The Barack Obama administration has visibly rachetted up its anti-Iran rhetoric. There is a scramble for explanations why the theatre of the absurd is being enacted all over again – the ‘evil empire’, etc. Iranians themselves saw this as a clever ploy by the Obama administration to turn attention away from the ‘Wall’ protests in the US. True, the protests are not fading and the authorities have no clue how to handle protests.
But that alone doesn’t quite explain why Obama should risk his reputation by mouthing such a bizarre story about the Iranian plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador in Washington. Even the US’s allies are looking embarrassed and all they can say is that Tehran should seriously look into Obama’s grievance.
Another, more plausible explanation is that Obama is gearing up for a tough -re-election campaign and a bit of Iran-bashing may ingratiate him with the Israel Lobby, which holds purse-strings and can influence media opinion. Patrick Cockburn, whose views I respect, warns that Obama may go for a confrontation with Iran to contrive a scenario that goes to show he is a decisive leader and good enough for another 4 years for the (gullible) American people.
Then, there is a viewpoint that this is a strategic move by Obama and bit by bit he is making sure that everything adds up finally to a case for war on Iran in the fulness of time . But I discount it for the present for a variety of reasons starting from that Iran is by no means comparable to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
There could be another powerful motive, though. To my mind, Obama is assuaging the fears of the US’s two most important allies in region – Israel and Saudi Arabia – that it is far from the case that the sun is setting for American military might in the Middle East.
The anti-Iran rhetoric coincides with: a) Iraq snub to the US pleas to allow a long-term troop presence; b) Syrian regime showing no real sign of cracks yet despite the outside intervention; c) rise of islamist fervor in the region. All these accentuate Israel’s acute sense of insecurity. Jerusalem Post is bitter about Obama’s announcement of US troop withdrawal from Iraq.
But Saudi Arabia is a case by itself. I am surprised that Al Jazeera featured such a brutally frank assessment of the instability in Saudi Arabia. A decadent regime is tottering and a “critical period of domestic and foreign uncertainty” lies ahead not only for the Kingdom but for the entire region. “[King] Abdullah’s octogenarian line of successors recalls the final years of the Soviet Union, when one infirm leader after another succeeded to power for a brief period of inert rule.” US needs to figure out how to hold the crumbling citadel together and, most important, ensure Iran doesn’t give it a final push. The Al Jazeera opinion-piece is here.
Posted in Politics.
– October 29, 2011