Opinion | Columnists

Washington risks regional instability

It is unfortunate that US policy on the Middle East is being dictated by Israeli interference in the US political process with lobbyists disguised as politicians clamouring for a military strike against Iran

  • By Tariq A. Al Maeena | Special to Gulf News
  • Published: 16:48 August 25, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Luis Vazquez/©Gulf News

A former Saudi Minister and member of the Shura Council recently expressed his dismay on the continued throttling of American foreign policy in the region by the vice-like grip of war-mongering Israeli politicians. Eyad Madani, who was a minister of information, joined a growing number of Americans who are “upset about the pouring of billions of tax dollars toward an increasingly intransigent, narcissistic and ungrateful Israel”.

As with many frustrated, but powerless Americans whose elected politicians soon forget to serve them in the interests of powerful lobbyists, Madani mused]: “What is in the structure of a liberal representative democratic system that makes politicians, even those run for president, hostage to lobbyists? Why do Mr Obama and Mr Romney need to show absolute loyalty to Israel to win a presidential election? Why does the US Congress need to give 29, or was it 39, standing ovations to the visiting Israeli PM? What is it in liberal democracies that make politicians commodities to buy and invest in? What are the theoretical and structural causes for such deviant politics in a supposedly open, free and advanced society?”

It all boils down to lobbyists and a massive media spin, and all craftily disguising a singular purpose of regional domination. Events in the Middle East in recent years have shown that Arabs have been on the receiving end of bad judgment calls.

The massive spin of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ was generated by American politicians with absolute loyalty to Israel. Coupled with a not so bright president whose inner group of advisers were staunch Israeli supporters, the US committed itself to an act of aggression against a country that had no link to 9/11.

It was a war of destruction that carries on today as people continue to die. But it served its purpose in removing Iraq as a threat to Israel. Now Iran is the target of lobbyists and Israeli sympathisers in the US government. They are trying to force the current administration between a rock and a hard place. The implicit threat is clear: Support us fully for an attack on Iran or stand to lose the prized Oval Office at the White House in November.

American intelligence and elements of the CIA have long discounted the threat of nuclear weapons in Iran’s armory. Recent assessments of the situation suggested that Iran had halted its military nuclear program back in 2003 with was no clear evidence that those efforts had resumed. Iran has flatly denied that it is pursuing the development of nuclear weapons and claims that all efforts are geared towards its ability to produce energy for civilian purposes.

But Iran is no friend of Israel. As such, it must become the next regional big bad wolf. The current US administration has cautiously moved against calls for an aggressive stance towards yet another conflict in the region. “We have eyes, we have visibility into the program,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters recently during a routine briefing. “We feel confident that we would be able to detect a break-out move by Iran towards the acquisition of a nuclear weapon.”

As for current punitive measures and economic sanctions on Iran he stated, “We believe there continues to be the time and space to pursue this course. It is the best course of action to ensure that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon. We take no options off the table, and we consult with our allies all the time about the situation in Iran with regards to this program.”

“We work very closely with our Israeli counterparts on this issue. We share information as a matter of course, and we share an assessment of where Iran is, and what its capacities are, and what the timelines look like. It is our firm belief that there is time and space to pursue the diplomatic option that includes an extremely, and increasingly, aggressive sanctions, includes diplomatic isolation, and international condemnation,” he said.

The Israelis are not satisfied. They want Iran to be humbled no less than Iraq. In a naked attempt to force Washington’s hand towards a more hawkish line, a manoeuvre that offended some senior US politicians, the Israeli media put out some more spin. It falsely claimed that the US President had received an updated intelligence report that “Iran has made surprising, notable progress in the research and development of key components of its military nuclear program.” The media quoted ‘unnamed Western diplomats and Israeli officials’ as their sources, a usual practice in misleading the trusting public.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was quick to seize the moment and declare that the current administration was “weak in the face of Iran’s defiance of international pressure”. He ignored the fact that there has been no conclusive evidence suggesting Iran is on a course to develop a nuclear arsenal. He also accused the White House of shortchanging the security of Israel, promising that he would do more.

It is unfortunate that regional stability today is being dictated by Israeli interference in the US political process of democratic elections and Israeli lobbyists disguised as US politicians are clamouring hard for a strike against Iran, come what may. America is indeed being held by the short hairs.

 

Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

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