May 29, 2003
NEXT TARGET FOR REGIME CHANGE?
** Writers see
Administration hawks and doves "deeply split" over U.S. policy
options for Iran.
** Despite heightened
rhetoric, few believe Washington will risk war in Iran.
** Skeptics say talk of
destabilizing the regime plays into the hands of Tehran's hard-liners and will
encourage Iran to pursue "the nuclear option."
The 'two souls' of the Bush administration grapple over policy-- A common view in the global press is that
"Pentagon hawks" who "know only one recipe for the Middle
East"--regime change--are struggling with Secretary of State Powell and
Foggy Bottom "doves" to influence what direction U.S. policy takes
towards Tehran. The choice, one Italian daily
stated, is between the Pentagon's desire to "extirpate the evil
immediately" and Powell's desire "to make moderation and realpolitik
prevail." Pakistani papers argued
that the "neo-con clique" in Washington, "puffed up" by
triumph in Iraq, was behind a "mindless and radical shift" in U.S.
policy to destabilize the Tehran regime.
Few believe Washington's rhetorical 'attack' will lead to war-- Despite the "warlike rhetoric"
emanating from the Administration, few observers saw "Washington's war of
words" leading to the real thing.
"Even the hawks" don't want a war with Iran, Turkey's
mass-appeal Milliyet declared.
Canada's conservative National Post agreed: "The consensus of policy wonks left and
right is that invading Iran would be a foolish idea." Even analysts on the right, the paper noted,
believe "regime change" can be accomplished without firing a
shot. Muslim editorialists saw parallels
between pre-war accusations against Iraq and the Administration's charges about
Iran's WMD ambitions and its ties to al-Qaida, terming them a
"pretext" for military action against the Tehran regime. An Australian writer was one of the few
non-Muslim commentators to fear that the "psychological warfare" the
U.S. was now engaged in might also be "the essential precursor" to a
'High risk' U.S. strategy could imperil reformers, reinforce
Tehran's nuclear ambitions--
Conservative writers claimed that the "remarkably successful"
Iraq operation showed that "external threats can in themselves undermine...a
regime that is in fear of its own people."
Algeria's anti-Islamist Le Matin held that U.S. accusations
"are being adopted by the Iranian opposition." More outlets, though, took the view that U.S.
attempts to alter Iran's "complex internal structure" would
"increase resistance" to reform elements, giving Tehran's hard-liners
an excuse to "whip up war preparations." An even "more likely choice" for
the regime in the face of U.S. hostility is "to build and deploy nuclear
weapons and missiles" to deter a U.S. attack. To prevent this, Canada's leading Globe
and Mail urged Washington to "constructively engage" Tehran
instead of threatening destabilization, even though the paper admitted that
engagement offers "no guarantee of speedy change" in Iran.
EDITOR: Steven Wangsness
EDITOR'S NOTE: This
analysis is based on 44 reports from 18 countries, May 23-29, 2003. Editorial excerpts from each country are
listed from the most recent date.
Advisors Divided Over Policy On Iran"
Roland Watson, Washington bureau chief of the
conservative Times wrote (5/29):
"Senior Bush administration officials are deeply split about
whether to isolate, destabilize or engage Iran, setting the stage for a foreign
policy tussle that could dwarf divisions over Iraq. Hawks in the Pentagon are pushing for a more
aggressive policy against Iran's clerics, involving increased support for the
country's reformist movement in an effort to topple the Islamic rulers. Officials in the State Department and White
House are more cautious, arguing that any sign of U.S. involvement with the
reformist movement would discredit the reformers. But they have yet to offer an alternative way
forward. The problems presented by Iran
are significant. Despite its inclusion in
Mr. Bush's 'axis of evil' the strategy deployed against other states on the
U.S. blacklist does not necessarily apply."
"U.S. Attitude Is Disconcerting"
Belfast's broadly nationalist Irish News editorialized (5/29):
The U.S. defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, can certainly not be
accused of taking a low-key approach to American foreign policy. Having successfully argued for a military
solution to the Iraq problem, he has now turned his attentions to neighboring
Iran. Mr Rumsfeld warned Iran against
any efforts to influence the reconstruction of Iraq. He specifically said that an attempt to
remake Iraq in Iran's image would be 'aggressively put down'. The defense secretary's tone added some
weight to unconfirmed reports from Washington that a U.S. intervention in Iran
was under consideration. However, there
would be enormous dangers in embarking on such a course of action. The Iraqi campaign may well have been achieved
its military aims, but it most certainly did not result in the wider outcome
envisaged by the U.S. administration. Mr
Rumsfeld was yesterday forced to concede the real possibility that no weapons
of mass destruction would ultimately be found in Iraq. Given that these weapons were cited as the
main reason for the invasion in the first place, this was quite an
admission. He said unconvincingly that
Saddam Hussein's regime might have destroyed its illegal arsenal before the
coalition forces entered Iraq.... The
U.S. has now been left in full control of Iraq, but cannot produce either
Saddam or his weapons of mass destruction.
This sobering thought should dominate the debate over America's attitude
towards Iran. The U.S. attitude is
"Next Stop Tehran?"
Simon Tisdall wrote in the center-left Guardian
(5/27): "Without some new terrorist
enormity in the U.S. 'homeland', surely Bush is not so reckless as to start
another all-out war as America's election year approaches? Washington's war of words could amount to
nothing more than that. Maybe the U.S.
foolishly believes it is somehow helping reformist factions in the Majlis
(parliament), the media and student bodies.
