21/12/2011 - 11:07

Iran marches in ‘twilight war’ with West

21/12/2011 - 11:07


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Iran and the US are fighting a tense ‘war’ where no shots have been fired. But tensions are building in a scenario that resonates with the start of World War II.

Iran and the US are fighting a tense ‘war’ where no shots have been fired. But tensions are building in a scenario that resonates with the start of World War II.

As 2012 approaches those who were sceptical about constant predictions of an air strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities may argue they were correct since it did not happen in 2011.

However, what they have failed to note is that such a war has, in fact, already begun and shows no sign of abating.

I say this primarily because of historical precedent, namely what English-speaking historians call the ‘phoney war’ that lasted eight months; between Poland’s defeat in October 1939 by German and Soviet forces, and Hitler’s invasion of France in May 1940.

That period was variously dubbed, the ‘twilight war’ (Winston Churchill); dziwna wojna (‘strange war’, Polish); and the Sitzkrieg (the ‘sitting war’, a play on Blitzkrieg, meaning lightning joint air and tank attacks).

No shots were fired. 

The key feature of those months was spying by agents, including aerial photography of enemy terrain by both sides.

That is precisely what the United States has been doing with its high-flying drones throughout 2011 and probably earlier.

Until this month, however, such flights were only suspected.

But on December 4, reports claimed Iran had coaxed down a RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone operated out of Afghanistan, perhaps even the same one that spied on Osama Bin Laden’s hideaway in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad.

President Barack Obama promptly demanded his drone’s return.

“We have asked for it back,” he said during a White House press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki along side.

“We’ll see how the Iranians respond.” 

In an interview broadcast, significantly, on Venezuelan television, Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said nothing to suggest he would be returning the sophisticated machine that he promptly put on display.

Far more likely, is the dispatching of the RQ-170 either to Beijing or Moscow, both allies of the Islamic republic.

“The Americans have perhaps decided to give us this spy plane,” Mr Ahmadinejad said.

“We now have control of this plane.”

So, President Obama, sorry mate, it’s ‘finders keepers’.

All along the way you have looked impotent.

What should not be overlooked is that Iran has cultivated intimate military and intelligence ties with Venezuela, so virtually on America’s doorstep, just south-east of Cuba where Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev moved to station missiles in 1962, and nearly triggered a nuclear war.

Iran is developing a formidable long-range missile force capable of striking Israel and, if relocated, could eventually threaten the ‘Great Satan’, the United States.

The stakes are far higher than just the striking of bunkered Iranian nuclear facilities during the present ‘twilight war’ some foolishly assume is not under way.

Iran continues playing for time for two reasons.

Firstly, because its nuclear capability has not yet been realised.

Secondly, it must still integrate its missile arms, parts of which can be located in Venezuela, like the Soviet Union sought to do in nearby Fidel Castro-controlled Cuba 50 years ago.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has therefore quietly displaced Castro as Tehran’s Western hemisphere stalking horse.

What else has been happening during this dziwna wojna? 

Plenty. Where to begin?

Consider some of the following, all of which, it should be emphasised, fall into the mysterious or clandestine category.

Last January saw the first press reports surface highlighting something called the Stuxnet worm, which, it was claimed, was part of the cyber war American and/or Israeli operators had managed to implant into computer banks controlling some or all of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Those reports claimed this ‘worm’ caused centrifuges, used to enrich uranium, to shatter. 

Nor is Tehran inactive.

In October, the US Department of Justice announced that two men had been charged in New York for being key participants in a plot by the Iranian Quds Force to kill Sunni Saudi Arabia’s ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir, in Washington.

Moreover, that killing was to have been carried out using a Bali-style bombing operation when ambassador al-Jubeir was inside a Washington restaurant.

Among other things this means US soil is now also the battleground.

This, of course, is not new because several Iranian scientists and engineers, who have been linked to its nuclear program, have been assassinated inside Iran.

In September, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, accused the US, Israel and Great Britain, of having conducted attacks on him and other scientists.

He was reportedly wounded in November last year during a car bomb blast.

Another bomb attack the same day killed a scientist, Majid Shahriani, who taught at Tehran’s Shahid Beheshti University.

Also in the same month, an explosion at an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) ballistic missile base near Tehran killed 17 people, including a high-ranking IRGC commander.

A fortnight ago the IRGC went on to a war footing.

Although Iranian sources were adamant the blast was an accident, others saw it as another successful Israeli operation.

On the same day the Western-leaning Persian Gulf state of Bahrain announced it had uncovered a plot involving at least five Bahrainis “against government and diplomatic targets in Bahrain”.

Iran’s response was identical to the denials that it was not involved in an attempt to bomb the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

These incidents illustrate the ‘no-war’ situation between Tehran, Jerusalem and Washington, which must be seen as omens of more to come.

All that said, it’s important to note that US foreign affairs expert, Michael Ledeen, author of Accomplice to Evil: Iran and the War against the West, has argued that a clandestine Iranian group or groups inside the country are responsible for many of the targeted assassinations and growing number of bombings and other “mishaps”.  

There are others indicating rising tension, including the Iranian government’s trashing of the British embassy in Tehran and tightening of sanctions against Iran’s global financial entities.

Clearly, there’s no room for wishful thinking, something that appeared to have been alive in President Obama’s much hailed June 4, 2009, Cairo University address, titled A New Beginning, during which he said: “Rather than remain trapped in the past, I’ve made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward.  

“The question now is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.”

Iran was never going to reverse its post-1979 ways, as the country’s ignoring of that fanciful speech so clearly showed.

This, of course, was predictable, as shown by the well-informed Iranian commentator, Amir Taheri, who said in his 2009 book, The Persian Night – Iran Under the Khomeinist Revolution: “The Islamic Republic cannot allow the imposition of a Pax Americana in which Khomeinism could have no place.

“The United States, for its part, cannot allow its Khomeini foes to dominate a region that contains half the world’s oil reserves.”

Tehran’s mullahs and IRGC leaders believe Pax Americana is underpinned by weakness, that America is what they call a sunset power whereas they see themselves as a sunrise one, especially across the Middle East and even in Venezuela.

They believe their arming and alliance on Washington’s doorstep is a foolproof strategy that guarantees victory, like Hitler’s limitless faith in his Blitzkrieg method of warfare.

Precisely what 2012 holds is absolutely clear – at minimum, more of the same.

Figuratively speaking, we’re somewhere between October 1939 and May 1940.

But how far away from that May still remains anyone’s guess.


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