The chairman of the Russian Duma’s International Affairs Committee Alexey Pushkov has warned that the deployment of the United States’ missile defence system in the Persian Gulf is a signal that a military strike on Iran could be in the making. Peshkov is an influential politician close to the Kremlin who would have access to Russian intelligence and, therefore, his statement merits attention.
Indeed, there have been previous such Russian statements at the level of the security and military establishment in Moscow. The chief of the Russian general staff Gen. Nikolay Makarov said recently that in his estimation, a US attack could take place as early as summer. “Iran is a sore spot [for the US]. I think a decision will be made by the summer”.
Pushkov’s estimation is logical since the ABM system is intended to neutralize Iran’s capacity
to retaliate. Pushkov also linked the decision by Germany to sell 6 Dolphin-class submarine to Israel as ominous, as it would boost Israel’s capability to stage an attack from the sea.
Indeed, something is cooking. Beijing also issued on Friday its strongest-ever warning
against a military strike on Iran.
Clearly, the US rhetoric toward Iran has once again become threatening
. During a visit to Riyadh on Saturday to wrap up the issue of ABM deployment as well as on the sidelines of the ‘Friends of Syria’ meet in Istanbul on Sunday, secretary of state Hillary Clinton rachetted up the rhetoric still further.
After returning to Washington, she warned Tehran not to try the limits of the US’ patience
. The US is again grandstanding, blaming Iran for its woes in Afghanistan — something that strikes a chord in the US domestic opinion. And all this is happening in the last week alone.
The rhetoric has come out of the blue and it is out of tune with the political track leading to the ‘P5+1′ talks which are slated for April 13. Clinton’s tome became incrementally menacing
, which could only provoke Tehran.
Can it be that the US is launching a ‘psywar’ intended to soften up Iran’s negotiating stance at the ‘P5+1′ talks? Or, can it be that the Obama administration has concluded that nothing is going to come out of the talks? Again, can it be that Obama is backtracking, given the compulsions of the election year at home? Or, can it be that he can’t afford to annoy Saudi Arabia which is already fuming that he is ’spineless’ and is waffling on Syria and Iran?
Or, can it be the mother of all considerations that Obama wants the saudis to keep pumping extra oil to keep the prices low so that the American consumer is kept happy in an election year and he, in turn, should do the Saudis a favor? Donald Trump, at least, thinks so
— and he’s usually well-informed on money news.
There are no easy answers to these questions at the moment. Indeed, the peace track is risky for Obama, since in order for the talks to be successful, US needs to be flexible — just as Iran is expected to compromise. Whereas, Obama has little wriggle-room. On the other hand, the politically safest thing for him today will be to be ‘hawkish’ toward Iran.
The latest media leak about Obama’s ‘overture’ to Iran
most probably intends to make out a case that he himself was prepared to go more than half the league in the negotiations with Iran but Tehran’s obduracy has frustrated his search for peace. From that point, it isn’t too difficult to stretch the argument and justify a military strike.
The US is obviously pinning hope on Iran taking the US-Israeli hit lying low. It is a big ‘if’. Without doubt, the US enjoys great military superiority over Iran. A display of ’shock and awe’ on the CNN will impress the American public that their commander-in-chief is a tough guy. It may also boost the morale of the sheikhs in the Gulf monarchies. But what happens thereafter? Iran’s ‘assymetrical’ response will certainly include a pullout from the Nuclear-Non Proliferation Treaty. What options would Obama have after that?
Keep on bombing Iran once every six months?