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Unintended consequences

The ultimate goal of Iran’s mullahs is the military, ideological, economic and religious domination of the greater Persian Gulf and Middle East. To achieve this goal, the Iranians feel they must first reduce American influence and destroy the state of Israel. They use military confrontations by funding and supporting Shiite militias in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza (via Damascus, of course) while threatening nuclear proliferation. In addition to their indirect military adventurism, they also employ numerous economic, ideological and covert tactics in their effort to gain the necessary leverage to control the geopolitical end-game in Iraq. While each action has a distinct purpose, taken as a whole they form the strategy to galvanize transnational Muslim support against the U.S. and Israel while weakening our economy. The mullahs understand that destabilizing events in the region conflate to increase in the price of oil, which causes uneasiness in America’s financial markets and ultimately affects our economy. So let’s make no mistake, this is war by means other than direct military confrontation. But nonetheless, it is a war.However, Hezbollah’s recent attacks upon Israel have revealed some heretofore unseen political undercurrents. Israel isn’t getting the usual response from the Muslim world – although the longer this conflict drags on, the more likely censure from the international community will become a factor.Almost all Muslim Arabs opposed the creation of the state of Israel at the end of World War II, albeit for differing ideological and geopolitical reasons. Nevertheless, conflicts between Israel and its neighbors have been greeted with almost universal condemnation. While condemnations abound during this recent conflict, perhaps for the fist time Israel’s adversary (Hezbollah) is also being condemned by Arabs and non-Arabs alike. Meanwhile, according to The New York Times, senior Sunni officials in Iraq have now reversed their position regarding American troop withdrawal. The Sunnis requested U.S. troops stay in Iraq to protect them from the Shiite militias that have increased the frequency and ferocity of their attacks against Sunnis since the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The rationale behind Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel remains unclear, although the strategy is almost certainly designed to expose the weakness of the Lebanese government and place Hezbollah at the forefront of anti-Israeli forces in the minds of Arab Muslims. Nevertheless, it’s a pretty sure bet that this conflict was at least partially initiated at the behest of Iran. While much of this maneuvering is theological, it also has a significant geopolitical component. But there has been a Muslim backlash. In some quarters, the Iranian Shiites are now perceived as more of a problem within the Muslim world than previously acknowledged. To quote Strategic Forecasting, “The Sunni reaction in Lebanon is linked to the Sunni reaction in Iraq, and these are in turn linked to the Saudi reaction to the Hezbollah attacks. Rather than condemning Israel, Saudi Arabia has focused on Hezbollah as the root of the problem. Moreover, the Saudis have been increasingly critical of Shiite behavior toward the Sunnis in Iraq. To put it simply, the fault line between the Sunnis and Shia is becoming increasingly active.”In a departure from its normal position, an Iranian foreign policy spokesman publicly stated that a cease-fire is possible and desirable in the Israel-Hezbollah confrontation. That’s a major concession for a nation whose president has publicly stated the Holocaust didn’t occur and who wants Israel wiped from the face of the earth.If Muslim reaction can cause a shift in something as fundamental as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s stated position regarding peace between Israel and Hezbollah, it leads one to ask if perhaps this latest crisis could be used as an opening in the larger war on terror.The United States brokered a peace agreement between Israel and Hezbollah 10 years ago. But conditions today are very different from 1996, when there were few legitimate democratic and reform forces in the region. With duly elected governments in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories (no matter how tentative or even corrupt), there is at least movement in the right direction – a necessary precursor to permanent solutions versus palliatives.Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas all want to thwart the two-state resolution between the Israelis and Palestinians, the fledgling democratic government in Lebanon, and of course any democratic solution in Iraq. This continues to be the root of most problems in the region. For 58 years the world has sought stability in a region rife with geographic and ideological differences, internecine fighting, minimal economic infrastructure, and little if any notions of plurality – making peace about as likely as creating a square circle. It was within this construct that the likes of al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah were formed. Perhaps this latest display of Iranian adventurism can move Muslim opinion to the point where “the obvious” is now evident. What a great unintended consequence it would be if in their bellicosity, the Iranian mullahs are hoisting themselves by their own petard. Butch Mazzuca, a local Realtor and ski instructor, writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at bmazz68@earthlink.net Vail, Colorado


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