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Zalman Shoval
Can Iran be stopped?
Regional summit likely to establish Tehran's hegemony over entire Middle East

A new pessimistic report jointly compiled by 16 American intelligence agencies noted that all efforts to halt or impede Iran's nuclear development have failed, as have the measures to end the support Tehran is granting various terror organizations in the Middle East, including Hizbullah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Shiite terrorists in Iraq.

 

American intelligence agencies and other sources found that the economic measures the international community has adopted to coerce Iran to change its ways are futile. Although Iranian banks found it temporarily difficult to close international transactions, it appears that they have overcome the hurdle.

 

Even trading between oil-rich Iran and other countries of the world hasn’t significantly slowed down, if at all. Although the initiatives taken to halt or cancel direct and indirect investments in the Iranian economy bore some fruit, they were insufficient to undermine the regime's stability.

 

American intelligence has reached the conclusion that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will continue to be the undisputed leader of his country. Of course it can be argued that this implies that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not the supreme ruler of his country, but there is no indication that there is any gap between the political and military objectives of the abovementioned two.

 

The US and its western allies have announced their plans to impose further sanctions on Iran via the Security Council within the coming weeks. However, based on past experience and considering the new political line adopted by Russia, these sanctions are unlikely to have any effect.

 

Hamas rule in Gaza brings Iran closer

Another player that is not exactly filling a positive role regarding Iran's nuclear development is the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA,) which has been appointed by the UN to handle the world's nuclear issues.

 

It's hard to shake off the impression that this organization is cooperating, albeit out of helplessness, with Iran's delusional games. This is how the new agreement was reached, according to which within the "next few months" Tehran will provide additional information regarding its nuclear plans, as if there is any doubt as to the real nature of these plans.

 

In addition to the direct threat that a nuclear Iran poses to Israel, Iran's strategic plans to penetrate our neighbors presents other immediate implications. The Gaza Strip under Hamas rule has already become the Ayatollahs' front line, and the West Bank may follow suit. If the reports regarding the Israeli government's intentions to hand over close to 100 percent of Judea and Samaria to the Palestinians, including a "safe crossing" from Gaza, come true, Iran will be here – and not only in the ideological sense.

 

Government spokespersons will argue that that the Israeli and American support given to Mahmoud Abbas and the plans for the establishment of a Palestinian state are aimed at preventing such an eventuality, but in fact there is no such guarantee.

 

The theory guiding both Jerusalem and Washington is that the "moderate" Arab world, led by Saudi Arabia - due to fear of Iran's intentions - will coerce the Palestinians to peacefully settle the conflict with Israel. Yet judging by the statements made by Arab spokespersons or by the "Arab Peace Plan," which is likely to constitute the focal point at the international conference, its real intentions are to push Arab unity into demanding unilateral concessions from Israel.

 

Obviously Tehran will publicly condemn the conference, but deep down it will rejoice vis-à-vis the steps that are likely to pave the way to establishing its hegemony over the entire Middle East.

 

Zalman Shoval is a former ambassador to the US

 

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