Russia & Iran: From Cold War to Hot Rhetoric

It was 2012 while reading through various reports on the Middle East and Iran in particular, and while considering some of the pictures that were included in those reports, my mind went back to my childhood years and the experiences and impressions I picked up from adults around and about me; neighbours and family friends; people out shopping as they discussed items they had read in the newspapers and had listened to over the radio. The Cold War was the hot topic of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Hardly a day went by without some reference being made concerning the threat of world-wide nuclear war breaking out.

Fear is a powerful emotion and daily doses of it can produce neuroses and phobias of all sorts. The thoughts, emotions and memories came flooding back into my consciousness as the memories rose up from the ashes of the past. People long gone from this earth were there before my eyes; their faces; their voices; their dress and their conversation, afraid of what might befall the world, but it never did. What they feared most never occurred. But the Cold War damaged them nevertheless because it consumed so much of their lives. Fear freezes the mind and corrupts creativity. It can block out God or cause one to run into his arms, but on the whole I didn’t see much in the way of turning to God, rather, people became prisoners of their own thoughts and imaginations with fear being the key that locked them in, securely.

To escape those prisons the youth of the day turned to a corrupt creativity and spirituality that appeared to be waiting for its’ moment. Youth, entrapped by the world system came bursting out from their re-enforced atomic cells, rushing headlong into what they perceived to be freedom. But when you jump out of the frying pan the fire is often there waiting to catch you. What in fact developed and formed in this explosion of ‘freedom’ was termed ‘free love’, ‘flower power’, ‘fashion’, ‘New Age philosophies’, ‘psychedelic and hallucagenic drugs – LSD’ , ‘ban-the-bomb’ and CND which included elements of religion and New Age spirituality, ‘psychedelic music’. Expressions of the ‘movement’ exploded across the planet changing, polluting, destroying and altering the DNA of long-held belief systems and mind-sets forever, creating a paradigm shift of mind-blowing proportions.

I learned about Hitler and many others of the world’s tyrants and various despotic world leaders through history books and documentaries and so forth; but I was born soon enough to live through the so-called ‘Cold War’ years, when the Russian Bear pointed its claws out to the Western world and the USA in particular.

The year 2012 began with heightened tensions between Iran and Israel – war appeared to be imminent according to many commentators, including those among the Christian community.

The nuclear bomb was once again at the forefront of the reporting. There was vigorous reporting on Iran’s ambition to use a weapon against Israel with the intention of wiping the Jews from the face of the earth. The destruction of Israel once they have a fully developed weapon was a continuous reference point, and paramount for Iran’s reason to be.

During the ‘Cold War’ years there was much fear in the world. People living then had experienced, even if from afar, the horrors of the two atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan. People in that nation were still suffering from the radio-activity released. There were cancers, deformed babies and so much horrific destruction of human life.

Russia did actually have nuclear capability (and still has) and threatened to use it. The world had lived through the Second World War, and had seen the destruction of much of Japan through the dropping of those fearsome atomic bombs by the USA. People knew the terrifying, horrific effects of these weapons as they were graphically screened on our TVs. They had been in the newspapers reports and photographs of that era. In later years they featured in documentaries of World War II. The prospect of the world breaking out into a nuclear war was a chilling thought.

People were also acquainted with previous Russian leaders such as Stalin and were aware of what they were capable of. That knowledge, along with the remembrance of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan added fuel to the propaganda of fear emanating from Russia. Fear was in the hearts of many that the Russian leader would be insane enough to carry out the threats to use the atom bomb. A fear shared today regarding Iran should they become a nuclear power in the near future, as some commentators suggest.

I was reminded of all of this during 2012. Because of the little prompts that kept appearing before me I wrote a brief summary and sent it out to our subscribers, bringing only the bare bones so to speak. I have enlarged upon that now having added flesh to the bones.

That religion mattered during the Cold War will surely have seemed obvious to those living who actually experienced religious persecution in Eastern bloc countries, or who, by virtue of their Christian faith, jeopardised their educational or employment opportunities. There is no doubt that the governments of communist countries saw Christianity as a threat and responded accordingly. Erich Mielke, head of the East German Stasi, described the Church as ‘this legal organisation of the enemy’. The UK government appears to be heading in that direction today in its attitude towards the Church and Christianity.

