In recent months, the Obama administration seems to have de-emphasized efforts to create an international coalition aimed at restraining Iran’s nuclear ambitions in favor of yet another futile try to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But unfortunately for Washington, Tehran has just reminded its neighbors that they, and not the Americans, are the ones to worry about in the Middle East these days.
As Haaretz reports today, yesterday Iran unveiled underground silos that house missiles which can hit both Israel and American bases in the Persian Gulf. The move, which came as part of war games carried out by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, were clearly aimed at demonstrating the country’s military strength. Iran has flexed its muscles by sending forces to help prop up the regime of its ally Bashar al-Assad in Syria and by stepping up arms shipments to both Hezbollah and Hamas, its terrorist surrogates bordering Israel.
But the missile tests, in which surface-to-surface projectiles with a 2,000-kilometer range were fired, show the ultimate threat from Iran is not terrorism but weapons that will provide its burgeoning empire with a nuclear umbrella that will give it impunity to act as it likes.
The purpose of these exercises is not only to prop up the Iranian regime itself but also to reinforce for regional consumption the notion the United States is in retreat while Iran’s influence grows.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration is too preoccupied with attempting to force Israel to make concessions in order to entice the Palestinians into peace talks that all sides know can’t succeed to pay much notice to Iran’s provocations. For all of the attention given to “Arab Spring” protests against Arab dictators, the great divide in the region remains between those countries under the influence of Iran and those who are uncomfortable with Tehran’s power. While many in the United States hoped the Stuxnet computer virus would solve the Iranian nuclear problem, it is increasingly obvious it created only a brief delay in Iran’s march towards nuclear capability. Which means sooner or later, President Obama will have to come to grips with the question of whether he will accept a nuclear Iran or not. This week’s missile tests are a reminder that day may not be as far off as he had hoped.