I noted almost a month ago that there were rumblings in the Middle-East that Saudi Arabia might just let Israel “slip by” their air defenses in order to take out Iran’s impending nuclear capability. Now the United Arab Emirates seem to be making nervous noises, per the Washington Times:
In unusually blunt remarks, Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba publicly endorsed the use of the military option for countering Iran‘s nuclear program, if sanctions fail to stop the country’s quest for nuclear weapons. . . .
“If you are asking me, ‘Am I willing to live with that versus living with a nuclear Iran?,’ my answer is still the same: ‘We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.’ I am willing to absorb what takes place at the expense of the security of the U.A.E.“
“Unusually blunt” indeed. That’s the kind of “slip” that gets diplomats replaced . . . unless they’re actually speaking the mind of their government for the purpose of putting out a warning, at least (and sometimes even then, just for the sake of appearances).
In the meantime, we have the Asia Times giving armchair general advice on the best route for Israel to hit Iran, and Russia apparently withholding the sale of the S-300 air-defense missile system from Iran in accordance with U.N. sanctions. The last item is particularly of interest, since Iran was counting on that system to counteract an Israeli strike, and the Israelis considered the sale to create a hard deadline for a successful attack run on Iran’s nuclear capability.
I can see a couple of possibilities here: One is that the sale is going forward under the table and the Russian-Persian spat is just obfuscation. That would be difficult to pull off with everyone watching, but probably not impossible. The more likely possibility is that Russia is looking at the situation and has determined that it needs plausible deniability if a combined Israeli/American/Arab attack on Iran goes forward.
In the meantime, Israel has stated flat-out that there will be no Palestinian state until at least 2012. With world opinion starting to turn on Iran, Israel has apparently decided to wait for a possible change in the American administration. Israel also had this little zing to toss at the Russians:
Israel’s Foreign Ministry last month criticized Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s call to involve Hamas in the region’s peace process, comparing the organization to Chechen rebels.
“Developed countries cannot separate terrorists into good ones and bad ones based on their geographic location,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Just a few months ago, it looked to everyone like Iran going nuclear was inevitable and Israel was on the ropes. Now it looks like the Western powers and their Arab allies have decided to take action against Iran after all, and Russia may be pulling back from its client state.
Iran, of course, would like to have a war to distract its citizens from its domestic troubles. Interestingly, though public demonstrations seem to have been squashed, a quieter revolution may be taking place:
Despite the appearance that the movement has been suppressed in the absence of demonstrations, intellectuals and politically active Iranians like Maryam and her friends are opting to sit home to think, write, publish, and discuss politics.
Welcome to Iran’s Intellectual Revolution.
The shutdown of dozens of Iranian newspapers and media platforms over the last year as a result of demonstration coverage that was unflattering to the regime, left a sizable void that the underground media is effectively filling. The regime strategically closed official media sites hoping to thwart the spread of anti-government sentiment through traditional media outlets. They simultaneously paved the way for popular and unregulated publications to sprout up by the dozens, including underground newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs, and even night letters—flyers that are circulated in local neighborhoods in the middle of the night and have become a popular method of disseminating important political messages in many Iranian cities and villages.
Our prayers should definitely go with them. While I believe that a third world war centered on the Middle-east is inevitable, I also believe that the best chance to forestall that war is to support the Iranian people against the dictators that have seized control of their country.