The American-Iranian Cold War in the Middle East and the Threat of A Broader War
A cold war has been ongoing between Tehran and Washington. U.S. spies, drones, assassinations, and accusations against Tehran have all been a part of this package. Washington and its minions have been using every means possible, including international organizations, like the United Nations, as a battleground against Tehran in this cold war. The destabilization campaign being waged against Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are also a critical front in this cold war…
The Obama Administration has used 2011 to unleash Washington’s so-called “Coalition of the Moderate” against the Resistance Bloc, which pins together all the countries and forces united by their opposition to U.S. and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region. The two camps that are becoming more and more visible in the MENA region are falling along the lines of what Washington, Tel Aviv, and NATO planned on forming after the 2006 Israeli defeat in Lebanon as a means of tackling Iran and its allies. In 2007, the United States of America, represented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defence Secretary Robert Gates, held a meeting in Cairo under the “GCC + 2” formula with the Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, the U.A.E., Oman, and Qatar – plus Egypt and Jordan to form a strategic and all encompassing front against Iran, Syria, and their regional allies. This “Coalition of the Moderate” formed by Washington was a direct extension of NATO that also included Israel and Turkey as important and central participants.
The Balance of Power is being played out in Syria and Iraq
While Syria is being targeted for regime change as a means of re-orienting the balance of power in the Middle East, Iraq is also being destabilized as a means of catalyzing a sectarian civil war between Muslim Shia Arabs and Muslim Sunni Arabs. The bombings in both Iraq and Syria carry all the trademarks of Washington and its network of allies, as do the murder of civilians by Salvador-style death squads. For years Iraqi refugees have been reporting that U.S. and British forces were leading the death squads in Iraq and that they were the main perpetrators behind the explosions targeting civilians in Iraq. In regards to Syria, even the press in North America and Western Europe has been forced to admit that there are “mysterious death squads” killing Syrian civilians. One example is the National Post in Canada, which admitted on December 7, 2011 that unknown death squads were causing havoc in Syria by killing civilians.
The massive waves of explosions in Iraq targeting civilians are a means of not only destabilizing Iraq, but igniting sectarianism as the U.S. pulls out. It is no coincidence that the neighbourhoods in Baghdad and its galaxy cities were quickly turned into sectarian enclaves under U.S. administration. It is also worth noting that the current Vice-President of the United States, Joseph Biden, was the man that in 2006 authored a plan – or more correctly stamped his name on the plan – called the “Biden Plan” to divide or balkanize Iraq into three sectarian entities. It is in this context that the political tensions between Prime Minister Nouri Al-Malaki and Vice-President Tariq Al-Hashimi are being played out and utilized. If a genuine sectarian civil war occurs in Iraq it could galvanize the region along the lines of Sunnites and Shiites as Washington, Tel Aviv, NATO, and the Arab dictatorial families wish. Regional chaos is their goal. Such chaos and divisions would preoccupy and distract the peoples of the region with internal fighting and allow the U.S. and Israel to maintain advantageous positions while the petro-sheikhdom rulers would be able to maintain their illegitimate hold on power.
Turkey’s Central Role in Syria and the Middle East Spy War
In Libya, while Qatar was designated as the main Arab country, Britain and France were the NATO members that were outsourced the handling of the war by Washington (at least publicly). In Syria, the campaign was outsourced to France, Germany, and Turkey by Washington, while Qatar and Saudi Arabia, with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to follow in the future, were designated as the principle Arab players. Berlin was initially pushing for foreign intervention in the Syrian Arab Republic, but its role has seemed to have subsided as has the possibility of direct NATO military intervention in Syria. Focusing back on Turkey, Ankara is nonetheless the central player in besieging Syria and without Turkey’s participation the operations against Syria have a slim chance of success.
From the end of November to the start of December, the Syrian Army begun to setup positions near the Syrian-Turkish borders, including Hatay Province where Alexandretta (Iskenderun) is located. As Syrian troops positioned themselves near the Turkish border a little after mid-December, U.S. or NATO aircraft violated Syrian airspace. The aircraft entered Syria’s airspace via Incirlik Air Base from the nearby Adana Province of Turkey and dropped off electronic spy devices near the predominately Kurdish-inhabited vicinity of the town of Afrin in the Governate of Aleppo.
