ANALYSIS: Pumping up the Iranian threat

Degrees of confidence on U.S.-Iran naval incident

The list of those who are less than fully confident in the Pentagon’s video/audio mashup of aggressive maneuvers by Iranian boats near American warships in the Strait of Hormuz now includes the Pentagon itself.

Unnamed Pentagon officials said on Wednesday that the threatening voice heard in the audio clip, which was released on Monday night with a disclaimer that it was recorded separately from the video images and merged with them later, is not directly traceable to the Iranian military.

That undercuts one of the most menacing elements from the Pentagon’s assertion that Iranian forces threatened the Navy ships: The voice on the radio saying, “I am coming to you. … You will explode after … minutes.” [complete article]

Captain Ahab and the Islamic whale

Filling a major void in the post-Cold War milieu, the “rogue” Iran plays a vital role for the US’s military-industrial complex that thrives on lucrative arms sales to the conservative oil sheikhs of the Persian Gulf, ostensibly threatened by the “hegemonic” and nuclear ambitious Iran.

But, whereas the capitalist logic of arms sales dictates heating up the furnace of Iran-bashing, on the other hand, certain geopolitical realities, eg, in Iraq and Afghanistan, spell out a diametrically different logic of action. This is reflected in the bilateral US-Iran dialogue on Iraq’s security; a fourth round of talks has been put on hold because of Bush’s trip and his stern anti-Iran agenda. This includes pressuring Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)states such as the UAE to curtail their financial transactions with Iran, in tandem with US-led sanctions on the regime over its nuclear program.

While it remains to be seen if the UAE and other GCC states will appease the lame-duck president, who may be wishing a final grand adventure before he leaves office, what is already clear, and disturbing, is the White House’s persistent failure to impose even a modicum of pressure on Israel. Talking peace and acting war against Palestinians, Israel’s contradictory approach has augmented the US’s image problem in the Middle East. And, short of any major concession to the Palestinians, that approach is likely to receive a major boost from Washington now that Bush has set foot in Israel. [complete article]

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