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18 Feb, 2010 11:40

ROAR: “Game of nerves” over Iran better than “fatal scenario”

ROAR: “Game of nerves” over Iran better than “fatal scenario”

The round of activity over Iran may be the last chance to avoid a military conflict, Russian analysts say.

The US may deliver a strike against Iran after it has completed its tasks in Iraq and Afghanistan, Russian military officials believe. But as Washington is conducting two military campaigns, “a third one would be a collapse for it,” Chief of Russia’s General Staff General Nikolay Makarov said.

The probability of an Israeli strike against Iran is high, agrees Leonid Ivashov, president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems. The strike is “on the agenda of the US and Israel, but much is dependent on Russia’s and China’s positions,” he was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

If that happens, the strike is likely to be delivered with the use of conventional weapons, he noted. Iran, in turn, “is taking all possible political, economic and military measures to survive and preserve itself as a sovereign state,” Ivashov said.

Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems could become a deterrence factor against the war in the region and avert the attack from Israel, analysts say. However, Russia has halted the delivery of the systems for Tehran.

If Iran uses S-300s, it could lead to serious losses on the side of the United States’ and Israel’s aviation, the analyst said. It could also change “the correlation of damage between the offensive and defensive sides,” Expert magazine quoted Ivashov as saying.

As the international community is discussing new sanctions, war is still not ruled out. It is, however, an “undesirable” scenario, the magazine noted.

“The confrontation scenario frightens everyone,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of Russia in Global Affairs magazine. “A new round of activity around Iran has begun,” he said, calling it “the last ritual dance.”

Previous experience shows that sanctions do not bring a desirable result, he wrote in Gazeta.ru online newspaper. The logic of forcing the opponent dictates other moves. “The final stage, if the previous ones are not successful, is a military action,” the analyst said.

If political and diplomatic measures do not work, one cannot retreat, and the only choice is to strengthen pressure whatever the cost is, Lukyanov said, adding that this time the result may be terrible. “The war in Yugoslavia led the West to long-term complications and the Kosovo deadlock,” the analyst said. “The war in Iraq has undermined strategic positions of the superpower. In the Iranian case, it is difficult even to predict the consequences.”

“Nevertheless, the situation could not be ruled out when the cost of inaction… may be treated by the US establishment as a bigger one for the country’s prestige than any consequences of the operation,” Lukyanov said. “In this context, the wave of statements from Tehran, Washington, Moscow and European countries could be treated as a last attempt to raise stakes and to avoid the fatal scenario.”

Tehran understands that nobody is ready to fight against it now, and is trying to split “the international front,” the analyst said. However, Russia is already inclining towards some punitive measures, he stressed.

Moscow is not ready to fulfill the contract on the S-300, but wants “to retain the principle right on military and technical cooperation with Iran,” Lukyanov said. “And if sanctions ban it, it would be difficult to expect Russia’s approval,” he added.

Makarov’s statement about US plans for a strike is part of “a game of nerves,” the analyst noted. At the same time, “the military are expected to have such kind of plans, and their existence does not mean that the use of force is inevitable,” he said. But in the overall flow of views, the General Staff’s statement sounded like another reminder of the danger, he said.

“The spring will pass under the sign of a concrete discussion of sanctions in the hope that Iran will retreat at the last moment,” Lukyanov said.

The confrontation over Iran may end this year or next year even with the use of military force, believes Aleksandr Pikaev of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations. "Tehran enjoys influence in the region that has never been seen before, and as the US withdraws its troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran’s influence will be increasing,” he said.

On the other hand, after the withdrawal, Washington will have more possibilities to press Iran, Pikaev added. Russia will not support military action, he said, adding that the consequences could lead to “an explosion in the whole region of a high level of radicalism.”

As for the fulfillment of the contract with Iran on the S-300, it is still possible, Pikaev noted. Speaking with journalists, he explained the delays by Russia’s gesture towards the US and possibly Israel.

However, if the Americans deploy a missile defense shield in Romania and Bulgaria, “There is a possibility that in five years the whole of Eastern Europe will become a base for missile defense elements,” said the analyst. Facing this danger, Russia may start deliveries of S-300s to Iran, he added.

Patriot air defense system deployed in Poland is also directed against Russia rather than Iran, head of the Russia’s General Staff said. This move is not connected with the Iranian threat, many observers agree.

Poland has “no other potential adversaries” except Russia, said Aleksandr Khramchikhin, deputy director of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis. At the same time, Patriot complexes are defensive weapons, and they can be used only in case of attack against that country, he told Gazeta daily.

“Iran does not possess missiles that could reach Poland, and they are not likely to appear in 20 or 30 years,” military analyst Viktor Litovkin agrees. “There is a technological abyss between missiles that Iran has and those capable of hitting targets on Poland’s territory,” he told the paper.

Patriots may be used against missiles that can fly to Poland from neighboring countries Russia or Belarus, Litovkin said. “But Russia does not intend to attack anyone,” he stressed. “So, the deployment of the US missiles there is taken as an unfriendly move in Russia.”

The Americans are trying to send their weapons everywhere, which is explained by the activity of lobbyists of the military and industrial complex, he said. “In this case, the desire of the US producers of weapons has coincided with the aspirations of the Poles who suffer from a phobia and historical complexities connected with Russia,” he said.

Sergey Borisov, RT