|Israel Resource Review
||18th September, 2006
IRAN: THE RISE OF A REGIONAL POWER
MERIA Journal - Published by the GLORIA Center, Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya
Volume 10, No. 3, Article 10/10
One of the most important developments in the early twenty-first century
Middle East is the rise of Iran to become a regional great power. This has
come about not solely because Iran has an Islamist regime or even that it
was driving strenuously for nuclear weapons, but also due to other factors
including the country's geopolitical assets and a relative power vacuum.
Given, however, the ideology and extremism of the Tehran regime, Iran's
growing influence has serious consequences for the region's stability and
Western interests that could well become a, or perhaps the, central global
issue in the coming years.
In July/August 2006, this influence was especially felt in the border
attacks against Israel by Hamas and Hizballah, leading to wider-scale
fighting. Iran is the patron of both groups, supplying them with arms,
training, and encouragement to launch assaults. Iranian advisors in Lebanon
have long aided Hizballah, while most of the weapons and equipment Hizballah
used against Israel during this period were Iranian-built and supplied. This
for the first time included longer-range missiles and the radar-guided C-102
THE BASIS OF IRANIAN DISTINCTIVENESS AND AMBITIONS
Ironically, the original theorist and architect of Iran's rise to be a
regional power was the man most hated by the current Islamist regime, the
shah, who was overthrown by its 1979 revolution. He had foreseen Iran as the
strongest state in the Persian Gulf region, albeit as a junior partner of
the United States. In this pursuit, he had launched a massive military
build-up, inaugurated a nuclear power program, mobilized the country's
rising oil income, and tried to implement a reform program to make Iran a
modern country. What had been for the shah an ambition built on nationalism
was for his successors a parallel ambition built on an Islamist radicalism
that often simply served as a thin disguise for nationalism.
If the ambition of its leader was one pillar of Iran's rise to be a regional
power, the other was its objective situation. Iran is a large state with a
large population exceeding the number of people in all the Arab states of
the Gulf combined. As the price of oil soared after the 1990s, it had ample
financial resources too. As an empire--only half its people are
Persian-speaking--the government in Tehran knows it must be strong enough to
maintain the state's existence. History has shown, indeed, that when the
central regime is weak the country falls apart.
Iran's cultural, linguistic, ethnic, and religious distinctions from its
neighbors also fuel its sense of a separate national mission. The
Persian-Arab divide is a very real one, and in terms of Islam, the Iranians'
Shi'a version stands in contrast to the majority Sunni faith among the
Arabs. Indeed, the dominant view among Arabs since the 1950s was a militant
nationalism of their own that viewed the Middle East as their sole domain.
At times of confrontation and tension, as in the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988,
these contrasts make for real rivalry and hatred. Symbolically, Arab
nationalists reject the designation "Persian Gulf," preferring to call that
body of water that adjoins the world's richest oil reserves the "Arab Gulf."
This is the context into which a radical, utopian Islamist ideology seized
power in Iran. The revolution's leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini,
regarded Iran as only the first step to creating a utopian Islamic empire
that would bring, in the words of his final testament in 1989, "absolute
perfection and infinite glory and beauty." He urged Muslims: "Rise up! Grab
what is yours by right through nails and teeth! Do not fear the propaganda
of the superpowers and their sworn stooges. Drive out the criminal
rulers! . . . . March towards an Islamic government!" If only all Moslems
cooperated, they would be "the greatest power on earth."
Obviously, Iran's Arab neighbors were to be the first ones "liberated" or
victimized, depending on one's perspective. Deciding not to wait until Iran
was able to launch an Islamist revolution in his country, Iraqi dictator
Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in 1980 in what was partly a preemptive strike
and partly an imperialistic aggression. After eight years of fighting,
Khomeini reluctantly had to sue for peace, but the revolution had survived.
Shortly thereafter, Khomeini died, but he had many lieutenants to take his
The experience of governing Iran and of fighting off Iraq had taught the
country's new rulers an important lesson. They had the ambition and
ideological drive to spread the revolution and expand their control but also
knew that such activities were dangerous. The top priority would be on
maintaining their control over Iran; a secondary priority was to expand
Iranian influence and Islamist revolt. On the latter front, they proceeded
carefully and covertly.
