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Increasing Tensions Between Iran and US: What Does It Mean for North Azerbaijan?
BayBak, Azerbaijan | 522 days ago | Sunday, 15th January , 2012 , 02:20 [am] | Articles
|.|| Another Pentagon spokesman, John Kirby, in the meanwhile, stated that the presence of two US carrier groups in the US Central Command area of operations is just â€œprudent force posture requirements set by the combatant commander, and is nothing out of the ordinary.â€
As the tensions
Pentagon officials on Wednesday announced that they believe tensions between the US and Iran has cooled in recent days.
â€œWe have been very clear that we seek to lower the temperature on tensions with Iranâ€, Pentagon Press Secretary, George Little said, while meeting with reporters in Washington, DC, adding however, â€œthings have calmed down a bit now.â€
Another Pentagon spokesman, John Kirby, in the meanwhile, stated that the presence of two US carrier groups in the US Central Command area of operations is just â€œprudent force posture requirements set by the combatant commander, and is nothing out of the ordinary.â€
As the tensions between the US and Iran have been growing in the news of late, Turanâ€™s Washington correspondent asked some well-known Washington analysts on Iran how close are both countries to a possible war and what kind of consequences may Iran’s neighbors, like Azerbaijan expect from further developments?
Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who worked as a Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq during the first George W. Bush administration. He told Turan â€œthe situation is very serious, but it will not lead to an American invasion of Iran.â€
â€œEven those who discuss military action against Iran do not find any situation in which the US would invade the Islamic Republic. In a worst-case scenario, American action would be limited to air strikes,â€ he said.
For Rubin, Iranian authorities had not threatened to interfere with international waters for almost a quarter century. The last time Iranians did soâ€”in 1988 when they mined international waters in the Persian Gulfâ€”the Iranian navy suffered a resounding defeat. The real danger is that Iranian officials will let their rhetoric get out-of-control and put themselves into a position where they have to confront the Americans or lose face.
In the meanwhile, the analyst believes that the sanctions against Iran â€œare less effective than their proponents hope and more effective than the Iranians will admit.â€
â€œWhile last month, 30 parliamentarians called a closed session of the Majlis to discuss the true impact of sanctions, they are nowhere near crippling enough to bring the Islamic Republic to its knees. History can be a guide. Twice, in the Islamic Republicâ€™s history, the Iranian leadership has sworn no surrender,â€ he added.
In 1979, he argues, Iranian leaders said they would not release the American hostages until Washington met Ayatollah Khomeiniâ€™s demands. After the Iraqi invasion of Iran, however, the cost to Tehran of continued isolation grew too great to bear and he made a deal. Then, Khomeini refused to accept a ceasefire in the Iran-Iraq war until after he had eliminated Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. The war continued for six years after the Iranians had pushed back the invading Iraqis but finally, the economic costs again grew too great to bear. Khomeini likened it to drinking a chalice of poison, but accepted the ceasefire.
â€œThe lesson now is that sanctions cannot change Iranian attitudes unless they isolate Iran completely and are brutal in their costs to the Iranian regime. Narrowly-targeted sanctions will simply not work,â€ Rubin added.
The analyst also emphasized that, while Iran is more likely to lash out in the Persian Gulf, it has trained enough Azerbaijani clerics that it could try to stir up some trouble in Azerbaijan should Baku take a firm line. It might also express its animosity toward Azerbaijanâ€™s good relations with the US and many Arab countries by using its friends in Armenia to stir up trouble.
â€œI do not believe that it is in Azerbaijanâ€™s interest to have a nuclear Islamic Republic of Iran,â€ he added. When asked, if Washington could support the security of Azerbaijan in case Iran attacks oil pipelines, Rubin said:
â€œThe problem with terrorism is that it always happens in unexpected ways. But it is the responsibility of the Azerbaijani officials to make sure that America gives the full support it should to our allies. If the Turkey gets American help against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), then certainly Azerbaijan should be demanding that the United States help rectify any vulnerabilities along the Baku-Ceyhan line.â€
The analyst also mentioned that overt military action against Iran would lead to a broader array of Iranians who oppose their government to wrap themselves in the Iranian flag. However, he has doubts that any ethnic group in Iran speaks with one voice. â€œAli Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, is also an ethnic Azeri,â€ he reminds.
Another Iran analyst, Alireza Nader at the Rand Corporation in Arlington, state of Virginia, and coauthor of studies about the Revolutionary Guard, told Turanâ€™s Washington correspondent that neither the US, nor Iran want a war that could spiral out of control. However, there is deep anxiety that Iran is developing the capability to build nuclear weapons, hence the strengthened international pressures against the Iranian regime.
â€œIranâ€™s military exercises in the Persian Gulf and threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, are meant as a warning to Washington and other major powers not to impose or comply with sanctions against Iranâ€™s Central Bank,â€ he reminds.
For Nader, the Iranian regime is very vulnerable at this stage, especially as it faces parliamentary elections in March. In addition, Iranâ€™s regional power has receded. Sanctions can have the effect of further weakening the regime; sanctions alone will not stop the Iranian nuclear program, but they raise the costs for nuclear armament.
â€œOf course there is room for miscalculation by both the US and Iran.â€ Though they may not want war, Nader says, â€œtensions could escalate into conflict, possibly drawing neighboring countries as well.â€
â€œIn the event of conflict with the US, Iran may attack neighboring countries, especially the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf. Iran may also target American diplomatic and civilian facilities in other neighboring countries,â€ he argued. â€œWe shouldnâ€™t forget that Iran doesnâ€™t want to completely isolate itself by alienating all of its neighbors. Although tensions between Iran and Azerbaijan exist, Iran does not want any new enemies either.â€turan, Voice of a Nation