Iran and its chance to isolate Israel

After eight years of fighting the bloodiest of wars, Iraq and Iran eventually agreed upon a cease fire.

That war killed half a million and injured and disabled hundreds of thousands. The war ended, but enmity remained between the two neighbors. On the other side of the border, an extremist Islamist group which hates its neighbor, Shiite majority Iran, took over authority in Afghanistan. In 1997, the Taliban kidnapped and killed Iranian diplomats in the Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif. The two countries almost went to war as a result. Since it has many enemies, it seems Iran is surrounded by a group of countries whose consecutive governments have adopted the same policy of opposing Iran.

In an unexpected move, George W. Bush launched a war against Afghanistan to avenge the Sept. 11 twin attacks. The regime of the Taliban movement collapsed and then it was time to get rid of Saddam Hussein. The U.S. attacked Iraq and imprisoned Saddam Hussein. The Baathist regime collapsed.

Best friends forever?

Suddenly, Afghanistan and Iraq, two of Iran’s most hostile enemies, became its best friends. Oh Iran, how lucky you are!
These events indicate the reality that whenever Iran finds itself surrounded and threatened with confrontation, it suddenly receives help to save the regime in Tehran.

Iran is now capable of isolating Israel thanks to Russia and the Ukrainian semi-revolution

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

My aim here is to convince readers of the extent to which Iran appears lucky every time it seems the country is going through a difficult experience. As tensions increase between the West and Russia over the situation in Ukraine, Iran once again finds itself in an excellent position.

Making the best of the crisis in Ukraine

As possible as it is that Russia will invade Crimea, increasing tensions between the White House and the Kremlin, Iran is once again presented with the opportunity to benefit from these circumstances.

Since Iran is close to Russia and since it engaged in intensified talks with the U.S. and European superpowers regarding its nuclear program, it can currently benefit a lot from its close relations with Moscow.

So far, Iran has not announced an official stance regarding the tension in Ukraine but governmental media outlets support Russia’s stance. Since Iran needs to support Russia during nuclear talks in order to rid itself of sanctions and since it needs to support Russia regarding, Syria in order to guarantee Assad stays in power, Iran sees that it’s a duty to stand by Russia, even if unofficially.

Therefore, invisible support may eventually enable Iran to attain a deal of S300 anti-aircraft defense system from Russia. These missiles were sold to Iran a long time ago but Tehran hasn’t received them yet due to Western pressures on Russia.

Iran may benefit from the current tension between the West and Russia regarding Ukraine, particularly on the level of gaining more support for Bashar al-Assad. At the same time, it may have the upper hand during the upcoming nuclear talks aimed at finding a permanent solution with Western powers.

Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently in the U.S. to attend the meetings of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) - the biggest lobby in support of Israel - made maximum efforts to attract the media’s attention towards the Israeli Navy’s recent seizure of a ship, which according to Israeli officials’ statements, is carrying dozens of Syrian manufactured missiles from Iran. Netanyahu noted that the missiles were on their way to members of the Palestinian Hamas movement in Gaza. In his speech on Tuesday, an angry Netanyahu added that global powers which are negotiating restraining Iran’s nuclear program will allow Tehran to keep technologies that can be used in manufacturing bombs.

No one in America takes Netanyahu’s statements seriously as they only view him as a man filled with anger. They also consider his allegations regarding the ship as suspicious because it occurred during his visit to the U.S.

Up to their ears

If the U.S. and Russia hadn’t been up to their ears in the Crimea crisis, Netanyahu would have succeeded at attracting attention towards the ship. But he failed this time! Iran rejected the Israeli allegations and described them as “a new Israeli lie that aims to justify and prolong the siege it’s imposed on Gaza.”

These Israeli allegations may have attracted someone’s attention at another time, but right now, the world is busy with the confrontation between the U.S., the biggest power since the Cold War, and Russia. Iran will soon receive the second payment of frozen assets as per the temporary nuclear agreement it sealed with global powers.

Chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yukiya Amano indicated on Monday that Iran had made sufficient progress to receive a scheduled March 1 installment of $450 million. A third installment worth $550 million is supposed to be delivered on March 8. Iran was lucky this time because it’s now capable of isolating Israel. Thanks to Russia and the Ukrainian semi-revolution!

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on March 8, 2014.

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Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard
 

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