Preparing for a Showdown in the Middle East?

Neil Snyder

Both China and Russia are strong allies of Iran, and both countries have made it clear that they oppose unilateral sanctions against Iran.  Xia Ming, a professor at the City University of New York, said, "China and Iran are facing strong Western challenges within politics, economy and culture.  So these two countries basically have a kind of coordination on the international stage, to support each other."

Major General Zhang Zhaozhong, a professor at the Chinese National Defense University, said that "China will not hesitate to protect Iran even with a third world war."  According to Professor Ming, "Zhang Zhaozhong said that not hesitating to fight a third world war would be entirely for domestic political needs.To some extent though, this would be completely ridiculous to encourage."

Last Friday, Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Kremlin Security Council, "accused Israel of provoking the United States towards war against Iran."  Similarly, Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's outgoing NATO ambassador, said, "Iran is our neighbor, [a]nd if Iran is involved in any military action, it's a direct threat to our security."  

Rogozin's remark was interpreted by some to mean that an attack on Tehran will be considered an attack on Moscow.  If that's true, it was eerily similar to President James Monroe's declaration of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 that "warned European powers not to interfere in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere" and President Kennedy's warning during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 that "it shall be the policy of this Nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union."

Pravda, a Russian newspaper, has been preparing the Russian people for war for weeks with articles such as

·         Doomsday Clock: Five Minutes to Midnight

·         The drums of war!

·         Iran to kick off World War Three

·         New Global Strategy of the U.S. military

·         U.S. pushing world to the brink of world war

The U.S. and Israel had planned to conduct a joint military exercise in May, but it was called off suddenly.  At first, government officials said that budgetary problems were to blame, but later they said that the exercise was called off "to avoid [a] regional flare-up" after Iranian leaders let it be known that they interpreted it as "a threat."

Simultaneously, Iranian leaders warned Persian Gulf States not to increase oil exports as sanctions on Iran are beginning to take their toll:

"If Arab neighbours compensate for a looming EU ban on Iranian imports, 'we would not consider these actions to be friendly,' Iran's representative to OPEC, Mohammad Ali Khatibi, was quoted as saying by the Sharq newspaper on Sunday."

Saudi Arabia had already let it be known that it would increase oil production, and after Iran's threat, the Saudi oil minister quickly countered:

"Saudi Arabia's oil minister says the OPEC powerhouse's readiness to boost oil output is not linked to sanctions that could affect Iran's oil exports.

Ali Al-Naimi was quoted by the Saudi daily Al-Ektisadiya on Sunday as saying the oil-rich kingdom was ready to use its spare production capacity to fill any market need."

Add to these developments the recent arrival of Russian warships in Syria and the arrival of U.S. aircraft carrier groups in the Persian Gulf, and you begin to get the picture.  The Middle East is approaching a tipping point; the immediate concern is Iranian nuclear activity and the mounting sanctions on Iran; the key players include China, Russia, the U.S. and her NATO allies, Iran, and Israel; and in both Russia and China, references to World War III are beginning to fill the air.  This may not be Armageddon, but it looks as though the world's major military powers are preparing for a showdown in the Middle East.

 

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.  His latest book is titled If You Voted for Obama in 2008 to Prove You're Not a Racist, You Need to Vote for Someone Else in 2012 to Prove You're Not an Idiot.

 

Both China and Russia are strong allies of Iran, and both countries have made it clear that they oppose unilateral sanctions against Iran.  Xia Ming, a professor at the City University of New York, said, "China and Iran are facing strong Western challenges within politics, economy and culture.  So these two countries basically have a kind of coordination on the international stage, to support each other."

Major General Zhang Zhaozhong, a professor at the Chinese National Defense University, said that "China will not hesitate to protect Iran even with a third world war."  According to Professor Ming, "Zhang Zhaozhong said that not hesitating to fight a third world war would be entirely for domestic political needs.To some extent though, this would be completely ridiculous to encourage."

Last Friday, Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Kremlin Security Council, "accused Israel of provoking the United States towards war against Iran."  Similarly, Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's outgoing NATO ambassador, said, "Iran is our neighbor, [a]nd if Iran is involved in any military action, it's a direct threat to our security."  

Rogozin's remark was interpreted by some to mean that an attack on Tehran will be considered an attack on Moscow.  If that's true, it was eerily similar to President James Monroe's declaration of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 that "warned European powers not to interfere in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere" and President Kennedy's warning during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 that "it shall be the policy of this Nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union."

Pravda, a Russian newspaper, has been preparing the Russian people for war for weeks with articles such as

·         Doomsday Clock: Five Minutes to Midnight

·         The drums of war!

·         Iran to kick off World War Three

·         New Global Strategy of the U.S. military

·         U.S. pushing world to the brink of world war

The U.S. and Israel had planned to conduct a joint military exercise in May, but it was called off suddenly.  At first, government officials said that budgetary problems were to blame, but later they said that the exercise was called off "to avoid [a] regional flare-up" after Iranian leaders let it be known that they interpreted it as "a threat."

Simultaneously, Iranian leaders warned Persian Gulf States not to increase oil exports as sanctions on Iran are beginning to take their toll:

"If Arab neighbours compensate for a looming EU ban on Iranian imports, 'we would not consider these actions to be friendly,' Iran's representative to OPEC, Mohammad Ali Khatibi, was quoted as saying by the Sharq newspaper on Sunday."

Saudi Arabia had already let it be known that it would increase oil production, and after Iran's threat, the Saudi oil minister quickly countered:

"Saudi Arabia's oil minister says the OPEC powerhouse's readiness to boost oil output is not linked to sanctions that could affect Iran's oil exports.

Ali Al-Naimi was quoted by the Saudi daily Al-Ektisadiya on Sunday as saying the oil-rich kingdom was ready to use its spare production capacity to fill any market need."

Add to these developments the recent arrival of Russian warships in Syria and the arrival of U.S. aircraft carrier groups in the Persian Gulf, and you begin to get the picture.  The Middle East is approaching a tipping point; the immediate concern is Iranian nuclear activity and the mounting sanctions on Iran; the key players include China, Russia, the U.S. and her NATO allies, Iran, and Israel; and in both Russia and China, references to World War III are beginning to fill the air.  This may not be Armageddon, but it looks as though the world's major military powers are preparing for a showdown in the Middle East.

 

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.  His latest book is titled If You Voted for Obama in 2008 to Prove You're Not a Racist, You Need to Vote for Someone Else in 2012 to Prove You're Not an Idiot.