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Gaming for the Fiery Tomorrow

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Folly in Our Times

As the US-Iran standoff escalates toward its inevitable denouement, analysts are busily gaming scenarios that may lead to the commencement of hostilities.

Only the naive take solace in the illusion of peace, for it will take nothing less than a miracle of biblical proportions for either peace or de-escalation to prevail.

And an accident is all that is needed to unleash hell on earth. The current "long-awaited" anti-insurgent crackdown in Baghdad might do the trick, or intel gleaned from an arrested Iranian envoy.

Tiny windows for de-escalation had opened briefly, only to be shut forever. Iraq is now a practice ground for a wider sectarian conflict simmering throughout the Middle East, one that will not be confined to the emerging Sunni and Shiite crescents.

Even if the US Army exits Iraq, as urged by the peace camp, there is no room now for an Arab League force to fill the void. Sectarian suspicions have hit a murderous plateau, beyond which is the Valley of Megiddo.

Perversely, those who preach morality to Washington are harking back to those halcyon days when Saddam Hussein checked Iran -- and Iraq and Kuwait -- through wars, murders and tyranny. Few dare argue that once the Tikritis exit, Apocalypse would make a bid to reign. But in case Uncle Sam did find a replacement killer, the same lot would have delivered a sermon on "US imperialism."

Human folly never ceases and neither do claptrap punditries lacking substance and solution. The pre-emptive "Stop the Iran War" chant we are hearing now means more US troops will still be needed to confine bloodletting to within Iraqi borders. But what if Iran swaps nuke enrichment for tree-hugging tomorrow? Would that bring peace to Iraq? Or a difference to the lives of US soldiers who are picked off by Sunni militants?

Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi ambassador to the United States, underscored a barely published reality during an Oct. 30 conference in Washington: "Since America came into Iraq uninvited, it should not leave Iraq uninvited."

No nation, anywhere can withstand the horrific consequences.

Underlying the current standoff is the question of sectarian power in the Middle East, and stable energy supplies for the rest of the world. Tehran's nuclear program -- though ominous -- will be yet another shill for conflict. The Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) began with the failed Nojeh Coup, hatched by Baghdad, Amman and Washington to displace the theocracy of Ayatollah Khomeini.

It is painfully cliche'd theme in a region where the will of the Divine is unquestionably supreme, with the caveat that such omnipotent powers need human intervention for justice a.k.a suppression and murder. If the Battle of Karbala in 680AD cannot be resolved till today, there is always tomorrow.

The Day After Tomorrow

The Iranians understand the potential fire and brimstone pounding in store, but equally believe that like Samson, they can knock down the pillars of the global economy, beginning with an oil-gutted Straits of Hormuz.

This reasoning is pretty much rational for a state faced with ruination, humiliation, and perhaps extinction in its present form. Next door Iraq has missed the opportunity for a viable trifurcation into Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish zones.

Pitted against Iran is an unholy alliance being patched between Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Arab States and - yes - Israel, aimed at containing Iran.

There is no rationality here, except for the preposterous promise of a post-war slice of the Persian pie, and an end to any Shiite posturing for legitimate power-sharing. None of the Sunni regimes have seriously factored in the massive anarchy that will engulf the Muslim world once Israel either launches a pre-emptive attack on Iran, or receives rockets from Tehran and the Lebanese Hezbollah at the dawn of conflict.

Once Israel enters the fray, any war against Iran will morph into a war against the Zionists and Crusaders. US soldiers would need massive firepower to keep their casualty rates low, and will have to battle their way to rendezvous with another army battling for its existential survival.

That would be Israel and Nato. Once Israel is pounded hard enough by Arab armies and militants, the existential response would have to be decided by sundown. Israel does not have a geographic depth for maneuver, and along with Nato, it will battle for an expanded existence between the Nile and the Euphrates, as allegedly envisioned by Moshe Dayan in the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Dar War.

One could hear the walls of Yad Vashem whispering Never Again!

When mayhem rules, some lunatic might find a divine prodding to implode Jerusalem's Temple Mount, a la Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's hastening of the Imam Mahdi's return.

The sacrilege can be blamed on an inbound Arab rocket. But then, it could very well be an Arab rocket.

After that, there is no turning back, no more peace plans, and no post-conflict Arab regime that will be sympathetic to the West. This will be a war of annihilation.

Anarchy in the Middle East would mean a closure of the globe's largest oil spigot and superspikes of three digit dollars per barrel. Unless four to five billion people are willing to volunteer for a caveman existence overnight for the sake of "peace," their leaders would be pressed for a solution. With international economies and social orders tumbling like a pack of cards, the solution would be for a new Middle Eastern Order.

A Zionist super-state will have to replace Arab anarchy and ownership of oil. Under this game scenario, a bruised Iran may be entitled to its spoils as well. Global consensus will permit it, for morality often is the dictate of the haves who balm the fear and hunger of the have-nots. Sept 11-style terror attacks throughout the world would drive the last nail into the Arab coffin.

Despite the obvious dangers, the Sunni-Zionist sickle is reader to play the grim reaper. Every war in the Middle East has only served to strengthen Israel. Why shouldn't the next conflict lead to a territorially maximalist culmination? The missiles, shells, and bombs devastating Israeli cities this time around would be of a sophistication that would necessitate a response surpassing the wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973.

Can This Happen?

The Islamic world has no shortage of first-class thinkers who are aware of the potential dangers. Unfortunately for them, they have lived for generations under the pall of first-class tyrants who are adept at rendering their societies supine.

One of them is the former Malaysian Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr Mahathir Mohamad. He has just concluded the "preliminary proceedings" of an "international war crimes tribunal" in Kuala Lumpur. High on the agenda is Iraq; in the dock is Uncle Sam, and missing are Darfur, Rwanda and Malaysia's past support for Muslim extremists in Southern Thailand, the Philippines' Mindanao and Indonesia's Aceh.

If only Dr Mahathir's police regime had scrupulously video- and audiotaped the 2000 Al Qaeda summit in Kuala Lumpur -- as requested by the CIA -- that led to Sept 11, and the subsequent US invasion of Iraq. If that has done, it would have been a different world today.

Perhaps his vaunted Special Branch were too busy suppressing the domestic intelligentsia, which is another depressingly familiar theme of the Islamic world. After all, Dr Mahathir could find a homosexual in a former deputy prime minister when the courts later ruled he was not.

There is, however, something more sinister in this saga. Did someone from the former despot's regime deliberately suppress vital information in the malevolent hope of a mass American bloodshed on that fateful September morning?

Think of it! If the Islamic world had tacitly fostered Al Qaeda, the Bush administration could have resorted to any canard to justify its invasion of Iraq.

And that road to war was easy -- too easy. The war itself was not, but for what comes next, we will wait for our tomorrows.

Feb 7, 2007, Kuala Lumpur

Copyright Mathew Maavak 2007

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Mathew Maavak is a journalist based in Malaysia. Contact him at
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