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Iran after Qom - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Following the announcement of the existence of a new [Iranian] nuclear facility at a military base near the city of Qom there is concern about what will happen now; this concern stems from the timing of the announcement revealing the existence of this facility, what the international response to it will be, what else Iran has to hide with regards to the nuclear file, and how Tehran plans to respond to the West’s position?

It is clear that the revelation of the existence of this facility near Qom means that genuine negotiations between Iran and the West are now underway, although these were [originally] scheduled to begin one week from now. This means that the West had been aware of the new Iranian facility via their intelligence agencies, but decided to postpone its announcement in order to learn more [about it] and undermine Iran’s credibility, thereby putting more pressure on Iran during the negotiations. Meanwhile, after realizing that the facility had been discovered, Iran attempted to preemptively reveal its existence, but this came too late, and resulted in making Iran seem even more vulnerable, and not as transparent as some claimed.

The Iranian regime is weak internally, and lacks legitimacy following the recent presidential elections which resulted in a silent coup by Ahmadinejad and the military at the expense of the reformists and the Supreme Leader [of Iran]. The Supreme Leader [now] has no choice but to comply [with the wishes] of the Revolutionary Guards, therefore negotiating with Tehran when it is in such a weak position is a dangerous proposition because the regime may take risks in order to escape to the front, as the regime is [now] genuinely under internal and external pressures.

All of this justifies the current Arab anxiety towards Iran, and what it may do, especially since Tehran has previously said that it is prepared to negotiate with the West on the situation in the region, from Palestine to Lebanon to Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than negotiating on the nuclear file. Iran may not hesitate to use the region in an attempt to counter the internal and external pressures that it is facing – and above all – to escape from the dilemma of western pressure or to waylay Israel, which may launch a lightning military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

This means that we must monitor what Hezbollah might do, on the grounds that it is the [Iranian] agent in the region which is the most affiliated and loyal to Tehran, and so Hezbollah may seek to heat up the Lebanese front in order to ease the western or Israeli pressure on Iran. It is important to monitor Hezbollah in the upcoming days, particularly with regards to the process of forming a Lebanese government, and especially since the coming days may witness a “shift” in the Saudi – Syrian relations, coverage of which has received strange reactions on Hezbollah affiliated websites.

As for Hamas, it is important to look at a pseudo-intellectual statement attributed to the movement in which Hamas said that Egypt has become more impartial and is close to achieving Palestinian reconciliation! This confirms what I said last week in my article “Iran’s Allies Have Reached the Tipping Point” when I revealed that a high-ranking member of Hamas told an Arab official whilst performing Umrah that he is more eager towards Saudi Arabia and Egypt than any other country, and that he is ready to reconcile with Mahmoud Abbas.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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