Maybe destabilisation and intimidation is the name of the game and the
al-Qaida claims are a pretext, as in Iraq.
Perhaps the U.S. does not itself know what it wants to do.... But who knows? Tehran's dilemma is real:
Washington's intentions are dangerously uncertain....
"Iran's alternative course is the worst of all, but one which
Bush's threats make an ever more likely choice.
It is to build and deploy nuclear weapons and missiles in order to
pre-empt America's regime-toppling designs. The U.S. should hardly be surprised
if it comes to this. After all, it is
what Washington used to call deterrence before it abandoned that concept in
favour of 'anticipatory defence' or, more candidly, unilateral offensive
warfare. To Iran, the U.S. now looks very much like the Soviet Union looked to
western Europe at the height of the cold war.... If this is Iran's choice, the U.S. will be
much to blame. While identifying WMD
proliferation as the main global threat, its bellicose post-9/11 policies have
served to increase rather than reduce it....
Bush's greatest single disservice to non-proliferation came in Iraq. The
U.S. cried wolf in exaggerating Saddam's capability. Now it is actively undermining the vital
principle of independent, international inspection and verification by limiting
UN access to the country.... If Iran
ultimately does the responsible thing and forswears the bomb, it will not be
for want of the most irresponsible American provocation."
"Washington Raises Its Voice Against Teheran"
Right-of-center Les Echos editorialized (5/28): “Even if President Bush has not yet publicly
announced his position on Iran, several U.S. diplomats have had to cancel
relations with their Iranian counterparts while the U.S. press announced that
some Pentagon hawks were putting together their own vision of how to deal with
Iran.... FM de Villepin shares the
concerns of his American counterpart, Colin Powell, and has called on Teheran
to accept inspections of its nuclear sites....
In spite of Iran’s denial that it has allowed al-Qaida terrorists to
operate from its territory, it is a fact that its border with Pakistan is not
secure, allowing many of Bin Laden’s men to find refuge in Iran. But the latest tension between Iran and the
U.S. goes well beyond these issues: since the war in Iraq, the U.S. is
beginning to assess the real weight of Iraq’s Shiites and would like to keep
Iran’s Shiites from intervening. The
dangerous task underway and which began with Iraq is forcing the Americans to
put pressure on the entire region, including in Saudi Arabia. This is all happening just when the situation
in Iran is at a standstill because of the stalemate between reformers and
"Urge To Restructure"
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger noted in an editorial in center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine (5/27): "It will
depend on several factors whether there will be a confrontation [between the
United States and Iran]. One factor is
the outcome of the power struggle in Washington. Those in Washington who want to return to the
issue of regime change, should hold back their urge to restructure the
region. In Tehran in turn, those people
who are interested in a dialogue must clarify what is the real value of opening
the country--and what is not tolerable.
Iraq is a deterring example--in a double respect."
"U.S. Threats Against Iran"
Washington correspondent Malte Lehming filed the following
editorial for centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (5/27): "The U.S. government is systematically
increasing pressure on Iran. On Sunday,
it leaked to the press that it wants to stop all contacts with Iran and that it
is planning the ouster of the government.
In addition to the Al Qaida terrorism, those radical-Islamic forces that
mainly fight Israel seem to come into the cross-hairs of the Americans. And the German government that has special
relations with Iran could also get into trouble. Not only the skin of the Mullahs is getting
"Axis Of Chaos"
Business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (5/27)
judged: "America's hawks obviously
know only one recipe for the Middle East:
regime change. Following Afghanistan,
Iraq and a minor bickering with Syria, the Pentagon is now focusing on
Iran. It is true that the issue is not
war, but 'only' the subversive undermining of the religious state. But even with such an approach, the
hardliners--if they get a free hand--will create more chaos than order.... At issue is the ouster of the regime, but
like in the Iraq war, other arguments are used as a pretext. Indeed, Iran seems to be working on the
production of the bomb, but only in order to deter U.S. intervention. But the attempt to link Iran with Al Qaida seems
to be construed.... Like no other
Islamic country in the region, Iran fights Sunni terrorists. If the United States is now shaking the
unstable balance of the complex internal structure of Iran, it will run a high
risk. It will also raise the resistance
to the reformers who have thus far pinned great hopes on the Americans. And even if the regime is toppled, not too
much will be won. Like in Afghanistan
and Iraq, a power vacuum is looming which offers an even more fertile ground to
Islamic religious warriors."
ITALY: "Iran Warns
Bush: Ready To React"
Alberto Pasolini Zanelli observed in pro-government, leading
center-right daily Il Giornale (5/28):
“Powell slows down, Tehran reacts harshly, Bush postpones a
decision--not for very long, just a couple of days for the time being. The meeting at the White House, urgently requested
by the Pentagon ‘hawks,’ will probably take place tomorrow: the issue, or,
better, the goal, will be Iran, with prospects that may have an immediate
deadline. It is exactly this development
that the State Department tried to oppose with a firm and unambiguous
‘no.’ ‘Our policy towards Tehran is not
destined to change,’ said Powell. The
world knows that the Secretary of State, of late, has seldom had the last word. That’s why Tehran reacted promptly and
harshly.... The Iranian regime is facing
the highest tension in relations with the United States since the proclamation
of the Evil Axis formula by Washington.”
