The Iranian nuclear program is firmly under the international spotlight as voices of discontent grow in Israel.
The US is keen to revitalise foreign relation ties in the Middle East. One of the historical keys to achieving this is finding an elusive long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However a growingly influential Iran, with its emerging nuclear capabilities, has only served to complicate the interconnected web that is the Middle East. How the US deals with a defiant hard-line regime like Iran, which has stated is only enjoying its natural right to nuclear development, may determine resolutions elsewhere in the Middle East.
Throughout history, the Middle East has proved a highly contentious stage for global instability. However, although there has been some bold initiatives by Western powers in recent years the Middle East continues to be a platform for anxiety and future wars.
A vital icon of the modern Middle Eastern landscape is Israel, the controversial creation in 1948 of which added fuel to the regional fire. In recent years, a prominent and confident Iranian regime with its own fair share of infamy has come to the fore as a key regional power and as a threat to the delicate balance.
Iran has pretty much been in diplomatic isolation since the Islamist revolution of 1979 dramatically propelled Ayatollah Khomeini to power. The perception of Iran as a threat is nothing new, however the original threat of Shiite Islamist revolutionaries threatening the whole framework of the predominantly Sunni Arab region, took on significant meaning in recent years, with its much debated nuclear program coming to the international fore.
The current nuclear crisis dates back to 2003, when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran had been hiding a uranium enrichment program for 18 years. Opposition to such an ideal grew fiercer with inception of a new hard-line regime in Tehran from 2005, resulting in a number of UN resolutions that applied broad sanctions against the regime for successive non-compliance.
Nuclear technology is hardly a new concept, and many regimes posses such a capability, none more so than Israel itself, who remains the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. However, the danger in the case of Iran is clear, a nuclear Islamist regime that is alleged to support a number of radical groups in the region and accused of been a “supporter of terrorism” rings obvious sirens.
Stand-off with Israel
Iranian antagonism towards the Jewish state is not new, however, ultra conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s brazen remarks towards the very existence of Israel as a country has ruffled many feathers in the international arena.
At a recent UN conference on racism in Geneva, Ahmadinejad’s denunciation of the “totally racist government” of Israel founded on the “pretext of Jewish suffering” drew condemnation and protests.
For Israelis, nuclear technology for a country that has already pledged to “wipe them off the map” is a chilling notion
Iran has long been accused as major sponsors of the Shiite Islamist Hezbollah stationed in South Lebanon, to Israel’s north. Hezbollah itself has become increasingly bold and determined in recent years culminating in the deadly conflict with Israeli forces in 2006. Hezbollah has an increasingly capable technological arsenal said to be supplied by Iran.
To the West of Israel in the Gaza Strip, Iran has also been accused of being major backers to Hamas, which only a few months ago was engaged in its own bloody confrontations with Israeli forces in the Gaza strip.
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