Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Will Israel save the world a third time? - Mudar Zahran

by Mudar Zahran

Not only is Iran ruled by Shiite Islamist radicals who will not keep their word, but if Iran gets the bomb, it will be the only nuclear power that would not fear the consequences of launching a nuclear attack on any country, even the U.S.

As a Jordanian-Palestinian politician, I and many other Arab politicians and decision-makers have come to learn that Israel is vital for our own existence. In fact, Israel has saved us, and the world, from two global disasters.

The first time Israel saved us all was at the beginning of the 1980s, when Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was one of the West's strongest Arab allies. He was against the Islamic Republic of Iran and was viewed as a necessary asset for Western governments and as a regional balance against Iran's might. The West was in love with Saddam to the point of allowing him a nuclear program, which he obtained with France's help. 

Just as Iran does today, Saddam said his nuclear program was for "peaceful and civilian use." Saddam's nuclear reactor was built with the approval of the United States. Israel, however, did not buy Saddam's claims, and in 1981 sent its pilots on a mission -- which they were unlikely to return from -- to destroy Saddam's nuclear reactor. As reports confirmed, then-Vice President George H.W. Bush was enraged by Israel's actions while President Ronald Reagan's first reaction to the news was, "Boys will be boys." Arab and Western governments condemned Israel's strike and some even spoke of action at the U.N. Unsurprisingly, Western media outlets grilled Israel.

Just nine years later, Saddam occupied Kuwait, threatened the entire Gulf region, and openly spoke of controlling "the Arabs' oil wealth," which could have brought the West to its knees. The U.S. and many Western states had to risk blood and money to get Saddam out of Kuwait, but they did not fear a nuclear attack from him or that he might use dirty bombs. Therefore Operation Desert Storm went smoothly. Had Saddam still had his nuclear program, the entire situation and its outcome could have been different. In fact, Saddam might have stayed in power until today were it not for Israel taking the risk of destroying his nuclear program.

In short, Israel saved the world from a power freak who came close to getting nuclear weapons.

That was not the only time Israel saved the world. Another Arab dictator, Bashar Assad, had a secret nuclear program and built a reactor with the help of North Korea. While many governments were still not sure the program even existed, Israel did not waste any time. Israeli jets reportedly bombed Assad's reactor in 2007, reducing it to rubble. There were also reports that some North Korean and Iranian nuclear scientists were killed in the attack.

While the world did not exactly condemn the move, many saw it as uncalled for because Assad was closely cooperating with the U.S. on fighting al-Qaida in Iraq and had caught several terrorists and handed them over to U.S. forces. Many Western governments viewed Assad as an ally, just has they did Saddam.

Barely four years later, a civil war erupted in Syria and the country quickly turned into an Islamist stronghold, with territory split between the Islamists -- mainly the Islamic State group and the Nusra Front -- and Assad. Both Assad and the Islamists butcher civilians. Assad used chemical weapons to kill Syrian civilians in 2013. 

Let's think: Assad butchers his own people, including women and children. Would he have been reluctant to threaten the world with nuclear weapons had his nuclear program not been destroyed? Also, given Syria's large area, would Assad have hesitated to use a nuclear weapon on one or two Syrian cities to silence the rebels? Basically, Israel saved the world and the Syrian people from a bloodthirsty dictator.

What is most interesting is the fact that Assad's nuclear reactor was in Deir el-Zour, in northeastern Syria, which fell in the hands of the Islamists quickly after the civil war began. Can we imagine what those Islamists could have done with a nuclear reactor? They would have threatened the rest of Syria, neighboring countries (including Turkey), and the West with at least dirty bombs, if not something more advanced.

Today, the U.S. has reached a deal with Iran about its nuclear program. On paper and in theory, the deal could pass with many observers as acceptable and even fair to all parties. Such observers do not understand what Israel understands very well: Not only is Iran ruled by Shiite Islamist radicals who will not keep their word, but if Iran gets the bomb, it will be the only nuclear power that would not fear the consequences of launching a nuclear attack on any country, even the U.S. If Iran attacks any country with nuclear weapons, and that country responds in kind, Iran could not care less; its leaders want to die as martyrs, go to heaven, and meet the virgins.

While North Korea's dictator is ruthless, inhumane and even crazy, he won't launch nuclear attacks on a whim because he knows there would be counterattacks. He does not want to die or lose the country he rules. On the other hand, a collective martyrdom of the entire Iranian nation might be exactly what Iran's mullah leaders are looking for. Therefore, they will press the button at the right time.

Iran's leaders might even seek the end of the entire planet through using nuclear weapons to fulfill their vision of the "returning Shiite Messiah, al-Mahdi, who would return only after a global disaster." This is what Israel knows about Iran's ideology and most others do not. 

Will Israel take the initiative to save the world a third time, possibly by destroying Iran's nuclear program? We cannot tell nor even suggest that should happen. Nonetheless, if Israel does not do anything and Iran begins threatening the world with nuclear weapons someday, those demonizing Israel, boycotting it and labeling it as an evil state today will wish they had supported it instead.

Very difficult times are ahead, and Israel is embodying the Palestinian Arab proverb, "What good does your mind do you if everyone around you has gone mad?" 

Mudar Zahran is a Jordanian-Palestinian who resides in the U.K.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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