This is part of the broader electronic monitoring and spy war that has also gripped Lebanon and Iran. Recently in Lebanon large numbers of Israeli and U.S. spies were apprehended with direct ties to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. In parallel, U.S. spies and spy networks have also been ensnared in Iran by the Iranian intelligence apparatus. This spy war is tied to the stepped up efforts by Washington to infiltrate Iran. With this view, Washington has also augmented its Iranian special interest office in the United Arab Emirates with a virtual embassy for Iran.
Playing the Turks; Ankara May Back Down in its Syrian Gambit
Public in-fighting is not new to NATO states and in this respect Paris and Ankara have begun to squabble over the Armenian Genocide. For years Nicolas Sarkozy and legislators in Paris have talked about passing legislature that would outlaw the denial of the Armenian Genocide in the dying Ottoman Empire. This legislature was recently passed in France and has been widely analyzed as an elections stunt by Sarkozy to win Armenian support and votes in France. Nevertheless, it has to also be noted that Paris has also predicted that the situation in Iraq after the U.S. military evacuation could radically modify the stance of the Turkish government towards Syria. This is a key point.
If Iraq becomes an assertive single entity that aligns itself completely with Tehran and Damascus, then Turkey will be forced to change its position. Turkish trade could heavily be decelerated and a contour would be formed around Turkey going from Iran to Iraq to Syria that could cut Turkey’s land routes to North Africa, Jordan, the Arabian Peninsula, Central Asia, Pakistan, India, and East Asia. Along with the Republic of Armenia, Tehran, Baghdad, and Damascus could form a wall around Turkey. The only open borders to Turkey would be Greece, Bulgaria, and Georgia. The latter of which, Georgia, could be cutoff too by the Russian Federation.
Hence, the course of events in Iraq will be pivotal to Turkish foreign policy and to the shape of the balance of power in the Middle East. It is in this context that creating internal tensions in Iraq is being used to keep Iraq from asserting itself as a staunch Iranian and Syrian ally. Should the regime in Syria manage to holdout and should Iraq manage to maintain stability, Washington’s time in the Middle East will be over; followed by Israel’s capabilities to launch anymore wars.
Moreover, the Turks are slated for relatively short-term use. It is not in the interest of Washington or Israel to allow Turkey to become a major power. The U.S. and Israel have been working behind Ankara’s back to also weaken Turkey after it serves it purpose in their regional strategy. This is one of the reasons they have been supporting Kurdish separatist movements opposed to Turkey. Turkey itself is slated to erupt into internal fighting and divisions. Turkish involvement in Syria or a war with Syria involving the Turks will ultimately weaken Turkey itself and have disastrous side effects like Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran did for Iraq. If a war does erupt between Ankara and Damascus, the war itself will be damaging to Turkish national unity and could led to a civil war; such a war will also erupt into a conflict with Syria’s Iranian and Russian allies.
Syrian and Iranian military officials meeting in Damascus in 2009.
The Demonization of Iran in the International Commons
The international system that was setup after the Second World War is in increasing decline. The United Nations and other international bodies have become the scenes of struggles between two emerging global camps – on the one hand is the U.S. and what has become, since the end of the Cold War, the expanded Western Bloc and on the other hand are all those countries that are independent of Washington or that resist U.S. hegemony. These two camps are increasingly becoming visible on the basis of their positions in the international arena and how they vote in global forums. For example, albeit there were key abstentions, at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva there were two diametrically opposed positions on Syria that saw countries like Ecuador, Cuba, Russia, and China siding with Syria against the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Poland.
Much earlier, the International Atomic Energy Association (I.A.E.A.) in the same context of a battle ground also released a grossly manipulated report. The report took information from the intelligence services of the U.S. and its allies and old information that was discarded earlier for being false by the I.A.E.A. and reinvented the very same information as “potentially” meaning that the Iranian nuclear energy program had military applications. Director-General Yukiya Amano, a former Japanese diplomat, even violated the regulations of the I.A.E.A. in composing the report and its clandestine release to a few I.A.E.A. members. Amano’s report also knowingly released a list of Iranian scientists working on the nuclear energy program, knowing that it would place their lives in danger with assassinations attempts.
