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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Iran and the USA are in effect natural allies, their public posture notwithstanding.

Iran’s nuclear weapons programs did not provide comfort to anyone, including Iranians themselves. And those in the region have started feeling unsafe for a variety of reasons; if Iran sails through this program without any incident, it will have the power to bully not only the neighbors but the whole of the Middle East. And if its nuclear installations are attacked by USA or Israel, the entire region will be destabilized, in fact Pakistan and Turkey will face the threat of break-up.

It seems that the Arabs do not feel threatened by Israeli nuclear weapons as much as they are threatened by the Iranian bomb. They’d be happy if Iran’s installations are destroyed but they are wary of other consequences, of the collateral variety. There was the London TimesSaudi Arabia would allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran's nuclear facilities. This arrangement is awaiting US consent.

But will the USA actually attack Iran, or give its consent to any such arrangement, to totally eliminate Iran’s nuclear program, the way Israel attacked Iraqi installations in 1981? This is a trillion dollars questions. It seems that Iran and USA have some common strategic interests through India and Afghanistan. These interests raise certain interesting issues which perplex the analysts. These issues are:  

  1. USA is a deadly enemy of Iran ever since Iran’s 1979 revolution. It wants to eliminate Iran and its nuclear program.
  2. India, a strategic ally of the USA is also a strategic ally of Iran.
  3. India has built Chabahar Port on the Makran Coast to keep a watchful eye on Pakistan’s Gwadar Port on the same coast. To the extent of the utility of this port to check China and Pakistan, USA’s and Indian interests converge.
  4. Iran is pursuing a multi billion dollar railways project which was named "Iran's eastern corridor". It will connect Chabahar port to Central Asia, Afghanistan and Central Iran. This project would have three branches including Chabahar-Iranshahr Fahraj County, Chabahar-Iranshahre-Zahedan-Mashahd and Chabahar-Iranshahr-Zahedan-Milak. India is helping develop the Chabahar port, which will give it access to the oil and gas resources in Iran and the Central Asian states. This is done by India to compete with the Chinese, who are building Gwadar Port, in Pakistani Balochistan.
  5. Iran plans to use Chabahar for transshipment to Afghanistan and Central Asia, while keeping the port of Bandar Abbas as a major hub mainly for trade with Russia and Europe. India, Iran and Afghanistan have signed an agreement to give Indian goods, heading for Central Asia and Afghanistan, preferential treatment and tariff reductions at Chabahar,
  6. Work on the Chabahar - Milak - Zaranj - Dilaram route from Iran to Afghanistan is in progress. Iran is with Indian aid upgrading the Chabahar-Milak road and constructing a bridge on the route to Zaranj. India's BRO is laying the 213-kilometer Zaranj-Dilaram road. It is a part of its USD 750 million aid package to Afghanistan by India. India and Iran are discussing building a gas pipeline between the two countries along the bed of the Arabian Sea to bypass Pakistan, using the Chabahar port.
  7. Iran is closer to India than its neighbor Pakistan. India is USA’s long-term ally and a great hope to serve America’s global interests. Pakistan is only a front-line state which will be abandoned after NATO forces leave Afghanistan.

In view of the above, does it really make any sense to say that USA and Iran are sworn enemies? Is this public posture of adversity some sort of smoke screen for yet another bigger game? Let’s see what analysts have to say about it.

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