Thursday, April 12, 2007

Chapter 7 (3/5): Persian Rags (Updated)

In Lebanon today, Iran looms large, far more menacing than Syrian ever was; while the Syrians could be bought off, the oil-rich Iranians are able to support Hezb’s undermining of Lebanon.

For all their bluster and Nasrallah’s menacing declarations, Hezb and his Iranians masters have far fewer teeth than other meddlers; their roar hides their confusion, and the fact that all they bare is all they have.

In Lebanon, all the investment in Hezb’s precious weapons is wasted; the more Nasrallah clutches on his precious arsenal, the more he alienates other communities, and even his own. It is too far gone now for any durable compromise on weapons; if they keep this up, disarmament will not be sufficient, and Hezb’s disbanding will become the new bottom line.

We are now paying a heavy economic price, but we have to recall that those who rented us to the Syrians for more than 15 years will not mind using us to bleed the Iranians over the next two years. For all practical purposes, we are back with a 1990’s style dual-government, and we all know how badly it ended for that other government, and for Lebanon as we rushed to make-up for wasted opportunities

In this Middle-Eastern Corrida, Lebanon is the cape that distracts the Bull. And it appears that Michel Aoun has, once again, picked the wrong Bull…

Olé!

Power Struggle

In addition to overreach on foreign shores, the Iranians have to contend with problems of their own; internal power struggle among the Pasdaran/Bassij, the reigning Mullahs, and an increasingly disconnected Middle Class. The extent of this power struggle was demonstrated by the sudden climb down in the saga of the British Marines…

In addition, the UN sanctions are already hurting the regime’s pocket. The current oligarchy cannot keep spending money on foreign shores while its own country’s infrastructure falls in disrepair. Its opponents are far better endowed, and far more determined than we give them credit for… They can last the distance.

Over-Reaction in Lebanon

As they pile-up the miscalculations, many fear Lebanon will once again, drift into a new civil war. At first blush, this appears valid since the only ones with an interest in war are the Syrians, via the Iranians and Hezb.

Logically, however, Hezb remains ill-equipped to contain the furies that this would unleash. Logically, the Iranians would not be interested in “spending” this precious card; they have invested too much in Hezb to sacrifice it on Syria’s behalf.

The net result is that stalemate is their only logical option in the medium term; they will not like a “Chapter 7” tribunal, but they will all find a way to muddle through. On the long run, the Mullahs will have to find a way to contend themselves with what they have, which is already purty darn good.


20 comments:

fubar said...

"The extent of this power struggle was demonstrated by the sudden climb down in the saga of the British Marines…"

What makes you say this? Just wondering...

ghassan karam said...

Jeha,
I share your skepticism about the ultimate influence of Iran in the region. Irans efforts in the ME remind me of the frog that wanted to demonstrate to his child his power by blowing himself up until he burst.
Iran is larger, stronger and more advanced than its neighbours across the Gulf but this does not mean that they are willing to accept Iranian hegemony especially when they view Persia as an outsider and an intruder. Iran has been trying unsuccessfully to export the Iranian revolution for almost 30 years. The only thing that they can show for their efforts is the unwavering support of the Lebanese HA , some support from Hamas and a not so strong alliance with Syria where Bashar will sever his ties with Iran if Israel will offer to resolve the Golan issue.

A brief comment about the earlier post, the UK. It occured to me earlier today that the British experience with unions and devolutions could be very instructive for us in the ME. Scotland and Wales have been asking for more autonomy and both have been given control over many local issues. This devolution has not weakened the central government in London and has not been a catastrophe for any of the parties. Can this model be used by the Iraqis to show that a federation is workable and does not imply as many seem to be afraid the disintegration of the state. I am also sure that you have noticed that Walid Jumblat has finally uttered the unthinkable by openly asking for a "divorce" of the parties in Lebanon. It will not be easy to form a workable federation in Lebanon if HA is to be a party to it because there is no agreement on a foreign or a military policy for the central government. A federation cannot have multiple forein policies. As long as HA is a major player then I cannot see any possible resolution to the Lebanese crisis even if a Fedration is to be examined seriously. Ironically the need for a Federation will no longer be strong if HA is is marginalised. Instability at the Med might be the best that Iran can hope to achieve.

Jeha said...

Fubar,

I have no hard evidence, but can only note that the climbdown was too much, too fast, leaving the regime with far little to show for the "expense". Ahmadinejad was scheduled to make a big speech on that day, and instead, we got the release of the hostages... I have known the Iranian regime to be far more determinate than this. At the very least, chess players figure out a few moves ahead

My gut feeling is that this is reminiscent of Krushtev's Cuban missile fiasco, or Kennedy's Bay of Pigs debacle; miscalculation, precipitation, leading to defeat...


Ghassan,

I agree with your suggestion, but I do not think that it can be implemented in the Arab world, where we are still stuck in the "missionary" mode, trying to bring the "other" under our complete control. Lebanon could be a place to start, since the price of war would be too high for all to bear, they may listen to reason. But in Iraq, all sides appear to think they can still "win".

Jeb said...

Jeha,

Interesting stuff on the Iranians. I think it's quite fascinating to watch the developments in Iranian domestic politics, especially now following the British hostage crisis.

Blacksmith Jade said...

Just a quick note, Jeha:

EXCELLENT WORK ON THE CARTOONS!!

I'm totally and utterly impressed and amused by them. Good job.

