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Will There Be War? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Anybody following the Western press cannot miss the headlines calling on Iran, Israel and the US to act rationally and to not carry out a military attack against Tehran. If we were to look at rising oil prices and Iran’s fiery statements, despite the calm enforced by its allies Hamas and Hezbollah, it would all lead to one question: Will there be war?

All indications point towards this and it is clear that Tehran’s response to the proposals made by major powers was not encouraging but was apparently frustrating, or at least it was reported to be frustrating and unresponsive.

The past two days have witnessed a new state of escalation after American and British naval forces conducted military exercises in the Arabian Gulf. The US Fifth Fleet announced that the exercise [Exercise Stake Net] took place in the central and southern Gulf and that it was part of ongoing training aimed at protecting the region’s oil infrastructure from any attack.

The Iranians have previously threatened to seal off the strategic Strait of Hormuz, through which approximately 40 percent of the world’s oil passes. Yesterday, a Fifth Fleet spokesman stated that the matter concerned the protection of the regional and global economies.

The US also announced yesterday that the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln has moved from the Arabian Gulf to the Arabian Sea to support military operations in Afghanistan. However, these manoeuvres were accompanied by naval exercises carried out by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the Gulf to “improve the capabilities of its [Iran’s] long-range ballistic missiles and sea missiles.” Moreover, Iranian statements that can be classified as escalatory and threatening were issued across all levels.

To understand the past events; it is necessary to ponder what the Iranian ambassador to the United Kingdom Rasoul Movahedian said: “The issue of the suspension of uranium enrichment has become a thing of the past and the West, through its insistence upon this illegitimate and unreasonable demand is only wasting time.”

But time is the essence of the game. Tehran is trying to buy time until [US President George W.] Bush leaves the White House in hope that the new president will not be as keen on taking firm positions against Iran – and this message was delivered to Iran through the statements and positions adopted by Barack Obama recently.

However, Iran trying to buy time is precisely what Israel is trying to avoid. The former Mossad director [Shabtai Shavit] recently warned that if Iran is capable of possessing nuclear weapons within a year, the time left to confront Tehran is increasingly getting shorter.

In the Arab world and in the narrow circle of decision-making, there is the conviction that a military confrontation with Iran is looming fast. Those monitoring agreements forged in the Gulf and the changes in alliances and the clearing of skies in the region can see something big approaching on the horizon.

Various decision-makers among Arab world leaders are warning of a looming event in September or October whilst the Western media is publicly referring to this coming autumn. In any case, the coming months will be heavily laden.

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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