Washington with the collaboration of the Al-Sauds also tried to rally international support in October 2011 by claiming that Iran wanted to assassinate the Saudi envoy to Washington. After changing the outlandish narrative of the Iranian assassination attempt several times, the issue was brought to a vote at the U.N. General Assembly by Saudi Arabia and the U.S. in mid-November. One hundred and six countries voted in favour of the resolution calling for Iranian cooperation and condemning the plot. Forty countries abstained and nine voted against the resolution. The U.S. also took the opportunity to renew sanctions against Iran and present it as a threat to world peace.
A month later, a cyber warfare unit of the Iranian Armed Forces overrode U.S. controls over a Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel spy drone. It was a reenactment of the 1960 U-2 spy plane incident with the Soviet Union. The Pentagon originally denied that the U.S. had violated Iranian airspace or that a drone was captured and gave several conflicting stories, but was forced to admit the truth once the Iranians unveiled the U.S. spy drone in perfect condition under Iranian custody. In the process of taking over the controls of the spy drone when it violated Iranian airspace, U.S. satellites and command and control facilities were electronically manipulated by the Iranian military. In the same month a U.S. court in New York declared that Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah aided Al-Qaeda in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 (9/11) and found Iran liable for a hundred billion dollars worth of damages.
The American-Iranian Cold War could lead to a Global Hot War
Now, close to the end of 2011, General Martin Dempsey, the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said several times that the U.S. Armed Forces are prepared to attack Iran. The Iranians have dismissed the ability of the U.S. to wage a war, but have not ruled out U.S. or Israeli attempts to launch strikes. It is in this context that Iranian naval forces have conducted naval drills in and around the Straits of Hormuz and in the waters of the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, and Arabian Sea.
The term cold war can be very misleading, because many hot events can take place in the context of such rivalries, as is the case of the events in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq in regard to the cold war between Washington and Tehran. The actual Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States was actually played out via many hot wars in different parts of the world like Angola, Vietnam, and the Korean Peninsula. With this consideration in mind, the cold war in the Middle East between Tehran and Washington could erupt into a real and dangerous hot war with global ramifications.
On December 14, 2011, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that Russia is paying special attention to its military infrastructure in Armenia, which has greater geo-political importance now in regards to Russian involvement in the Middle East in the case of a U.S. or NATO war. On November 28, 2011 it was declared that Dmitry Rogozin, Moscows’s envoy to NATO and now one of Russia’s deputy prime ministers (vice-prime ministers), would visit both Beijing and Tehran in mid-January 2012 to discuss collectively countering Washington’s missile shield project. This was after Rogozin speaking in late-September 2011 to the Rossiya-24 Television Network denied Iranian media reports that Moscow, Tehran, and Beijing were planning on jointly spearheading a response to Washington’s global missile project.
In the scenario of a U.S. war with Iran, the frozen conflicts in the Caucasus between Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan would also all be ignited. The Armenians, which are the allies of both Moscow and Tehran, have also made it clear that Yerevan would be forced to pick sides. From Central Asia and the Caucasus to Pakistan and the Middle East there would be major upheavals.
Neither Russia nor China will be able to stand idly in the case that a war is launched against Iran. In one way or another, if Russia enters a war against the U.S. and NATO then countries like Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Moldova would all be dragged into the conflict as it broadens. The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (S.C.O.) would be collectively involved. Rear-Admiral Zhang Zhaozhong, a Chinese military official and a director at the National Defence University of the People’s Republic of China has also acknowledged this and stated that China would not hesitate in entering a war against the United States should Washington attack Iran. Rear-Admiral Zhazhong has also addressed the importance of Pakistan as a bridge to Iran for Beijing during a possible war and the instability in Pakistan should also be examined in the context of its value to China. It is in this respect that the cold war in the Middle East has the dangerous potential of igniting into a broader war involving the core of Eurasia that would envelop the globe in disaster.
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a Sociologist and award-winning author. He is a Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) in Montreal, Quebec. He specializes on the Middle East and Central Asia. He has been a contributor and guest discussing the broader Middle East on numerous programs and international networks such as Al Jazeera, Press TV and Russia Today. Nazemroaya was also a witness to the “Arab Spring” in action in North Africa. While on the ground in Libya during the NATO bombing campaign, he reported out of Tripoli for several media outlets. He sent key field dispatches from Libya for Global Research and was Special Correspondent for Pacifica’s syndicated investigative program Flashpoints, broadcast out of Berkeley, California. His writings have been published in more than ten languages. He also writes for the Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF), Moscow.