There is ample precedent for American presidents being outlasted by their arch nemeses. Castro wins the prize for outlasting Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and another Bush. That is a record that may stand for all time. Like a vintage Timex, Castro is still ticking. Saddam did not make the cut, but North Korea seems to have dodged the bullet. What of Iran?
Will the second leg of the triangular axis of evil be broken or will GWB go off to the ranch?
Will the Iranians get talkative and engage in meaningful negotiations?
This Kurdish professor speculates:
Who will go first: George Bush or the Islamic Regime of Iran?
2/17/2007 KurdishMedia.com - By Dr Hussein Tahiri
Since George W. Bush branded the Islamic Regime of Iran as part of the “axis of evil” there have been growing speculations that the US administration would attempt to change the Iranian regime, even if by force.
When Saddam Hussein was overthrown it was expected that Iran would be the next in line. However, events in Iraq have not turned out how the US has hoped. Chaos and terrorism that have dominated Iraq handicapped the US efforts to establish a democratic and pluralistic Iraq that would be a role model for the rest of the Middle East.
Iran and Syria who saw success in Iraq as their demise have tried their best to make sure the US is not going to succeed and Iraq would not stabilise. Turkey fearing a legal Kurdish federal state developing and Kirkuk might join Kurdistan, added to the crises by intervening in Kirkuk and inciting the Turkmens. Other regional Arab states, while not wanting the disintegration of Iraq, have been quietly happy about the crises. A democratic and prosperous Iraq would mean their eventual demise. In fact, no regional power or country has an interest in having a stable and democratic Iraq. What the US is facing is not just terrorism but resistance to the US plans in the region.
In this regional power struggle the Islamic Republic of Iran has so far come out victorious. It has prevented the stabilisation of Iraq, putting the US in a very difficult position. It has had a great influence in Lebanon through Hizbullah. It has been able to appease the Arab population by championing the Palestinian cause and threatening to destroy Israel. It has created division between the US and its European allies and resistance to the US’s harsh measures against Iran in the UN Security Council over Iran’s nuclear program. In fact, the Islamic Republic of Iran has successfully challenged the US at every front. In the face of the US, Iran is becoming a regional superpower. Yet, the US is unable to counter Iranian influence.
The US administration has tried to create a regional alliance of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and other Arab states to counter Iranian domination. However, these countries are extremely careful to make a fine balance between maintaining US support and appeasing their own populations. They are very concerned about Iran’s influence in the region and its nuclear program but, at the same time, they are acutely aware of ani-American sentiments within Arabic and Islamic world and do not want to be seen to be supporting the US against Islamic Iran. Also, as previously mentioned, they are worried that a democratic and stable Iraq would threaten their regimes in future. Thus, while trying to show sympathy with the US concerns they have been engaging with Iran. Just recently Saudi Arabia and Iran held a discussion to find a solution to the Lebanon crisis.
It does not seem that the US has many options in dealing with Iran. The UN Security Council, particularly China and Russia, have been opposing economic sanctions against Iran. Given the current involvement of US military forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the vast territory that Iran covers, the US is not in a position to launch a ground attack against Iran to change the regime. Military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities and other strategic military cites could inflict some damage but it could give Iran the ammunition and justification to attack US interests in the region and worldwide (including targeting the US military in Iraq and the Gulf) using its military forces and its large network of terrorist groups.
Dialogue with Iran does not seem to work either. The western European countries have been engaging in “critical dialogue” with Iran for over 27 years. In the past few years they have been in intense negotiation with Iran over its nuclear program. However, this has not come to any fruition as the Islamic regime has continued to follow its own agenda with no regard for international laws and conventions. A dialogue would only work when Iran is allowed to have its own way and this would not be acceptable to the US.
George W. Bush is in a very difficult position. Would he drag out the crisis until handing it over to the next US president, or will he attack Iran before his presidency comes to an end? Damned if he does; damned if he does not. With the current developments, it seems that George Bush will go before the Islamic regime in Iran does.
Dr. Hussein Tahiri, a regular KurdishMedia.com contributor, is a Middle East commentator and an Honorary Research Associate with the School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University.