The geo-political chessboard is being lined up for a showdown with Iran and its allies in the Resistance Bloc. This is just one theatre within the broader struggle to control Eurasia. In the process there is an effort by Washington and its allies to manipulate Islam and subordinate it to capitalist interests by ushering in a new generation of Islamists amongst the Arabs.
A New Pressure Point in Tehran: An Opportunity for the US-NATO-Israeli Alliance?
The political system of Iran is complex and there are multiple opposing poles of power. In 2009, the world already saw internal fighting amongst the ruling establishment. The divisions played themselves out during the protests that resulted after the presidential elections when allegations of fraud were put forward.
The presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (which started in 2005) was at odds with significant segments of Iran’s political establishment. Its relationship has always been tense with the other poles of power in Tehran. In 2011, Iran’s presidency has increasingly become at odds with the Parliament, the Judiciary, and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Within the framework of these political tensions, another Iranian internal political struggle is in the making. This time, the centre of attention is Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. The views of Mashaei, who is known as a political conservative, have been at odds with other conservatives, specifically the clerical elements. In 2009, Mashaei gave a speech where he said that Iran was friends with all the people of the world, including the Israeli people, and that Tehran was opposed to the regime in Tel Aviv, rather than the people of Israel. This was rebuked by Ayatollah Khamenei.
In July 2009, President Ahmadinejad tried to appoint Mashaei to the office of the primary (first) vice-president of Iran, but was opposed by the Iranian Parliament. Ahmadinejad was forced to appoint Mohammed-Reza Rahimi to the office of first vice-president. Instead Mashaei was appointed presidential chief-of-staff by President Ahmadinejad.
In April 2011, a scandal erupted when it became public that Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi had ordered for Mashaei to be the subject of electronic surveillance. Ahmadinejad in outrage wanted to fire the Intelligence Minister, but his decision was vetoed by Ayatollah Khamenei. Meanwhile Heydar Moslehi remained in his position.
It appears now that there is a concerted effort to weaken the Ahmadinejad Administration and to prevent it from helping Mashaei and others run for office. General Ali Jaffari, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, has stated publicly that there are “corrupt elements” in the presidential office who have deviated from the principles of the Iranian Revolution. Ali Saeedi, the liaison of Ayatollah Khamenei within the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, has also added his voice, saying that Ahmadinejad and his political camp will lose all support unless they remain committed to Ayatollah Khamenei.
Some form of political showdown is looming in Tehran. There appears to be a widening political rift amongst Iranian conservative ideologues. The Iranian President and his political allies intend to field their own candidates in the March 2012 parliamentary elections, who would challenge the current grouping of so-called conservatives in the Iranian Parliament.
In addition to all this, the death of Haleh Sahabi, the daughter of the late ex-Member of Parliament (MP) Ezatollah Sahabi, at the funeral of her father has ignited opposition anger which threatens to fuel and spark new protests.
Iranian security forces were present at the funeral to prevent it from being turned into a political event against the ruling establishment. In their presence, Haleh Sahabi was confronted by an unknown man who grabbed the picture of her father that she was holding during the funeral. When she tried to grab the man, he elbowed her so violently in the face that she died from a heart attack.
This could all play into the hands of the enemies of Iran. There is a secret war against Iran being fought by Washington and its allies, which has included the kidnapping of Iranians, assassinations of Iranian scientists and security officials, and terrorist attacks on Iranian border regions. The developing internal divisions in Tehran could be capitalized on by its enemies. Israel is already showing a deep interest in these new political tensions in Tehran.
It should be noted that Tel Aviv and Washington had prepared to launch a campaign to de-legitimize the Iranian presidential elections in 2009 and to use it to exploit any internal political divisions in Iran. This is documented by the Israeli media. Additionally, this is the reason why the U.S. Congress gave millions of dollars, at the request of U.S. Secretary Rice and President George W. Bush Jr., to establish a special interests office in the U.A.E. for dealing with regime change in Tehran.
Secret Israel Drills in Occupied Iraq: Iran in the Cross-Hairs Again?
Challenging Tehran, just like Russia, has always been a strategic objective of Washington and NATO. Tel Aviv has ended its period of brief silence about Tehran and has started to talk about attacking Iran again. What has added an extra dimension to this are the reports that the U.S. has allowed Israel to secretly use U.S. air bases in Al-Anbar, Iraq. Moqtada Al-Sadr has warned Tehran about the Israeli-U.S. operations in Iraq, which could amount to plans for some form of confrontation with Iran, Syria, and the entire Resistance Bloc from Gaza, Beirut, and Bint Jbeil to Damascus, Basra, Mosul, and Tehran.
A military structure, which is tied into NATO, has also been put into place to attack Iran, Syria, and their allies. Under various agreements NATO has established a foothold in the Persian Gulf and military links with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). France also has a base in the United Arab Emirates. The GCC is also preparing to expand. Both the kingdoms of Morocco and Jordan have made requests to join, while Yemen is also being considered for membership. Along with GCC membership comes a joint defence structure.
