Israel, India and the Persian Puzzle

Israel, India and the Persian Puzzle

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This is perhaps what the expression ‘setting the cat among the pigeons’ means.  Just when Israel was putting up that little show, going around theworld crying about the way Iran was targeting its peaceful diplomats around the world, the ayatollahs come up with their own little performance taking everyone’s breath away.

 

Not that Ahmadinejad didn’t warn us.  As always, everyone was sufficiently intimated of the glad tidings on the nuclear front were on their way.  Yet it was a master stroke. Give the Iranians their due.  If the Israelis are known for their cunning and craft of obfuscation and manipulation, it’s not easy beating the Persians at mind games either.  After all, they invented the game of chess.

 

Defying years of Western sanctions and the endless talk of war by Israel, the Iranians seem to have gotten another decisive step closer to their goal.And they have all the players and pawns where they want them to be. And for all their bluff and bluster, Israel and its guardian angels can’t do much about it.

 

As a former Indian envoy to Iran put it, this is like the classic Persian puzzle.  Iran takes one step forward and waits and watches for the reaction of adversaries before taking the next cautious step. Call it the Persian incrementalism or whatever but it seems to have worked so far.

 

The calibrated ‘diplomatic incidents’ in New Delhi, Georgia and Bangkok were of course a stroke of brilliance.  They were apparently meant to hit two birds with one stone:  First, pin the blame on Iran, as Netanyahu did within minutes of the Delhi blast calling Tehran ‘the biggest exporter of international terror,’ and create a credible pretext to hit the Islamic republic.

 

Second, derail the growing Iran-India relationship.  The Israelis and Americans haven’t been too pleased with India’s refusal to stop buying the Iranian oil after recent sanctions.  By the way India isn’t the only one to do so.  China, Japan and South Korea too have refused to toe the Western line.

 

But Israel has been there and done it all so many times before that these shenanigans do not fool the world anymore.  These attacks purportedly targeting Israeli diplomats are rather too convenient and perfect to be genuine.  Notwithstanding Ahmadinejad’s punch-drunk love of Israel andpreoccupation with its past and future, the Iranians are not stupid.

 

At a time when they are isolated internationally and the West is looking for an excuse to punish it, why would they stick out their neck and resort to something as suicidal as this? As Dr Trita Parsi, the Iran hand at Johns Hopkins University and author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States agues, why would they do something so foolish as this and that too in New Delhi? It’s an insult to the Iranians’ intelligence.

 

India is, after China, Iran’s biggest trading partner and importer of Iranian oil.  Besides, the two have shared a quiet partnership since Russians left Afghanistan.  It has even survived the Indian vote against Iran in the IAEA.  Incidentally, Thailand is another major trading partner of the Islamic republic.  So why would the Iranians choose the distant tourist paradise to settle scores with the Israelis, hurting their own interests?

 

Secondly, in both India and Thailand, it’s the Israelis who have been quick to declare that the sticky bombs used in Delhi, Bangkok and Tbilisi are similar to the ones used in killing four Iranian nuclear scientists over the past two years.  Be that as it may, how does that link them to Tehran? Indeed, having repeatedly used the device to deadly effect against the Iranians, why couldn’t the Israelis have used it again in Indian, Georgian and Thai capitals?

 

The detention of an Iranian, who blew up his legs while handling the explosives, proves nothing.  It’s hardly a secret the Israelis and Americans have been using the Mujahideen-e-Khalq terrorists against Iran.

 

The Israeli embassy on Aurangzeb Road in New Delhi exists in the sniffing distance of the Prime Minister’s residence. It’s a high security zone with theelite ‘Z’ security force monitoring every inch of the area every minute.  So how come that red bike got so close to the embassy car and got away after sticking that bomb? No wonder Israeli watchers suspect all this is part of a campaign to corner Iran and fortify the case for the war that the world has been waiting with bated breath for some time.

 

I hate a triumphal I-told-you-so but this is what many of us have feared and warned about all along.  That Israel and its enablers in the US establishment are hell-bent on sparking another Western war to destroy another oil-rich Muslim country.  This is what happened in the case of Iraq.  Remember the comical claims linking Iraq to 9/11 and Niger uranium, not to mention Tony Blair’s 45-minute strike talk?

 

As the West turns up the heat on Iran by way of economic sanctions, trade blockade, and crippling of its banks, coupled with the rising chatter of coming war, the region has been on the razor’s edge for months now.  All that is needed is a tiny spark to blow it all up.  A minor skirmish here, a misunderstanding there or a perfect false flag in distant lands could prove excuse enough for a full blown conflagration with catastrophic consequences.

 

That moment seems to have arrived with the explosions in India, Georgia and Thailand.  Israel is desperately looking for a pretext–or a provocation–to punish Iran.  With the arrival of US poll season and Europe being preoccupied with its economic mess, perhaps there cannot be a better time to do so. But it’s easier said than done. Israel cannot do so on its own without the US help. If it was doable, Israel would have done it by now.  Iran is not Iraq.

 

Unlike Iraq’s Osirak plant which Israel bombed in 1981, Iranian nuclear installations are heavily fortified, many of them underground and spread all across the country, not to mention the forbidding distance. Besides, an Israeli strike might put back the nuclear clock but wouldn’t stop it, especially now when Tehran appears to be a screw-turn away from going full nuclear if it wants.  Iran’s leaders of course insist it is for ‘peaceful’ purposes and that they aren’t interested in the ‘satanic arms.’

 

Even though a demonstration of the capacity doesn’t mean willingness, would you be terribly surprised if Tehran indeed goes for the nukes? GivenIsrael’s terrorizing of the region over the past six decades and West’s hegemonic wars, it’s actually tempting and makes sense to go for the comforting reassurance that a couple of nukes seem to inspire.

 

More to the point, what right does Israel–and other world powers–have to lord over their nuclear arsenal while the rest of the world has to submit itself to the IAEA scrutiny? If the international community is indeed serious about a nuke-free world, it has to first address this NPT duplicity. Nuclear weapons are a clear and present danger to the Middle East and the world, no matter who owns them.