Fallout from an Iranian Crisis

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By Edmond Y. Azadian

When we characterize the Middle East as a powder keg which might explode at any moment, we are using a cliché commonly cited in today’s political discourse.

As the tensions rise there, the ramifications reverberate around the world. At the present time, when motorists pay through their noses at the gas pump, they seldom realize that the fluctuations in oil prices correspond with the war rhetoric in and about the Middle East. The news media has refined its brainwashing capacity to such a sophisticated degree that the average citizen is at the mercy of demagogues.

The concern over Iran’s nuclear prospects has contributed to the tensions in the Middle East, especially at the prodding of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been pushing the Obama administration to draw the “red line” in front of Tehran, threatening military action, if Iran crosses that red line.

The Israeli prime minister’s insistence went so far recently that an op-ed piece in the New York Times advised President Obama to draw a “red line” in front of Netanyahu to stop him from meddling in the US presidential politics.

After Republican candidate for President Gov. Mitt Romney’s pilgrimage to Israel and his pledge of complete surrender (Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Palestinians inferior to Israelis), hopes were raised within the Israeli leadership that the Obama administration would rush to match Romney’s rhetoric, courting the support of the Jewish voters. A contender may promise the sky, yet the leaders in charge of a country’s destiny cannot act recklessly. Given the continuing bloodshed in Iraq and Afghanistan, when a combined number of 6,500 US troops have been sacrificed with more than 50,000 veterans disabled or gripped by suicide fever, the Obama administration reacted more responsibly, staying the course and insisting that economic sanctions had been working in dampening Iran’s nuclear hopes.

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Ironically, the policy paid off and President Obama’s ratings in the polls rose significantly, driving home the truth that people in the US are tired of continuous wars which have had a catastrophic impact on the US economy, parallel to the human losses.

In view of these developments, Netanyahu toned down his bellicose rhetoric.

Under the pressure of the sanctions, Iran’s currency, the rial, recently suffered a 40-percent depreciation, touching off riots in the streets there.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the protests in Iran linked to the country’s weakening currency are causing Israeli officials to reconsider the likelihood of a strike against Iranian nuclear targets.

Iran, in its turn, raised its own war rhetoric, which must not have

been lost on observers. Indeed, the former chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced to Press TV that “if the Israelis attack, Iran’s deterrent power would deal a mortal blow to them and that the Israeli death toll would not be less than 10,000.”

All this exchange of rhetoric has been flying over the heads of neighboring nations, which will suffer most should a conflagration be triggered. Armenia, being on the front line, will become the first one to be affected.

The US has befriended medieval potentates in the Gulf Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, using the euphemistic description of “moderate regimes” to cover up the political compromise of its own democratic principles. Therefore, Armenia is entitled to choose its own friends (especially when its lifeline hinges on that choice) regardless if those friends are viewed as less democratic in the Western lexicon of double-standards.

Iran has been a friend of Armenia for centuries. Armenians have enjoyed prosperity during the rule of the Shah and they have been treated with dignity even under the Islamic Republic. As Georgia is conniving with Azerbaijan against it, Armenia has a more reliable route with the outside world through Iran.

Plus, through political necessity, the two countries have been drawn closer together.

Iran is a huge country with abundant energy resources which it has also been trading with Armenia. Iran is the 18th largest country in the world, with a land mass of 636,372 square miles that can cover the UK, France, Germany and Spain, combined. Its population is 75 million, with Persians accounting for 61 percent of the population, Azeris 16 percent and Kurds 10 percent.

Unlike the Ottomans, Ittihadists and Kemalists who exterminated Armenians to take over their historic homeland, the Persian rulers have valued Armenians as creative and enterprising people and they have encouraged them to be integrated into their societies. An example of that “tough love” was expressed by Shah Abbas, in the early 17th century, who forced Armenians from Julfa (Jugha) in Nakhichevan, Armenia, to migrate to Persia and form New Julfa, in Isfahan, to contribute to the economic development of his country.

The war rhetoric around Iran has another dimension, which no longer is kept as a secret but is discussed publicly: the plan is to implode Iran along ethnic fault lines and to snatch the northern region (Iranian Azerbaijan) and attach it to the Republic of Azerbaijan, the dynastic property of the Aliyev clan, ruled by another “moderate” despot, to please the West. If this indeed happens, it will create a huge docile country in the region, at the expense of Armenia, which would face a more formidable, larger enemy, supported and armed by Turkey and Israel.

The fallout from any military attack on Iran or any territorial partition will translate into a catastrophic blow to a beleaguered Armenia.

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