Yet in following this strategy, they also created a hostile environment for
themselves. Insisting that the United States was the "Great Satan" whose
influence must be swept out of the region did not endear Iran to America. In
truth, an accommodation would have been possible in which Washington would
accept an Islamist regime in Iran if it did not try to overthrow its
neighbors, spread anti-Americanism, sponsor terrorism, and try to wreck any
progress in resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The rivalry was not inevitable. The United States wanted to avoid trouble.
Having Iran's cooperation in blocking Soviet influence (at a time when
Moscow had invaded Afghanistan) and Arab radicalism--or at least Tehran's
neutrality--would have satisfied the United States. Seizing the staff of the
U.S. embassy as hostages and holding them for more than a year provoked a
By 2006, after a quarter-century in power, Iran had helped produce a very
difficult environment for itself. Its relations with neighboring Arab states
were formally correct but also tense. American forces were in Afghanistan
and Iraq, as well as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Tehran could talk about
encirclement. It was also facing American sanctions and international
pressure on the nuclear arms issue. In conventional military terms, Iran was
relatively weak. It had never recovered from the cutoff of Western arms and
spare parts, especially when it came to planes, ships, and tanks.
The domestic situation was also far from secure. During a period of relative
political permissiveness in the 1990s and into the next decade, reformist
candidates had won every election. The majority of Iranians, especially
among the young, were discontented with the regime's tight rule. Moreover,
at least before oil prices hit their peak, the economy was not doing well.
The regime contained these threats by maneuvering and blocking any real
change, but they did not go away
To all these problems--foreign and domestic--the regime's response was
ideological firmness, repression of opposition, mass mobilization, the
sponsorship of terrorist and revolutionary movements abroad, and the
acquisition of non-conventional weapons. There were also elements in the
international and regional situation that gave Iran its long-awaited
opportunity to become a great power in its own area.
Despite these problems, inside and outside of the country, developments also
provided Iran with opportunities for exerting its power and influence that
were unprecedented during the time of the Islamist regime and even in Iran's
entire modern history.
The first among these elements is the Soviet Union's collapse, which led to
the emergence of a half-dozen Muslim majority states to Iran's north. These
include Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan. Given the
weakness of these states, Iran has backed indigenous Islamist movements. The
absence of a strong USSR to Iran's north also eases the pressure on Tehran.
Second, high oil prices in the early twenty-first century greatly enhanced
Iran's financial assets. In addition, Iran became the patron and sole ally
of Syria, which needed the oil Iran supplied it at special discounts as well
as Tehran's diplomatic support. The two countries cooperated closely in
Syrian-controlled Lebanon for many years.
The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam Hussein eliminated
Iran's most immediately threatening enemy. Moreover, in a democratic
situation, the majority Shi'a lead the government. Some elements in this
leading coalition and Shi'a militia groups are pro-Iranian, though the
leadership as a whole has no desire to be Iranian clients. A Sunni
insurgency, supported by Arab regimes, also pushes the post-Saddam
government to view Iran as a necessary ally. From a situation in which Iraq
menaced Iran, Tehran can now send in large numbers of agents and money to
play a pivotal role in the country.
The U.S.-led removal of the Taliban government in Afghanistan also
eliminated another force hostile to Iran. While Iran is not happy having
American troops in Afghanistan, Tehran has its own client groups and
considerable influence in the Shi'a-majority southwestern part of the
Although the United States looks at Iran as the world's leading sponsor of
terrorism (as well as an obstacle to an Arab-Israeli peace settlement, and
seeking nuclear weapons) America is constrained from going beyond its
present pressure on that country. Tied down with Iraq, lacking support from
allies and domestic public opinion, the United States is unlikely to attack
Iran and lacks other alternatives for changing Tehran's policy.
Unwilling to have a confrontation with Iran while needing Iran's oil and
wanting its business, Europe is not ready to support serious sanctions, much
less a military operation against Iran's nuclear weapons' program. Although
a great deal of diplomacy was conducted and many plans offered, the bottom
line is that Iran fairly easily maneuvered these efforts in order to
continue its nuclear arms drive without serious cost.
Having already built long-range missiles and well on the way to possessing
nuclear warheads, Iran's hand is already strengthened in anticipation of
getting them. When the day finally comes, Tehran will be the most
strategically powerful Muslim state in the world.
