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Commentary

Four Reasons to Think Before Acting on Iran

Mounir Ibrahim, Washington, DC, May 1, 2006

The International Atomic Energy Agency, (IAEA) recently announced that Iran has successfully enriched uranium in defiance of the U.N. Security Council. This is not surprising; Iran had made a statement to this effect prior to the report. Following the report there was analysis in the press about U.S. considerations of a unilateral attack on Iran.

Before any military, political or governmental official in the Bush administration seriously entertains this idea please consider the following four points:

First, intelligence reports state that Iran is ten years away from becoming a nuclear threat. Ten years is not en eternity, however it also does not justify any rash, pre-emptive, unilateral attack on Iran. Understandably, the sharing of nuclear information by Iran with other hostile entities is concerning, however, there are many other outlets of acquiring nuclear information and technology. Iran is certainly not the first source or will it be the last. An attack at such a volatile time is not necessary.

Second, President Ahmadinejad of Iran has fed the international press rhetoric that is far from comforting; it is extreme and dangerous. It threatens U.S. interests and world security, and may press the Bush administration to make a rash judgment in attacking. However, one must remember Ahmadinejad is not the most powerful person in Iran. It is the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, who was elected by the Guardian Council and is the real force in Iran. The Supreme Leader of Iran is the highest appointed official in Iran and one of his duties is to declare war and peace and assemble the armed forces. While he is not a fan of America, he is not making the rash comments about Israel, nuclear technology or the U.S. that Ahmadinejad is. Therefore, the U.S. must re-evaluate how important Ahmadinejad's comments actually are.

Third, the United States has approximately 150,000 troops in Iraq and they cannot secure the borders or major cities in Iraq. Iran is more than twice the size of Iraq, with three times the population. How would they be able to secure Iran? Likely outcome: a lot more potential insurgents and a lot more places for them to hide. Two quagmires in two neighboring countries, is that really an acceptable outcome?

Fourth, and in the long-term perhaps the most important: what will an attack on Iran do to the Middle East and Muslim countries around the world? In the last week, five bombs went off in Egypt (three in Dahab and two at the Rafah border). The Dahab attack was the third major attack in two and a half years. If the U.S. were to attack Iran, any hope of calming the region would not even be in the realm of possibility. Iran is a major supporter of Hezbollah in Lebanon. If their ally (Iran) is attacked by the U.S., Hezbollah will certainly attack a U.S. ally, Israel. Then you would also have to worry about the Syrian reaction; perhaps they would roll right back into Lebanon to "keep the peace." Also, with such chaos prevailing, the Kurds will most likely secede from Iraq and declare independence which would anger the Turks. All these events could cause a serious regional war, resulting in massive protests, riots and utter chaos in Cairo, Beirut, Baghdad and every other city in the Middle East.

One must truly hope that these four points are seriously considered in regard to launching any attack on Iran.

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