The thesis of Dr Dianne Kirby's excellent introduction (‘Religion and the Cold War’) is that the Cold War was one of history's great religious wars, ‘a global conflict between the god-fearing and the godless’. It was a war in which ‘Christianity was appropriated by Western propagandists and policy-makers for their anti-communist arsenal’ nowhere more so than in the USA. But in addition, Christianity was not simply a tool of psychological warfare. Church leaders were not merely pawns in a political game; they were active participants. Their flocks were not only recipients of propaganda; for millions religious faith was central to their lives. This fact is most vividly demonstrated in the several chapters that deal with the Catholic Church and Pope Pius XII during the early years of the Cold War.

Frank Coppa (‘Pope Pius XII and the Cold War: Confrontation between Catholicism and Communism’) examines the Pope's stance in relation to Bolshevism and Fascism, concluding that the Vatican's alliance with the Western bloc contributed towards the post-war triumph of Christian Democratic parties in Italy and Germany, as well as the containment of the Soviet Union. The Pope's warning that it was not possible to be both a Catholic and a communist struck home.

Kirby (‘Harry Truman's Religious Legacy: The Holy Alliance, Containment and the Cold War’) examines the nature of the relationship between the Vatican and Truman, focussing on the value of religion in the fields of propaganda and psychological warfare. She makes the case that the defence of Western civilisation and the defence of Christianity became linked in the minds of people in general, and also in the minds of their leaders, taking on the characteristics of a crusade. She quotes Truman in 1945: ‘I believe honestly – that Almighty God intends us to assume the leadership which he intended us to assume in 1920, and which we refused’. One of the main attributes of Kirby's essay is that it gets down to the nitty-gritty of what went on behind closed doors, giving examples of precisely how governments believed they could manipulate religion. She quotes a discussion that took place on the subject of the Catholic Church within the British Foreign Office's Russia Committee in 1946. Faced with the question of how publicly Britain should ally herself with the Vatican, the view was that Britain should keep her distance, while at the same time assisting the Church to deploy its influence by ‘inconspicuous means’. In addition, the British representative at the Vatican would feed information about communist activities to the Holy See. Conversely, the Americans accepted the Vatican's offer to share information from its ‘world-wide intelligence sources’. The Cold War was largely an intelligence war and, as Kirby demonstrates, it is in this murky world that researchers must look for evidence of manipulation by and co-operation between Church and state.

The U.S.S.R. has been gone for just over 21 years. The present day situation with Iran appears to me to have much in common with the ‘Cold War’ years, although there are some significant differences that have to be considered carefully and thoughtfully.

Some similarities are:

1. The threat of nuclear weapons

2. Reaching out against America and the West

3. Fear

4. The leaders

5. World Domination through Communism

Some differences are:

1. Iran does not have a nuclear weapons capability (at the time of writing)

2. Iran (not Russia)

3. Against the USA, Israel, Europe and the West and using religious connotations – America, the Great Satan; Israel, the Little Satan.

4. The Middle East

5. World Domination through Islam

The Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev back in the 1960’s disrupted meetings with his outbursts of defiance and anger. I well remember his arm-waving and fist thumping the podium in front of him, using both fists with great emphasis in the presence of world leaders. Others at that particular UN conference joined in wanting to show their support for the ‘bear’ and its antics on the world stage. To watch it on the old newsreel reports today one sees a comical element to it; but this man created fear and concern at the time among the ordinary people of the world, along with the threat of war. There was even a report (unconfirmed) that at one UN meeting Khrushchev removed one of his shoes and pounded the podium with it during his speech. He could be charming or vulgar, ebullient or sullen; he was given to public displays of rage (often contrived) and to soaring hyperbole in his rhetoric.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the leader of Iran is another character of a similar mould. He too is one that enjoys making threats, and offering up displays of defiance on the world scene, and is portrayed in a very similar way to Krushchev. Ahmadinejad and his comrade in arms Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez together have taunted the world about having a big atom bomb. In January 2012, Chavez speaking of a hill next to his Miraflores Palace said, “That hill will open up and a big atomic bomb will come out.

“When we meet, the devils go crazy,” he said, mocking US warnings that Latin American nations should not help the Islamic Republic.

Nuclear weapons and the creation of nuclear power for weapons of mass destruction are constantly in the news when concerns over Iran and its leader are mentioned in the media, quite similar in many respects to the reporting in the 1950s, 60’s and 70s, as are his threats of war and annihilation.

The fear of Iran using an atomic weapon, primarily against Israel is very high . . . even though, according to recent reports, Iran does not have such a weapon, yet; whereas Russia did.

In 2004 Maj. Gen. Aharon Farkash, head of Israel’s intelligence service, Aman, addressed world leaders in Rome, Paris and London, briefing them about Iran’s nuclear military plans. Some of the European leaders were adamantly sceptical that Iran was developing a nuclear bomb, but came away convinced that the mullahs wanted a bomb after Farkash briefed them concerning their advanced missile programme, extended ranges and the growing size of their warheads.