Aside from these better-known factors are some other, more recent ones that
contribute to Iran's stronger position. One of the most important, and least
noticed, of these is the high level of Arab weakness and disorganization.
The Arab world's decline is related to its leaders' refusal to make
necessary reforms whether they involve civil rights, economic changes,
pragmatism, or moderation toward the West and Israel. The breakdown is
apparent in virtually every country even though the regimes are still
managing to use demagoguery, Arab nationalism, and the fear of Islamism to
hold onto power.
Arab nationalism has collapsed, especially in its international aspects.
Apart from propagandistic exercises, there is no Arab world. Moreover, not a
single Arab state has any real influence on the others today. Egypt has
turned inward, Syria is isolated, and Iraq no longer even defines itself as
Arab. Only Iran has something to offer ideologically and is able and eager
to promote its influence across borders.
This is not to deny that the Persian ethnic and Shi'a religious factors
limit Iran's appeal. Yet this can be transcended to some extent or even, in
the latter case, provide an advantage. The growing Sunni-Shi'a divide is the
main such situation where Iran's distinctiveness is an advantage. Shi'a
Muslims are the largest group in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Oman, and Bahrain,
while also comprising significant minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan,
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and other countries. Iran sponsors large Shi'a groups
in Lebanon and Iraq along with small ones, often oriented toward terrorism,
in the Gulf Arab monarchies.
Several years of terrorism by Sunni on Shi'a Muslims in Iraq, with some
bloody reprisals in the other direction, have stirred up these passions even
beyond Iraq's borders. By cheering on the terrorist insurgency, the Arab
regimes have taken the side of the Sunnis and Iraq's Shi'a majority knows
it. Saudi Arabia supplies money for the insurgents, Jordanians cross the
border to fight, and Syria sponsors the terrorist war in every way.
Since Arab nationalism and Arab states offer Iraq's Shi'as nothing except
support for their enemies, why shouldn't Iraqi Shi'as see Iran as an ally,
though not as a master? In 2005, the leader of the insurgency, al-Qaida's
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi openly called for a jihad against Shi'as, in effect
denying that they were Muslims at all. There was virtually no condemnation
of this shocking statement by Sunni Muslim clerics or political leaders in
other Arab countries. Jordan's King Abdallah, far more politely, warned of a
Shi'a alliance of Iran, Iraq, and others that would threaten the Arab world.
Egyptian President Husni Mubarak added his views in an April 8, 2006
interview on al-Arabiya satellite television. Pointing out that Iran has
influence over the Shi'a in Iraq, which is certainly somewhat true, he
concluded: "The Shiites are always loyal to Iran. Most of them are loyal to
Iran and not to the countries in which they live." This portrayed Shi'as
everywhere as Iranian agents and traitors to the Arabs.
In a tape posted on the internet on July 2, 2006, and authenticated by
experts, Usama bin Ladin accused Iraqi Shi'a of trying to wipe out the
Sunni. He calls the Shi'a "traitors" and "agents of the Americans." Contrary
to previous Muslim practice, bin Ladin proclaims that the Shi'a are
themselves "apostates," a crime punishable by death in Islamic law.
Of course, bin Ladin represents a very extreme view of Islam and even of
Islamism. However, in the past, some of his ideas--though less so his
strategic proposals--have percolated throughout Islamist and even into
mainstream Sunni Muslim thought. Moreover, although Sunni clerics and
political leaders could easily have denounced this statement as a simple way
to discredit bin Ladin and promote Muslim unity, they did nothing to blunt
the growing rift.
More and more Shi'a may thus turn to Iran, making Mubarak's statement a
self-fulfilling prophecy. If Iran has nuclear weapons this is not just a
"Muslim bomb" but more specifically a "Shi'a bomb." The Shi'a, often treated
as second-class citizens, may see this as their alternative to living with
the status quo.