"The White House On The Attack On Iran"
Marcella Emiliani commented in Rome's center-left Il Messaggero
(5/26): “After Iraq, has Iran’s hour
come? For sure, relations between
Washington and Tehran suddenly deteriorated yesterday...after a period when a
cautious game between the U.S. and Iran had been played during the war on
Iraq...notwithstanding the fact that last November President Bush had put the
Ayatollah regime on the list of the rogue states.... Indeed, it is sure that al-Qaida terrorists
have arrived in Iran. The problem is to
find out just how much the authorities knew and if they are aware of their
exact number and their destabilization plans.... As for the Bush administration, it is
unlikely that it wants to get involved in another war, after Afghanistan and
Iraq.... Moreover, Iran has 55 million
people who, for years, have been fed a virulent anti Americanism, and for sure
are not ready to lay down their arms as Saddam’s Iraq did. Perhaps, for Washington it is enough, at the
moment, to make Iran toe the line under the threat of a war. It worked with Syria.”
"Two New Scenarios And An Umpire: U.S. Voters"
Marcello Foa held in pro-government, leading center right daily Il
Giornale (5/27): “The coming days
will be of decisive importance to understand if we are faced with a new
international crisis.... America has to
choose between two scenarios, which, once again, represent the two souls of the
Administration. The first one is
Rumsfeld’s scenario.... The other one is
Powell’s scenario.... Which of the two
visions will prevail? Is it better to
extirpate the evil immediately, as Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz maintain, or is it
better to make moderation and ‘realpolitick’ prevail, as Powell is asking
for? Of course, Bush has the final
say. And it is not sure he will make any
decision now. Perhaps, Rumsfeld’s
position is a tactical one and is aimed at inducing Tehran to make new
concessions, in particular with regard to the nuclear, chemical and biological
weapons. A lot will depend on other
factors--the consequences on the peace process between the Arabs and the
Israelis, the opinions of key members of the Administration, as Condoleezza
Rice; and above all, the repercussions of a destabilization of Iran on the
world economy, and, therefore, on the chances of an American recovery. From now on, they are also thinking about the
2004 elections. The Ayatollah’s fate
also depends on the U.S. consumers’ trust.”
"A Second Front For Washington"
Alberto Negri opined in leading business daily Il Sole 24 Ore (5/27): “What should be done with Iran? The Administration’s tough faction maintains
that there is an Iranian connection, and, in particular, that the command of
the attacks in Saudi Arabia was Iran.
Iran acknowledges it has arrested dozens of al-Qaida member.... Indeed, after the war on Saddam, an Iranian
crisis is shaping up in the oil gulf.
Perhaps it can be avoided as now the U.S. and its military deployment
directly confine on two fronts with the Islamic Republic: in the north from
Afghanistan and in the south from Iraq.
The surrounding of Iran is, at the moment, the most tangible change of
geopolitics of George Bush’s new Middle East.”
RUSSIA: "The U.S. Asks
Russia To Break Off With Iran"
Georgiy Bovt and Maksim Yusin wrote in reformist
Izvestiya (5/29): "It looks
as if nuclear cooperation between Moscow and Tehran has become the main
stumbling bloc in Russo-American relations.
The Americans have made it clear that whether the United States and
Russia make it up with one another and whether Bush and Putin forget their
mini-tiff over Iraq depends on the kind of position Moscow will take on nuclear
cooperation with Tehran.... Russian
officials, talking to Americans confidentially, would intimate that Moscow,
basically, might break off with Tehran...for compensation. The Americans would listen and even nod in
agreement but they would stop short of making concrete proposals. The world's only superpower hates to commit
itself. The situation may change now,
and the Administration may finally decide to take Russia's interests into
account.... Objectively speaking, it is
not in Russia's interest to have a radical Islamic regime with a nuclear
potential next to its borders. Losses
from having such a neighbor may be far greater than profits from completing the
"Nuclear Dossier Is Cause Of U.S.
Dmitriy Suslov and Arif Guseynov in Baku stated
in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (5/29):
"The 'nuclear dossier' is the chief cause of the United States'
increased pressure on Iran.... A
pro-American regime in Iran would automatically strengthen Turkey's position
and weaken Russia's in the Caucasus. In
the longer term, it may end the Caucasus' dependence on Russia's energy
resources.... The recent terrorist acts
in Saudi Arabia and intelligence reports about Iran's ties with Al-Qaida have
brought the positions of the Pentagon and State Department considerably closer
"Please No Ultimatums"
Arkadiy Dubnov commented in reformist Vremya
Novostey (5/29): "The Russian
Foreign Minister has rebuffed Washington's attempts to accuse Moscow of
conniving at Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Nobody will benefit by confrontation over Iran. Russia is opposed to interference in any
country's affairs, Igor Ivanov stated.
Obviously, he said that in the heat of polemics--ever since September
11, 2001, the world's agenda, otherwise called a fight against the threat of
international terrorism, has been one of solid interference, interference in
the affairs of the countries that pose that threat. On the other hand, you can't but agree with
Ivanov railing against the Americans having made their 'unsubstantiated
accusations' in the form of an ultimatum.
