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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

How Iran is striving for regional dominance

One of the things we can see from the Wikileaks document dump is how Iran is striving for regional dominance - and how the US is ignoring that effort.
The method depicted and discussed is familiar: Local Islamist proxies are located, organized and exploited (the creation of “mini-Hizbullahs” in Saudi King Abdullah’s memorable words used in one of the cables), and influence is accumulated through the combination of ground-level brute force and Machiavellian maneuver.

The documents reveal that this Iranian effort is uppermost on the minds of the rulers of the Arab states that Iran is targeting. They suggest that the stronger Arab states are organizing political and intelligence warfare of their own to combat the Iranian effort. They also strongly indicate the absence of a corresponding sense of urgency among US administration officials.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in a meeting with Sen. John Kerry, says that “Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism is well-known, but I cannot say it publicly. It would create a dangerous situation.”

His intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, in a meeting with Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, is more explicit regarding Egyptian efforts to counter Iranian subversion.

Suleiman noted that Iran is “very active” in Egypt and that it is granting $25 million per month to Hamas.

Suleiman asserts that Iran has tried to transfer payments to the Kassam Brigades in Gaza, which Egypt has prevented.

He also notes Egypt’s apprehending of what he describes as a large “Hizbullah cell” on its soil (the 49-man cell apprehended by the Egyptian authorities in April 2009), and reports Iranian efforts to recruit among Sinai Beduin.

Suleiman tells Mullen that Egypt has begun a “confrontation with Hizbullah and Iran.” He mentions that his service has begun to recruit agents in Syria and Iraq, and says that Egypt has sent a clear message to Iran that if it continues to interfere in Egypt, Egypt will interfere with Iran. Iran, Suleiman concludes, must “pay the price” for its actions and not be allowed to interfere in regional affairs.

Saudi officials quoted sound no less concerned than the Egyptians, but their remarks are notably less robust and more anxious.
And the American reaction?
In the discussion, Brennan responds by noting that the US is reviewing its Iran policy, and observing that the US and Saudi Arabia have a “lot of work to do in the Middle East together.” He then seeks to change the subject.


So the leaked cables provide added and deepened color to an already existing picture of regional cold war. They do not require the altering of any of the main contours of that picture.

Iran is attempting a hostile takeover of the local system.

Regional states are concerned by this and are trying to organize in order to frustrate it. The US administration, meanwhile, appears to be failing to acknowledge this overarching reality in private conversation with its allies, just as it refuses to speak its name in public statements.
When the history of this era is written - if it is ever written - the role that the Obama administration's foreign policy is playing in the collapse of the world order is bound to be subjected to public scrutiny. Unfortunately, by then it will be too late.

What could go wrong?

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At 4:55 AM, Blogger Angie said...

"The US is ignoring that effort!" Uh, it isn't our region. Let Israel get her hands bloody for once.

At 8:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If these arab countries are waiting for obama to do something about iran they are in for a long wait. These arab countries should band together and attack iran themselves.


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