With the signing of the deal between the P5 plus 1 world powers and Iran, the world can “breathe a sigh of relief,” says Russia’s President Vladimir Putin: this, from the leader who, in an act of aggression on a scale not seen since the 1930s, annexed Crimea just over a year ago. And why wouldn’t Putin be upbeat at the signing of the deal? Russia has come out a winner: the deal ends the isolation of Iran, Russia’s key ally in the Middle east; it allows Russia a major role in developing Iran’s civilian nuclear program; and it reopens the arms market to Russia. President Obama, apparently, was surprised at Putin’s co-operation in helping to achieve a deal with the Iranians!
Has anyone bothered to adjust the minute hand on the Doomsday Clock since the deal was announced, I wonder? the Doomsday Clock, that symbolic clock-face which represents the countdown to a global catastrophe? The closer the minute hand to midnight, the closer the world is to a global disaster. Set up in 1947 by atomic scientists, the Doomsday Clock, hanging on a wall in the University of Chicago, originally represented the threat to the world of a global nuclear conflagration. The threat has been expanded to include climate change (but of course). The minute hand of the clock was last moved on 22 January 2015 when it was set to three minutes to midnight.
If I were given the task of resetting the minute hand, I know where I would move it: I would move it closer to midnight (despite Putin’s assurance that the world can now breathe more easily). Four days before signing the deal, Iran celebrated Quds Day. Held annually on the last Friday of Ramadan, Quds, or Jerusalem, Day was inaugurated by the late Ayatollah Khomeini in August 1979 as a way to express solidarity with the Palestinians, and to demonstrate Iran’s opposition to the very existence of Israel. Sponsored and organized by the Iranian government, Quds Day celebrations typically draw thousands into Iran’s public squares where they chant “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”; trample on US and Israeli flags; and incinerate effigies of America’s and Israel’s leaders. Such fun! You would have thought Quds Day would be different this year in Tehran, that there would have been some attempt by the government to restrain the rabble in some way, with negotiations between P5 plus 1 and Iran coming down ‘to the wire’. Wrong. There were the same calls for America’s and Israel’s destruction. Protesters set dummies of President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu on fire. Not only did the government not restrain the crowds, Iran’s President Rouhani was present and raised no objection to what was going on. Neither did the Obama administration, desperate for a deal above all else.
Iran’s intention to destroy Israel continues unabated. If anything, the deal has turned Iran into a much more formidable foe of Israel. No longer crippled by economic sanctions and armed by Russia, Iran will pose an even greater existential threat to Israel. And with Russia as its ally and arms dealer, why would Iran need to develop a nuclear bomb anyway, since Russia possesses an entire arsenal of nuclear bombs? People were shocked when US Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford recently claimed that Russia presents the greatest threat to [US] national security. If that’s the case, just imagine, then, what Iran and Russia, working together, could do to destabilize the Middle East, indeed, the whole world. No, President Putin, the world definitely cannot breathe more easily now.