Friday, March 6, 2009

Game on in the Middle East

During her tour, Hillary Clinton has made clear that the grand US-Iran battle for strategic control of the region has been joined

Simon Tisdall, Thursday 5 March 2009

"The US secretary of state Hillary Clinton's quasi-regal progress through the Middle East this week seems to have been too much for Iran's Supreme Leader to bear. Speaking publicly about the new US administration for the first time since Barack Obama took power, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was by turns angry and dismissive.

"Even the new American president, who came to office with the slogan of bringing change in the policies of the Bush administration, avows unconditional commitment to Israel's security," Khamenei said. "This commitment means the defence of state terrorism, injustice, and oppression ... of Palestinians.".....

Khamenei's rant should not be considered Iran's final word on Washington's so far non-specific offers of bilateral dialogue. Rather it reflects an uneasy realisation in Tehran that Obama and Clinton are in the process of launching a multi-pronged strategic offensive across the Middle East that directly challenges recent Iranian gains.....

Washington's decision to send senior US envoys to Damascus after a four-year rift has opened another anti-Tehran front. This move, apparently orchestrated with Saudi Arabia, may augur resumed Israeli-Syrian peace talks, part of Clinton's "many front" approach. But equally it affords an opportunity to weaken Syria's alliance with Iran - and with Iranian-backed Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon....."

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