Will U.S. Ignite Near East Powderkeg?
By Richard Walker
Russia’s recent warning to Washington and Tel Aviv that an attack on Iran could impact nations bordering Russia shows the “Russian Bear” is stirring and may not sit idly by. The warning came hot on the heels of accusations from Moscow that the West and its allies in the Middle East were engaged in a dangerous game of arming groups trying to overthrow the Syrian regime.
Moscow sees a real possibility of its backyard mired in a fast-spreading conflict should Israel—or the U.S. and Israel jointly—bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. Russian generals have made it clear to their nation’s political leadership an attack on Iran would in effect be a declaration of war and would involve more than pinpoint bombing or missile strikes against Iranian nuclear installations. In their view, it would not be a one-day affair, and Israel would likely exploit the opportunity to attack Iran’s military infrastructure and perhaps widen the war to include targeting Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Russia’s concerns are so great it has run war games around a fictional conflict developing from an attack on Iran. It has even scheduled expanded military exercises to plan for confronting a conflict spreading across the Caucuses.
Russian foreign and deputy foreign ministers say a war against Iran would reach out across North Africa and deep into Central Asia, even reaching China’s borders. Consequently, the global economy would suffer as oil prices went through the roof. Even if Barack Obama decided not to attack Iran, Russia knows Israel could try to go it alone, dragging the U.S. into a wider conflict that suited its long held objective of controlling
the entire Middle East.
India, Pakistan and Turkey are now among a larger group of nations that have made it clear they are opposed to Obama’s Iran policy. Turkey, which has severed ties with Israel, has drawn closer to the Russian belief that an attack on Iran, or attempts to destroy it economically, will invite a major conflict.
U.S. legislators favoring Israel’s desire to destroy Iran might do well to take note of a Central Asian truism that it is dangerous to waken a sleeping Russian Bear.
Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.