Is War at Hand Yet Again in the Middle East

Rabat- Iran has probably lied about its nuclear program. But hasn’t Israel also?It seems that the geographical name the Middle East is truly inappropriate for the region that has been unstable for over seven decades, experiencing many regional wars between Arabs and Israelis, between Iraqi Arabs and Americans, between Arabs and Iranians, and of course, Arab civil wars in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. The region should probably be renamed the Warring East instead of the Middle East.As a matter of fact, many Arab political analysts have tongue in cheek changed the name Middle East in Arabic (sharq al-awsat) into the humiliating name (sharq al-awsakh), meaning “the dirty east.” The Latest Middle East News is, yet again about, gearing up for another war, but this time it will probably be more destructive. A new war could last longer than protagonists’ plans on paper because, once ignited, nobody will be able to stop it unilaterally. The risks are very high and the gains are probably very low.The drumbeat of war sounds againOn April 30, 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented to the Israeli people, and by extension to the world, what he called evidence that Iran is lying. The media exercise was well-orchestrated to come just before the American campaign to disengage from the nuclear agreement with Iran and to engage in a potential war with it afterwards. The war-to-be will  be waged by America, Israel and all Saudi Arabia-allied Arab Sunnis in the region.The conclusion was foreshadowed by an article in the British paper The Guardian, February 23, 2015, titled “Leaked cables show Netanyahu’s Iran bomb claim contradicted by Mossad,” written masterfully by Seumas Milne, Ewen MacAskill and Clayton Swisher.In the past, the Obama administration  was willing to give Iran a regional leadership role just short of becoming a nuclear power, but the current administration has other plans for the country: an Iran without nuclear capabilities and mullahs, a secular Iran that will not export its revolution or religion to neighboring countries and thereby threaten their stability.The play within the playIn reality, Netanyahu did not come up with anything new; the whole world knows that Iran is working hard to become a nuclear power. It is no secret. It is an old dream that started with the Shah of Iran in the 1960s and continues today with open support from Russia, which wants to build an eastern coalition to counter American hegemony.Nevertheless, it seems the coming war is fully scripted by Washington, and especially by the Trump administration. The main actors in the play are Trump himself in the leading role with Mohamed Ben Salman (MBS)  and Benjamin Netanyahu in support roles.Since arriving in the Oval Office, Trump has been demonizing Iran and expressing willingness to pull the US out of the nuclear agreement. MBS, who recognized Israel’s statehood, joined Trump on stage to make the American-Israeli-Saudi alliance legitimate and official. In an interview with the Atlantic newsmagazine, he called the Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei Hitler, imitating President Bush’s actions before declaring war on Saddam’s Iraq. And last, but not least, Netanyahu who, “brought to light” Iran’s hidden game, appears on stage.Now that every actor has pronounced his faith, action will probably ensue after the holy month of Ramadan. The war will be executed by America and Israel, but Saudi Arabia’s role will be to finance the effort (or, if you will, produce the play). What else can Saudi Arabia do, anyway?Netanyahu’s speech and the previous actions of MBS in recognizing Israel and demonizing Iran is similar to “the play within the play” in Shakespeare’s  Hamlet. Hamlet’s instruction on proper delivery to the actors could be seen as Trump coaching Netanyahu and MBS.How is the war going to unfold?America and Israel are hoping to conduct an aerial war, short and sweet. They will bombard the strategic locations where the nuclear installations are and destroy military targets to cripple Iran’s potential to respond adequately in the initial stages of the military operation.  America and Israel are not planning to commit ground forces to avoid colossal troop losses. They are banking on crippling the enemy with a massive initial blow that will probably lead to a popular uprising in the major cities of Iran that will finish off the regime.But Iran has another plan: a war of attrition that could be costly in human life to America and Israel, and an uprising of Shiites in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia. Iran will wage a total war. Attacks will come from Syria and Lebanon where Hezbollah will play a major role. Indeed Hezbollah’s missiles will rain on northern Israel and aim to maximize casualties.If America and Israel are planning on a short war, Iran is planning a long and costly attrition war, which will reduce the Middle East to an inferno for a long period of time. There will be no navigation of the Persian Sea, no security in the air and no peace on land.Iran’s strengths are:1- Geographical depth2- Shiite sense of sacrifice3- Religious fervor and discipline4- Military discipline and combat-readinessIran’s weaknesses are:1- Aerial power weakness2- Land encirclement3- Lack of active alliancesIranians are planning to wreak havoc on the Arab world, whom they suspect to be aligned with America and Israel. The Iranians will activate their dormant cells in the Arab world, and probably also in the West, to punish those who support the war. If Iran  has to go down the drain, they will incur as much damage as possible a la après moi le deluge.Suzanne Maloney, deputy director of Foreign Policy and senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy and Energy Security and Climate Initiative, wrote in an article titled “After dumping the nuclear deal, Trump has no strategy for Iran” in Brookings:“The premeditated American dismantling of an agreement that was the product of more than a decade of intense diplomacy and economic pressure marks a staggeringly counterproductive step. That it was undertaken over the vocal objections of Washington’s closest allies and without a clear strategy of mitigating the newly heightened risks of Iranian proliferation and conventional retaliation represents an abdication of American leadership on the international stage that is unparalleled in recent history.”ExpectationsThe war might be destructive for Iran but that alone will not end the regime of the mullahs because they can rely on the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij to protect them from any internal uprising. So, the onslaught might diminish the mullahs’ power but it will not put an end to the theocracy at the country’s helm.However, a weak Iran in the Middle East will be good news for Israel and its Arab