Farkash was not encouraged by his visit after hearing the Europeans say they did not understand why Israel was trying to scare them with a nuclear military threat since they had lived with such a threat during the Cold War. This attitude in itself has some worrying elements to it.

In 2007 the International Monetary Fund released a report claiming that Iran had the highest “brain drain” among the ninety countries it had surveyed. More than 150,000 Iranian’s leave the Islamic Republic of Iran annually. An estimated 25% of Iranians with postsecondary education live abroad.

Iranian scientists have defected to the West, and between 2005 and 2008, four Iranian scientists fled to the United States. They provided information on Iran’s nuclear programme, and revelation on their secret uranium enrichment facility which was being built near the holy city of Qom, which was off-limits to the UN inspectors.

At a White House press conference in October 2007, President Bush said that Iran needed to be stopped to avoid World War III: “We’ve got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I’ve told people that, if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge to make a nuclear weapon.”

The fear during the Cold War was a fear of nuclear war breaking out between Russia and America. The fear today is of Iran gaining nuclear capability.

Although in 2012 the world was in agreement with Israel about Iran’s true intentions, and as international sanctions were now targeting Iran’s energy sector and banking systems, Israel became acutely aware that it would be alone in stopping Iran’s race toward nuclear power.

Facing growing sanctions to its energy and banking sectors and runaway inflation, Iran’s ties with Latin American states essentially undermine the sanctions and their effect. Iran also uses its influence to damage Israel’s relations with the Latin American countries. Both Venezuela and Bolivia cut off diplomatic ties with Israel during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.

The euro and the dollar will not be removed from Iran's foreign trade system, but there will be changes in the country's foreign trade patterns, Iran's Central Bank Governor, Mahmoud Bahmani, said on January 15th, 2013. Bahmani said the changes will be necessary because Iran is not trading with American and European countries.

An important difference between today and yesteryear is that Ahmadinejad sees himself as a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, and that he will usher in what I would term as the Islamic messiah, the al-Mahdi, the 12th Imam.

Other differences are that Iran has powerful religious leaders, and the religion of Islam using radical Islam as a philosophy of conquest, conquest through bloodshed, where Russia did not. The ‘religion’, philosophy and fanaticism that drove Russia forward was Communism.

A philosophy of conquest was brought in by Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1970s when he overthrew the Shah of Persia, which is modern day Iran. Khomeini is dead (he died in June 1989) so today they parade his cardboard cut-out around – here he is inspecting the guard. The event may seem absurd, but it highlights the significance Iranians attribute to Khomeini's homecoming. Iran's revolution started in 1977, and the secular Shah was toppled by the end of 1978. But it was the return of Khomeini (greeted by millions of Iranians) after 14 years in exile on 1 February 1979 that turned the revolution into a religious one, and led to the creation of the Islamic Republic that still exists today. Iran is the seat of Islamic revolution built upon a different Islam than that of the Middle Ages.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, 78, was imprisoned by the Shah in 1963 for his opposition to reforms and was expelled the following year, to Iraq – via Turkey. He spent the last few months of his exile in France, near Paris, from where he co-ordinated the revolution in January that forced the Shah of Iran to go into hiding. The Shah of Iran died in exile in Egypt in July 1980.

Ayatollah – is a title meaning Sign of God.

Dealing with and studying the Middle East causes many to go straight to the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, just as it did during the Cold War years and Russia. Prophecy buffs saw an End-Time scenario building up before their very eyes. They were wrong in their interpretations of the unfolding events of that time, and we should not run ahead of the Word today.

The media’s portrayal of Khrushchev and Ahmadinejad are quite similar, with nuclear clouds in the background of various photographs of them.

Are we soon to see a further similarity?

Khrushchev initially said that capitalism alone would be destroyed in a nuclear war, but he adopted a different view after securing his domestic political position. In 1955, seeking to ease tensions between East and West, Khrushchev recognized permanent neutrality for Austria. Meeting President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Geneva later that year, Khrushchev confirmed a Soviet commitment to “peaceful coexistence” with capitalism.