At the same time, the members of the GCC are blaming Iran for their domestic problems.
The strategic alliance between Israel and the Al-Sauds, originally formed to combat Gamal Abdel Nasser, has also positioned itself for the implementation of a broader conflict directed against Iran and its allies.
Missile shields are now in place in Israel and the Arab sheikhdoms. Massive shipments of heavy weaponry have also been sent to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the GCC by Washington and the major E.U. powers over the last few years.
Ankara: The Inside Man?
There is one other important player that must be talked about. This player is Turkey. Washington and the E.U. have pushed Turkey to be more active in the Arab World. This has blossomed through Ankara’s neo-Ottomanism policy. This is why Turkey has been posturing itself as a champion of Palestine and launched an Arabic-language channel like Iran and Russia.
Ankara, however, has been playing an ominous role. Turkey is a partner in the NATO war on Libya. The position of the Turkish government has become clear with its betrayal of Tripoli. Ankara has also been working with Qatar to corner the Syrian regime. The Turkish government has been pressuring Damascus to change its policies to please Washington and appears to possibly even have a role in the protests inside Syria with the Al-Sauds, the Hariri minority camp in Lebanon, and Qatar. Turkey is even hosting opposition meetings and providing them support.
Turkey is viewed in Washington and Brussels as the key to bringing the Iranians and the Arabs into line. The Turkish government has been parading itself as a member of the Resistance Bloc with the endorsement of Iran and Syria. U.S strategists project that it will be Turkey which domesticates Iran and Syria for Washington. Turkey also serves as a means of integrating the Arab and Iranian economies with the economy of the European Union. In this regard Ankara has been pushing for a free-trade zone in Southwest Asia and getting the Iranians and Syrians to open up their economies to it.
In reality, the Turkish government has not only been deepening its economic ties with Tehran and Damascus, but has also been working to eclipse Iranian influence. Ankara has tried to wedge itself between Iran and Syria and to challenge Iranian influence in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Turkey also tried to establish a triple entente between itself, Syria, and Qatar to push Syria away from Tehran. This is why Turkey has been very active vocally against Israel, but in reality has maintained its alliance and military deals with Tel Aviv. Inside Turkey itself, however, there is also an internal struggle for power that could one day ignite into a civil war with multiple players.
Preparing the Geo-Strategic Chessboard for Confrontation against the Resistance Bloc
All the ingredients for a American-led military confrontation are in place:
-Iranophobia is being spread by the U.S., the E.U., Israel, and the Khaliji monarchies.
-Sectarianism is being promoted in the entire region.
-Hamas has been entangled into the mechanisms of a unity government by the unelected Mahmoud Abbas, which would mean that Hamas would have to be acquiescent to Israeli and U.S. demands on the Palestinian Authority.
-Syria has its hands full with domestic instability, while Iran and Hezbollah are falsely being accused of shooting Syrian protesters.
-Lebanon lacks a functioning government and Hezbollah is increasingly being encircled. Instead of being treated as a domestic Lebanese issue, the arms of the Lebanese Resistance are also being turned into an international issue.
-Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Arab monarchies have been heavily armed over the years.
-Pakistan has been destabilized.
-Internal divisions have been created in the Resistance Bloc.
-Russia and its CSTO allies are being intimidated by U.S. and NATO bases and the missile shield in Eastern Europe.
-The Obama Administration has declared that it intends to violate the national boundaries of other nations it thinks have terrorists. In this regard the Revolutionary Guard in Iran has been declared a terrorist organization.
-In 2010, the Obama Administration creatively redefined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to serve its geo-strategic interests. It declared that it had the rights to violate the NPT by attacking Iran with nuclear weapons.
-The missile shield systems in Israel, the Persian Gulf, and Turkey are ready or will be in place soon.
Currently, a war is being fought by Washington, Tel Aviv, the Al-Sauds, and their allies against the Resistance Bloc. This war is not a conventional war, but one that includes low-spectrum warfare and intelligence operations. The fighting with Fatal Al-Islam in Lebanon and the terrorist attacks by Jundallah in Eastern Iran are facets of this war, as is the aim of regime change in Syria.
Any possible wars against Iran or Syria will not be fought in isolation. If attacked in an open war, Syria and Iran will be fought at the same time.
In the case of a major war involving Syria, Iran, and their regional allies, the chances of revolution and riots in the Arab World were certain. In a manner of speaking the Arab upheavals of 2011 have worked to pre-empt Arab societies from igniting in the case of such a regional war, which presents the Pentagon, Israel, and NATO a new strategic opportunity for confrontation.
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya specializes in the Middle East and Central Asia. He is a Research Associate of the the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).