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February 22, 2010 Special Dispatch No. 2818

Editors of Arab Dailies Assess: A War between Iran and the West Is Imminent

February 22, 2010
Iran | Special Dispatch No. 2818

In recent articles, editors of Arab dailies assessed that a war between Iran and the West is imminent, and did not rule out the possibility that the Arabs would take part in it. The editor of the Al-Quds Al-Arabi daily, 'Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan, wrote that the war would change the face of the region, and the fate of Israel's occupation would be like that of the Nazi regime after World War II; the editor of the Egyptian daily Al-Gumhouriyya, Muhammad 'Ali Ibrahim, stated that Iran has already made the first move towards war; and Al-Sharq Al-Awsat editor Tariq Alhomayed stated that whatever happens – whether Iran acquires nuclear weapons or a war breaks out to prevent it from acquiring them – the Arabs will become victims of the Iranian regime.

Following are excerpts from the editorials:

Al-Quds Al-Arabi Editor: If Israel Attacks Iran, Syria Is Likely to Fire Tens of Thousands of Missiles at Israel, Some with Chemical and Biological Warheads

'Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan, editor of the London daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, wrote in a February 13 editorial that if Israel attacks Iran, Syria is likely to respond with a brutal attack against it: "[Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad's declaration that his country is a 'nuclear nation'... and that it can enrich uranium to above 80%, exposes the real aim of Iran's nuclear program – that is, to produce nuclear warheads. In a phone conversation with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, he demanded that Syria wage war against Israel and eliminate this country if it launches an attack in the region (on Iran). In my view, this is the most important development, particularly in light of the fact that [Ahmadinejad's] demand comes at a time of stepped-up preparations for war [by Israel]...

"I don't know how President Assad responded to the requests of his Iranian colleague and ally, but according to Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Mu'allem, it appears that he felt that the explosion was imminent...

"There are two views regarding how Syria will respond if Israel attacks Iran, either by itself or together with the U.S. One [view is that] the Syrian government, in all its cleverness, will not lift a finger, preferring to take its time... The second is that Syria will join in the war and fire tens of thousands of missiles – including some with chemical and biological warheads – at Israeli cities and targets, under [its] current binding agreement [with Iran]...

"The second possibility is the more likely of the two. Perhaps the next war, if it breaks out... will change the face of the region from top to bottom, just as World War II did: Regimes will be wiped off the map, and others will take their place. Perhaps Israel will be impacted most of all, and it is not inconceivable that its fate [as an occupier] will be similar to that of the German Nazi regime...

"The current American administration is already preparing for the new war with a strangling blockade on Iran...

"[Most of] the pressure is now on China, so that it will not thwart a U.N. Security Council international resolution on a blockade [against Iran]. These pressures take the form of carrot and stick: The stick is the arming of Taiwan and economic threats; the carrot is demonstrated by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, aimed at persuading them to sell gas and oil to China at low prices in order to compensate it for losses it is likely to incur as a result of sanctions on Iran...

"Some talk of a six-month timetable [for the war], which according to estimates, is the time that Iran needs to produce nuclear weapons."[1]

The U.S. Is Working to Line Up the Gulf States to Back Sanctions and a Military Move against Iran

In a February 15 editorial, Atwan wrote: "...Hillary Clinton visited the Arabian Gulf to focus efforts there prior to [asking] the U.N. Security Council for strangling economic sanctions on Iran... This means that American diplomacy is being implemented along with military preparations [against Iran]...

"Clinton's requests of her Gulf hosts can be boiled down to three points:"

"1) Making tempting offers to China of low[-cost] gas and oil ...

"2) Involving [the Gulf countries] in the blockade or economic sanctions on Iran...

"3) Opening bases, ports, and airports [of the Gulf states] to American, and perhaps [also] Israeli, planes, ships, and forces, in case of a military move against Iran...

"It is too early to estimate to what extent the Gulf States will comply with the American requests, [but I believe] they are likely to acquiesce, perhaps [even] without any argument at all..."[2]

Al-Gumhouriyya Editor: Iran Has Already Made the First Move towards War

Egyptian MP Muhammad 'Ali Ibrahim, editor of the Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhouriyya, wrote in his editorial that Iran has already made the first move towards war, but that only U.S. President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu know when it will actually break out and what it will entail. "One can envision the region as a chessboard with white and black pieces moving across it... The opening move was made by Iran when it announced that it was beginning to enrich uranium to 20%... As everyone knows, chess is a game played by two opponents, but in the Middle East, Iran is playing against a very formidable rival [consisting of] the U.S. and Israel, and with each passing day it acquires new opponents and loses more of its allies. Syria seems to be hesitating, [although] Ahmadinejad has urged it to join the war should Israel attack the resistance, [i.e.,] Hizbullah and Hamas...

"Iran is interested in this war, because it sees it as an opportunity to suppress its [domestic] opposition and accuse it of cooperating with the West. [It also hopes that] the shared sense of danger will prompt the Iranians to unite around their leadership. The U.S. is also interested in the war, because it will enable it to sell advanced weapons to the countries of the region, to impose its air defense umbrella on the Gulf states, and to determine oil prices independently of OPEC...

"Tehran is forgetting that there will be no ground war against it... Cruise missiles and one-ton bombs will drop [from the sky] and carve [craters] seven stories deep... But will this paralyze Iran? Will not [Iran] attack the Gulf states and kill every American soldier in the region? And when will this scenario materialize? Nobody knows for sure... except Obama and Netanyahu..."[3]

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Editor: The Arabs Are Victims of Iran

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat editor Tariq Alhomayed wrote that, to judge by the exchange of threats between the sides, a war between Iran and the West is indeed brewing, and that the Arabs are likely to become victims of the Iranian regime's moves. He wrote: "Every war starts with words, and what we are currently witnessing is a real war of words between Iran and the West. After threatening to close off the Strait of Hormuz, Iran found itself [trapped in] an ongoing and dangerous [spiral of] escalation vis-à-vis the U.S.... The day before yesterday, the White House said that no option could be ruled out in dealing with Iran's nuclear aspirations, including the military option...

"The most salient element in Iran's responses is Ahmadinejad's assessment that a war will break out in the spring or summer, and his threats that if Israel attacks, the resistance and the countries of the region will crush it. He has also threatened that if new sanctions are [imposed] on his country in response to its nuclear program, he will cause the superpowers to regret it. On the very same day... Hassan Nasrallah threatened to bomb [Israel's] airport [if this country attacked Lebanon's] airport... As I have often noted in the past, every time Israel threatens Iran, [Iran] threatens the Gulf countries, and every time Iran raises its voice [in a threat], Hassan Nasrallah repeats [it statements] like an echo. The notable thing is that Ahmadinejad threatens Israel and the West... not with his own country's weapons but in the name of 'the resistance and the countries in the region'...

"If a war breaks out, it will be an Iranian war, and Iran will be its target... Why [then] does [Iran threaten to] attack our region and our countries? This is not our war, nor are we working [to promote it] – this war belongs only to Iran and its proxies. As for us, we will be Iran's victims whether it acquires nuclear [weapons] and whether a war breaks out [against it]..."[4]

Endnotes:

[1] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), February 13, 2010.

[2] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), February 15, 2010.

[3] Al-Gumhouriyya (Egypt), February 18, 2010.

[4] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), February 18, 2010.

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