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US war plans for Iran may be irreversible

By Jalal Alavi, UK


After separate meetings with President Bashar Assad of Syria, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei declared Muslim unity and resistance against US-Israeli conspiracies in the Middle East urgent matters for all Muslims in the region to rally around.  The Islamic Republic’s years of cooperation with the Untied States in Nicaragua (the Iran-Contra affair), Afghanistan and Iraq notwithstanding, one cannot but wonder if such renewed boldness by Iranian authorities is not actually a direct outcome of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s recent remarks at the Munich conference of 10 February, in which Putin scorned the US policy of domination as a security threat to Russia.


There is no doubt that the George W. Bush administration’s so-called war on terror and belligerent attitude towards the Middle East has, more than ever before, sensitized Russia to issues related to its own security as well as the safety and security of its potential allies and lucrative networks in the region.  US post-9/11 policy of regime change in the Middle East, which was advanced by Bush as an attempt to address issues of democratic deficit and extremist tendencies in the region, has not only amounted to the establishment of a more extensive American military presence in Central and Southwest Asia, but also has forced Russia to re-evaluate its overall geostrategic position vis-à-vis the United States.


As a result of such strategic re-evaluation on the part of the Putin administration, the Iranian regime is now finding US threats and military build-up in the Persian Gulf extremely advantageous.  This is because the Islamic Republic has undoubtedly arrived at the subtle conclusion that a persistently belligerent US will sooner than later waken the Russian bear next door from its long winter nap, and as a result Russia, for reasons related to its own security and strategic interests, would have no choice but to intervene on its behalf. [1]


This, of course, is a US-induced dilemma the Bush administration could not have intended or foreseen at the time it initiated its war on terror, but will sooner or later come to grasp.  On the other hand, the Bush administration might have already grasped, as a result of Putin’s latest remarks in Munich, the depth of this self-inflicted dilemma and its long term strategic ramifications for the US and the wider international community.  Should this actually be the case, it is highly likely that all our efforts so far in obstructing US plans for war with Iran will be ignored by administration officials since – from a Bush administration point of view fixated on the use of American military might – a pre-emptive strike by the US on Iran, on the basis of the above discussion, would also mean a strategic blow to Russian attempts at domination in the region. [2]


It may be said, therefore, that as a result of Bush’s notorious war on terror and belligerent attitude toward Iran, Russia will have no choice but to throw its weight around in the international arena in the hope of preventing the further expansion of US domination in its vicinity.  Iran, on the other hand, is finding it extremely difficult, if not outright infeasible, to resist Russian (but also Chinese, for that matter) overtures of “cooperation,” be it in such realms as security and military assistance, or in forms associated with finance and the development of its energy sectors.


Of course, Iran will not be the only country in the region engaging in such cold war-style cooperative arrangements with Russia.  Syria will soon find itself in the same situation as Iran, preparing gradually to move closer to the bear next door.


In much the same manner, countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait [3] – and eventually perhaps Pakistan and Afghanistan – will also have to seek ways of balancing their external relations vis-à-vis internal pressures and US interventionist impulses (e.g. calls for democratization or liberalization).  This, of course, is not without precedent when it comes to governments (client regimes) friendly towards the US, as the former Shah of Iran used to do the exact same thing when confronted with anti-US internal opposition or a US administration critical of his economic policies or poor human rights record.


To be sure, part of what used to go on during the cold war in terms of security and major power rivalries has found its way into the present era, mostly perhaps as a result of miscalculations or raw opportunism by the Bush administration and its European allies.  Whether the US and the wider democratic community can compensate for their past mistakes by peacefully assisting the expansion of the third wave of democracy to also include the Middle East remains to be seen.  




1.  This would explain, for example, why the Iranian regime and its proxies in the region such as Muqtada Sadr and Hassan Nasrollah have opted for the escalation of hostilities with the US and Israel.  It is also worth noting that the Islamic Republic is, for security and other purposes, very much interested in becoming a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes Russia and China as members.


2.  US contingency plans for war against Iran have already been revealed by the New Yorker, the BBC and others.  Thus it seems the US has grasped the depth of the dilemma mentioned above.  Let us just hope the US will not decide to deal with the situation through war.  


3.  Kuwaitis have not forgotten the fact that the US was partially responsible for Saddam Hussein’s invasion of their country; hence their partial mistrust of the US.  As for the Saudis, they have recently started on the path of closer relations with Russia by engaging it in matters related to peaceful nuclear technology – the kind of technology they could easily acquire from the US.


About the author: Jalal Alavi is a sociologist and political commentator residing in Britain.  This article was first published online by the Political Affairs Magazine on February 25.


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