Will America be able to attack Iran? Is India being made a pawn in US games? What role Saudi Arabia is playing in these games? These questions have been answered by DR. FATIMA SHAHNAZ
Once again, the war-party in Washington (goaded by its Anglo-Israeli allies) is escalating its disinformation campaign against Iran. London’s Guardian has quoted ‘leaks’ in the neo-conservative administration of President George W. Bush reasserting a military option against Iran initiated by factions under Vice President Dick Cheney. The ‘sources’ indicate the divisions both in the Bush administration, and Democratic Party both on Iraq and Iran.
With the American boycott on Iran already floundering as the Islamic Republic has permitted United Nations inspectors to visit its nuclear facility in Arak by the end of July in order to allay fears over its atomic programme, Washington’s war-faction is afraid of losing the impetus for the ‘military option,’ which explains the new aggression against Iran. A third round of sanctions against Iran is already under consideration by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany; but Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA considerably dampens the U.S. initiative to impose new sanctions. Another motive for beating the war-drums in the Persian Gulf region already broken by war-fatigue are the upcoming general elections in the U.S. in 2008.
In the latest geo-strategic diplomatic and military maneuvering, a new group of players are already being ranged like pawns through whom the U.S. and its allies can wage their ‘proxy wars’ in Asia. The primary players are Israel, Iran and Iraq; but Saudi Arabia and India are increasingly being drawn into the maelstrom. Despite adamant denial from the Government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh which has entered into the controversial nuclear deal with the United States, the latest naval exercises with American war-ships and their overwhelming presence in the Bay of Bengal have alarmed India’s neighbors, both China and Iran (in the close vicinity of the Bay of Bengal.).
“THE BALANCE HAS TILTED”
The Guardian further reported that “the balance has tilted” [in favor of the Iran war policy] and “there is cause for concern.” This is based on developments in Washington. While talks starting on May 28 broke a 27-year boycott of Iran after the ouster of the Shah by the Islamic Revolution, the anti-Iran lobby has intensified its disinformation campaign to promote a war-policy, thus sabotaging the second round of talks between the U.S. and Iran this month. Then, Senator Joe Lieberman, a known warmonger, succeeded in getting an amendment passed in the U.S. Senate last week to “censure” Iran for arming an insurgency in Iraq, and ‘endangering’ U.S. troops. This anti-Iranian propaganda, as virulent as the false intelligence campaign before the Iraq war, has been supported by General Kevin Bergner, deployed by Cheney to Iraq as part of the disinformation team to sway American legislators for the military option against Iran.
At a meeting in June over Iran policy between the White House, Pentagon and State Department, Cheney over-rode objections from State Secretary Condoleezza Rice, Under Secretary Nicholas Burns and Defence Secretary Robert Gates. Burns’s statement that the diplomatic option was on the table until January 2009 was not appreciated by the Cheney faction, prompting the Guardian to observe, “Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo.” This mindset in Washington may be why two new pawns in the war-policy are already being prepared, albeit both would deny their roles. Saudi Arabia and India are increasingly being sucked into the Gulf soup, through their ‘partnerships’ with the U.S.
INDO-U.S. NAVAL EXERCISES
According to The Guardian, almost half of the 277 U.S. warships are stationed in the proximity of Iran, with two carrier groups. A Pentagon source allegedly stated that the USS Enterprise would take over from the USS Nimitz, so there would only be three carriers together in the Gulf. This is probably because the Nimitz, along with the USS Kitty Hawk, will participate in five-nation military manoeuvres in the Bay of Bengal in September, according to an Indian Defence ministry report. With this amassment, four U.S. aircraft carriers will be within or close to the Persian Gulf. The three other countries involved in the naval exercises are Australia, Japan and Singapore. Twenty warships will participate in the manoeuvres, including a non-nuclear Indian carrier, the INS Viraat.