As for the 'nuclear' component of Washington's Iranian dossier, it looks
more substantiated document-wise. Moscow
is ready to take U.S. arguments very seriously as far as that goes."
"U.S. Ready For Regime Change. This Time In Iran"
Boris Volkhonskiy wrote in reformist business-oriented Kommersant
(5/28): "High-ranking officials in
the U.S. administration claim that Iran develops nuclear weapons, hides
Al-Qaida militants, and staged terrorist acts in Saudi Arabia on May 12. They disregard Tehran's official denials of
the charges and the fact that since September 11, 2001, the Iranians have
arrested more than 500 people on suspicion of ties with Al-Qaida. More than that, Washington ignores that
Iran's Shi'a leadership, by definition, can't be connected to a Sunni-led
international network. Nonetheless, an
antiterrorist element among the old 'nuclear' charges against Iran, so it
seems, is beginning to take effect. Russia
no longer dismisses accusations of nuclear cooperation with Iran as lightly as
before.... The aim of the current
propaganda broadside on Iran must be to see what comes of it. In any event, there is not going to be any
armed action of the kind that took place in Afghanistan or Iraq--the
traditionally poor Afghanistan and the embargo-emaciated Iraq are no match for
Iran in terms of its economic, military and human potential.... Most U.S. politicians, while urging caution,
agree that Iran is a threat, just as bad as Iraq was a year ago."
"Heeding Russia's Interests Is A Price For Its Support"
Gennadiy Sysoyev held in reformist business-oriented Kommersant
(5/28): "The United States' Iran
policy having become tangibly tougher is not just a desire to do away with
another would-be sponsor of global terrorism.
It is much more than that. As far
as the Americans are concerned, Iran has become almost the chief danger to
their victories in Afghanistan and Iraq.
With a full and ultimate triumph in Afghanistan and Iraq so close, the
Americans have suddenly realized that it may slip away. To see their plans through, the Americans
need a regime change. But that is not
easy. Russian support may come in handy. It looks like Washington can count on
it. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister
Georgiy Mamedov yesterday expressed concern over Iran's nuclear research, which
is quite symptomatic. Russia has
adjusted its position on Iran. And that,
too, has a price, as the Americans are going to have to take into account
Russian companies' interests in Iraq."
"Warlike Rhetoric Won't Help"
Vladimir Skosyrev commented in reformist Vremya MN
(5/28): "EU and IAEA observers have
recently been wondering about Iran's nuclear sites, unsure that all of them are
for peaceful purposes alone.... Unlike
the United States, the EU has been actively cooperating with Iran. But that policy is likely to change if the
IAEA report turns out to be bad for Iran.
The situation does not seem like a deadlock, though. There is a way out, provided Iran agrees to a
more stringent control by the IAEA, that is, if Iran submits to international
pressure. The trouble is that the
warlike rhetoric George Bush and his aides have been using is not conducive to
compromise at all. Iran's religious
leader Hamenei and his advisors have every reason to believe that a concession
on their part might be taken as a sign of weakness and whip up war
"A New Dialogue Needed"
Vladimir Frolov stated in reformist Vremya MN (5/28): "Russia, the EU and the United States
must start a qualitatively new dialogue on Iran to try to make it shut down its
secret WMD programs, primarily in the nuclear field, and stop sponsoring
terrorism. Russia might support the EU's
limited interaction policy as a pragmatic alternative to the Americans seeking
to isolate Iran. The EU and Russia might
join hands to demand that Tehran offer the IAEA free access to its nuclear
sites and give up its nuclear fuel program as a condition of continued
cooperation in the nuclear energy area."
CZECH REPUBLIC: "Vain
Evasions Of Moscow"
Pavel Masa commented in the center-right daily Lidove
Noviny (5/29): "Headlines of
main U.S. dailies yesterday announced that Russia had joined the U.S. in its
pressure on Iran. In reality, Moscow has
not joined anybody. Even less so to
pressure a country in which it is building a reactor for hundreds of millions
of dollars. The Russian diplomacy chief
Ivanov repealed yesterday phrases about a 'principled position.' However, similar reminiscences of former
Russian power do not apply in the world after Iraq. Whether one likes it or not, George W. Bush
is winning and he does not accept neutrality or evasions. And certainly not principles. Ivanov should seek different words, or a
SWEDEN: "Iran And The
The independent, liberal Dagens Nyheter held
(5/28): "It is said that the
familiar conflict has resurfaced between the hawks...and the doves [vis-a-vis
Iran policy].... There is broad
international agreement that no country should be able to house terrorists with
impunity, and that the non-proliferation treaty on nuclear weapons should be
respected. [However,] the dispute [on
how to deal with these] is about method.
If the U.S.' conclusion from the [Iraq] war is that similar tactics can
be used in Iran, then the world order is in for a bad time."
TURKEY: "The New
Sami Kohen noted in mass appeal Milliyet (5/28): “Even the ‘hawks’ in Washington are not
planning to hit Iran.... The hawks,
including Secretary Rumsfeld are getting tougher on Iran because of allegations
about Tehran’s backing of the last month’s al Qaida suicide attack in Saudi
Arabia.... Another reason is the concern
that Iran was attempting to exert influence on the Iraqi Shiites via their
leader Al-Haqim, who came back to Karbala from his long exile in Iran.... The Bush administration might see the Iranian
problem as an opportunity to ‘test’ Turkey’s closeness to the U.S. After Iraq, this will be a tough test for
Turkish diplomacy, for Ankara would not want tension with Iran and Syria. If the Bush administration chooses to
compromise, instead of fighting with Tehran, Ankara’s good dialogue with both
countries might help U.S. to that end.”