So far, Iran has had a major appeal to only one Shi'a community, that of
Lebanon through its sponsorship of Hizballah. Hizballah had the only armed
militia in Lebanon, controlled the southern part of the country, has elected
members to parliament and even joined the government coalition. Through its
war with Israel in 2006, Hizballah showed itself to be a very effective way
of increasing Iran's prestige and potentially its influence in the Arab
While leaping the Shi'a-Sunni divide has been hard for Iran, it has recently
scored some successes in that area. A key factor here is the decline and
disinterest of Arab states--at least apart from Syria--in continuing to
sponsor terrorist and revolutionary groups. As a result, Iran has become the
patron for both Palestinian Islamist groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad,
eclipsing Arab counterparts. This gives Tehran a real ability to ensure that
the Arab-Israeli (or at least the Israeli-Palestinian) conflict continues to
simmer. It can also portray itself to Arabs as the real hero in fighting the
conflict while their own governments are largely inactive.
Despite bin Ladin's anti-Shi'a invective, there also might be links between
Iran and al-Qa'ida. What is most suspicious is the continued safe haven it
provides a couple of hundred wanted al-Qa'ida terrorists on its soil, where
they continue to plan terrorist activities. While this connection should not
be overstated, Iran clearly does use such people when its interests are
parallel to theirs: striking at American, Israeli, or Western targets.
Finally, there is the factor of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who
represents both a more aggressive Iranian policy and a new form of appeal
beyond Iran's borders. Ahmadinejad was elected after the regime cracked down
on the reformist opposition. While he is in broad terms a member of the
ruling group, he was not the establishment's favorite candidate, has his own
faction, and is seen as a problem by much of the Islamic Republic's ruling
Ahmadinejad is a populist with close ties to the hardline Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps (the military formation, incidentally, that would
have control over Iran's nuclear weapons) and who is trying to install his
own appointees to a wide range of high-level positions. The president in
part uses militancy as a demagogic way to build his own popularity while he
also believes in returning to Khomeini's original thought.
His adventurism is visible on two high-profile issues on which he does not
differ with the establishment so much in content as he does in style. For
example, he is much more outspoken about Iran's pursuit of weapons of mass
destruction. Though all Iran's leadership wants them, the majority prefer to
be more circumspect, allowing them to maintain officially that they seek
only peaceful nuclear power. Similarly, all Iran's top leaders have called
for Israel's destruction but Ahmadinejad does so more frequently and openly.
His establishment critics ask why create unnecessary frictions with the West
when Iran is doing so well with a more subtle approach? Yet in the Middle
East, Ahmadinejad's extremism plays better. With Saddam Hussein in jail and
bin Ladin apparently ineffective, the Arab world is looking for some new
hero who postures at standing up to the West. Clearly, Ahmadinejad, and thus
Iran, are winning more respect among the Arab masses than the country has
hitherto enjoyed. It also benefits from the rise of its client, Hizballah
leader Hassan Nasrallah.
How Iran can exploit these opportunities is still an open question. Yet
clearly, with the possible exception of the period immediately after the
revolution Iran is riding higher than at any time during the previous
quarter-century. Obtaining nuclear weapons would move that situation up by a
very big margin.
The Lebanon Crisis
Another front where Iran increased its influence was with the Lebanon crisis
of July-August 2006. Iran's client, Hizballah, attacked Israel and kidnapped
two Israeli soldiers. Israel attacked into Lebanon and a month-long war
ensued, with Hizballah firing 4,000 rockets into Israel and Israeli forces
bombing Lebanon and seizing temporarily the south. Iran supplied Hizballah's
advanced arms, training, and sent advisors to Lebanon.
Arab popular support for Hizballah, especially since Hizballah claimed
victory, also reflected favorably on Iran, and to some extent the
Sunni-Shi'a divide was breached. The conflict also knit Syria and Iran
tighter together. This was, then, a major step forward for Iranian
At the same time, though, a number of Arab states--Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi
Arabia especially--anti-Hizballah forces in Lebanon, and even to some extent
Iraq's government were alarmed at the growth in Iranian power and sought to
The Nuclear Issue and the Day After
Iran has handled the nuclear issue brilliantly. In diplomatic exchanges, it
has repeatedly demanded concessions, hinting that once these are given it
will accept a compromise solution. Yet when the United States and Europe
offer attractive packages, for example helping Iran get nuclear power as
long as there are safeguards to keep it from using the technology to build
bombs, Iran stalls or makes promises that it quickly breaks. Avoiding any
punishment, Iran makes still more demands--and sometimes threats--thus
beginning the next round.
