Sunday, January 21, 2007

Iran overplaying its hand

  • Iran: Overplaying Its Hand: The Administration no longer focuses exclusively on Iran’s nuclear program but regards Iran as a strategic challenge to US interests throughout the Middle East and beyond...Outside Bush’s immediate circle, opposition to military action against Iran is almost unanimous among officials and analysts. On Capitol Hill opposition is also widespread. However, events could move rapidly as a result of an on-the-ground US-Iranian confrontation in Iraq. A National Security Council official commented: “The military sees Iran as the Cambodia (the North Vietnamese supply route into South Vietnam) of Iraq. Unless they can close this down, we cannot win.” The result is that conflict with Iran may come not through the “front door” of nuclear weapons disagreements but through the “back door” of Iraq.

  • Arabia: Lower Oil Prices and Iran: confidential exchanges have taken place between US and Saudi officials about bolstering Sunni elements in the Middle East, especially against Iran. In addition to joining the US in supporting the Sinoira government in Lebanon, the Saudis are also helping on the oil front. Intelligence analysts in Washington believe that Iran is vulnerable to a lower oil price. The resulting economic stress may threaten domestic stability. “Ahmadinejad promised improved living standards,” one analyst told us. “He has completely failed to deliver on this.” We hear that, with US encouragement, the Saudis have resisted calls inside OPEC for collective action to stabilize prices.

  • Ahmed Al-Jarallah, Arab Times: Tehran continues to stand against the international community, ignore warnings to abandon its nuclear program and insist on teasing superpowers. In 2003 as a part of its preemptive strike policy the US attacked Iraq, which was thought to have nuclear warheads. We wonder what Iran is trying to do by angering and challenging the United States. In our opinion a US strike on Iran is imminent to correct Tehran’s misguided policies, and prevent that country from becoming a black sheep in the Middle East.

  • The Sunday Times-Khamenei pondeing nuclear deal: IRAN’S supreme leader is considering a change of policy on the country’s nuclear programme in an effort to defuse growing tension with the West, according to senior sources in Tehran. Khamenei is said to believe that Washington’s aim is not only to halt Iran’s nuclear programme but to overthrow the regime. Under proposals now being debated, an international group made up of the permanent five members of the UN security council, plus Germany or a nuclear power such as India, would oversee and monitor Iran’s nuclear programme.