In the middle east, political tension has long been seen as a fact of life. The region’s decisive reserves of oil and geopolitical position as a regional crossroads between East and West give it a strategic significance currently far greater than any other region of similar size in the world. For a long time, the West has sustained its dependance on the region by securing ‘behind the throne’ dominance of the corrupt and weak dictatorships to mask their draining of the region’s prodigious wealth to fuel their own economic growth spurts, lounging back on its recliner sofa and enjoying the fruits of its manipulations. When regimes made the odd attempts to go their own way, such as 70s Iran and and early 90s Iraq, the West sees to it that those regimes are blasted off of the face of the Earth and portrayed as global evildoers. The states are prevented from forming solid blocks – such as they attempted in the 1970s with the petrodollars crisis – by the West’s solid grasp of the world economies, by their superior firepower, and by their manipulation of the dictatorships’ petty rulers, playing a regional game of divide and conquer to maintain their superiority.
What the West didn’t count on with this tactic, however, was in the eventual rising of something they never expected to rise: The Arab People. Finally growing tired of the dictatorships with their petty corruption, lawlessness and back – room support of the West, the ‘Arab Awakening’ that started in 2011 and continues to this day was a regional rejection of the crumbling old system and the aging dictatorships which sustained it. The people of several Arab countries – Libya, Tunisia, Egypt – maybe soon Syria and others – have or are currently in the process of dismantling the old regimes, where necessary turning to armed fighting to secure their goals. The ‘Arab Spring’ is giving states in the Middle East a people – powered drive and zeal the West can only fear, for it knows its dependance on the region extends to the very centre of its oil – thirsty economies.
A Great Gloom
Overshadowing even this fear, however, is the fear and uncertainty being currently generated by one of the most tense standoffs since the hight of the Cold War – the face-off between Iran and the might of the West.
Ever since the crippling Iran – Iraq war of 1983, in which a heavily betted against Iran fought against an American funded and supported tyrannical Iraq, Iran has been highly distrustful of the West and its intentions. An oil rich state of great size, geographical significance and potential, Iran and its current president Mahmoud Ahmadeinijad (pictured above) knows that if he uses these bargaining tools to his advantage he can make Iran a power of greatness not seen since the days of the Persian Empire, providing the Middle East with a guiding light of the sort it hasn’t seen in hundreds of years – a guiding light to resist the imperialistic intentions inherited by America, from the old British Empire it absorbed.
To do this, Mahmoud Ahmadeinijad has a hard and arduous task at hand. His intentions have stirred up a frenzied fear in the West that is usually symptom of a vicious and deadly ‘foreign intervention’ – and people of the region know full well what that entails. He has picked hard enemies. But while those enemies are engaged otherwise (with Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively) the Iranian regime knows it has at least a little breathing space with which to act. The west is currently cumbersome and exhausted, its public increasingly pacifistic.
But America and the rest of the ‘old West’ are not the greatest and most powerful enemies of Iran. Israel has made Iran a personal enemy, and seems increasingly ready to face it off with this new and powerful adversary to the bitter end. To ready itself for what it knows may be a bitter and terrible struggle – enflamed with the likely intervention of NATO forces stationed in bases ringing purposefully ringing Iran in Afghanistan and Iraq – and to buy itself time, the regime has turned to the one time saving method it can potentially grasp – nuclear weapons. The Iranian nuclear program is a method of intimidating the West not into action but into inaction – a bluff designed to paralyze the Western governments and force them to reckon with the Middle East as a region deserving its own future. But it’s a bluff that may be called yet, with potentially devastating and terrifying consequences for Iran, The Middle East, the West, and the entire world as a whole.