(photo credit: AP)
The battle raging among Sunni Muslims - between belligerent Islamists carrying the mantle of al-Qaida and comparatively more moderate adherents - is sufficiently disturbing without throwing the destabilizing impact of Iranian Shi'ite imperialism into the mix.
Over the weekend, for instance, came news that the son of the Saudi interior minister - who happens to be his father's deputy at the ministry - had been the target of a failed al-Qaida assassination attempt. Elsewhere, hundreds of Sunni Muslims have been killed this summer by fellow Sunnis in Dagestan, Ingushetia and Chechnya. In Afghanistan/Pakistan, the slaughter is mostly Sunni on Sunni. Only in Iraq has much of the recent intra-Arab killing been carried out by Sunnis against Shi'ites.
On top of what the Sunnis are doing to each other, Iran does its bit to promote the bloodletting, in Afghanistan and Iraq, naturally, but also in Yemen, where the latest uptick in violence is facilitated by Iranian support of anti-government Shi'ite rebels. Iran also stokes upheaval by supporting seditious Sunni groups in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania and among the Palestinians. In Lebanon, Teheran operates openly through its Hizbullah proxy. Its agents in South America and Africa pursue their malevolent goals more surreptitiously.
Iran makes all this mischief armed with only conventional weapons. Place an atom bomb in the hands of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the world becomes exponentially more dangerous - especially now that his regime is becoming more despotic.
As Iran's June elections demonstrated, power is now concentrated among an ever-shrinking elite which feels no need to pursue consensus policies at home. Former leading revolutionaries have been subject to Stalin-like show trials, coerced into making transparently false confessions. The revolution is consuming its own, becoming more fanatical and turning crooked. The Economist reports this week that the Revolutionary Guards control most state-owned companies and may even have a stranglehold over the black market in alcohol, tobacco, and heaven knows what else.
The appointment as defense minister of Ahmad Vahidi - the man most likely responsible for the 1994 bombing of the Jewish center in Buenos Aires in which 85 people were killed and 200 wounded - supplies yet further proof that the ruling clique has become more shameless, arrogant and unpredictable.
ON FRIDAY, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei issued another one of his Kafkaesque reports, in advance of a September 7 meeting of the agency's 35-member policymaking body in Vienna. He has perfected the art of airbrushing any sense of urgency out of these reports. "There remain a number of outstanding issues," ElBaradei droned, "which give rise to concerns and which need to be clarified to exclude the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programâ€¦."
He makes no judgment about the military aspects of Iran's nuclear program; takes no position on reports that a renegade Russian scientist provided weaponization knowhow to Iran; and offers no view about reports of Iranian scientists carrying out computer modeling of above-ground nuclear detonations.
Here is ElBaradei taking off the gloves: The IAEA does "not consider that Iran has adequately addressed the substance of the issuesâ€¦." To his credit, he doesn't sweep under the rug the fact that Iran has not suspended its enrichment of uranium or halted work on heavy water, as demanded by the Security Council.
The generally well-informed Jim Hoagland of The Washington Post predicts that after much haggling, Iran will agree to stop short of building a bomb, but will insist on retaining its capability to do so. That would leave Iranian imperialism unchecked and perpetuate for generations the threat of an Iranian bomb.
On Wednesday, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany will meet in Frankfurt. Berlin and Paris have announced that stiffer economic penalties are in the offing if Iran does not end its quest for the bomb. Meanwhile, a new poll tells us that 81 percent of Americans feel Iran poses a serious threat to the United States; a survey last month found 66% feeling that President Barack Obama is not tough enough on Iran.
Iran without the bomb is a certified menace. Perhaps the nightmarish consequences for Europe and America of a nuclear-armed Iran are, belatedly, starting to register.
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