmadinejad. The Iranian President, an arch-conservative, had described Israel as a "disgraceful blot" that had to be "wiped off the map". The United States purportedly invaded Iraq to counter that country's alleged weapons of mass destruction program. These weapons were never found. The United States lost valuable political capital in doing so and is now unable to contain a far more serious Iranian challenge.The Bush administration might be in for a nasty surprise or two in the coming years unless it takes immediate corrective action.


history_lover said...

Jaffna I am not sure of your statement that Hamas and Islamic Jihad attack American interests ...

doubtinggaurav said...


If Iran becomes nuclear state it will also be a very bad news for India , even ,perhaps more than US.
I think US,Israel and India need to work closely on this.

Personally speaking I do not like the emergence of a jihadi block in Indian neighbourhood at all.

Regarding Contra affair , Didn't Reagon administration supply weapons in order to free its hostages, I am not very sure about this.


Jaffna said...

History Lover, you are right - it was Hezbollah that attacked United States interests (in addition to Israel). Hamas and Islamic Jihad focused on Israel.

Gaurav, you are correct. The arms were intended to release hostages but I suspect that the United States has been desperate for sometime to recreate its pre 1979 geo-strategic alliance with Iran. The problem is that Iran never reciprocates. The religious zeal in Teheran is total.

Iran has had a good technology relationship with Russia and China.

Anonymous said...

Iran will eventually implode given its fast growing population, a stagnant economy, irrational fanaticism and a idiotic president. Al qaeda will prevent any shiite take over in Iraq. The daily killings in shiite areas only confirms that. Iran can not strike Israel. Israel would then bomb the hell out of Teheran. Iran's so called missile and space program are mere imports. This is not indigenous technology.

The Greatest Hokie Ever !! said...

[Jaffna] An interesting concept was put forth by Tom Clancy some years ago in a book wherein there is a coup in Iraq and Iran and Iraq "merge" to form the United Islamic Republic (UIR). The rest of the book is of course, how the americans charge in to save the world, but the concept of an UIR type regime is increasingly looking possible

doubtinggaurav said...


Eww Tom Clancy !

I have half read his book (Special Ops series).

The plot involved America and Pakistan thrawting belligrent Indian hawks.

Methinks he needs a reality check.



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