Soviet relations with the West, especially the United States, seesawed between moments of relative relaxation and periods of tension and crisis. Despite his fist thumping and arm-waving antics, Khrushchev wanted peaceful coexistence with the West, not only to avoid nuclear war but also to permit the Soviet Union to develop its economy. Khrushchev's meetings with President Eisenhower in 1955 and President John F. Kennedy in 1961 and his tour of the United States in 1959 suggested that the Soviet leader really did desire fundamentally improved relations between the West and the Soviet Union, and its allies. Yet Khrushchev also desired to demonstrate to Soviet conservatives and the militant Chinese that the Soviet Union was a firm defender of the socialist camp. Because of this desire, in 1958 Khrushchev challenged the status of Berlin; when the West would not yield to his demands that the western sectors be incorporated into East Germany, he approved the erection of the Berlin Wall between the eastern and western sectors of the city in 1961. To maintain national prestige, Khrushchev cancelled a summit meeting with Eisenhower in 1960 after Soviet air defence troops shot down a United States reconnaissance aircraft over Soviet territory. Finally, mistrust over military intentions clouded East-West relations during this time. The Cold-War suddenly grew a lot colder, dropping well below freezing point. The West feared the implications of Soviet innovations in space technology and saw in the build-up of the Soviet military an emerging “missile gap” in the Soviet Union's favour.

During his tenure (1953-64), world politics became much more complex as the insecurities of the Cold War persisted; Khrushchev ultimately was undone by a combination of failed policy innovations in agriculture, party politics, and industry.

The Russian people grew tired of Khrushchev’s erratic behaviour and he was eventually replaced.

By 1964 Khrushchev's prestige among his own people had been damaged in a number of areas. Industrial growth had declined, while agriculture showed no new progress. Abroad, the split with China, the Berlin crisis, and the Cuban fiasco hurt the Soviet Union's international stature, and Khrushchev's efforts to improve relations with the West antagonized many in the military (They were very suspicious of the West). Lastly, the 1962 party reorganization caused turmoil throughout the Soviet political chain of command. In October 1964, while the cats away, the mouse will play; and while Khrushchev was vacationing in Crimea, the Presidium voted him out of office and refused to permit him to take his case to the Central Committee. Khrushchev retired as a private citizen after his successors denounced him for his “hare-brained schemes, half-baked conclusions, and hasty decisions.

Khrushchev was granted a pension of 500 rubbles per month, and was assured that his house and dacha were his for life. Following his removal from power, Khrushchev fell into deep depression. He received few visitors, especially since Khrushchev's security guards kept track of all guests and reported their comings and goings. In the fall of 1965, he and his wife were ordered to leave their house and dacha to move to an apartment and to a smaller dacha. His pension was reduced to 400 rubbles per month, though his retirement remained comfortable by Soviet standards. The depression continued. His doctor prescribed sleeping pills and tranquilizers, but even so, when one of his grandsons was asked what the ex-premier was doing in retirement, the boy replied, "Grandfather cries." He was made a nonperson to such an extent that the thirty-volume Soviet Encyclopaedia omitted his name from the list of prominent political commissars during the Great Patriotic War.

Last Wednesday an unusual statement was issued by the commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s college in Iran, Colonel Nasser Shaabani, saying his organization expects unrest across Iran following crippling Western sanctions. The statement was the front-page leader of Saudi-owned newspaper A-Sharq Al-Awsat.

Shaabani told the Iranian newspaper Qanun that “standard of living issues and the poor situation of the working class could light the fuse of unrest, but we have the experience necessary to deal with this.”

Meanwhile, Al-Hayat reports that the Arab minority in Iran is beginning to rise up against the central government. Citizens of the Ahvaz region of southwestern Iran, an Arab minority within the country, told the daily of “Persian occupation of their region” which has included “eight decades of oppression.” According to local activists, the Iranian regime has changed the original Arab names in the region to “blur the Arab identity of the occupied land.

Nasser Jabr, spokesman for “the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz,” told Al-Hayat that his movement turned to the Arab League for assistance during the tenure of secretary general Amr Moussa in 2001, only to be told “let’s end the Palestinian issue first and then open the Ahvaz file.

Tehran is struggling to address rising social and economic pressures affecting its fast-growing population, but large-scale economic reform will be unlikely without significant political reform. As the potential for unrest grows, Iran will have to rely more heavily on its security apparatus to maintain control, risking further isolation from the global system.

Over half of Iran's population is younger than 35 and lack a personal connection to the events surrounding the revolution that brought the current cleric-led regime to power, and their unrest is adding to the growing tensions in that nation.

Is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad going to come to a similar end to Khrushchev in the not too distant future? Will he be removed or retired from office? If so, what then? Will the so-called Arab Spring spread its wings as far as Iran, with the young people rising up in defiance of the Islamic restrictions placed upon them? God alone knows the answer.

