In the previous articles the chronological path of the Israeli-Iran relationship was discussed and analyzed. These ties could be classified into different phases starting with a “strategic partnership” during the days of the Shah to a “distant alliance” in the post-revolution era and the Cold War between the two states after 1991 culminating in the “current hostilities” after the 2003 Iraq war.
This article, the final of the series, will conclude the analysis with a particular reference to the “current hostilities.”
The administration of US President George W. Bush was characterized by excessively prioritizing confrontation and unilateralism in international affairs that resulted in the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. The 2003 Iraq war has been described as a turning point in the Israeli-Iranian relationship.
Bush in his speech of Jan.29, 2002 described Iran, Iraq and North Korea as the “axis of evil.” He viewed these states as supporters of terrorism that had been seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
In an attempt to flirt with the US, Iran took part in the invasion of both Afghanistan and Iraq. Trita Parsi in his book “A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama's Diplomacy with Iran” has claimed that within less than a month of the fall of Baghdad, Tehran made a lucrative offer to the US through the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, which represents the interests of the United States, as the US has no embassy in Iran.
Tehran, according to Parsi, had made an offer to stop all support to Hamas and Islamic Jihad and to put pressure on both the movements to stop attacking Israel and to support the peace process in the Middle East. Tehran, Parsi claims, went on to offer withdrawal of its support to Hezbollah in Lebanon and had offered to convert it into a pure political outfit. In return, Tehran wanted its exclusion from the list of the “axis of evil” and recognition as a regional player.
The Bush administration reportedly rejected the offer and reprimanded the Swiss ambassador for “over-stepping” his diplomatic mandate. This rejection was the reason behind a change in the Iranian foreign policy from negotiation to confrontation.
Thus Iran, with all its power, entered both Afghanistan and Iraq in an attempt to prevent the US from seizing the opportunity to control Afghanistan or Iraq by supporting the armed groups fighting against the US presence in order for instability to continue. Iran also worked on speeding up its nuclear program and increasing its financial and logistic support to Hezbollah.
The US failure in Iraq not only cost America trillions of dollars and human lives, but it destroyed the Iraqi armed forces’ ability to deter Iran, without any clear plan to restore a loyal democratic regime that would rebalance the power with respect to Iran. Furthermore, it brought about geopolitical implications that made the environment conducive to increasing Iranian influence in the region.
All this changed the dynamics of the region and the troika — Iran, Syria and Hezbollah — emerged as a real threat to Israel. Tehran’s success in acquiring nuclear weapons would also threaten Israeli nuclear deterrence.
In a bid to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, Israel has employed all tactics from verbal threats of attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities to the assassination of Iran’s nuclear scientists similar to the measures Israel had taken against Iraq some 28 years ago.
In addition, Israel was also suspected of being behind a series of notable cyber attacks, some of which were linked to the Iranian nuclear program.
Finally, Israel created a strong alliance with the US and the European Union to put pressure on Iran to discourage it from developing nuclear technology as well as to use its relationships with Iran’s two Cold War-era strategic allies, Russia and China, to weaken Iran by taking advantage of its dependence on these sources for nuclear fuel and conventional military supplies.
This review of the evolution of the Iranian-Israeli relationship, through its various stages, indicates that it has never been governed by ideological logic, but by strategic interests as the key factor directing its political course, from negotiations and cooperation to confrontation.
• This is the final of a four-part series of articles.
Aug 25 , 2013Read the full article...