Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 20:59 pm (KSA) 17:59 pm (GMT)

US resets ties with Iran

Abid Mustafa

Many have interpreted Obama’s recent proclamation to suspend deployment of the U.S. missile shield as proof that America is finally serious about recasting its relations with Russia. However, subsequent statements by members of Obama’s administration about future plans for missile defense dubbed “phased adaptive approach” are likely to forestall the warming of ties between Moscow and Washington.

In a New York Times opinion piece, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates criticized his detractors for describing the new plan as “distorted and some sort of concession to Russia.” He further emphasized that the new proposals would bolster European security. “We are strengthening-not scrapping-missile defense in Europe,” he wrote. Away from the public bickering over the effectiveness of the phased adaptive approach, one cannot help but notice that the U.S. is most interested in resetting its relations with Iran and not Russia.

 At the end of last year, America also refused to sell Israel advanced versions of its bunker-buster bombs and downplayed Israel’s show of air power over the Mediterranean 

New revelations about Iran’s diminished missile capabilities now set the stage for the normalization of relations between Tehran and Washington. Downplaying the Iranian threat last month, Secretary Gates said, “The intelligence community now assesses that the threat from Iran’s short- and medium-range ballistic missiles...is developing more rapidly than previously projected” and “The threat of potential Iranian intercontinental ballistic missiles capabilities has been slower to develop than was estimated in 2006.”

Gates’ sudden reassessment follows a familiar pattern frequently employed by U.S. officials to downgrade the peril of Iran’s military assets-whenever the situation required it. Previously, under the Bush administration, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) revised its estimate from 2010 to 2015, the date by when Iran would possess an atomic bomb. Additionally, and more significantly, the NIE claimed that Iran had abandoned plans to weaponize its nuclear program in 2003. The NIE claims were a severe below to Israeli plans to attack Iran, and at the time were widely derided by officials of the Jewish State.

At the end of last year, America also refused to sell Israel advanced versions of its bunker-buster bombs and downplayed Israel’s show of air power over the Mediterranean. America’s lack of support to its most trusted ally in the region clearly underscores that American intentions toward Iran are not as perceived by many around the globe. America’s ambivalence toward Iran was again on display when another close ally, Britain, found its naval personnel captives of Iranian forces. American indifference was deliberate, as Washington feared that Britain had engineered the naval fiasco to instigate an attack on Iran.

Likewise, the U.S. offered very little public support to European voices that vociferously bellowed calls for the Iranian protesters to topple the Iranian regime. When carefully scrutinized, each event presented the U.S. with a unique opportunity to initiate regime change in Iran that many politicians in Washington wanted. But Washington chose to do nothing. On the contrary, the United States acted in a strange manner-it either watched as a silent spectator or diplomatically mobilized efforts to cool down tensions.

 The overly inflated threat from Iran’s benign nuclear program by the incessant news coverage has conveniently provided the U.S. with the necessary pretext to augment its military ties with Israel and the Gulf countries 

The out-of-character behavior when measured against the ubiquitous fiery rhetoric that had emanated in the past from the corridors of power in Washington suggests that the two countries are working to cement America’s hegemony in the region. America’s reliance on Iran to stabilize Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon is too precious to be squandered by crude attempts undertaken by her closest allies to attack Tehran.

The overly inflated threat from Iran’s benign nuclear program by the incessant news coverage has conveniently provided the U.S. with the necessary pretext to augment its military ties with Israel and the Gulf countries. It also provides the U.S. with new avenues to strengthen her missile defense shield abroad and aid nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East under the guise of peaceful nuclear pacts and in the shadow of nuclear arms reduction talks with Russia.

There is little doubt that the U.S. will exploit such pacts to ward off competition from Russia, China, and Europe to control cheap Middle Eastern oil. All of this brings us to the present nuclear talks between Iran and the big six. The talks will only conclude when the U.S. is fully satisfied that it can no longer achieve any of its strategic objectives and that its surrogates in Iran have been completely exhausted and are unable to execute its plans. At that point, the U.S. will resolve the nuclear issue and may even allow Iran to possess nuclear weapons in exchange for strict controls.






*Published in the Saudi based ARAB NEWS on October 7, 2009. Abid Mustafa is a political commentator who specializes in Muslim affairs.

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