Charles Krauthammer (a political commentator, and physician) summed up Iran under Ahmadinejad not long after he was elected in 2005: “A Holocaust-denying, virulently anti-Semitic, aspiring genocidist, on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons of the apocalypse, believes that the end is not only near but nearer than the next American presidential election. … This kind of man would have, to put it gently, less inhibition about starting Armageddon than a normal person.

With Russia, the bear’s claws were reaching out into the West. In Iran’s case, the tentacles of Radical Islam are reaching far and wide. Russia’s spy ring was found to be embedded in many nations; and Iran is known to support a list of terrorist organisations bringing a globalisation of terror.

Merry Crisis and a Happy New Fear

Just when the world thinks it’s all over, in the opening month of 2013, tit-for-tat moves between Russia and the US are plunging the two nations into a new Cold War, according to Russia expert Stephen Cohen. Washington’s long-time policy towards Moscow is to blame for the growing tensions.

The ‘reset’ in relations between the United States and Russia is dead, as the Obama administration has never truly cooperated with Moscow, instead pushing the same policy Washington has been imposing on Russia for the past 20 years, Stephen F. Cohen – professor of Russian Studies and History at New York University and Princeton University said. “That policy is advancing NATO toward Russia’s borders, building missile defence on Russia’s borders, interfering in Russia’s internal politics.

Putin is a leader that enjoys flexing his muscles. He is not into flower power but military power and might. Russia is building up its armed forces and appears to have ambitions of taking back nations that were once encircled by the Iron Curtain. Russia’s key plan to strengthen its conventional military and strategic nuclear capabilities is perhaps the forefront of Vladimir Putin’s vision to enact a Eurasian Union. The US State Department has accused Russia of using the Eurasian Union as a cover to “re-Sovietize” those countries that were part of the former Soviet Union.

Following immediately after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the West officially cut its commercial and military ties with Iran.

In 2007 Russia agreed a sale of its S-300 surface-to-air defence system with Iran, but changed their mind in 2010 after pressure from the Obama administration.

A former IDF chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon, back in 1982 when he was commander of the 890th Battalion of Paratroopers Brigade, fighting Palestinian terrorists in southern Lebanon during the First Lebanon War encountered a number of imams in the scattered villages. He spoke to one who had recently returned to Lebanon from the city of Qom in Iran, the largest centre for Shia Muslim scholarship in the world. He said that the Imams were undergoing indoctrination by the Iranians from the time of the revolution in 1979. It was part of Khomeini’s strategy—to send out tentacles to other countries in the region and to export the revolution elsewhere. Iran wants to impose its religion and beliefs upon the rest of the world.

By 2008 an Iranian organisation known as al-Quds was operative in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Chechnya, the Caucasus, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and they made sure that the Islamic terrorist organisations worldwide would enjoy the close support of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

Iran is not a modern day carving up of territory or some twentieth-century contrivance of family and religious ideology like Saudi Arabia, fenced as it is by arbitrary borders. Iran corresponds almost completely with the Iranian plateau—“the Castle in the Near East” as historian Peter Brown referred to it. Iran was the ancient world’s first super-power. The Persian Empire, even as it besieged Greece, “uncoiled, like a dragon’s tail . . . as far as the Oxus, Afghanistan and the Indus valley,” writes Brown. The Russian geographer of the turn of the century W. Barton, situates Greater Iran (Greater Iran began back in 700BC with the Medes, and ancient Iranian people who established, with the help of the Scythians, an independent state in north-western Iran. It stretched on by 600 BC and further still in 549 BC when we meet Cyrus [the Great, a prince from the Persian house of Achaemenid]) between the Euphrates and the Indus, and identifies the Kurds and Afghans as essentially Iranian people.

Iran has a population of 75 million people, the largest of the Gulf states and second only to Egypt in the Middle East. The country is also a geographic land bridge, connecting the Anatolian Peninsula, Central Asia, the Arabian Peninsula and South Asia. Consequently, Iran is home to one of the world's most diverse ethnolinguistic populations, spread across Iran's mountainous geography. Nearly a dozen languages, and even more individual dialects, are spoken as the mother tongues of Iranians.

Interestingly, of all the ancient peoples of the Near East, only the Hebrews and the Iranians “have texts and cultural traditions that have survived to modern times,” writes the linguist Nicholas Ostler. Persian (Farsi) was not replaced by Arabic and is in the same form today as it was in the eleventh century.

Iran is increasingly being courted by China and India, whose navies may at some point in this century share dominance with that of the United States in the Eurasian sea lanes. Iran is important in that in terms of location, population, and energy resources, it is in possession of the key geography of the Middle East.

There is a great deal of rhetoric and threats emanating from different factions in the Middle East almost all of the time. In an address on Friday, 21st December, this time by Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the current Supreme Leader of Iran, where he warned his people all over the world that Iran must prepare for war, and that we are now living in “the end of times.” He warned of the imminent return of the Mahdi, or the 12th imam. “The issue of Imam Mahdi is of utmost importance, and his reappearance has been clearly stated in our holy religion of Islam,” he said. “We must study and remind ourselves of the end of times and Imam Mahdi’s era. … We must prepare the environment for the coming so that the great leader will come.” According to ‘Twelver’ theology (Not all Muslim’s follow this line of teaching), the Mahdi’s return will be precipitated by planet-engulfing wars, the likes of which will destroy one third of the world’s population, and another third as a result of widespread hunger, disease and social unrest. Finally, the destruction will be capped with the annihilation of the Jewish state and the killing of all infidels, after which the seed of Islam will be planted in the four corners of the Earth. What I call world domination.

While Iran poses an existential threat to Israel, Israel will not be the only country that is threatened if Iran obtains nuclear weapons. Khomeini might want to give the impression through his anti-Israel rhetoric that Israel is his only concern, when in fact his regime is a threat to the entire world.

Iran was involved with Syria by providing funding and support for Syria to build a nuclear reactor just across the border from Israel, even when Iran’s own nuclear program was unclear.

Iran’s sphere of influence reaches out beyond its own borders through organisations such as Hezbollah and Hamas, with its tentacles reaching into Israel. Israel’ war against the Palestinians is regarded by many as a war against Iran.

Until June 2007, Iran had threatened Israel mainly through Hezbollah. The message coming from Tehran was that if Israel attacked Iran’s nuclear program it would face a war of unbearable consequences from the north. This threat changed immediately after Hamas took over the Gaza Strip. Israel quickly realised that Iran was sitting not simply to the north but also in its southern backyard, and that if they did strike Iran, Iran would likely call on Hezbollah, Hamas and possibly Syria, unleashing its full wrath against Israel.

An alternative is for Israel not to attack Iran. This however would allow Iran to become a nuclear power. This option would also bring to an end the period of the Nonproliferation Treaty, making way for other nations to break their agreement. This in turn would alter the balance of power in the region and beyond, with Israel living under the constant threat of nuclear annihilation. Other nations in the region such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt would undoubtedly pursue a nuclear capability.

Ephraim Sneh, a new Knesset member with the labour Party in 1992 warned, if Iran is allowed to go nuclear most Israeli families would prefer not to live in Israel; most Jews would prefer not to come to Israel with their families; and Israelis who can live abroad will. Sneh warned that Iran would “be able to kill the Zionist dream without pushing a button. That’s why we must prevent this regime from obtaining nuclear capability at all costs.”

One school of thought believes that Iran is bent on destroying Israel and won’t hesitate to use an atom bomb against the Jewish state once they have one. They believe that Iran is pursuing a nuclear program simply for the purpose of destroying Israel.

Another school of thought appears to believe that Iran is a convoluted nation, sometimes with conflicting interests. The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, while calling for Israel’s destruction, is considered to be more rational and pragmatic then President Ahmadinejad and to hold a more global perspective. The argument in this case is that Iran’s program is motivated by national interests aimed at increasing its influence in the Middle East. Destroying Israel is neither here nor there.

A different approach again is that Iran could be following Israel’s lead maintaining a strong policy of ambiguity, neither denying nor confirming that it has nuclear capability. It could be that they will build the bomb but not make any announcement to such until they themselves are ready to do so.

Iran was not always such a threat to Israel. In 1979, before Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (the Shah of (Persia) was overthrown, Israel had diplomatic ties with Iran and sold weapons to the Iranians.

Iran’s nuclear ambitions are not new. The present leaders are not the first to have such ambitions. The shah started the program in the 1950s. However, the direction of the program changed from peaceful to dangerous when Khomeini took control of the country. Then in 1989 until 1997 the “atomic ayatollah” Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran’s leader of that time became involved in the nuclear program. He became involved with Russia and China, and eventually Pakistan working on agreements that allowed Iranian scientists to undergo training in Pakistan and to procure advanced centrifuge designs and equipment needed for Iran’s uranium enrichment.

Khomeini’s death in 1989 brought in a new era in Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons under the direction of the new supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. An extreme leader, Khamenei referred to Israel as a “cancerous tumour that should be cut” from the Middle East.

In the article on Hezbollah (Hashkama #5), we considered how tunnelling is used for smuggling. Tunnelling operations don’t stop with Latin America. Weapons, equipment and people are smuggled into Gaza via tunnels underneath its border with Egypt. At least five hundred tunnels line the Rafah border at the southern end of the Gaza Strip. Each tunnel costs around $15,000 to build. The diggers own the licence to the tunnels and rent them out for weeks, days, or hours at a time. The tunnels are used by people who simply want to visit Egypt to those who want to start independent terrorist organisations – all rent the tunnels.

Not a lot of people know this, but about 70,000 of those residents in Gaza work in the tunnel industry as diggers, organizers, smugglers, traffic police on behalf of the Rafa clans, or hamulas. The Hamas representation in the south grants the licences to the diggers, who are mostly children under the management of a Palestinian tunnels expert. Tunnels can generate tens of thousands of dollars in revenue on a single workday.

In 1990 0nly about 6% of Americans perceived Iran as the greatest threat, while Russia led with 32%. In 2006 Iran overtook Iraq and was perceived as the greatest threat to US security by 27% of those polled, followed by China with 20%. Russia was way behind, with only 3%. Iran continues to hold first place in on-going polls taken through 2010.

Iran is engaged in one of the most intensive missile programmes in the world, building ever increasing ranges. Their arsenal consists of short-range tactical rockets and long-range ballistic missiles that will reach into Europe. They have further missiles that will enable Iran to project its power over the entire Middle East and also into at least six European Union countries: Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Greece. If Iran intended to destroy Israel alone it would not require all these long-range missiles. The idea appears to be for Iran to create an apocalypse that will then usher in the return of the 12th Imam. Religious fanaticism at its worst!

Reminiscent of the old Soviet Union are plans are in place to parade Iran’s ballistic rocket achievements by sending monkeys into space in February. The launch would be part of the celebrations leading up to the 34th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution on February 10th and part of the program for putting humans in orbit in 2020. Western space experts are dubious about Iran’s ability to send a capsule into orbit and expect the monkeys to come down to earth quite soon. In 2009 American and Israeli rocket and intelligence experts warned both their governments that Iran’s success in space technology represents the most dangerous breakthrough in their development of a military nuclear device and means of delivery. However, neither the Obama administration nor the Netanyahu government heeded this warning.

A recent report concerning the activities of Iran and its partners in crime suggests that while the world has been worrying about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Iran itself has been busy developing other weapons of mass destruction. Some of the findings suggested in the report describes the activity of Iranian, Venezuelan, and North Korean scientists working in cooperation with one another.

The Iranian navy will deploy its 24th fleet of warships to patrol the northern part of the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden, the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, the Red Sea, the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea for three months, Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said on January 16th. Iran's main navy and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' naval forces have been expanding their operations beyond the Persian Gulf.

Anthrax, encephalitis, yellow grain, SARS, Ebola, cholera, smallpox and plague

Iranian scientists, following orders from Islamic extremists running the government of Iran and with the help of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and North Korean scientists, have genetically altered eight pathogens/microbials with the hope and intention that they will kill millions of ‘infidels’ and bring the West to her knees.

The report suggests that while the West has been agonizing over Iran’s nuclear program, Iran has been hard at work developing minute bombs that can hardly be seen without high quality microscopes. These microscopic bombs would be easy to spread among the population. An added effect would be that instead of killing quickly and decisively, these bombs would cause the people to suffer anywhere from 24 hours to a few days. In the case of a nuclear blast, close to the epicentre no one would know it had happened because they would be instantly vaporized by the extreme heat. In the case of pathogens, death is agonizingly slow.

In December 2012, Reza Kahlili reported that Iran was working on 18 agents as well as multiple other facilities to modify the agents. The genetic modification of the smallpox virus deems vaccinations virtually useless against the pathogen. The “plan” is to utilize insects or small rodents to spread the disease as happened with the Black Death in Europe in 1348 where the disease, or variants, spread throughout Europe, near-eastern Asia and North Africa. It is estimated that this plague caused the death of more than a third of the European population at the time.

Unlike nuclear weapons, sophisticated delivery systems are not necessary. According to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, infiltration of Europe through normal trade would easily spread the pathogens to the population; and of course, we know how porous the Mexican/US border is and releasing insects and rodents into the US would be simple.

According to Clare M. Lopez, a senior fellow at the Centre for Security Policy in Washington, DC: “The most dangerous biological weapons agents today are genetically modified or even synthetically created in a laboratory in ways that not only make them more contagious, infectious and lethal, but also are intended to defy existing vaccine countermeasures. Iran and Syria are reported to be among the recipients of such deadly (biological weapons) agents; each of these countries also has an extensive medical and pharmaceutical research and development infrastructure within which to produce (and also conceal) its BW programs. Both Iran and Syria also have shared not only these pathogens, but the artillery, ballistic missile and munitions technology with each other and, likely, with Hezbollah as well, for delivery of such pathogens.

Iran’s Muslim religious zealotry in itself is a powerful weapon of destruction that enslaves. If Iran is successful in bringing biological terror to the world, the Iranian people would also become victims; but according to Islamic belief, the innocents can be sacrificed for the greater good.

Syria

Seven years after succeeding his father, Bashar al-Assad had decided to develop a nuclear bomb, and the development of that bomb was at an advanced stage before it was discovered. Western intelligence agencies reportedly uncovered the first of a connection between Syria, Iran, and North Korea in the June 2000.

Syria today probably has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world, and Israel are concerned that terrorist groups might now lay their hands on them with the crumbling situation in Syria.

Syrian rebels have stationed themselves along the border with Israel, senior Israel Defence Forces officials told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, The Jerusalem Post reported January 14th, 2013. Only the Al-Qunaytirah enclave remains under regime control, the report said.

Saudi newspaper al-Watan, citing intelligence sources, reported that Syrian President Bashar al Assad, along with his family and close confidants, are residing on a warship in the Mediterranean under Russian security, Y Net News reported January 14th, 2013. The report suggests Assad travels to Syria by helicopter to attend official meetings and receptions. No other source has confirmed the report.

The Russian-guarded warship provides a safe environment for Assad, who has lost confidence in his own security detail, the report said.

Assad's presence on the warship suggests he has been granted political asylum by Russia but there has been no official comment from Moscow, the newspaper said.

Assad has reportedly ordered his generals to unleash Syria's considerable missile arsenal on Israel and Egypt if he is killed by rebel forces. His reason for attacking Israel is that Syria is officially in a state of war with Israel and hosts numerous terror groups dedicated to the Jewish state's destruction. His reason for attacking Egypt is his anger that the new Muslim Brotherhood-controlled government supports the Syrian rebel groups, many of which are fellow Islamists. Whether or not his generals will follow orders if their Commander-in-Chief is out of the picture is another question.

Russia has blocked three Western-backed UN Security Council resolutions aimed at putting pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or pushing him from power, and says his exit must not be a precondition for a peace deal.

The various groups that are propagating the conflict in Syria will eventually succumb to political and ideological rivalries. In fact, already there have been instances of violence among rival groups jockeying for power, territory and supplies in hopes that their respective ideologies will prevail in a post-al Assad Syria. But for now, the rebels will avoid serious disputes as best they can to militate against their own defeat. At the present time and the rebels know that disunity among their ranks would be detrimental to their ultimate objective of removing the president.

The al-Farouq brigade and Jabhat al Nusra are major players on the Syrian battlefield. Both have demonstrated tactical efficiency and military prowess in operations against the regime forces. Boasting scores of military defectors in its ranks, the al-Farouq brigade officially was formed in Homs in mid-2011. Since then, it has expanded its operations south toward Daraa and as far north as the Syria-Turkey border. More advanced than other rebel brigades, al-Farouq has its own media arm, through which it claims that its fighters are neither jihadist nor Salafist jihadists. Rather, they are pious Muslims fighting to liberate Syria, according to the media arm. The al-Farouq brigade also apparently is supported and funded by the Muslim Brotherhood, which espouses a similar ideology.

Jabhat al Nusra, its ranks composed of Salafist jihadists, maintains a more extremist ideology. The group, which likewise has its own media wing, announced its formation in January 2012. The group is well funded and well equipped, but unlike the al-Farouq brigade, al-Nusra receives support from Salafist jihadists in Persian Gulf states, and much of its expertise comes from foreign fighters and Syrians who previously fought in Iraq.

Further reports claim that signals intelligence stations are being set up by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) throughout the Middle East. The US believes they are in place to supply information on Israel to the Lebanese-based terrorist group Hezbollah, and that one of the ‘SIGINT’ stations is located in the Syrian part of the Golan Heights. According to the US two Iranian-Syrian [signals intelligence] stations funded by the IRGC reportedly have been active since 2006, one in the Al Jazirah region in northern Syria and the other on the Golan Heights.

While Iran watches Israel, the world has its eyes on Iran and the Middle East fearing the approaching super-storm. Washington’s washed-out leader has now made the claim that he knows what’s best for Israel. Instead of having his finger on the trigger he is busy poking his finger in the apple of God’s eye. The spiritual leaders in America should perhaps get alongside their leader and advise Obama that there will be consequences for both him and the USA.

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