Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The bad scenario

Abdulbari Atwan, writing in this morning's Al-Quds al-Arabi, says the mass kidnapping at the Education Ministry (following on earlier assassinations of intellectuals and others) is an indication that the destruction of the country now includes a concerted plan to stultify the coming generation and set back the country for decades to come. He says this is happening in an environment where neighboring countries, first and foremost Iran, are developing nuclear programs. Given the complete collapse of security in Iraq, he says it wouldn't be surprising to see Bush withdraw his troops ignominiously to minimize further losses, and to prepare for the next war, against Iran. Atwan adds that it was the Jewish lobby in Washington that promoted the war against Iraq, and it is the same group involved in the current run-up to war in Iran.

Tony Blair, for his part, hoping to avoid having to join Rumsfeld in the war-criminals department, has started touting the idea of asking for help from Syria and Iran.

Atwan scratches his head and wonders: Iran is looking to regional advantage, and Syria to having the US bogged down in Iraq and too busy to topple the Syrian regime, and there is little they could do to add to the advantages the US and its allies have already handed them. So what would induce these axis-of-evil countries to send troops to Iraq at the US request to try and pacify the place, and would it really serve that purpose anyway?

He runs through the main aims of Syria and Iran, the former looking for the return of the Golan and Israeli withdrawal from "most of the occupied lands", restoration of its political role in the region generally, and its particular influence in Lebanon; the latter looking to be recognized as a major nuclear power in the region. A deal will not come about, and the reason is Israel. It would not voluntarily agree to any of this; and the the chances of the US forcing it to do so are "probably less than one in a million".

Having disposed of the theory of Syrian-Iranian assistance, Atwan adds: In any event, it isn't possible at the moment to see how there is any honorable exit possibility for the Americans, because unlike the Vietnam end-game, the Iranian situation doesn't offer any counterparty representing all or most of the country, with which to negotiate. At least not unless the Americans were willing to turn the clock back to the pre-invasion situation, which "isn't conceivable at least not at the present moment", Atwan says.

The worst scenario, and one that seems to be crystallizing rapidly and frighteningly, would be for Bush to flee from Iraq and turn his attention to a new war with Iran, and the Jewish lobby will embellish for him the advantages of such a war, just as they beautified for him the idea of a war on Iraq.

That would become an unprecedented Third World War, Atwan says, resulting in the end of America as a great power, and possibly the end of Israel too.


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