High Noon in the Middle East

[Ha'aretz] Joschka Fischer - A hitherto latent rivalry between Iran and Israel has been transformed into an open struggle for dominance in the Middle East. The result has been the emergence of some surprising, if not bizarre, alliances: Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, Hamas and the American-backed, Shia-dominated Iraq are facing Israel, Saudi Arabia and most of the other Sunni Arab states, all of which feel existentially threatened by Iran's ascendance. The danger of a major confrontation has been further heightened by: persistent high oil prices, which have created new financial and political opportunities for Iran; the defeat of the West and its regional allies in proxy wars in Gaza and Lebanon; and the UN Security Council's failure to induce Iran to accept even a temporary freeze of its nuclear program. Iran's nuclear program is the decisive factor in this equation, for it threatens irreversibly the region's strategic balance. That Iran - a country whose president never tires of calling for Israel's annihilation and which threatens Israel's northern and southern borders through its massive support of proxy wars waged by Hizbullah and Hamas - might one day have missiles with nuclear warheads is Israel's worst security nightmare. The writer was Germany's foreign minister and vice chancellor from 1998 to 2005.

2008-05-30 01:00:00

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