ISRAEL: "The Road To A
Extreme right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick wrote on page one
of conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (5/23): "The prime danger to U.S. national
security lies in Teheran. The key to the
global Islamic terror nexus that stretches across the world is found in the
dark allies of Teheran, not in the well-lit streets of Jerusalem. Rather than pressuring an ally to reward
Teheran's terrorist friends, the U.S. should be using all its leverage
throughout the world to prevent the ayatollahs from acquiring nuclear weapons. The price the U.S. paid in 1990 for ignoring
Saddam Hussein in favor of pressuring Israel was the Gulf War. The price it will pay for repeating the
mistake with Iran will be a nuclear nightmare."
ALGERIA: "Anger Erupts
Anti-Islamist pro-Berber opposition French-language daily Le
Matin reported (5/26): “There is
double pressure on the Iranian regime.
Recently, American accusations are being adopted by the Iranian
opposition inside the country. Will a
popular revolt overthrow the Mullahs, just like the one, which brought them to
power in 1979? After Baghdad’s collapse
Washington is planning to destabilize Teheran--another capital city on the
‘Axis of Evil’--by public and secret actions.... The Pentagon favors the encouragement of
popular unrest in Iran in order to overthrow the Iranian regime. In addition to its ‘disquieting’ nuclear
program and its hindrance to the peace process in the Middle East, the country
of the Mullahs is accused by the Americans of giving shelter to ten members of
the Al-Qaida terrorist network among whom, according to CIA reports, are those
involved in the recent Saudi Arabian blasts.”
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "U.S. Bent
On Making Its Mark On Iran"
Foreign affairs writer Nick Hordern observed in the
business-oriented Australian Financial Review (5/28): “Just as it did with Baghdad, the U.S. is
waging a psychological war to change the regime in Tehran.... Washington’s current tone recalls the ramping
up of its psychological warfare operations ahead of the invasion of Iraq.... So the psychological campaign--now an
official part of the Pentagon’s war-fighting strategy--is both an alternative
to war (if it works) and the essential precursor to a successful war. Which will it prove in Iran?... Washington knows international opposition to
any third Gulf War would be, if anything, even more intense than that to the
second. But would Washington care? The mood among the neo-conservatives in Washington,
basking in their Iraqi victory, might be such that they are prepared to go it
entirely alone--except, perhaps, for Australia.”
CHINA: "The U.S. Has
Shown More And More 'Concerns' About Iran"
Guan Jianbin commented in the official Communist
Youth League China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao)
(5/29): "Recently, the Bush administration,
which has not yet found any 'evidence' of Saddam in Iraq, has shifted its focus
to the Iran government, which 'covers up for terrorists.'... The U.S. will not take any major action
against Iran within the near future.
Since the U.S. supports the opposition's activities in Iran, the
domestic situation of Iran will not be calm."
"The U.S. Intends To Topple Iran"
Ren Yujun and Ze Chun commented in the official Communist Party
international news publication Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (5/28): “No matter what measures Iran will adopt to
react, the primary issue is what kind of action the U.S. will take against
Adventure in Iran"
Nanang Pamuji, commented in independent afternoon daily Suara
Pembaruan (5/28): "Iran cannot
be compared with Iraq because its political system is relatively more
democratic than Iraq's. In fact, there
are still a lot of loopholes for building a coalition with pro-U.S. groups in
Iran. For these reasons, some U.S. think
tanks find that the hard-line policy of Bush will bring more harm than
good. Perhaps the primary problem lies
in the characteristics of the current U.S. government that chooses to take a
hard-line path rather than diplomacy. In
the long term, this will only favor anti-U.S. hard-line groups in Iran.… The U.S. policy and adventure in the Middle
East are obviously very dangerous. What
is more risky is perhaps that the U.S. plan in Iran is only aimed at concealing
their failures in the reconstruction of post-war Afghanistan and Iraq. The two countries are now in an unstable and
fragile condition after the U.S. invasions."
Muslim intellectual Republika commented (5/28): “Now the U.S. is eyeing Iran with the same
allegation as that against Iraq: Iran possesses weapons of mass destruction and
pursues nuclear weapons and, of course, ‘hides’ Bin Laden followers. Reportedly the U.S. might also ask Israel to
destroy Iran's nuclear plant as it did Osiraq, the Iraqi nuclear plant, in
1981.... We understand the U.S. has a
grudge against Iran. Just remember, a
senile old man, Ayatollah Khomeini, was able to topple the powerful regime of
Shah Reza with his tapes. How elegant
the way he toppled the regime, not by force because he and his followers did
not have any. It was only with people
power that the most powerful regime in the Middle East could be
conquered.... Bush now found a chance to
take revenge. He could make up any
pretext and would not care about the reaction.
That’s the characteristic of evilness.”
"Rhetoric At Destabilizing Iran"
Independent Koran Tempo noted (5/28): “Iran has regional political lines that
cannot be compromised with U.S. demands.
