Ahmadinejad uses defensive-aggressive tactic?

Posted: May 12, 2010 by Jonathan Boyko in Egypt, Iran, Middle East

Is new Cold War possible? GLORIA Center’s Barry Rubin believes Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad might use the nuclear weapon – if he is ever to acquire one – to set up an “umbrella” for its actions:

What’s most important of all, however, is the second motive, an Iranian strategy I call creating a defensive umbrella for aggression. This might become the centerpiece of Middle East politics in the future. Let me explain.

Most discussion in the West has focused on Iran using nuclear weapons or threatening to do so. Yet, instead, Iran could genuinely be developing these arms in order to defend itself. The problem is that this defense is coupled with an aggressive policy.

In this framework, Iran would continue and escalate its subversive efforts against neighbors; consolidate and increase its influence in Lebanon and Iraq; support Hamas and client forces in Afghanistan; press regional states toward appeasement; recruit millions into revolutionary Islamist groups; and try to make Iran the hegemonic power in the region.

But when anyone tries to oppose Iran, Tehran need merely give a gentle reminder that it has nuclear arms and so they better shut up. To be fully intimidated by this tactic, Arabs don’t have to believe that Iran would win a nuclear exchange with the United States. After all, even if Tehran lost they know their own countries would be devastated. Better to avoid any chance of a nuclear war than to offend Iran. Syria and Turkey, under its neo-Islamist regime; Hamas and Hizballah; Yemeni rebels and Iraqi insurgents would smirk and stick out their tongues from under Iran’s protective umbrella.

(GLORIA Center)

I BELIEVE THAT while the analysis is not new – I’ve been saying this for months now – it puts all the details in nicely. There is no doubt Iran would not use nuclear weapons to directly attack Israel – if it would, it would be the end of the state of Iran, thanks to Russia and the United States whose worst nightmare it is an attack of such kind. However, Ahmadinejad would gain much footing in the Middle East – and that is precisely why Egypt mulls setting up its own nuclear program. Eventually, we might get to a smaller version of the Cold War, even though we probably have another decade or two.

Ahmadinejad’s goal is to rule the Middle East, and he might, if he can use his own nuclear achievements as leverage. If Egypt indeed does develop nukes, many small-scale conflicts would arise in the Middle East, with both Egypt and Iran staying on the outskirts, supporting their men fighting each other.

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