People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 31

August 01, 2010


 War Clouds over Iran

Yohannan Chemarapally


THE build-up of US forces in Persian Gulf after the passage of the latest UN Security Council resolution against Iran has become a cause of great concern for the international community. The aircraft carrier—the USS Harry Truman has joined the USS Dwight Eisenhower near the strategic Straits of Hormuz not far from Iran’s territorial waters. Israeli warships are known to have crossed the Suez Canal in June and headed towards the Persian Gulf.  A former Israeli Intelligence Chief, Shabtai Sahavit recently said that the Jewish State should “not sit idly and wait until the enemy comes to attack you”. Israel, he advised, should follow the doctrine of pre-emption.   


Meanwhile, the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadenijad has warned that his country will retaliate if Iranian cargo ships are inspected by western navies. The Obama administration has reportedly issued an order for the search of Iranian cargo ships. The June 9 Security Council resolution authorises countries to stop and search Iranian cargo ships suspected of carrying cargo connected to Iran’s nuclear program. The Naval Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards explicitly warned that if Iranian ships are boarded by NATO troops, there will be retaliation against American targets in the Straits of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. The Straits of Hormuz is an important waterway through which most of the Gulf’s oil is transported. The Iranian Navy has said that it has hundreds of ships in the area that are armed with missile launchers.


The Associated Press cited “unconfirmed” reports that Saudi Arabia had given Israel permission to use its territory for an attack on Iran. The Saudi authorities have denied that they are cooperating with Israel though a report in the London Times avers that the Saudi authorities have given the green light to Israel for an attack on Iran. UAE’s ambassador to Washington, Yusuf al-Otaiba in a signed article that appeared in the Washington Times, supported US military action against Iran, saying that his small country was willing to “live with” the consequences that could follow. The UAE government was quick to disavow the views expressed by its top diplomat in Washington and reiterated that it remained completely opposed to a military attack against Iran.


The Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who is not know for diplomatic niceties, declared at the recent G-8 summit in Toronto that world leaders  “absolutely” believe that Israel may take military action against Iran. “Iran is not guaranteeing a peaceful production of nuclear power (so) the members of the G-8 are worried and believe absolutely that Israel will probably react pre-emptively”. Recent opinion polls in the US show that a majority in the country are in favour of an attack against Iran. With mid-term elections looming, the Obama administration is under extreme pressure from the resurgent right wing for military action against Iran. There is no doubt that the West is engaged in an intense psychological warfare against Teheran but many well meaning statesmen and governments in the world are worried that things may go out of hand. “The real fear is that someone will get carried away by his own rhetoric and fear mongering”, Martin Van Creveld, a military historian at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, told the Christian Science Monitor.





Fidel Castro, has been using his columns and his first public appearances in more than three years, to warn the world that there is an imminent danger of a nuclear holocaust if better sense does not prevail. In a column that appeared in the first week of July, he wrote that both the US and Iran would not give in: “one prevented by the pride of the powerful, and the other because it has the capacity and the will to fight oppression, as we have seen so many times in the history of mankind”. Fidel pointed out that this was how the two world wars, in which millions of lives were lost, had started. Fidel, in another article written in the second week of July, emphasised that one of the parties involved in the current confrontation is fighting for its “national interests” while the other party pursues “illegitimate and coarse material interests”.


Fidel in his latest Reflections writes that the extremely draconian UN Security Council resolution passed against Iran leaves very few loopholes for a negotiated settlement. Fidel bemoans the fact that China and Russia were a party to the resolution. “From my viewpoint, the US and NATO have had the last word. Two powerful states with authority and prestige failed to exercise their right of vetoing the perfidious UN resolution”, observed Castro. The Cuban leader, who for more than five decades and a half was successful in thwarting the machinations of the US to undermine the revolution, feels that things would go out of hand when the first Iranian ship is boarded by the American and Israeli military flotilla.


Castro is of the opinion that the Iranians will be then left with no other option but to retaliate. “I have absolutely no doubt that as soon as the American and Israeli warships are deployed—alongside the rest of the American military vessels positioned off the Iranian coast---and they try to inspect the first merchant ship from the country, there will be a massive launching of missiles in both directions. At that moment exactly, the terrible war will begin”, wrote Fidel. Declassified US documents have shown that Cuba itself narrowly missed being targeted by nuclear bombs during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Fidel is not the only statesman predicting a dire scenario for West Asia.





The former Malaysian prime minister, Mahathir Mohammed, has said that an US attack on Iran was only a matter of time. He said that the US compelled the UN Security Council to impose sanctions against Iran in order to weaken the country and lay the groundwork for a military attack. He observed that the sanctions were passed despite the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohammed ElBaradei, repeatedly stating that there was no evidence that Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Mahathir pointed out that the US had declared war on Iraq after first weakening the country by imposing punitive sanctions. “It is only a matter of time before the war criminals in Israel and the United States launch another war of aggression, once Iran has been weakened by sanctions”, the former Malaysian prime minister told an International Conference on “Siege of Gaza”, held in Kuala Lumpur in the second week of July.


A study by the Oxford Research Group, a think tank which seeks to promote peace through non-violent means has warned that an Israeli attack on Iran could be the start of a long drawn out conflict. “An Israeli attack on Iran would be the start of a protracted conflict that would be unlikely to prevent the eventual acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran and might even encourage it”, the report said. The report added that another war in the region would lead to more political instability and unpredictable security consequences for the wider world. The report stated that the US was unlikely to launch a military attack against Iran. That job would be left to Israel.


“Long-range strike aircraft acquired from the United States, combined with an improved fleet of tanker aircraft, the deployment of long range drones and the probable availability of support facilities in northeast Iraq and Azerbaijan, all increase Israel’s potential for action against Iran”, the report said. The Israeli deputy prime minister, Moshe Yaalon, had boasted in May this year that Israel had the capacity to target Iran. An Israeli attack, the report warns, would cause a huge number of civilian casualties. The Iranians, the report says, could react by closing the Straits of Hormuz, targeting Israel with missiles and walking out of the NPT. The war, if it breaks out, would be a long term one, which could have regional and global ramifications, the report warns.


Washington’s and Israel’s aggressive moves in the Persian Gulf were bolstered by the Russian prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev’s recent statement at a meeting of Russian ambassadors in Moscow. Medvedev said that Iran was gaining the ability to build a nuclear bomb. “It is obvious that Iran is moving closer to possessing the potential which in principle could be used for the creation of a nuclear weapon”, he said. Medvedev said that Iran was not acting “in the best way” and advised Teheran to “show openness and cooperate” with the IAEA.


The Iranian government was very critical with the Kremlin’s decision to support the fourth UN Security Council resolution in June. Teheran at the time had said that Moscow had succumbed to the pressure exerted by the Obama administration. Moscow has since said that it would not deliver the SS-300 surface to air missiles it had promised to Teheran. But the Russian built nuclear power plant at Bushehr is scheduled to open later in the year. Moscow has been issuing statements against the use of force to solve the issue. “At the moment, patience is demanded and the speediest resumption of productive dialogue with Teheran is required”, said Medvedev. Otherwise, he warned, it will be “a collective failure for the entire international community”.