Topic: Iran's nuclear program
Sergei Markedonov for RIA Novosti
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- West Seeks Regime Change in Iran - Putin
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- Ahmadinejad Tells West to Respect Iran
- No Appetite for War: Israel’s View on the Iranian Problem
At a meeting with editors of leading Western newspapers Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Russia will do all it can to prevent war in Iran. But is this war already inevitable?
This is the question on the minds of many in Russia and abroad. A fresh outbreak of violence in the Middle East could destabilize the South Caucasus and other post-Soviet regions. There is no such thing as a foreign war.
On March 5, 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama is due to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two leaders are expected to focus on Iran’s nuclear program and the geopolitical situation in the Middle East. Where do they see eye to eye? Will they be able to stop the Iranian crisis from developing into a military conflict, or will they choose escalation? Of course, the answer to this question does not depend solely on them.
Hell to pay
If politics were rational, it would be clear that nobody stands to gain from an armed conflict between Iran and the United States or between Iran and a coalition of states (including the United States and Israel).
War would curtail the production of oil and gas and inflate prices. This would deal a blow to the West, primarily Europe, which is already going through hard times. Russia would also lose out in this scenario, as the West would start saving, reducing fuel consumption and buying less Russian hydrocarbons.
While the parallels are a bit artificial, but something similar took place in the 1970s. The repercussions of that oil crisis and the Soviet Union’s collapse are still reverberating throughout many parts of Eurasia.
Military action would also hurt China, whose prosperity is largely based on the ability of the West to purchase the consumer goods China produces, right down to the souvenirs from Washington, D.C. with a “Made in China” label.
Israel stands to lose the most from a military conflict. It is still reeling from the Arab Spring and the vague prospects of Egypt and Libya’s Islamization.
Today many Arab countries and Iran are competing in a proxy struggle in Syria. Were Israel to attack Iran, this could help unify these opponents against “global Zionism.”
The odds of military action
Iran will not gain any benefits from armed conflict, either. Combative rhetoric is all well and good, but in the event of war Iran’s infrastructure will be subject to massive strikes.
Onlookers might point out that during the long war with Iraq, the Iranians grew accustomed to the privations and casualties. But ordinary Iranians are hardly interested in going through this again. Any war is an ordeal, and Iran will grow poorer without the ability to export oil.
Regrettably, politics is not as rational as we would like it to be. Iran is too sore a subject for the United States, which cannot get over its failure in 1979. At that time it did not gain anything from the economic sanctions against Iran, which continued to develop without America and exert influence in the region. For Tehran, America is still the Great Satan.
As a result, even a minor miscalculation by either side could result in major consequences. There is not much hope that realists will gain the upper hand on either side.
It is important to prepare for negative scenarios. At any rate, nobody should hope for an easy blitzkrieg.
Russia may have to deal with an influx of refugees. It is enough to imagine that Iran may strike Azerbaijan under the pretext of fighting the Israeli-Azerbaijani military partnership and arms purchases by Baku. Do not forget that Azerbaijan borders on Russia’s Dagestan in the north.
But even if this does not happen, Baku may try to exploit the situation and speed up the military solution of the Nagorny Karabakh issue.
Avoiding war in Iran
Moscow will have to make a difficult choice given the competing groups of influence among the Russian elite. After Russia’s loss of influence in Georgia, a strong link to Armenia or Azerbaijan is not exactly in line with Russian interests in the South Caucasus.
Moscow stands to gain from positive contacts with both Yerevan and Baku, seeking a compromise on the Nagorny Karabakh issue rather than the victory of one side.
Thus, a war in Iran or around Iran will compel Russia to break all statuses-quo and seek new configurations. This will complicate matters for Russia and prevent it from resolving other no less important domestic and foreign policy problems.
These problems will not subside after the presidential election. We do not need an Iranian Spring, much less a whole year of Iran. Russia may receive some short-term gains from higher oil prices but they will not turn into a strategic success.
Regardless of how the Iranian card will be played in the foreseeable future, Russia is facing urgent challenges – rapid economic diversification, breaking its dependence on hydrocarbons, and the consolidation of a smart economy and high-tech development (not limited to Skolkovo).
