Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The ghosts of Cold Wars past

Apparently Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is preparing for a visit to Russia for discussion with President Vladimir Putin. Putin has just wrapped a conference with the five nations bordering the Caspian Sea, most notably Iran. Putin voiced his support for Iran's nuclear program and the countries signed a document stating that none of the five Caspian states would allow military strikes to be launched from their soil against any of the others. Prime Minister Olmert is expected to voice concerns over Iran's nuclear program to the Kremlin. This is not Olmert's first visit to Moscow, but the timing of this one causes one's eyebrows to raise.

Recent analysis of the most recent Israeli air strike on Syrian soil show that the site was most likely a nascent nuclear facility. Some believe that the air strike was a trial run for a possible strike on Iranian nuclear facilities should the Iranians refuse to bow to international pressure. Now it seems the Kremlin has thrown tentative backing behind Tehran by siding with the Ahmadinejad's claim that his country's nuclear program is purely for peaceful means. Israel should be highly concerned with this turn of events. Israel suffered some near misses with Soviet intervention during their wars with the Arabs. Moscow came close on several occasions to intervening on the side of the Arabs.

Israel may not be planning any immediate strikes on Iranian sites, but it is undeniable that Israel will not tolerate a nuclear Iran. The spectre of possible reprisal from Russia surely gives them pause. Olmert is hurrying off to Moscow to try and head off such a nightmare scenario. Will the U.S.'s war on terror and Iran's nuclear ambitions drag the world into another bout of Cold War-esque proxy conflicts? Hopefully not, but that is not such a remote possibility as it was a month ago.