Sunday, July 23, 2006
There Is More At Stake Than Just Another Kibbutz
Come discover the secret arsenal of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The Re-engagement War, as the Israelis are so fond of calling it, has more serious reverberations for the West, both of an economic and political nature, than just saving another bunch of kibbutzes. By that I do not mean to imply that going about saving kibbutzes is unimportant - it is, especially if one so happens to live in the one that is being saved. But in the general order of things, saving Israeli kibbutzes would be no sufficient reason for the West to start worrying so much about the Israel - Lebanon - Hizbollah confrontation of these past few days, especially in July - a time of the year we decadent Westerners typically dedicate for such mundane tasks as ... vacationing.
Likewise, although thousands of dislodged Lebanese civilians are a very good reason to be worried as Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, has pointed out on the Larry King Live Show, there is a big question mark as to whether Westerners should now start talking so much about Armageddon, the beginning of World War III and the end of the world. Especially since nobody remembers having seen - much less heard - the Secretary-General crying out loud with equal impetus for the destiny of thousands and thousands of Sudanese victims caused by the ‘ethnic cleansing' at the hands of the Janjaweed, the armed Muslim Arab militia. Not to mention the fate of counteless Somalis at the hands of the Supreme Islamic Courts Council of Mogadishu, on the excesses of which the Secretary-General has not pronounced himself - neither on the Larry King Live Show nor on any other show - Westerner or Easterner.
Some bad mouth out there (not me) might even argue that the Secretary-General seems to be intent at showing us his tonsils only when Israel is involved - but I digress.
But then, going back to the eternal Arab-Israeli confrontation, what's the big fuss about it from the viewpoint of the West? In one word: Zelzal-2.
Zelzal-2 is a very large Iranian-made rocket that can loft a 1,300-lb (650-kg) warhead as much as 125 miles (200 km), bringing even cities in central Israel within range of rocket attacks from Lebanon. Additionally, Zelzal-2 is said to come in three versions - the economy model, the deluxe model and the super-dooper-ultra-gosh-my-gosh-deluxe model, so to speak. The economy model is basically a rocket, that is it has no form of guidance system. Once fired, no one knows where it is going to land. In this respect this is the reason why it is called a ‘dumb' weapon. The Zelzal-2 deluxe model instead is not a rocket but a missile, with the difference consisting in the fact that it sports a guidance system connected to a ‘solid propulsion motor'. With this model one can actually aim at a target and guide the missile to its final destination. Fortunately enough, Iranian guidance mechanisms are not the best in the world, but this does not make the Zelzal-2 deluxe any less dangerous.
The Zelzal-2 super-dooper-ultra-gosh-my-gosh-deluxe model is not finalized yet, apparently. This missile, complete with guidance system and all the umpah-pah is said to have a range of - get ahold of this - 400 miles (550 Km), which would then locate it well into the group of missiles categorized as ‘tactical weapons'.
In light of the foregoing, one can see all the interest that this latest conflict has suddenly generated. In essence, by handing a quasi-tactical weapon to a terrorist organization the likes of Hizbollah, Iran is positioning itself as a major local player in the Middle East, well ahead of traditional Arab states such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Iran has the military might of Egypt combined with the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. Additionally, and unlike Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Iran has a leader - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - who is a confirmed believer in the coming Apocalypse.
Like Judaism and Christianity, Shiite Islam has its own version of the messianic return - the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam. And as in some versions of fundamentalist Christianity, the second coming will be accompanied by the usual trials and tribulations, death and destruction. The Iranian press, in fact, has quoted Ahmadinejad as saying in official meetings that the Imam will reappear in two years. Exactly two years. The Iranian President has made this declaration six months ago - and the clock is ticking.
Couple this with his intention to press ahead with Iran's nuclear program, the staunch anti-Israel rhetoric, and his repeated calls for Israel "to be wiped off the map", and it becomes clear why Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the real reason for the West to be all up the wall, and for Israel to be all up in arms.
Think the Israelis will send in ground troops to neutralize Hizbollah and their missiles? You bet. And we better hope the Israelis win, lest it will be our turn to go in - in which case we can really kiss goodbye to our vacations.
In the meanwhile, can someone please fire Kofi Annan?
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