allies, because it will lead to the probable downfall of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Alawites in Syria and the Houthis  in Yemen, ultimately destroying the Shiite Crescent in the Middle East and ending Iran’s expansionist dreams once and for all.Consequently,  Israel will come out of the painful war as the only power in the region and even as a co-protector of Arab countries alongside America. The demise of Iran will foretell the demise of Hamas in Gaza, and Abbas will take over the strip and sign, under gentle pressure, a peace agreement  with Israel. Saudi Arabia will regain its leadership of the Muslim world, but will be totally broken.All in all, if everyone plays his cards right, Israel will probably pay the biggest price in human casualties but will undoubtedly win big, destroying Hamas, reining in Abbas and emasculating the Arabs, gaining peace in the Middle East and a huge market for its exports.A make-believe scenarioAmerica, Israel and Saudi Arabia are probably heading to war for fear of destabilizing a region that already has so many problems: the Palestinian problem, the Syrian conflict, the Yemeni war, etc. What if these three countries are only putting pressure on Iran to make it abandon its nuclear program entirely, without firing a single shot?These countries are attempting to create a North Korean scenario, whereby the Americans used tremendous pressure on North Korea to make it accept talks, first with South Korea, and later with the US, in order to arrange future denuclearization.Will such pressure bring the mullahs to their senses and make them abandon their threats towards Israel and destabilization schemes vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia and the Sunni world?The mullahs have always been practical and sensible in politics, and chances are they will choose moderation and negotiation to avoid annihilation. If they do so, Trump will have won a political gamble, adding to his apparent present success on the Korean peninsula. These two political breakthroughs will probably ensure his reelection against the odds and will prove him right by making America great again.The war on Iran will, probably, be costly as all wars are anyway, but in the end it will probably be worthwhile if it brings peace to the region and a new era of much-needed cooperation and goodwill.Will the war, if it ever happens, bring democracy to the Arab world, at long last? Or will Arabs continue to prefer bread over a political system of representation and full accountability? It is difficult to see the outcome because the horizon is very hazy. Only time can tell.You can follow Professor Mohamed Chtatou on Twitter:@AyurinuThe views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial views.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. 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Ukraine Sri Lanka committed to further strengthen long standing relationship

Ukraine and Sri Lanka are committed to further strengthen the long standing relationship between both countries, the Foreign Ministry said today.A press statement on the just concluded visit to Ukraine by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said that during the visit, Sanaraweera and the Foreign Minister of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin reiterated that Sri Lanka is committed to further strengthening and renewing the long standing relationship with Ukraine. Minister Samaraweera briefed his Ukrainian counterpart on recent developments in Sri Lanka including measures taken by the Unity Government to achieve reconciliation and inclusive economic development, strengthen democracy, rule of law, and good governance including combating corruption. He also briefed the Foreign Minister of Ukraine regarding the process for evolving a new Constitution. Samaraweera had recalled with appreciation the invaluable support extended to Sri Lanka by Ukraine during the conflict years. Welcoming Minister Samaraweera, Minister Klimkin said that the visit would contribute to the reinvigoration of relations between the two countries. Reiterating Ukraine’s support for Sri Lanka in its efforts in reconciliation and peace building, he said Ukraine and Sri Lanka were similar in their drive in promoting democracy and ending corruption.Minister Samaraweera extended an invitation to Minister Klimkin to visit Sri Lanka at a mutually convenient time which was accepted by Minister Klimkin. This would be the first visit of a Foreign Minister of Ukraine to Sri Lanka. During the visit, three treaties were signed between Ukraine and Sri Lanka, on judicial cooperation, namely, Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, Transfer of Sentenced Prisoners, and on Extradition. Noting that the two countries are in the process of negotiating a number of other bilateral agreements including Agreements on Investment Promotion and Protection; on the Establishment of an Inter-Governmental Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation; on Exemption of Visas for Holders of Diplomatic and Official Passports; and on Cultural Cooperation; the two Ministers agreed to accelerate consultations, enabling the early signing of these Agreements.Diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Ukraine were established in 1992, but relations between the two countries go back to the establishment of formal relations between Sri Lanka and the former USSR in 1957 in which Ukraine was a constituent Republic. The two Ministers agreed that there is scope for further expansion of bilateral trade. Noting that tea remains the main export item from Sri Lanka to Ukraine with Ceylon tea occupying 33% of the Ukraine tea market, Minister Samaraweera stressed the need for achieving export diversification. In this regard, he encouraged business delegations from Ukraine to attend trade exhibitions and business forums held in Sri Lanka to establish contacts with Sri Lankan entrepreneurs. The need to strengthen cooperation between the Chambers of Commerce of the two countries to facilitate closer interaction between the private sectors of the two countries for the promotion of business and investment was also emphasized.Noting that 23,853 tourists from Ukraine have visited Sri Lanka in 2015, Minister Samaraweera expressed hope that the commencement of direct non-stop scheduled flights between Kiev and Colombo by Ukraine International Airlines from November 2016 would pave the way for increasing tourist traffic from Ukraine to Sri Lanka. He encouraged travel and tour operators from Ukraine to visit Sri Lanka.Minister Samaraweera invited Ukrainian companies to participate in development projects in Sri Lanka. Tourism and infrastructure development, power generation and transmission, oil exploration and oil refining were identified as areas of interest for possible collaboration by Ukrainian companies. read more