Ottoman Mark 2?
Iran Living an Imperial Fantasy
by Dan Ehrlich

As I have previously written, Iran seeks to replace Saudi Arabia as emperor of the Arab world, a task made more difficult since Muslim Iran is not an Arab country.

They hope to do it similar to the Turks conquest of the Middle East, through religion and military might. But, to accomplish this they first have to neutralize Israel and NATO’s protective umbrella, which is currently receiving mixed reviews in Libya.

Turkey is part of NATO and also is the most powerful Muslim nation in the region. Like Iran, it is a non-Arabic country. Unlike Iran it has been a secular nation since the 1920s, with strong ties to the West and currently has hopes of joining the European Union. But that appears to be changing with the growth of a strong Islamist movement and a current Islamist leaning government.

Until now Turkey has tried to steer clear of Middle East politics. It isn’t part of NATO’s military operations in Libya. The Turks had enough running an empire there for more 400 years. But, it may find it difficult to resist involvement if Shiite Iran begins making dangerous movements in the region. Sunni Turkey borders Iran and shares a sizable Kurdish population with it and Iraq.

Iran’s main problem is overreach on an almost fantasy level…As a nation of a minority Muslim denomination (Iraq and Bahrain are the only majority Shiite Arab countries) it isn’t regarded highly by other Muslim countries. In case you haven’t noticed the Middle East is an area where the “birds of a feather” adage strongly applies.

The basis for the Arab-Israeli Conflict isn’t so much about Palestinian rights as it has been about Jews not being Muslims and Arabs. It’s ironic, then that the Arabs have been happy to have Israel around, with its pal the USA, as protectors against Iranian expansion.

The chaotic upheavals engulfing the Middle East for a change has nothing to do with Israel and America. Yet, their outcome could affect the world, one that still depends on the main product of this largely arid region.

Europe and the US have long relied on a fragile alliance of mutual necessity with Arab dictators. Now, those ties are gradually being broken by popular discontent…not so much with the West, but with the realization that the world is moving on and they aren’t materially.

But there’s no common denominator in the various revolts. While Libyans want a better deal from a better government, the majority Shiite people of Bahrain is seeking to rest power from the Sunni royal family.

Egypt, which is way down the international quality of life table, has a population with different priorities than Syria, whose people, while not poverty stricken, live under a repressive regime of another minority Muslim sect.

There has long been proof that Iran has been using minority Shiite communities in Syria and Lebanon to sow discontent and create chaos with the occasional terrorist outrage. Israel’s scourge, Hezbollah is financed by Iran through Syria.

Now, with the revolts through the region, Iran has suddenly shifted course and has begun singing the praises of the alleged democratic reforms taking place. But all this is just hot air.

The fact is all the power brokers in the Middle East care about regarding Iran is its nuclear program. In one of the infamous Wiki Leaks, it was revealed how Saudi Arabia was hoping the US would bomb Iran. And more recently, amazingly the Saudis are said to have okayed Israel to fly over its territory on the way to bomb Iran’s nuclear plants.

With the world firmly entrenched in a global economy events as far apart as the Japan earthquake and the Libyan revolt affect every developed nation. The last thing the world needs is another rogue member of the atomic weapons club threatening to blow nations apart, especially in an area where much of the world’s oil is located. Remember, atomic explosions and radioactive fallout don’t recognize borders.

However, if Iran ever does develop a nuclear arsenal, it would mean an East-West style standoff would develop in the region. I doubt seriously Iran's President is really that nuts to attempt to use such weapons. This is where the tried and true MAD (mutually assured destruction) deterrence comes into play. But, in the end I guess it all depends  on how mad Iran's leaders really are. Their imperial fantasy doesn't fill one with hope.

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