The Unraveling Middle East, Part II


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[Editor’s note: the following is the second installment of a three-part series. Part III will appear in tomorrow’s issue. To read Part I, click here.]

With the Middle East being swept by revolutionary chaos, Iran is the power that stands to gain most from the outcome. The countries affected by the turmoil, their strategic location, the large Shia populations in many of these nations and Iran’s close ties to Sunni Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood could give Teheran a hegemonic position in the region. Already, there is evidence to indicate this is occurring. On March 2, President Ahmadinejad warned the Saudi government not to move against that country’s Shia minority—numbering 2 million—on the planned “Day of Anger” protest set for March 11. This was followed the next day by Iran’s criticism of the Saudi decision to raise oil production by 500,000 barrels a day, to meet the shortfall caused by the fighting in Libya. The fact that Iran has so publicly stated its position regarding Saudi domestic and economic policy indicates growing confidence in Tehran regarding its status as a regional power.

A primary reason for Iran’s growing assertiveness is its capacity to use force. This includes not only Iran’s considerable armed forces, but also the capabilities of its surrogates. This combination enables Iran to wage war throughout Southwest Asia, and in key regions beyond.

Iran’s regular armed forces number some 290,000, with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) providing another 155,000. Together, these forces field nearly 2,000 tanks, 340 fighter-bombers and over 200 naval vessels. The regular armed forces are tailored for conventional warfare. The IRGC is considered the most sound branch of the military. While it is tasked with defending Iranian territory, its air force controls Iran’s ballistic missiles, ensuring regime control over this vital component.

While Iran has older equipment in its inventory, it also deploys considerable quantities of modern weapons. These include some 500 T-72 tanks, 25 MiG-29 fighters and 30 Su-24 strike aircraft, and three Kilo-class attack submarines. Older equipment has been modernized, including F-14 Tomcats supplied to the Shah in the 1970s. Iran’s defense industries have also produced tanks and combat aircraft, and have reportedly developed a variant of the Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile, embargoed by Moscow. Cooperation with foreign nations, including North Korea and China, has also taken place.

As for ballistic missiles, Iran is estimated to have 1,000 in service. Most worrisome is the Shahab 3, which has a range of 2,100 km, enough to reach the Aegean Sea. There are estimated to be several hundred Shahab 3s in service. The Shahab 5, developed from North Korea’s Taepodong 2, has a 6,000 km range, covering all of Europe (although it’s not been confirmed if these missiles are deployed).

Then there is the matter of WMD. In a report for Canada’s Mackenzie Institute, its president, John C. Thompson, notes that Iran has produced chemical weapons since the 1980-88 war with Iraq. As for nuclear weapons, while Iran’s program has suffered setbacks due to cyberwar attacks (namely Stuxtnet), Thompson states that “Iran has certainly had ample opportunity to amass a stockpile of radioactive material. They might not yet be able to deliver a nuclear warhead to Tel Aviv, but they could strew hundreds of kilos of radioactive dust over it.” The same could be said for any point in the Gulf.

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  • Sriram Iyer

    pertinent comments!

  • http://www.ezracanada.org Rev. Roy Trepanier

    ….., when he ariseth to shake terrible the earth…… for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terrible the earth. (Isaiah 2:17-21)
    Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger. (Isaiah 13:13)
    Well, I guess that pretty well says it all. Not a whole lot that I can add except to suggest that you get ready.
    God bless,
    Rev. Roy….<><

  • David

    As an Iranian citizen it is very disturbing to see Iran become the number one terrorist country in the world. It has become far worse than Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Iran 2011 looks like Germany 1938. I blame this situation not only on the wild, mad and rabid Islamonazi mullahs but also on the West that has lost its will and courage to defend its freedom and civilization. I blame gutless, coward and corrupt Western politicians, mainstream media and academia for failing their duty to stand up against evil. The opposition forces in Iran (Karrubi, Mosavi, communists, monarchists,…) are not better than the present wild regime. Iran consists of multiple nationalities and the best way to eradicate the threat is a partition of Iran.

  • barnsey

    Completely ignorant. I suggest you study some more.

  • MixMChess

    "different roads for jews and gentiles? true or false?"

    FALSE. There are no different roads for Jews and Gentiles in Israel. In the W. Bank there are separate roads for Israeli citizens (not necessarily Jews) that lead to the settlements that Israel governs. And just the same, there separate roads for Palestinians that lead to areas governed by the Palestinian Authority. Nice try though…

  • MixMChess

    "Marriage Laws based on race/? true or fase."

    FALSE. Marriages in Israel can only be performed under the authority of the religious community to which the couple belong. Marriages in each community are under the jurisdiction of their own religious authorities. Thus, if you are Muslim, you can only get married in Israel if the Muslim religious authorities give you authorization under Sharia. The Israeli Interior Ministry registers marriages on presentation of proper documentation from the appropriate religious authorities.

  • MixMChess

    "Citizenship based on race/ religion? true or fase."

    FALSE. Anyone can apply for citizenship in Israel regardless of race or religion. Since Israel is the homeland to the Jewish people, Jews are given an automatic right to immigrate to Israel, but that does not guaranty/secure citizenship – they still have to apply like everyone else.

  • DOV

    you are a usefull idiot of the suicidal coward lefties and islamofascist nazia. HASHEM will protect Israel a great nation and destroy its rabid jealous 7th centurt barbariansssss.

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