Archive for the ‘Bahrain’ Category

What’s in a Name?

February 5, 2010

Occasionally I post something  that provides comic relief for those who often study the darker side of international relations.  In that spirit, here is a link to an amusing article about Akbar Zeb, a Pakistani ambassador who was rejected by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE because the Arabic translation of his name is synonymous with a slang term for a certain part of the male anatomy.

The Implications of a Nuclear Iran

October 1, 2009

The West is engaging in diplomatic talks with Iran to try to peruade the government in Tehran to abandon its nuclear program and allow intrusive international inspections of its nuclear sites.  Western officials believe that Iran intends to use its nuclear program to develop atomic weapons, a charge that Iranian leaders deny.  The US and its European allies have threatened to impose harsh economic sanctions on Iran if a diplomatic solution is not achieved, and Israel has warned that it might take military action against the Islamic Republic.

A failure to reach a deal could have major implications for the Middle East region.  If Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear sites or the West imposes sanctions, Iran could retaliate in various ways.  The Islamic Republic might use militant groups like Hezbollah and Hamas as proxies to carry out attacks against Israel and Western interests.  It could foment unrest in Arab countries with large Shiite populations such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.  It could also close down the Strait of Hormuz and disrupt the oil supply from the Persian Gulf.

If the Iranians shut down the Strait, the US Navy would attempt to open it back up back by escorting foreign ships through the Strait and taking out hostile Iranian vessels and shore batteries.  The US military might also seize control of Iran’s southern oil fields and bomb strategic targets in the Islamic Republic in retaliation. 

If Iran develops nuclear weapons, Arab states would almost certainly move closer to the US because they fear Iran will become more aggressive and hegemonic once it possesses the Bomb.  The US would likely extend a “nuclear umbrella” over the Middle East to reassure allies and deter Iran from using atomic weapons.  American missile defense programs would probably accelerate and more missile defense sites would be created.

One reason Iran might want to pursue nuclear weapons is to insure against regime change by external forces after witnessing what happened to Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq.  The Islamic Republic might also want the international prestige that comes with being a nuclear state.  Some believe that Iran intends to use atomic weapons to destroy Israel, but such an event is highly because Israel and the US are capable of destroying Iran with a nuclear counterattack and Iranian leaders are aware of this fact.

Naturally, Western powers want a diplomatic solution to the nuclear isse with Iran given the potential consequences of not finding one.  It is unclear exactly how Iran would respond to Western punishments and what it would do if it acquired nuclear weapons.  Although the situation might not be as dire as some of the scenarios mentioned above, Iran “going nuclear” would have a destabilizing effect and be detrimental to other countries with interests in the Middle East, and it might ultimately prove counterproductive for the Islamic Repubic as well.