Aside from eating up a great deal of time that is used to make progress on
nuclear weapons research, Iran is being taught the lesson that it can get
away with doing just about anything it wants without penalty. Equally,
Iran's leaders have absorbed the idea that Europe will appease them and that
the United States--which Ahmadinejad calls "an imaginary superpower made of
straw"--in Khomeini's words, "Cannot do a damn thing" against Iran.
What is most disconcerting here is the combination of Ahmadinejad's
recklessness and his ridicule of the apparent balance of power. Based on
similar characteristics, Saddam Hussein launched three Middle East wars even
without nuclear weapons. To some extent, the majority of the Iranian
establishment would be a restraining factor, yet they are hardly moderates
What are Iran's motives in seeking nuclear technology? The official story,
which even Iranian leaders contradict when speaking in Persian, is that they
are not seeking weapons but merely peaceful nuclear power. It is true that
Iran lacks oil refining capability, but it is doubtful that one of the
world's main oil-producing countries believes it needs nuclear energy when
this mode of power generation has been a costly, dangerous failure
elsewhere. Nor has Iran spent so much money to develop long-range missiles
capable of carrying nuclear weapons to distant targets in order to build an
overnight international mail delivery service to compete with Federal
Given this poor cover story, the first fallback argument is that Iran needs
nuclear weapons because it is surrounded by enemies. This neglects the fact
that Iran would have few enemies (the worst of the real ones, Saddam
Hussein, is now an imprisoned ex-dictator) if it were not the world's main
supporter of terrorism, subverter of Arab-Israeli peace, and official
sponsor of anti-Americanism, while also sabotaging Iraqi stability and daily
threatening to wipe Israel off the map.
The second fallback argument is that Iran has as much right to have nuclear
weapons as other states, which neglects the regime's actual nature,
ideology, and aggressive ambitions. This ignores the fact that Iran has
legal obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty not to develop weapons.
Other countries that did obtain nuclear weapons--Israel, India,
Pakistan--forewent the advantages offered by the treaty since they never
There is actually a third argument that Iranians do not use, but which makes
sense. As expensive as nuclear weapons are, it is cheaper and easier to
build them (and the long-range rocket delivery vehicles) than to rebuild a
conventional military. After all, the latter option would require building
or buying hundreds of tanks and planes as well as other equipment. Moreover,
if Iran can build its own nuclear weapons, it would not be dependent on
buying and maintaining high-tech items from other countries, which involves
the risk that supplies could be cut off in case of war or policy disputes.
In short, in a sense, nuclear weapons are the poor man's nuclear weapons.
This point, however, also shows how dangerous such a dependency on
unconventional weapons for deterrence would be. It is an inflexible strategy
in which these arms either would or would not be used. Even the threat to
employ them can set off a major confrontation and a stressful arms race.
Iran has already threatened to wipe out one country, Israel, in a policy
that can only be termed genocide. Of course, if Iran were to obtain nuclear
weapons it would not necessarily immediately use them against Israel. The
principal concern, however, is that Tehran would be able to do so whenever
it wanted; and thinking about the kind of people--both in terms of their
responsibility and ideology--who would control that decision makes it a
frightening prospect indeed.
Yet there are other dangerous implications of Iranian nuclear weapons that
should make stopping Tehran's drive to get them a priority for many others.
First, such weapons would be far more likely to fall into the hands of
terrorists than any other nuclear arms in the world, through carelessness or
intention of even a small group of Iranian government extremists. While it
is often claimed that Iran would not pass nuclear weapons to terrorist
groups, it should be noted that in 2006, Tehran did give Hizballah some of
the longer-range missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads--not a good
omen for the future in this regard.
Second, the weapons would more likely be used in the probable event that the
Iranian regime were to face domestic instability or imminent overthrow.
Possessing such power would give Iran tremendous strategic leverage. Who in
the area would say "no" to a Tehran so armed? A Europe already too quick
with appeasement would go even further in that direction, while U.S. ability
to act in the region would be greatly reduced. The Gulf Arabs, freed from
the menace of Saddam Hussein, would now face an equally or even more
Such a development would be an inspiration to radical movements and
terrorists to become even more reckless, believing that Tehran would back
them up or at least that their enemies would be demoralized and the West too
afraid to help their intended victims.
