Since it is now the Persian New Year (Happy Nowruz), it seemed like a good time to run the infographic below that illustrates how foreign powers nibbled away at the territory of Iran during the 19th and 20th centuries, which might just explain why the Iranians are rather particular about being ordered around by the international community.
Meanwhile, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has come to the same conclusion that I did several months ago – that any attack on Iran's nuclear sites will only drive Iran towards building a nuclear bomb, rather than dissuading them from it. “I am almost certain that such a decision will surely be taken after (any) strikes on Iran,” Lavrov said Tuesday on Moscow's Kommersant FM radio, where he also claimed that the CIA and other American officials have admitted to not having any hard evidence of any political decisions on the part of Iran's leadership to actually authorize a nuclear weapons program. Lavrov also repeated assessments made by military analysts in the West that have concluded airstrikes against Iranian facilities could slow any research program, but would not destroy it as the Israelis did with Iraq's nuclear program, which was effectively ended by an Israeli airstrike in 1981.
But energy industry analysts are becoming more convinced that a conflict with Iran is in fact imminent, based in part on an executive order signed on Friday by President Obama that, among other things, orders executive departments and agencies responsible for plans and programs relating to national defense to “be prepared, in the event of a potential threat to the security of the United States, to take actions necessary to ensure the availability of adequate resources and production capability, including services and critical technology for national defense requirements.” Get that? Analysts say that the order effectively would, in a time of national emergency, give the President effective control over the country's natural resources. And the only national emergency the analysts see on the horizon is a potential conflict with Iran. The White House tried to downplay the impact of the executive order on Monday, saying that it was similar to executive orders signed by several other presidents in the past and should not be taken as a sign of an impending war.
The New York Times meanwhile, is reporting that the Iranian conflict could prove to be quite costly for America. A leaked war game scenario carried out by the Pentagon earlier in the month projected up to 200 American casualties after a US warship was attacked by Iranian forces in retaliation for Israeli airstrikes against their nuclear research facilities. This attack then draws the United States into a large-scale conflict with Iran. Pentagon officials stressed that this was one of a number of possible outcomes, but admitted that an Israeli attack would spark off a series of reactions that were both “unpredictable and uncontrollable”.
My prediction is that if the Israelis launch their oft-threatened airstrike, it will be before our November presidential elections. The clock keeps ticking...