Iran: The ‘Great Game’ continues only now it’s called ‘The War on Terror’ By William Bowles

2 October 2007

Being a bit of a news junkie, I decided today to start archiving (again, I must be mad) the megabytes of news links I’ve been collecting (see the InI’s Newslinks Section). The problem with dealing with such a vast collection of mostly useless links (but who is going to spend the time going through every damn one of them?) is the tedious and time-consuming effort it is to format it so that it’s accessible through the Web.

But that’s not the worst of it as news stories catch my eye and trigger a new train of thought; hmmm… that looks interesting, let me follow that up, and well, one thing leads to another and …

So here we are then, following the ‘Great Game’, 21st century style (the only difference being that as opposed to a century ago, the players in the ‘Game’ have to be even more cunning about how they conduct their operations. Back then, they actually used to boast about it!).

I had already read one story about the ‘covert’ strike on Syria by that nasty US Rottweiler Israel, in which it was suggested that it was some kind of dry run for an attack on Iran.

A few days ago, I came across a story in which Israeli politician Benjamin Netanyahu said the following,

“Last week opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu chipped away at that wall [of silence], saying Israel did in fact attack targets in Syrian territory. His top adviser, Mossad veteran Uzi Arad, told NEWSWEEK: “I do know what happened, and when it comes out it will stun everyone.” – ‘Whispers of War’, Newsweek, Sunday, 23 September 2007

Well anyway, I decided to follow up on this dry run idea and came across only two stories, both virtually identical, one with a byline by Peter Beaumont of the Guardian, and the other called ‘Zap’, so what’s the betting ‘Zap’ stole it from the Guardian?

The first one:

‘Israeli raid a dry run for Iran attack’ By Zap
For the 50-year-old general, also the head of Israel’s Iran Command, which would fight a war with Tehran if ordered, it was a morale-boosting affair, a meet-and-greet with pilots and navigators who had flown during last summer’s …

And the second:

‘Was Israeli raid a dry run for attack on Iran?’
Guardian Unlimited – UK
For the 50-year-old general, also the head of Israel’s Iran Command, which
would fight a war with Tehran if ordered, it was a morale-boosting affair,
… Sunday September 16, 2007

Notice by the way, Beaumont’s more circumspect headline than the Drudge Retort.

So I decided to see what else was out there regarding this hypothesis and came across a rather interesting story on the Asia Times Website (an excellent source of news) authored by M K Bhadrakumar, a former Indian diplomat with close connections to the former Soviet Asian Republics (where all the oil and gas is). Sep 22, 2007, ‘Russia bolsters ties with Iran’.

Well, I didn’t find any references to any dry run (so much for the accuracy of search engines) but what I did find were references to some very interesting movements of politicians, amongst whom was a British minister,

‘Of course, Russia and Iran have a shared interest in calibrating the “great game” over Turkmenistan. British Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks, who arrived in Ashgabat on Tuesday, was the first British minister to visit Turkmenistan in nine years. He promptly told the Turkmen leadership that Europe would pay market price for Turkmen gas, hinting that it was time Ashgabat looked beyond Russia and Iran in its energy-export policy.’

What is most telling is the following observation by Mr Bhadrakumar:

‘Looking back, the four-nation tour of the Central Asian capitals last month by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmedinejad, and his meetings with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) leaders – with Putin, in particular, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan – appear to have been crowned with success. Ahmedinejad succeeded in thwarting the US stratagem of containing Iran and to encircle it in Central Asia. It was no doubt a difficult and impressive diplomatic feat for Ahmedinejad that he got the leaders of Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to agree to participate in the Caspian summit.’

It explains a lot, especially the spate of impending attacks on Iran stories that have littered the MSM, stories which a few months ago would have been labelled as out of Area 51 and ignored by the MSM.

Now who is to say whether or not the US/Israel axis wouldn’t attack Iran:

“Despite the unending stream of stories across the months announcing that an attack on Iran is on the way, I’ve had my doubts, but you’d be foolish to bet that an attack on Iran won’t happen.” – ‘Will the US Really Bomb Iran?’ A. Cockburn

Mr Bhadrakumar ends his highly informative piece with the following:

“If Ahmedinejad succeeds in nudging his Turkmen counterpart Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov [which has enormous deposits of natural gas] to join the SCO, that would no doubt please Moscow (and Beijing). The East and West are vigorously courting the Turkmen leader. Berdymukhamedov is due to visit the US next week at Bush’s invitation – just ahead of the Caspian summit in Tehran.”

And he ends with this observation:

“Amid the cacophony over the Iraq crisis, Bush has understood the meaning of Putin’s forthcoming visit to Iran.”

Thus the stage is set for the Great Game to continue, and just as it was a century ago, the prize is energy. So we have to set all the stories about impending attacks within the larger context of the competition between the energy producers of the region (the various Stans) and their major customers (or potential customers), the US, Europe, China and India, over the oil and gas, for this is what it’s all about.

Again, as Bhadrakumar points out, the various public statements made by Western leaders serve to do two things: firstly, they set the stage for pursuing the ‘Great Game’ publicly, that is to say, softening up the public for a possible war if all else fails to achieve their objective, and secondly, they are designed to put pressure on the various political leaders of the competitors that the imperium means business.

So the various meetings that have, according to Mr. Bhadrakumar, been a resounding success both for president Ahmedinejad and for Putin, signal that for the moment anyway, the US has been outmaneuvered.

What is important to note is that there are two realities here, one essentially for public consumption whose code words are ‘war on terror’, ‘Islamo-fascism’, nuclear weapons, ‘human rights’ or whatever, and the other is what goes on behind the scenes, where the real deals are done or not done.

As I have pointed in an earlier piece about ‘impending attacks’ on Iran, when stories such as the Israeli attack on Syria surface with comments in the media such as ‘everybody was taken by surprise by the attack’, only to be followed by stories where it becomes clear that the US was briefed well in advance by Israel of when and where the attack would take place, we see a pattern emerging:

“The opaqueness surrounding the nature of what may have been hit in Operation Orchard has been compounded by claims that US knowledge over the alleged ‘agricultural site’ has come not from its own intelligence and satellite imaging, but from material supplied to Washington from Tel Aviv over the last six months, material that has been restricted to just a few senior officials under the instructions of national security adviser Stephen Hadley, leaving many in the intelligence community uncertain of its veracity. – ‘Was Israeli raid a dry run for attack on Iran?’

The same piece goes on to say:

“And, critically, the raid on Syria has come as speculation about a war against Iran has begun to re-emerge after a relatively quiet summer.

‘With the US keen to push for a third UN Security Council resolution authorising a further tranche of sanctions against Iran, both London and Washington have increased the heat by alleging that they are already fighting ‘a proxy war’ with Tehran in Iraq.”

Relatively quiet summer? What planet does this Beaumont fellow live on? But it is already clear that Russia will veto any further sanctions against Iran at the UN. Thus the US has lost this particular round of the ‘Great Game’ and hence all the bluster and the sequence of carefully constructed stories, all linked by a single thread of energy.


A reader brought to my attention the following story which has a deal of background on the current situation and broadly reinforces what I have written:
‘The Sino-Russian Alliance: Challenging America’s Ambitions in Eurasia’ by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Global Research, September 23, 2007

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