However, while the location was chosen to distance itself from the Pacific Ocean, the Bay of Bengal skirts Russian and Chinese borders, creating alarm among them over the Indo-U.S. manoeuvres. This naval exercise is reportedly the largest held in this region. Also, it is planned in an already volatile region (with the U.S. war in Afghanistan, instability in Pakistan) and proximity to the Persian Gulf, which is viewed as the location from which an attack on Iran could be launched. More alarming still are the radical changes in the Bush Administration’s nuclear doctrine, as it is setting up a missile interception system in central Europe and an aggressive nuclear war potential.
INDIA ‘ADDICTED’ TO ISRAELI WEAPONS, TECHNOLOGY
While the military cooperation between the United States and India is a growing concern for India’s neighbours, Ramtanu Maitra writes, “While the naval exercise is one major event, it is evident that India is becoming increasingly addicted to the U.S. and Israeli arms and equipment and technologies associated with these.” The Indian Navy reportedly made its first big procurement from the United States with the purchase of the 17,000-ton USS Trenton (LPD-14), an Austin-class amphibious transport dock. Indian defence officials have also disclosed that Washington has offered the USS Nashville, a giant landing ship, to the Indian Navy, a project under consideration by India. U.S. defence companies displayed American high-technology systems at the Aero India 2007 air show in Bangalore, highlighting “The next frontier of their desired military relationship.”
However, India’s increasing tilt towards Israel in military relations is an aspect of the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal that has been blacked out in the mainstream Indian media, particularly since Israel is an American proxy. It is also India’s second largest weapons supplier (besides Russia). A joint project between India and Israel of $2.5 billion to develop an advanced range surface-to-air missile has begun; this can detect and destroy hostile aircraft, missiles and spy planes.
This project was approved by the Indian Prime Minister’s Cabinet Committee on Security, chaired by the PM Manmohan Singh himself. The missile system was approved between the Defence research and Development Organisation and Israel Aerospace Industries. A seven-member Israeli delegation under Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Major Gen. Moshe Kaplinksy, was in Jammu and Kashmir recently, raising a nagging question in Indian minds: Is Kashmir the next Palestine, based on Israel’s deplorable human rights record and genocide of Palestinians?
THE SAUDI ROLE
It is blatantly clear that the Bush neo cons are broadening their plan for a sectarian Sunni-Shia war in the Persian Gulf region. Saudi Arabia has now emerged as an open player in the war-party. While this is allegedly to defend Saudi interests in the region, Saudi Arabia’s partnership with the U.S. isolates the Islamic state both from without – Iran and Syria – and within, with Islamist forces opposing the kingdom’s pro-American policies. The Hindu headline (July 17) reads: “45% of jehadis in Iraq from S Arabia”.
It continues, “Although the United States has been accusing Syria and Iran of helping insurgents in Iraq, it is the Washington ally Saudi Arabia which is the largest source of foreign insurgents in the war-torn country.” Almost half of the 135 foreigners in US detention facilities in Iraq are Saudis, according to a senior military official quoted in the Los Angeles Times, which continues “this has left the US military in the awkward position of battling an enemy whose top source of foreign fighters is a key ally that at best has not been able to prevent its citizens from undertaking bloody attacks in Iraq, and shares complicity in sending extremists to commit attacks against US forces, Iraqi civilians and the Shia-led government in Baghdad.”
Fifty per cent of all Saudi fighters in Iraq “come as suicide bombers,” the paper states. According to an interior ministry spokesman of the Saudi government, “Saudis are being misused. Someone is helping them come to Iraq and recruiting them to be suicide bombers.” However, Washington intelligence sources claim that the Saudi government, particularly national security advisor Prince Bandar bin-Sultan, are directly involved in sponsoring ‘al-Qaeda II,” identified as a “Wahabi fundamentalist” group made up of “Sunni tribes inside Iraq.” While al-Qaeda II has no relation with the bin Laden group, it is reportedly better armed and financed than bin-Laden’s, and is now viewed as a greater threat to the Iraqi regime and U.S. forces.
The inconsistencies, ambivalence and complicity behind the war-parties including ‘double-alliances’ underline the power-play and ‘shadow wars’ raging in the Persian Gulf; these are entering into a more intense and dangerous phase, both playing neighbors against each other, and worse, fragmentation to promote Washington’s splitist agenda within each nation.