Thursday, March 13, 2008

Israel raises the ante against Iran

By Kaveh L Afrasiabi
Asia Times

".....Coinciding with the ominous news that US CENTCOM chief Admiral William Fallon has resigned - or been sacked - for his opposition to a war with Iran, Livni hopes to harvest a blowing wind of war against another Middle Eastern country that dares to challenge Israel's regional hegemony. It is a familiar story with a recent precedent in Iraq and a script for action, requiring high-pitched public diplomacy with the help of a vast network of sympathetic media pundits, that Israel has fully mastered.....

This time, however, with the stakes on Iran relatively higher, the discrete charm of the affable Livni is fully required to pave the way for another disastrous war in the Middle East, since Israel is incapable of peace with the Palestinians and is in dire need of other pretexts to channel public attention away from its oppressive policies against the Palestinian people.

This is reflected in the Israeli government's blunt announcement of a new settlement in the West Bank, timed with Rice's visit, which must have surely sent a signal that no matter how it may be interpreted as a provocation that belies the peace process, Israel's policy of annexation and confiscation of Palestinian lands will continue unabated......

Unfortunately, that healthy skepticism is presently staved off by a sophisticated public relations ploy on Israel's part that blames Iran for the death of the peace process and exonerates Israel, while presenting a caricature of independence-seeking Palestinians as mere proxies of Iran's "messianic fundamentalists".

Such self-serving image projections of the Iranian enemy conveniently overlook US-Iran shared interests in the region and, instead, seek desperately to paint a black and white picture of US-Iran relations as a zero-sum game. Of course, this is a harder sell, as the US and Iran both support the same regimes in Baghdad and Kabul and also have a vested interest in preventing the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Sunni insurgency in Iraq.

Meanwhile, amid new US allegations of Iranian subversive activities in Iraq, a fourth round of US-Iran talks has been postponed and, per an informed Iranian analyst, that is simply because the US does not want to negotiate with Iran from the position of weakness since Tehran has gained much as a result of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent trip to Baghdad. "The US should make a strategic adjustment with Iran or continue with its cold war crusade that is disfunctional because Iran and the US have common interests in the region," the analyst insisted.

So, the clever Israelis and their friends have mounted a serious campaign to convince the world that Iran is in bed with the Taliban and also with al-Qaeda, as well as with practically "every terror group opposed to the US", to paraphrase Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns at his recent talk at Harvard University......

In conclusion, the waning months of the George W Bush administration represent a golden opportunity for Israel to ignite another Middle East conflict that, in essence, is rooted in Israel's structural inability to make peace with the Arab and Muslim world."

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