It would be best if military action can be avoided in Iran. The main goal for all players – above all Washington and Tehran – is to diffuse the potential for armed conflict, turning it into a conflict of interests without extremes, or perhaps even pragmatic interstate relations. This is the only way to calm down the hotheads on both sides and move toward a resolution of urgent issues instead of escalating tensions.
Sergei Markedonov is a visiting fellow of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
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- email@example.comWell written article by Sergei Markedonov01:27, 03/03/2012Thank you Sergei Markedonov for this well written article on the consequences of a war with Iran, who ever starts it.
Several winners will benefit from the conflict.
1. Arms makers
2. Military budgets.
3. The oil industry, in that they can raise their prices still further.
4. Governments who tax gasoline sales (which I think is everyone) will benefit with increased gasoline tax revenue.
4. The biggest losers however will be every country dependent on affordable oil to run their economy and those associated businesses that need affordable oil.
(Except the oil companies who benefit from higher prices.)
Exporting oil countries like Canada will benefit from an Iranian war so watch the actions of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper very closely.
In the recent past he has instigated negative Iranian comments.
That said Canada ironically imports 50% of its oil to Eastern Canada, so if a war with Iran erupts, Eastern Canada will be affected by possible oil shortages.
- firstname.lastname@example.orgCanadian PM Stephen Harper fans the flames for war with Iran07:47, 03/03/2012I knew this article was coming today and was not surprised when I read it in the Ottawa Sun this evening.
Friday March 2, 2012.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper fans the flames for a war with Iran with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Under no circumstances does Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper represent the opinions of the Canadian people.
To make matters even worse recently it has been discovered that the Conservative Party illegally won the last Canadian election by contacting the voters of other parties all across Canada telling them to go to incorrect voting locations.
So Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not only in office illegally, but he is also a threat to world peace.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper should be removed from power along with the Conservative Party before they can do any more damage.
Netanyahu, Harper warn of threat posed by Iran
OTTAWA - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used an official visit to Ottawa Friday to warn the international community Iran may try to "deceive and delay" by joining broad talks on its nuclear program.
Calling Iran's nuclear program "perhaps the most troubling development in a sea of troubles" in the Middle East, Netanyahu said Iran may try to exploit talks while continuing to expand its program.
Netanyahu was in the national capital for an official visit with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and both attended a news conference following a tete-a-tete on Parliament Hill. Harper noted his government has been absolutely "clear on the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran."
But he said Canada is pushing for a peaceful resolution. The two politicians also discussed the "turbulence" — the Arab Spring — in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Western nations are concerned Iran is attempting to build a nuclear weapon, something Iran denies, arguing its program is for peaceful purposes only.
Israel is widely believed to be seriously considering a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.
In an interview with CNN last year, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barack expressed concern time is running out to prevent Iran from developing military nuclear capabilities.
Netanyahu echoed that concern Friday.
The Israeli leader will be in Washington on Monday and will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama. The meeting is also expected to focus on Iran, with Netanyahu expected to push the president on whether the U.S. would back Israel in a possible military strike.
The U.S. has sent mixed messages about whether it would back Israel in the event of pre-emptive strike.
The Conservative government has made it clear Canada is a staunch ally of Israel, and Harper has been quoted in recent interviews saying he believes Iran poses a major threat to global security.
Western nations bolstered sanctions against Iran after a November report from the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, raised fresh concerns Iran is seeking to build a nuclear weapon.
Those sanctions are reportedly beginning to bite, which Netanyahu thinks may drive Iran back to international talks.
Friday's visit was Netanyahu's second with Harper in Ottawa. He met with the prime minister in 2010 as well. Harper has yet to make an official visit to Israel, though both Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty visited there earlier this year.
- wulfranoWWIII10:30, 03/03/201240 years ago I wrote a book in Spanish titled "La Tercera Guerra Mundial" (The Third World War). On page 212 I said that World War III would start with the israeli attack on Syria via Damascus and on Jordan via Amman.
Iran has been a central Russian ally in the Middle East, despite considerable tensions between the two. But by renewing dialogue with the West, the new Iranian leadership has chosen another direction. The shifting terrain in the region creates new strategic, political and economic challenges for Russia.