Photo: Gabi Menashe
Roni Sofer
Photo: Gabi Menashe
New eastern front
Western anti-Iran effort could prompt Russians, Chinese and Iranians to join forces
The Russians and Chinese are not buying the Israeli goods. As it turns out, Prime Minister Olmert’s and Foreign Minister Livni’s visits did not make any meaningful impression on them.


Officials in Moscow and in Beijing believe that Israel and the West are wrong: Thus far, officials in both countries say, there is no proof that the Iranian nuclear program aims to produce a nuclear bomb. Therefore, the world has no right to impose additional sanctions on Tehran.


The Israeli campaign vis-à-vis these emerging superpowers has failed. For now, it is unclear if and when the United Nations Security Council (where Russia and China are permanent members) would impose additional sanctions.


From an international point of view, the Israeli public relations effort seems somewhat pathetic. It had no chance to succeed to begin with, because the ball is in the court of the big players. And there, the parties are playing around the growing rift between the new East and the West, which has been displaying its helplessness.


Stuck in the middle

Officials in Foreign Minister Livni’s entourage in Beijing reported positive signs: The Chinese would not lend their support to Iranian nuclear weapons. Perhaps this is indeed what Livni heard while there. However, the bad news is that the Chinese do not believe us when we tell them that Iran is en route to a bomb. This was evidenced after Beijing made it clear to Teheran that it would not be cooperating with the sanctions (a report that was prominently quoted by the Iran Daily.)


There is no big news on the Russian front either, only 13 days after Olmert’s visit to the Kremlin. Following a visit to Teheran, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov announced that he opposes the sanctions that the Americans are seeking to impose.


Officials in Jerusalem, in Washington, and in other Western capitals will continue to make an effort in the aims of enhancing the sanctions. However, if the Russians and Chinese objections persist, our maneuvering space will be limited.


A very senior political source in Jerusalem estimated that under such circumstances, Iranian leader Ahmadinejad and his spiritual patron Khamenei would be able to continue smiling all the way to the bomb. What’s worst, the source issued the following warning: The Iranian question could create a new eastern front, the likes of which had not been in existence since the days of the Cold War.


“Russia, China, and Iran – vis-à-vis the United States and Europe,” the source said. “What’s even worse about this is that we would be stuck in the middle.”


First published: 11.02.07, 07:33
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