Monday, April 17, 2006

Is Iran Preparing for War?

The Washington Times:
Using menacing rhetoric that evokes memories of Egyptian President Gamel Abdel-Nasser right before the Six-Day War and Adolf Hitler during the 1930s, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Tehran's terror network sound like they are girding for war with the United States, Britain and Israel. Mr. Ahmadinejad on Friday appeared to suggest once again that Israel would soon be wiped off the map, while the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards hinted that American troops in Iraq and elsewhere in the region would be in danger if Washington attempted to target the regime's nuclear facilities.

"You can start a war, but it won't be you who finishes it," Revolutionary Guards Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi warned Washington. READ MORE

Gen. Safavi, addressing Palestinian radicals at a conference in Tehran, appeared to threaten the safety of American troops in Iraq and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region: "The Americans know better than anyone that their troops in the region and in Iraq are vulnerable." Another Revolutionary Guards official recently said that 29 potential U.S. and British targets have been identified. Iranian jihadists said yesterday that 200 Iranians had volunteered to carry out suicide attacks in the past few days. Last month, members of a special Revolutionary Guards unit marched in a military parade carrying detonators and explosive packs around their wastes.

As the tone from Tehran grows more menacing, there is mounting international concern about Iran's progress towards an atomic bomb. Last week, the Institute for Science and International Security, a U.S.-based research group, released satellite images which suggest that Iran is expanding its uranium conversion facility at Isfahan. (The ISIS is headed by David Albright, a former United Nations weapons inspector who has been skeptical of using military means to disarm Iran.) Meanwhile, Israeli officials, who for many months have been privately counseling that there is still time for diplomatic efforts to dissuade Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons, tell us that they are increasingly worried that the Islamic Republic's program is on the verge of becoming impossible to stop.

On Friday, Mr. Ahmadinejad spoke at a conference in Tehran that was aimed at raising money for the new Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. As representatives of terrorist organizations including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah looked on, the Iranian president again questioned whether the Holocaust had actually occurred. Calling Israel a "dried up, rotten tree that will be annihilated by one storm," Mr. Ahmadinejad declared that "the existence of the Zionist regime" is "an unending and unrestrained threat" to the Middle East. Whatever else he had hoped to achieve, the Iranian leader seems to have inspired Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, the former University of South Florida professor who heads the Damascus-based PIJ -- perhaps the most violent jihadist group now operating in the West Bank and Gaza. Mr. Shallah told Mr. Ahmadinejad that Iran "would not stand alone" if it goes to war.

Perhaps all of this will prove to be mere bluster. But the reality is that by behaving this way, Iran and its terrorist allies are playing a very dangerous game indeed.