Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Iran Signals Its Readiness for a Final Confrontation

From JCPA, Vol. 11, No. 20 14 November 2011, by Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall*:
  • Since the publication of the November 2011 IAEA report, which explicitly spotlights Iran's plans to build nuclear weapons, senior figures of the Iranian regime and the state-run media have begun to use threatening, defiant, and sometimes contemptuous language toward Israel and the United States.
  • From Iran's standpoint, an ongoing, head-on confrontation with the U.S. and Israel would serve its purposes in the region and build its image as a key actor that stands firm against the West and provides an alternative agenda to reshape the Middle East. Hence, compromise has almost ceased to be an option for Iran.
  • The current round of the conflict between Iran and the United States and Israel over Iran's (military) nuclear program should be seen in a much wider context, one that centers on shaping a new landscape in the Middle East. Iran views itself as "the next big thing" in the region and behaves accordingly-at the moment with no significant challenge or response from the United States and the West.
  • If in the past Iran held clandestine contacts with Islamic movements, mainly from North African Arab states, on Sudanese soil (such as Ennadha, which has now won the Tunisian elections), it can now openly boost its influence in countries where the "U.S.-supported dictators" have fallen.
  • Iran no longer fears openly acknowledging that it has built capabilities for reacting to an attack-including the Palestinian organizations in Gaza and Hizbullah in Lebanon-and depicts them as part of its defensive strategy and response in case of a confrontation with Israel and the United States.
  • At home, the growing strength of the Revolutionary Guards enables them to increasingly influence foreign policy and mainly to export the revolution in ways not seen in the past. The top commanders of its elite Quds Force are emerging from the shadows and will have a key role in the future struggle against the U.S. and its remaining allies in the region, particularly Israel. Iran, as its president said, is preparing for the "final confrontation."
*IDF Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael (Mickey) Segall, an expert on strategic issues with a focus on Iran, terrorism, and the Middle East, is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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