Trump and Israel want war against Iran, but it won’t be one-sided
By Abdel Bari Atwan
This week’s headlines have been dominated by reaction to US President Donald Trump’s bluster against North Korea during his address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. This has overshadowed the equally threatening and ominous references he made in the same speech to Iran.
Anyone listening to will have been left with two impressions: Trump’s speech faithfully echoed the utterances Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and it brazenly beat the drums of war against Iran.
Trump described Iran as a ‘rogue state’ and ‘corrupt dictatorship’ that exports violence, anarchy, and bloodshed. He also said that he had reached a decision regarding the P5+1 nuclear agreement with Iran, while declining to reveal what it is. This has led many observers to conclude that he will soon withdraw from the agreement, in line with his electoral promise to tear it up on the grounds that it is the worst agreement in US history, and in deference to the dictates of the Israel lobby.
Trump is widely expected to announce the US’ withdrawal from the agreement in mid-October when he testifies to Congress in his semi-annual review. This is likely to be accompanied by a further tightening of the sanctions and the economic blockade on Iran. And it could prompt the Iranian government to immediately resume the enrichment of uranium at very high levels, giving it the capacity it to produce nuclear warheads.
It was no coincidence that shortly before Trump spoke, Netanyahu demanded that the nuclear agreement be scrapped or altered, while likening Iran to a hungry tiger on a vicious rampage in the region and the world. Nor was it a coincidence for Israeli Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot to announce that Israel has plans already in place for attacking Iran and Hezbollah, which he described as an Iranian surrogate whose growing missile and intelligence-gathering capacity (via pilotless drones) was a top Israeli concern.
The Israeli occupation state is the only country that backs Trump’s stance. The EU is opposed to it, especially French President Emmanuel Macron who warned it would be a ‘mistake’ for the US to withdraw from the nuclear agreement. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed the same view and vowed that his country would continue to uphold the deal.
Trump is literally implementing Israeli dictates. He is planning to drag his country and the world into a ruinous war in the Middle East: a war whose main victims will be Arabs and Muslims, and which will not spare the citizens of those states that host American military bases, which along with Israel can be expected to be targeted in any Iranian retaliation.
Iran will certainly not to stand by with folded arms in response to the attempt to cancel the agreement it spent five years negotiating with the six major powers, and ratchet up the economic sanctions that have stifled it for decades and inflicted huge damage on its economy and its people’s livelihoods. President Hassan Rowhani replied by stressing that his country was ready for all scenarios, including that of immediately resuming its nuclear activities. Revolutionary Guard Commander Mohammad-Ali Jafari went further, threatening to deliver a painful blow to the US if compelled to do so. Saturday’s test of a new ballistic missile a few days after Trump’s speech – apparently taking a leaf out of North Korea’s book – was intended to demonstrate that Iran is not prepared to take his threats lying down.
After the failure of his plans in Syria and the entire region, and after the humiliating embarrassment inflicted on him by North Korean President Kim Jong-un, who defied him by carrying out fresh nuclear and missile tests, Trump wants to return to the Middle East in force and start fires there. He is confident that the region’s oil-rich governments will cover the war’s expenses and does not mind turning their citizens into its victims.
But the Israelis who are pushing for this war will also pay heavy price. They too will not be secure, either during or after this war, as hundreds of thousands of missiles will be aimed at their cities and settlements from Iran, Lebanon and Syria. It would be the mother of all wars, and with Israel armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons, potentially the region’s last. This time round, however, it will not be one-sided.
Trump is playing with fire. He may not only burn his fingers but also millions of our innocent people unless he is restrained, and unless his deranged tendencies and the megalomania which dominates his behaviour and policies are brought under control.