TueNov212017

Israel and Iran Dominated the Third Debate

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Photo: CBS news 

Photo:CBS News 

 

By Saeed Qureshi

President Obama and the Republican contender Mitt Romney spent pretty good time in sparring on Iran and Israel and the way America should deal with these two mutually adversarial countries. The topic of the debate was the Foreign Policy and as a matter of fact it was the most crucial theme as compared to those of two earlier debates. The entire tone, tenor and emphasis of both the debtors was to prove emphatically that he was the best and most loyal friend of Israel and the staunchest and inveterate foe of Iran.

Mitt Romney has been inclined to, as unequivocally expressed by him in the October 22 debate, bludgeon Iran not only economically but militarily. He stressed that such a decision was imperative to reduce Iran to a stage of such debility that it remains neither as a potent threat to Israel nor to Saudi Arabia: a submissive surrogate of the United States and also of the west. The conflict of Iran with Israel is primarily riveted on Iran’s nuclear program that is not entirely known to the world at large.

Israel feels that Iran’s nuclear weapons that she might be able to manufacture in due course will be a dire threat to the security of Israel. Iran might be under the perception that her security could be ensured and absolutely guaranteed with the possession of a nuclear weapon. But before that happens, Iran has to wade through a sea of hostilities and impediments. The IAEC members, the United States and Israel and even some of the Sunni conservative regimes in the Middle East, would never tolerate or ignore or compromise on an Iran possessing a nuclear capability, notwithstanding the Iranian claim that it was for the energy generation.

President Obama vociferously claimed during the debate that he was the one president who has brought Iran under unprecedented, stringent multiple sanctions reducing her to a nuclear pariah state. He is right in his assertion. The fallout of those rigorous and oppressive sanctions is the devaluation of Iranian currency to an abysmal all time low level. Iran cannot trade or bargain and transact money to and fro the rest of the world within the international system of monetary exchange system.

It is in the backdrop of these back-breaking sanctions, acute financial hardships, drastic drop in oil sale and sharp devaluation of Iranian currency that Iran’s chief pontiff and supreme leader Ali Khomeini has offered bilateral dialogue with the United States on nuclear issue.

While giving unconditional and unequivocal support to the most America’s trusted ally Israel, the president Obama looked rather discreet. Yet the pro-Israel partisan policy is not followed exclusively by president Obama, it is an article of faith also with all the regimes whether Republican or Democratic. His rival however, who recently toured Israel was unabashed in expressing his unstinting and partisan loyalty to the state of Israel and go to any length for her protection.

President Obama’s approach towards such thorny issues as dealing with Syrian civil war and Iran’s controversial nuclear issue is tagged with winning the international support for joint and decisive action to achieve the projected results. However, his opponent during the debate, imprudently brushed aside the intentional consensus and vouched a hard hitting military response that might trap the United States in another war.

A discerning watcher of the debate would get an eerie feeling as if Mitt Romney was not adequately aware of the international affairs and the fast paced developments that burst out every day specifically in the tumultuous Middle East. On the question of nexus between Iran and Syria, he fumbled by pointing out that Syria provides sea route to Iran. The reality is that Iran does not have direct borders with Syria. It was an erroneous claim that was not noted by most of the viewers because they did not know the actual fact. The fact is that Iran has its own independent access to the Persian Gulf that it can block anytime either in peace or in war time.

The American policy with regard to the Middle East is unilaterally poised in favor of Israel to keep that tiny state as a dominant military power in the midst of religiously and geographically hostile countries. The hostility between the Muslim Arab states and Israel stems out of Israel’s refusal to recognize the creation of an independent Palestinian state. The Palestinians deserve such a state for two reasons.

One: that the land belonged to the Palestinians for centuries before it was turned into an Israeli state. Secondly the United Nations’ Resolution number 181(II) by which the State of Israel came into being also calls for the creation of a parallel Palestinian state. One part of that resolution has been implemented and strictly guarded while the other relating to the Palestinians is yet to see the light of the day.

So while exuding their overflowing fervor and abiding commitment to protect Israel the international arbiters and mediators must take into consideration the humanitarian dimension of this chronic issue. That gory dimension is that as a result of denial of a Palestinian state a whole nation is living as refugees on their own territory and is also isolated as Diasporas.

Secondly, there is always a cacophonous refrain on Iran’s or North Korean nuclear potential yet there has seldom been even a passing reference about the nuclear arsenal of Israel. Her stockpile of nuclear weapons too hangs over the Middle East like "sword of Damocles".

Israel can launch preemptive strikes on hostile countries in the region in order to get rid of them. Since other states are not permitted to fabricate the atomic weapons the dice is clearly and heavily cast in favor of Israel. The best and lasting way-out of this impasse is that Israel should mend fences with the regional partners because it is not only physically small but also surrounded by other states both friendly and hostile. Use or threat to use weapons of mass destruction is not the answer for the security of Israel.

So to look non-partisan morally justified and in conformity with the established international obligations, some benefit of rights should also be given to the states braced against Israel. Otherwise America’s unswerving commitment to the security and safety of Israel looks farcical, artificially contrived, morally hollow and legally untenable.

The international relations cannot sustain on long terms basis if these are biased or driven by parochial or petty considerations. Somehow America and western countries should prevail on Israel to agree to the state of Palestine and amicably resolve the status of Jerusalem and halt new settlements on the Palestinians lands. Thereafter, there would be lasting peace and progress in the Middle East bedeviled by decades of deadly wars and internecine conflicts. Israel’s mentors must discharge this historic role.

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The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat.

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