Iran will insist on peaceful and comprehensive solutions to Middle East
issues. Therefore, the neo-conservatives
in Washington would happily hail the end of Iran’s nuclear contracts with
Moscow and of its relations with the Hizbullah or radical groups in
Palestine. That way Israel, which always
encourages the U.S. to change the regime in Iran, would not only feel ‘safer’
after the fall of Saddam Hussein but would become more aggressive as well. It is not impossible that Iran would resort
to the doctrine of pre-emptive unilateral strikes à la America: rather than
being attacked, it would be better to build up preemptive means, and the alternative
for this would be nuclear weapons! This
alternative on one hand would strengthen the level of the threat of U.S.
aggression, but on the other hand it would also provide deterrence against the
regime change design by the U.S. Had
Iraq had nuclear warheads, Saddam’s regime might have not fallen.”
"Controlling The U.S. Ego"
Independent Media Indonesia commented (5/26): “The theory is often different from the
practice.... In the global perspective,
that’s what the U.S. is showing now. The
sole superpower, in the name of democracy, has increasing ambitions to defeat
any country it considers it should. To
that end, it does not have to listen to anybody, not even the UN.... The U.S. keeps veiling its motif to plunder
oil [in Iraq] using numerous justifications.
We must tell the world that oil will become the reason the U.S. uses to
control Iran, after Iraq. And no one
knows when the U.S. will stop invading because no one can predict when George
Bush will stop his willful ambitions.
Power must be controlled. The
greater the power, the greater the need for control. It is for this reason that nations of the
world must unite to pressure and weaken the U.S. egoism and ambitions for
Looking For Excuses To Attack Iran"
Government-influenced, Malay language daily Berita Harian
took this view (5/28): "With the
swift success of overthrowing Saddam Hussein, President George W. Bush is
looking at removing the leadership of Iran--a country included in his Axis of
Evil. Apparently Teheran is guilty of
supporting and sheltering al Qaeda as well the Hizbollah, Palestinian fighters
and most recently, building weapons of mass destruction. The Jewish lobby and special interests groups
are at it again, harassing Bush and the Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz
to start a war with Iran. Israel is an
enemy of Iran, so they are trying to fan the flames as well by claiming there
is development of nuclear weapons in Iran.
The media have joined in by condemning Iran for the oppression of
women--all the same stories that were used before Afghanistan was
attacked. If Bush continues his trend of
waging war and finding lies and excuses to justify his actions, it would only
add weight to the accusation that the U.S. views Islamic countries as
enemies. Communist North Korea with its
open nuclear arms program remains ignored by the Bush administration."
"U.S. Stops Iran’s Developments"
Government-influenced Malaysia language daily Utusan Malaysia
held (5/26): “Because of their support of
terrorism and their efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction, Iran is the
world’s most dangerous country.
Although Iran played a helpful role to set up an interim Afghan
government, it has lately been trying to exert undue influence in western Afghanistan
and Kabul. The U.S. needs to tone down
its warnings to Iran and concentrate on improving relations between the two
longtime foes, which have improved considerably since 11 September. The political class in Tehran is quite
unhappy with these new waves of accusations against their policies in the
region. The sheer fact that Tehran has
been very quick in denying all these accusations shows that they are not happy
with these developments and that they would like to return to a climate where
they can repair their relationship with the United States. Other developments also have troubled Iranian
relations with the U.S. If the U.S. is
going to make such accusations, it needs to provide evidence. Otherwise, the U.S. runs the risk of
alienating Iran and damaging attempts to build stability and cooperation in the
Government-influenced Malay language daily Mingguan Malaysia
commented (5/25): “U.S. views of Iran
will be difficult to transform because of the anti-American rhetoric of the
ruling Iranian clergy and the strong pro-Israeli voice in the United States.
Furthermore, any Iranian steps to meet U.S. concerns will be difficult to
measure. Thus, it may be easier for the
United States government to meet Iranian demands than for Iran to meet U.S.
demands. However, changes in Iran's
policies have a significant impact on its domestic political balance of
power. Indeed, if Iran perceives a
reduction in U.S. hostility, this will help bring about domestic changes
favorable to both countries. Each should
recognize that U.S. rhetoric and posturing have substantive character of their
own, apart from the largely procedural or financial demands Tehran makes upon
Washington. Even more difficult and less
concrete is the issue of Iran's commitment to social modernization within the
Muslim world. Iran, joined by a large
number of Arab Islamists, some of whom do not like Iran, believe that the
Americans are dedicated to the preservation of the status quo and oppose any
new order in the Middle East. In Iranian
eyes this is not simply an issue of contention between Washington and Tehran,
but a broader struggle between modernizing forces in the region and the
entrenched authoritarian regimes along with their Western allies. Iran is seen by many as a potent symbol of
rejection of the old pro-U.S. authoritarian order, even by those unsympathetic
to Iran. To a certain extent, an ongoing
choice of lesser evils pervades the climate of the region and impacts on
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Reformist Mardom Salari had this to say
(as reported on BBC website, 5/28):
"One can deduce from the behaviour and statements of White House
leaders that an influential sector of the current American government is not optimistic
about negotiating with or making contacts with the Iranian leadership. They are pursuing ways to implement policies
ultimately aimed at toppling the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. And without doubt, to realize their plan they
will focus chiefly on Iran's internal conditions."
