Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Iranian Casino - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

As the Iraqi crisis grew, it dragged a number of other significant issues to the fore. The matter is no longer confined to preserving the political or geographical unity of Iraq or even to control the sources of extremism and the tools of terrorism, which is increasingly becoming more powerful and vicious. The matter now is related to the dangerous Iranian interference in Iraqi affairs.

It is clear that America now occupies Iraq and that there is a multilateral administration that lacks wisdom and caution. However, Iranian intervention, which can no longer be considered innocent, has become a cause for concern for the regional balances of power. This growing intervention is taking place as endless talks continue on the possible sanctions and threats on Iran as long as it continues its nuclear enrichment program.

However, what cards have been laid on the table between Iran and the west, in particular the United States? The truth is that the haphazard American war on terror has unintentionally given Iran two important gifts. It has eliminated two of Iran’s fiercest opponents namely the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq without replacing the former regimes with stable and confident systems. This granted Iran “the freedom” to be active in Iraq, as it enjoys the appropriate demographic structure and most alluring “incentive,” namely, the oil in southern Iraq. The threat of military action would be very difficult for the United States to carry out as the presence of over 120,000 of its soldiers would be an easy target for Iran’s biological and conventional weapons therefore, such action would be extremely risky for the Bush administration that is already facing harsh criticism from the public and the media. Therefore, theoretically, the United States would not carry out a military strike against Iran now unless it withdraws from Iraq (which Bush has already assured he would not do).

The American administration has not been able to “sell” the idea of an Israeli strike against Iran because Israel believes that the United States has the most right to carry out such an attack after Iraq. What is the solution to this dilemma? The clear principle now is that the international community will not allow for a dictatorial revolutionary regime to possess the tools to terrorize its neighbors (bearing in mind the overlooking of Israel’s location and the fact that it owns nuclear weapons). Therefore, the deal may involve “permitting” Iran to become a key player in the world of oil based on its acquirement of oil from southern Iraq in return for abandoning its nuclear program. An “odd” and unbelievable deal is it not? Perhaps it is, however, what has happened in Iraq and Lebanon confirms that there are new roles for conventional players in the Middle East. Iran’s dangerous game is a gamble and is not an adventure. Are other parties ready to place their bets?

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

More Posts