Now let me read this thing...

Blacksmith Jade said...

...Alright now that I'm done I'll say:

Excellent post. I really enjoyed reading it and I wholeheartedly agree.

Jeha said...

Thanks for the encouraging comments,

BTW, the cartoons are "Copyleft"... While copyright has its merits, I think it has become overused of late. As bloggers, you do a lot of public domain stuff, and I think you can relate.

fubar said...

Hmmmm...Francis Fukuyama is pedalling your theory...

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=5&article_id=81385

To both of you: Tony Blair was not the rock you think he was. I like Blair, A LOT, but you are giving him way too much credit. He may not have completely choked but he sure as hell gagged on acid reflux.

Anyway...
Another interesting Tehran story, Tehran is going to sell the American Embassy to pay an Iranian court lien against the US by an Iranian businessman. Seems they are going to sell it soon. I would pay good money to see a bombing run to demolish it first. It's US property, US sovereign soil. We can bomb it all we want while its still ours. And as for the Pasdaran inside, using like it was their own all these years, scatters have no rights.

fubar said...

squatters

Jeha said...

If Fukuyama peddles the same theory, then there are chances it could be wrong...

Still, I think Blair is secondary in this; the game has been on for a while, with heat rising in Arabstan and Balouchistan, and "kidnappings" in Iraq... In this case, the Pasdaran appear to be in over their heads.

fubar said...

Jeha,

You will never really understand Iran. Not meant as an insult but like I will never really understand Lebanon.

You might like this...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-KdFMuo3vo

Watch for the statements by the old man near the end. Not to spoil it for you but he wonders when the US will do something (@ 6:19), and he blames the UK for propping up the mullahs (@ 7:13).

There is always a reason for the Pasdaran's moves - Brits instead of Americans. They were trying to intimidate and weaken the Brits. I think we can safely say it has backfired now, but for a while there...



USS BATAAN, At Sea (NNS) [Released for Publication April 8] -- The Commandant of the Marine Corps visited the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) while underway in the Persian Gulf on April 4.

USS OAK HILL, At Sea (NNS) [Released for Publication April 12] -- USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) hosted the Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC), on April 4 while underway in the Persian Gulf.

(Fox News - Wed., April 4) TEHRAN, Iran--British officials late Wednesday night said they expected Iran to make good on its promise to release 15 British sailors and marines, and hoped their journey back to London would begin "within hours."
. . .
Prime Minister Tony Blair welcomed the announcement Wednesday by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the 15 troops seized 13 days ago would be freed and said that he bore "no ill will" toward the Iranian people.

Ahmadinejad's surprise announcement came at a news conference shortly after he pinned a medal on the chest of the Iranian coast guard commander who intercepted the sailors and marines.

***********

Just another one of life's little mysteries which will forever remain unexplained.

ghassan karam said...

Jeha, Fubar
Now stop it both of you, I am one of the biggest advocates of the End of history. We can disagree whether the dialectic would lead to the ascendancy of liberalism or whether it should lead to the triumph of the proletariat but in the long run history unfolds so as to vindicate Hagel :-)

fubar said...

Ghassan,

Since your in a wild and crazy mood tonight, try this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ll1jbjXsN4&mode=related&search=

Hang in there until the end, you will like the very end, I think.

Jeha said...

Fubar,

In that case, I think Iran is far more similar to Lebanon; none of those countries can ever be understood. I agree with your assessment on the Pasdaran's motivations.


Ghassan,

I'm surprised. I took you for an iconoclast.

Jeha said...

Fubar,

Great videos... in one word; Bwahahahahaaaa

ghassan karam said...

Fubar
Tnx for the video link, I did watch the whole thing. Some might disagree about his priorities:-)

Jeha,
Funny that you mention iconoclasticism (is there such a word?). I view dialectical thinking as an analytical tool of analysis that seldom leads to a mainstream idea. Yet I have not been able to resolve in my mind the implications of having a "real democracy" in every country in the world? That appears to be The End of History doesn't it? Some will even argue that the EU is already there.

Jeha said...

I think we're far from Athenian Democracy; it is unmanageable at our scale.

What we have, even in the US, is a "representative republic" at best. The EU is a great idea, but it is even further away from that, and is limited to being a "balanced bureaucracy"; witness the ongoing debate about reviving the same rejected constitution, and the incremental inclusion of Turkey with little fanfare. There is little real debate in Europe about what they want to be, and where they want to go, and the bureaucrats proceed apace, trying to fill that "vision" void.

Roman Kalik said...

Good post, man.

As for the EU, it is an interesting experiment. I expect it to stagnate eventually though, but it's certainly great while it lasts. The "vision" void will be its undoing though.

fubar said...

Jeha,

As I am sure you are aware, I am praying for regime change in Iran. That said, from some of your posts here and on AK's blog, I see that you are trying to follow the unrest in Iran. But do not be misled by the anti-mullah Iranian or American bloggers about the prospects for it.

Kamangir tells the truth, the sad truth about internal unrest in Iran.

http://kamangir.net/2007/04/20/the-key-to-the-success-of-the-ir/#more-3355

The only real organized struggle going on in Iran is between the really, really, really bad guys (mullahs) and the other really, really, really bad guys (mullahs). It's kind of like the difference between Bandar and Turki, merely a matter of style, not substance.

Jeha said...

Fubar,

I can't agree more; the choice between Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani is a poor choice indeed.