Hardline, pro-Khamenei Jomhuri-ye Eslami
judged (as reported on BBC website, 5/28):
"We must bear in mind that, by preoccupying our officials with
political issues, the enemy is preparing the ground for its lackeys to
perpetrate acts of corruption and immorality.
The country's law enforcement force and the judiciary must not wait for
their superiors or be made to retreat in the face of the enemy's psychological
"America's Threats Are Serious"
Ali Shirazi-Nasab contended in reformist Aftab-e
Yazd (5/25): "Were we to cast a
passing glance at a range of America's operations in the Middle East region we
would realize that American government leaders have pursued in all those
attacks a defined and clear--and nearly repetitious in all cases--line leading
in the end to military attack and exertion of various pressures on the targeted
country.... In this context, the new
round of threats against the Islamic Republic of Iran has started by various
American officials, and also their newspapers, and they are being pursued with
increasing and greater intensity....
There is no doubt about it or in the fact that Israel considers our
country as being its most dangerous enemy.
Thus, taking a look at the benefits that America would gain by its
military attack on Iran, we would have no alternative other than taking
this...seriously, and we should think of a way and solution to counter it. Perhaps one of the factors that encourages
America to attack Iran is the people's sense of discontent with respect to
certain issues with whose elimination--which is not too difficult in most
cases--we would be able at least to take the first step to counter America's
threats and propaganda. In addition,
increasing the people's sense of participation in the country's affairs and
elimination of certain misconceptions that have been brought about by certain
ill advised comments about the people's ability to discern and choose is also a
solution that would go a long way to mitigating the threats."
INDIA: "Hawks Of
The pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer judged (5/29): "Pentagon hawks, who are pressing for
action to destabilize the present regime in Iran by engineering uprisings
against it, can land the United States in serious trouble. The justification cited for doing so, that Al
Qaeda operatives based in Iran played a key role in the blasts in Saudi Arabia
on May 12, which killed 34 persons, including 10 Americans, does not appear
convincing.... The U.S. has to date not
been able to find in Iraq any trace of the weapons of mass destruction for the
elimination of which it and its allies had gone to war against that
country.... In fact, it will be
disastrous not only for the U.S. but all countries wedded to modernity and
democracy, if the destabilization of the moderate Khatami Government brings to
power a hard-line regime that takes Iran back to the days of Ayatollah
Khomeini.... [The hawks] are talking of
destabilizing Iran even before they have established firm control over Iraq.... Meanwhile, the Al Qaeda has regrouped.... At this rate, the U.S. will become involved
in a protracted and expanding conflict which...will turn world opinion
increasingly against it and create conditions in which the Al Qaeda will
thrive. Is this what the Bush
administration wants? It is time it did
some serious rethinking of the strategy of its global war against terrorism and
the basic premises of its foreign policy."
PAKISTAN: "Taking On
The Lahore-based Daily Times editorialized (5/28): "Having been upstaged from post-war Iraq
by the U.S. State Department, the Department of Defense is now eyeing
Iran.... The ability of the neo-con
clique in that city to reduce complex categories to absurdly simplistic
equations is amazing. Iran is not a
rogue state; it is not under UN sanctions; it has a vibrant social, political
and economic life; and while it is passing through a critical stage in the
evolution of its institutions and the direction of its state and society, it is
a highly developed entity in every sense--intellectual, political, social and
cultural. Neither is it a dictatorship
like Afghanistan or Iraq. What does the
United States want to gain from a patently outrageous and highly destabilizing
exercise?... Not only would it put paid
to the natural evolution within Iran going, mercifully, in favor of the
reformers, but it would also generate major chaos in the region. Iraq has only now begun; Afghanistan is
slipping back; to add Iran to the list of targets would mean creating one big
swamp in the region and beyond instead of filling it up.... Secretary of State Colin Powell's original
formulation that Washington intended to deal with Iran at two levels was a
smart strategy. It would have allowed
the U.S. to erode the influence of the hard-liners within Iran while reaching
out to, and keeping communication channels open with, the reformers. Were the U.S. now to decide on a military
option, Secretary Powell's nuanced policy would be the first casualty of such
an abrasive approach. It would also give
Iran greater incentive to move quickly towards developing a nuclear-weapon
option, which presumably is not the stated intention of the United States. The DOD cannot continue to make a mess of
things and then get the State Department to clean up after it."
An editorial in the Karachi-based independent national daily, Dawn
held (5/28): "This marks a mindless
and radical shift in Washington's Iran policy.
A destabilized Iran at this critical time in the Middle East will only
boost Israel's interests, and certainly not those of the U.S. in the long
run. If Washington decides to play this
dangerous game to the finish, it will arouse widespread resentment and anger
against its policies and motives not only in Iran but also in the entire
"All American Guns Pointing Towards Iran"
The sensationalist Urdu daily Ummat argued (5/28): "The United States has now pointed its
guns towards Iran. There is nothing new
about the latest U.S. posture against Iran since the Bush administration does
not want to see any Muslim country in the world growing stronger."
"Continuation Of American Terrorism"
Shahnawaz Farooqi opined in the Karachi-based, right-wing,
pro-Islamic unity Urdu daily, Jasarat (5/28): "The United States has targeted Iran,
but the Muslim leaders still feel that they could avoid a clash with the U.S.
by exercising 'prudence.' Iran is a land
of revolution, and it has written history by taking on American
conspiracies. But even then it would be
difficult to say what the Iranian leadership is thinking right now. Circumstances have proved that rapprochement
with the United States is no longer possible, and there is no other way than
resistance left to the Muslims. The more
this resistance is delayed the more it would be harmful for the Muslims and
beneficial for the U.S."
