- 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
- By wondrous coincidence, at exactly the same moment a
ship was captured that allegedly carried Iranian arms to Palestinian President
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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 going on 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
- 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
- Uri Avnery is an columnist with the Israeli newspaper,