�They stole our threat� goes a headline in the Israeli
daily, Haaretz. The author is, of course, referring to the recently published
US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) composed by 16 American intelligence
agencies. It counters US and Israeli assertions that Iran is developing nuclear
weapons. There�s been no such program since 2003, it states.
For those of us in the neighborhood, this is good news but
the powers that be in Washington and Tel Aviv are seething. With plans to
squeeze the Iranian leadership with further UN sanctions and a military option
on the table, this was not what either country wanted to hear.
George W. Bush says the report doesn�t change anything. On
the contrary, he says, it shows that Tehran was working toward the manufacture
of nuclear weapons in the past and could reconstitute the program again.
When challenged by reporters over his �World War III�
speech, he said nobody told him that Iran didn�t have a current weapons
program. This assertion has gone down like a lead brick with skeptical
Investigate reporter Seymour Hersh says it has been an open
secret in Washington since last year. In any event, whatever remnants of
credibility Bush still possessed after the Iraq fiasco have been shot.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he is determined to
work with the nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, to prove that Iran is developing
nukes. If that�s so, he�s got a difficult task ahead because the head of the
IAE, Mohammed El-Baradei, has consistently discounted such claims and been
vilified by the US State Department for his stance.
The hawkish US vice president, Dick Cheney, is accused of
trying to bury the intelligence estimate but he encountered opposition from
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who either wanted to put a brake on the
warmongers or feared inopportune leaks. Moreover, US law mandates that
intelligence estimates must be put before Congress. Whatever the real reason
it�s been published, there is no doubt it has undercut the Bush
administration�s military option rationale as well as its efforts to persuade
Russia and China to sign up to further anti-Iranian sanctions.
China�s ambassador to the UN said, �We will assess the
situation on proposals for a new resolution in the UN Security Council on the
basis of several factors including the publication by the US of data showing
that Iran does not have a military nuclear program.�
Russia�s foreign minister has trumpeted Iran�s willingness
to adhere to the principles of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
For its part, Israel feels betrayed by the report�s authors.
Zvi Ba�rel writing in Haaretz says �The anger against the American intelligence
report is understandable. After all, the threat remains. Even if Iran is not
nuclear at the moment, it is still a state with a proven arsenal of ballistic
missiles that threatens Israel and the entire region.�
�This explains the profound disappointment, the feeling of
betrayal and, especially, the panic over the American intelligence services�
decision to peek under the Iranian cloak and suggest that there are significant
holes in the �theory of the Iranian enemy,�� he writes.
Actually, Ba�rel, all the countries in our neck of the woods
believe that Israel, which does possess a nuclear arsenal, is currently
occupying Arab land and just last year launched a war against Lebanon, to be
the greatest threat to this region.
Former US ambassador to the United Nations and arch
neoconservative John Bolton is outraged over the estimate and angry with the
intelligence community, which he claims has launched a �quasi-putsch� against
the government position. �This is politics disguised as intelligence,� he said.
There is one question that leaps out. Why on earth are
Washington and Tel Aviv so disappointed to hear good news and so eager to
shovel for bad? Isn�t it odd, too, that the governments of both countries are
so determined not to give Iran a clean bill of health that they would even
discredit their own intelligence sources?
For me, the message is crystal clear. Iran hasn�t done
anything wrong with the exception of its refusal to kowtow to Western
interests, and it�s being targeted purely because it isn�t led by pro-Western
marionettes. The US and Israel aren�t really concerned about a nuke threat.
There isn�t one and they know it. Instead, they are worried that their obvious
joint agenda to overthrow the Iranian regime has been derailed.
We shouldn�t be surprised. We�ve seen it all before. They
hyped the so-called Iraqi threat by stressing on fictional weapons of mass
destruction and the result is 4 millions Iraqis displaced and over 1 million
civilians erased from the planet. I�m only surprised at the fact there isn�t
more public anger when it�s plain we were duped once and, if the US and Israel
had their way, we�d be duped again.
It looks as though the GCC countries have had enough of
Washington crying wolf. During a regional security summit, held last weekend in
Bahrain, they signaled their opposition to military strikes against Iran and
called for roundtable dialogue -- a position that was also supported by Iraqi
leaders attending the conference.
Whether anyone likes it or not, Iran is part of the
neighborhood and it has signaled it wants closer ties with its neighbors.
Surely it�s time for the nations of this region to band together and stand
against further foreign adventurism, which costs so much in terms of lives,
treasure and destroyed economies.
Just ask yourselves this. In the now unlikely event of a
US/Israel strike on Iran, which people would end up as the biggest losers apart
from the Iranians? The Americans are too far away and would, no doubt, lap up
the action on their screens. The Israelis would move to their bunkers and rely
on US-made anti-missile missiles for protection.
Iran has stated that in the event of an attack, it would
retaliate against US interests in the Gulf and seek to close the Strait of
Hormuz. The biggest losers by far would be the people here, who would also have
nothing at all to gain. Such military aggression would also negatively impact
the future. It would split nations in this region who must in the end share the
same space and potentially lead to decades of mutual hostility.
There is only one way forward that will produce stability
and peace -- unity. If only the GCC, Iraq and Iran can, for once, put up a firm
united front, the sick neocon hegemonic dream would shrivel and eventually die.
S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes
feedback and can be contacted by email at email@example.com.