"Clouds Over Iran"
The centrist national The Nation
editorialized (5/27) (Internet version):
agencies have supposedly traced some ill-defined link between the May 12
bombings in Riyadh and Iran. About a
dozen Al-Qaeda operatives are thought to be operating in north-eastern Iran, on
the Afghan border. Because of this
apparently grave threat to world peace, the USA has decided to break off its
cautious contacts and policy of quiet engagement with Iran, and today a
full-blown meeting at the White House will decide how to proceed. Mr Donald Rumsfeld and his Defence
Department, puffed up with his triumphs in Afghanistan and Iraq, wishes to go
for a policy of destabilising the Iranian regime, the 'regime change'
trick. The State Department, however, is
more cautious, realising the magnitude of the task.
"For a start, Iran is not a rogue state in
any sense, unlike the Taliban's Afghanistan, unrecognised by all but three
countries, or Saddam's Iraq, under UN sanctions for over 12 years. And directly related to this, Iran, having
recovered from its 1980s war with Iraq, is not a debilitated country like
Afghanistan, shattered by two decades of invasion and civil war, or Iraq, worn
down by 12 years of sanctions. Perhaps
most important of all, Iran is not so easily destabilised.... Its form of democracy may not meet with
Western approval, but it is well entrenched and Iranian state institutions are
both solid and sophisticated....
American credibility internationally, including in Pakistan, has been
wrecked by the failure to find any WMDs in Iraq (another issue now being played
up with reference to Iran).... Iran
evidently needs the support of the world community more than ever before,
especially that of the Muslim world....
In this respect, Pakistan can and should play an important bridging
role, not just with the Muslim world, but also in persuading the USA to desist
from yet another disastrous adventure."
"... And Now Iran's Turn?"
An editorial in the second
largest Urdu daily, Nawa-e-Waqt noted (5/27): "America has severed contacts with Iran
and started planning for a regime change in that country.... Iran has neither a dictatorship nor a
theocracy which most countries don't recognize as legitimate and just. Despite
this fact, the international media, political observers and self-respecting
countries like Malaysia are apprehending U.S. aggression against Iran, in the
pattern of Afghanistan and Iraq. The reasons for such an eventuality include
President Bush having declared Iran a part of the axis of evil, Iran's
independent policy, Islamic fundamentalism, it's being anti-Israel and its
revolutionary idealism.... America is
sending a message to Muslims of all schools of thought, that they are
"Turn Up The Rhetoric On Iran"
David Warren wrote in the conservative National
Post (5/28) (Internet version):
"The United States is not going to invade Iran, however. I am aware of not even one hawk in the
Pentagon who wants to do that, to say nothing of the fey State Department. The consensus of policy wonks left and right
is that invading Iran would be a foolish idea; and on the right, that 'regime
change' can be accomplished without this....
As the Americans are still learning from their remarkably successful
Iraq incursion, external threats can in themselves undermine and discombobulate
a regime that is in fear of its own people.
It is among the chief reasons the Saddamites became frozen in the
headlights with the approach of war. Therefore, turn up the rhetoric."
"How Will Bush Play The Iran Card?"
Jeffrey Simpson observed in the leading Globe and Mail
(5/27): "Is Iran now on the Bush
administration's hit list for 'regime change'?
The Americans...believe that the recently discovered Natanz nuclear
facility is for producing weapons, a charge Tehran denies. Some U.S. intelligence officials insist that
the Iranians are harbouring al-Qaeda members who might be linked to the recent
bombing in Riyadh.... Today, Iran is
arguably one of the world's most fascinating and consequential countries, and
not just because of tensions with the United States. Internally, the country is
badly split between conservative, even reactionary, forces that support the
governing Shia theocracy and those who favour more democracy.... Just as the Bush administration is trying to
decide how to handle Iran, the Iranians, with their own internal divisions, are
trying to figure out how to react to Washington. The two countries recently held quiet
meetings in Geneva, but they are now on hold.
"Look at the region from Iran's
perspective. Suddenly, the Americans are
surrounding their country. They've
conquered neighbouring Iraq and are settling in for a prolonged stay. They've put a friendly regime in
Afghanistan.... U.S. ships are
patrolling the Persian Gulf.... The U.S.
has cozied up to the countries to Iran's north.... Hard-liners might conclude that one reason
the U.S. dealt with Iraq and not North Korea was because one did not possess a
nuclear weapon and the other did.
Lesson? Get a nuclear
weapon. Quietly support Shia militants
in Iraq, where Shiites are the largest religious group, to make life tough for
the conquerors. Others in Iran might
read matters differently.... Don't cause
trouble for the United States in Iraq or Afghanistan, where the Iranians have
been co-operative in the fight against the Taliban. Open nuclear plants to full inspections. How Tehran handles its touchy relations with
Washington depends in part on how the reform-conservative tensions play
themselves out within Iran's complicated political system and its divided
society. The answer also depends on how
the Bush administration decides to press an 'axis of evil' country. Constructive engagement would take patience
and diplomacy and offer no guarantee of speedy change. Does that sound like the preferred approach
of the Bush administration?"