Western countries would be asked by Middle Eastern states to give them
serious guarantees to intervene, even to the point of using nuclear weapons
if Iran were to threaten with them. To fail to do so would mean a collapse
of Western credibility in the region; to do so would mean that some day that
promise might have to be fulfilled.
What will the current nuclear powers do when the Saudis or other Arab states
ask for help in obtaining their own nuclear devices?
As for the attempts to stop Iran or persuade it to slow down the nuclear
program, concern over the danger has sparked some U.S.-Europe cooperation.
Yet Iran is not bargaining in good faith; it is merely buying the time
necessary so it can reach its goal and ward off further pressure by
flourishing its new nuclear arms. Furthermore, since there are no teeth in
the Western stance--and Iran knows it--the effort is completely futile.
Finally, if one asks the negative consequences for Iran from the
international community when--not if--it is clear Iran has broken its
pledges, openly rejected a deal, and is on the verge of obtaining atomic
warheads, the answer is: remarkably little.
Of course, much could be done to stop Iran if Europe were to join the United
States in a serious program of economic and political sanctions combined
with tough, credible warnings along with real pressures on Russia, China,
Pakistan, and North Korea to stop any help to Iran. However, Europe would
not back such measures, fearing confrontation and the loss of both oil
imports and profits from trade with Iran. The same point applies to any
attempt to topple Iran's regime, which would not work any way.
Thus, despite all the talk of efforts to stop Iran's nuclear weapons effort
and about someone attacking Iran's nuclear facilities, this is probably not
going to happen. Thereafter, the only defense for Iran's intended targets
would be deterrence and hope.
It should be reiterated that while Iran might not be a "crazy state" it is
also not a normal one guided by pragmatic ideology, limited aims, and
realpolitik. The Iranian ruling establishment certainly shows signs of
caution at times and an ability to read the balance of power, but this is a
slender reed on which to base the future of the Middle East, much less of
the world. In addition, the mainstream Iranian establishment is the group
that has already proven to be the world's leading sponsor of terrorism, a
determined wrecker of Arab-Israeli peace, a prime source for anti-Westernism
and anti-Americanism, and a determined enemy of the status quo in the Arab
and Muslim worlds.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is even more extreme; And while the
establishment has limited his power so far--as the two terms of his
reformist predecessor, Muhammad Khatami, showed, Iran's president can be a
relatively powerless job--this will not necessarily apply forever. Unlike
Khatami, Ahmadinejad is a tough young man who is building his own faction.
It is conceivable that he will be in total control of Iran--as much as
anyone can be--in the future. In partnership with the Islamic Revolutionary
Guard Corps, he can implement his design; and what a design it is. Iran's
-Fomenting revolution in every existing Muslim majority state.
-Encouraging radical Islamist forces everywhere Muslims live.
-Wiping Israel off the map.
-Expelling Western influence from the Middle East.
Even if it falls very short of this ambitious redesign for the globe, the
consequences are far-reaching and quite dangerous. Moreover, Iran now has
more ability to pursue such a program than at any time previously. Iran
faces the least Western opposition to this program at a time when the most
extreme faction may be establishing rule over the country and moving in a
very militant direction.
Iran is the sole regional great power today in the Middle East, because no
Arab state can claim that title. It has expanded influence in Iraq, Lebanon,
and among the Palestinians as well as in parts of Afghanistan, becoming the
sponsor not only of Hizballah, but also of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. In many
ways it is the patron of Syria. The growing Shi'a-Sunni rift is adding to
Iran's influence, which is also helped by the high price of oil; even
without nuclear weapons.
Iran is relatively more powerful today than at any time in modern history.
At the same time, it has an extremist, adventurous regime that makes it
dangerous but also gives it appeal in the Arab world. Iran is the world's
leading sponsor of terrorism and a major force subverting any resolution of
the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons.
Given all these factors, it is reasonable to say that Iran's growing power
is possibly the most dangerous situation that the world will face in the
*Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs
(GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary university, and editor of the Middle East
Review of International Affairs. His latest books are The Tragedy of the
Middle East and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in
the Middle East.
 Associated Press, July 14, 2006.
MERIA Journal Staff
Publisher and Editor: Prof. Barry Rubin
Assistant Editors: Cameron Brown, Keren Ribo, Yeru Aharoni
MERIA is a project of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA)
Center, Interdisciplinary University. Site: http://meria.idc.ac.il
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