Monday, July 31, 2006

Israel’s Destruction of Lebanon: Pushing Back the Prospect of Lasting Peace in the Middle East

Omid-Karim Sadjadpour is an analyst in International Crisis Group, and was a visiting fellow at the American University of Beirut during the 2003-2004 academic year. A few days ago I interviewed him for Roozonline website. Meanwhile, I asked him to answer some questions for my blogs. Here are three questions on the current crisis in the Middle East:

are there any positive prospects for the Middle East peace process anymore?

I think the likelihood of a successful Middle East peace process has now been knocked back years, if not decades. This latest crisis has only deepened the tremendous mutual mistrust and resentment that already existed between the two sides. Few Arabs have the will or desire to make peace with Israel these days. And likewise, few Israelis believe that the Palestinians or the Arabs will ever accept their existence.

Why the Arab leaders couldn’t interfere to establish a ceasefire or play a mediating role? do they agree that Hezbollah can be destryed by Israel?

Aside from Bashar Assad in Syria, Arab leaders have been torn over how to react to this crisis. On one hand, they are extremely pre-occupied with Iran’s growing regional ambitions and are concerned that a strong showing by Hezbollah will only heighten Iran’s status in the region. But although they initially criticized Hezbollah for provoking Israel, the Israeli response has been so destructive and unremitting that Arab leaders have since been forced to issue strong criticisms of Israel in order not to alienate their own populations. Israeli and United States officials say that this war is a part of war on terrorism.

Do you think that this attack can bring peace to Middle East?

I hope I am wrong, but I fear that Israel’s destruction of Lebanon has pushed back the prospect of lasting peace in the Middle East another generation. There is simply no trust between the two sides, and the younger generations in the Arab world and Israel that are watching this war on TV are getting prematurely jaded.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Is It Excessive Force?

The past 2 weeks have been of extreme importance to those who follow the news.The Middle East is up in flames once again. It seems like this region of the world will never see long lasting peace. Just think about the many wars between the Arabs and the Israelis, the Iran-Iraq war, the 2 Gulf Wars and many smaller conflicts including tribal warfare, separatist movements and etc. Israel is responding to what it calls “provocative attacks” by Hezbollah. Hezbollah has always protested to the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. So hell broke loose two weeks ago when the 2 sides went at it again. The Israeli army started the bombardment of towns in Lebanon with heavy artillery and Hezbollah launched many Katyusha rockets into northern Israel. Today, Israel attached a building in Qana and killed 60 civilian including 19 children.
Let’s just assume that any nation has the right to defend itself when it is attacked. But is Israel taking it too far? I want to know what you think.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Iran: The Next War? (Rolling Stone)

Omid-Have you read this article in Rolling Stone? "Iran: The Next War "

"...At the far end of that room, on the morning of February
12th, 2003, a small group of eavesdroppers were listening intently for evidence
of a treacherous crime. At the very moment that American forces were massing for
an invasion of Iraq, there were indications that a rogue group of senior
Pentagon officials were already conspiring to push the United States into
another war—this time with Iran...."

Even though many poeple believe that it is very hard and difficult for the US administration to start another war, I still think they are thinking on a kind of attack to Iran. It seems that US offcials, no matter they are republican or democrat, has come to this conclusion that they can not talk with the current political system in Iran. While they charge the Islamic republic of Iran as a supporter of many terorrist groups around the Middle East, how they can talk about, for instance, security arrangement in the region?I think articles like what has appeared in Rolling Stone just show this approach....

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Arash-Professor Darren C. Zook teaches in Political Science and International and Area Studies at UC Berkeley. His research interests include human rights, comparative Asian politics, international law, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. He is currently at work on a book-length manuscript on the legal and political dimensions of decolonization and its legacy for global politics.

: as a scholar on south and southeast Asia, how do you see the recent nuclear
state-going to be a motivating factors for those countries seeking nuclear
technology ? i.e: Iran

A:I was extremely disappointed with the
US-India nuclear agreements. The idea behind this from the perspective of the Bush administration seems to have been that (1) it was the best
we were going to get with India anyway, and (2) India could be promoted as a "good" model of new nucelar country because it is secular and democratic and, of course, opposed to terrorism. The problem with both of these lines of reasoning is that they overlook and undermine the principles embedded in the
Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), which might make it easier to deal with India in the short term, but will make it difficult if not impossible in the long term to establish any
credible way to oppose other nucelar aspirant states. Also, many people forget that when India
declared itself a nuclear state in May of 1998 by conducting a series of nucelar test explosions, it
did so under the leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a party which, though not
necessarily extremist, has certainly dedicated itself to undermining secularism in India and at
times has hinted that only Hindus could be "authentic" Indians and that Christians and Muslims
should go elsewhere.

Q: how do you think the regional nuclear powers - India and Pakistan- will deal
with a nuclear Iran? do these countries favor a harsher tone of rhetoric against Iran ? do they
prefer military strikes?

A:Iran is not the most important concern for Pakistan. What Pakistan really wants is
to be treated as an equal to India; that is, it will also want the "special treatment" from
Washington. Otherwise, it looks as if the Bush administration accepts a "Hindu bomb" but not an
"Islamic bomb." If Pakistan does not get equal treatment, then it will look to China for
leverage and certainly will find common cause with Iran.

India, of course, does not want a nuclear Pakistan and certainly does not want a
nuclear Iran. I doubt seriously that India would engage in any kind of provocative action toward
Iran, but it will certainly use its image as a "non-extremist" country to preserve its special
arrangement with Washington.

From Iran's perspective, it is difficult to take the Bush administration seriously.
The agreement with India specifically allows some nuclear reactors to remain under Indian military
control, and therefore outside the purview of international monitors. Why would Iran agree to a
strict monitoring regime if India does not have to?

The final factor is, of course, China. China has cultivated ties with Pakistan and Iran at times, hoping to keep India off balance (not necessarily in military terms, but certainly in economic and
political terms). It is possible that the key issue here for India is not nuclear military power
but nuclear energy. India's economy is energy-hungry and one of the things that keeps India from
competing seriously with China in the world economic stage is the inability to have a consistent
energy supply upon which to build its economy. It is possible that the Bush administration is
really hoping to make India a democratic economic alternative to China to keep pressure on China
to democratize or simply to thwart its regional Asian ambitions. The question is, will the
economic payoff for this strategy outweigh the potential nuclearization of an increasing number of
countries as the NPT framework dissolves into uselessness? I think not.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Top 10 Presidential Moments

I find the following video clip to be extremely funny. It is the top 10 screw ups by President Bush in front of camera. We all know the man is not very articulate. Regardless of your personal feelings toward President Bush, watch the clip and enjoy it. I don't watch David Letterman's show on a regular basis but I had to share this clip with all of you. Hopefully the next president will have better abilities to articulate him/herself !!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Iran and Hezbollah

The situation between Israel and Lebanon is becoming more and more difficult to resolve. It worries me particularly because Iran may become involved in this dispute. Iran’s support for Hezbollah is no secret. But what if Israel decides to go ahead and punish all Hezbollah supporters, i.e. Iran and Syria. Iran can also take advantage f the current situation by diverting the world’s attention to the fighting in Lebanon and not to the Iranian nuclear crisis. If the Hezbollah attacks were calculated moves by Iran to minimize the world attention on Iran’s nuclear activities, I must say their strategy has worked. The leaders of Iran now hope the conflict won’t escalate any further for it would be bad for all the countries in the region. But when Israel and the U.S are engaged in their own wars and the Arab world is more worried about Israel than a nuclear Iran, then what would stop Iran to follow the footsteps of North Korea?

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