Israel Sets Up Iran For America's Next Onslaught

By Uri Avnery
Ha'aretz Daily

Some weeks ago, something curious happened: Israel discovered that Iran is the Great Satan.

It happened quite suddenly. There was no prior sensational news, no new discovery. As if by the order of a drill-sergeant, the whole Israeli phalanx changed direction. All the politicians, all the generals, all the enlisted media, with the usual complement of professors-for-hire all of them discovered overnight that Iran is the immediate, real and terrible danger.

By wondrous coincidence, at exactly the same moment a ship was captured that allegedly carried Iranian arms to Palestinian resident Yasser Arafat.

In Washington, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, a man for all seasons and the servant of all masters, accosted every passing diplomat and told him stories about thousands of Iranian missiles that have been given to the Hizbullah. Yes, yes, Hizbullah (included by President George W. Bush in the list of "terrorist organizations") is receiving horrible arms from Iran (part of Bush's "Axis of Evil") in order to threaten Israel,the darling of the U.S. Congress.

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Does this sound mad? Not at all. There is method in this madness. On the face of it, the matter is easy to explain. America is still in a
state of fury after the WTC twin-towers outrage. It has won an amazing victory in Afghanistan, hardly sacrificing a single American soldier. Now it stands, furious and drunk with victory, and does not know who to attack next. Iraq? North Korea? Somalia? The Sudan?

Bush cannot stop now, because such an immense concentration of might cannot be laid off. The more so, as Osama Bin Laden has not been killed. The economic situation has deteriorated and a giant scandal (Enron) is rocking Washington.

The most coveted resource on earth is the giant oil field in the Caspian Sea region, which competes in scale with the riches of Saudi Arabia. In 2010 it is expected to yield 3.2 million barrels of crude oil per day, in addition to 4.850 trillion cubic feet of natural gas per year.

The U.S. is determined (a) to take possession of it, (b) to eliminate all potential competitors, (c) to safeguard the area politically and militarily, and (d) to clear a way from the oil-fields to the open sea.

Bush's "war on terrorism" constitutes a perfect pretext for the campaign planned by his handlers. Under the cover of this war, America has taken total control of the three small Muslim nations near the oil reserves: Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The whole region is now completely under American political-military domination. All potential competitors including Russia and China - have been pushed out.

For a long time, the Americans have been arguing among themselves about the best route for piping this oil to the open sea. Routes that may be under Russian influence have been eliminated. The 19th century, deadly British-Russian competition, then called the "Great Game," is still goingon between America and Russia.

Until recently, the western route, leading to the Black Sea and Turkey, seemed most feasible, but the Americans did not like it very much, to say the least. Russia is much too near.

The best route leads south, to the Indian Ocean. Iran was not even considered, since it is governed by Islamic fanatics. There remained the alternative route: from the Caspian Sea, through Afghanistan and the western part of Pakistan (Baluchistan), to the Indian Ocean.

To this end, the Americans conducted, ever so quietly, negotiations with the Taliban regime. They bore no fruit.

Then the "war on terrorism" was launched and America conquered
all of Afghanistan and installed its agents as the new government. The Pakistani dictator, too, was bent to the American will.

If one looks at the map of the big American bases created for the war, one is struck by the fact that they are completely identical to the route of the projected oil pipeline to the Indian Ocean.

That would have been the end of the story, but the appetite grows with the eating. The Americans drew two lessons from the Afghan experience:

(a) that every country can be subdued by sophisticated bombs, without putting any soldiers in harm's way, and (b) that by military might and money America can install client governments anywhere.

And so a new idea came up in Washington: why lay a long pipeline around Iran (through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan) when one could lay a much shorter pipeline through Iran?

One has only to topple the mullahs' regime and install a new pro-American government. In the past, that seemed impossible. Now, after the Afghan episode, it looks eminently practicable. One has only to prepare American public opinion and to acquire the support of Congress.

For this, Israel's good services are needed. It has enormous influence in the Congress and the media.

It works like this: Israeli generals declare every day that Iran is producing weapons of mass-destruction and threatens the Jewish state with a second Holocaust. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announces that the capture of the Iranian arms ship proves Arafat is a part of the Iranian conspiracy. Peres tells everybody that Iranian missiles threaten the whole world. Every day some newspaper tells its readers that Bin Laden is in Iran or with the Hizbullah in Lebanon.

Bush knows how to reward those who serve him well. Sharon got a free hand to oppress the Palestinians, imprison Arafat, assassinate militants and enlarge the settlements. It's a simple deal: you deliver the support of the Congress and the media; I deliver the Palestinians on a platter.

This could not happen if America was still in need of allies in Europe and the Arab world. But in Afghanistan, America learned that it does not need anybody anymore. They can spit in the eyes of pitiful Arab regimes, who are always begging for money and they can disregard Europe altogether. Who needs the negligible armies of Britain and Germany, when America alone is mightier than all the armies of the world combined?

What conclusions should we draw from all this?

First of all, that we shall be located on the frontline of this coming war. Beyond the exchange of curses between the "two Persian chiefs-of-staff" (as the joke goes in Israeli command circles, alluding to the fact that Shaul Mofaz was born in Iran), an Iranian reaction to an American assault may hurt us grievously. There are missiles. There are chemical and biological weapons.

Second, that those of us who desire an Israeli-Palestinian peace cannot rely on America. Now everything depends on us alone, the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Our blood is more precious than Caspian Sea oil. At least to us.

Uri Avnery is an columnist with the Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz.