Iran’s choices

When Ayatollah Khomenei initiated the revolution in Iran in 1979, he not only intended to fundamentally alter Iran itself.  He also intended to export the revolution, first to other Shia communities around the Arab world, notably in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, and second to all Arabs.  By destroying Israel he planned that Iran would become the hero of the Muslim world.  After the revolution, slogans were posted around Tehran, and the most common was “the road to Jerusalem leads thru Baghdad.”  This signified the intention of the regime to conquer Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and then go on from there to conquer Israel.  But, Saddam attacked first in 1980 and the Iran-Iraq war lasted until 1988, with no clear winner.

After this terrible experience the Iranian regime rethought their strategy for achieving their aims and came up with the nuclear option.  Of course, they deny that they want enriched uranium for weapons, but no commentator accepts their claim, otherwise why would an oil-rich state need enriched uranium.  But, then this avenue has been temporarily cut-off by the international agreement with Iran.  So what will Iran do next?

They have two major options, depending on the circumstances.  Their major enemy (despite their designation of the USA as the “great Satan”) are the Sunni Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia and including Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf States.  Their second declared enemy (“the little Satan”) is Israel.  Would Iran, if it had the capability, choose to strike first at Saudi Arabia or Israel?  The fact is that Israel has atomic weapons, everyone knows this, and certainly the Iranians do, and Israel also has a crack military. They don’t want to risk destruction of their regime. So since Israel is too hard a nut to crack, they would probably choose to attack Saudi Arabia.  The Saudis have something that the Iranians badly want, no not oil, control of Mecca and Medina.

However, there may be a hitch, the best ally of the Saudis is America.  They guarantee the independence of Saudi Arabia, in order to ensure the supply of oil.  The US would almost certainly come in on the Saudi side.  But, Iran is a powerful state, and recent Presidents have not been enthusiastic to enter a new war.  The Iranians might bank on this.  But, the Iranians have a powerful tool, they can cut off the Straits of Hormuz to all shipping, and notably ca. half of the world’s oil supply goes thru there.  No-one will want to mess with Iran.  So what will the Iranians do next?

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