[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com]
Lightning paced thriller writer
of International Intrigue
National Bestselling Author

High Stakes Poker
by Allan Topol, [IMAGE]2007


Photo Courtesy: Julie Zitin
[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com] Washington is currently obsessed with the firing of U.S. attorneys (which won’t affect anything in the country), legislation micromanaging the Iraqi war (which won’t influence President Bush’s actions) and the Presidential primaries (which are so far in the future that current developments are unlikely to have any impact.). What the commentators in our town along the Potomac should be focused on is an issue which has real and vital significance for the United States. That is the current battle with Iran.

The Bush administration, which has bungled many things, has been playing its cards wisely in this high stakes game. They have never lost sight of their dual objectives which are to block the Iranian mullahs from developing nuclear weapons, and to blunt Tehran’s push, using money and Shiite hatred for Sunnis, to create an Iranian dominated crescent from Iran to the Mediterranean.

The stakes in this game are not merely piles of chips. They are billions of barrels of oil which are crucial to the economies of the United States, Western Europe and Japan. If the mullahs in Tehran have their way, the Sunni monarchy in Saudi Arabia will be toppled. Civil wars will erupt in other Middle Eastern states. And the price of oil will surge in excess of $100 a barrel. The world cannot tolerate nuclear weapons in the hands of people who have shown to be totally irresponsible.

With these objectives in mind, the United States persuaded the U.N. Security Council, last Saturday, to approve a resolution that ratchets up the pressure on Tehran. It bans all Iranian arms exports and freezes financial assets of Iranian individuals and entities linked to that country’s military and nuclear agencies. What was remarkable was that this resolution passed unanimously. Among those voting for it were not only Russia and China, but Qatar, a Gulf Arab state, and Indonesia, a Muslim nation.

In addition to this U.N. diplomatic offensive, the United States Treasury and State Department have persuaded major banks to curtail business with Iran. This financial squeeze has seriously interfered with Tehran’s ability to finance petroleum industry projects and to pay for imports. It has also weakened Iran’s ability to finance terrorism throughout the Middle East, using their proxies in Hezbollah, Syria and Hamas.

The Iranians are now feeling the pressure from these United States led efforts. This was confirmed by President Mahmoud Admadinejad’s decision to cancel his plans to travel to New York to persuade the Security Council not to adopt the resolution. The Iranian President recognized the futility of the trip.

At the same time, he decided to raise the stakes in this poker game by ordering the arrest of fifteen British sailors and marines. The latest word from Tehran, which is always subject to change, for any reason or no reason at all, is that the sailors and marines will be tried as criminals for entering the country illegally. Ordering these arrests a day before the Security Council vote shows the desperation of the Iranian position. Admadinejad was trying to give himself leverage, where he has none. Then like a petulant school child, he has suspended cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency.

At this point, Iran is in a standoff with the rest of the world. Where it goes from here remain to be seen. However, the United Sates, now with the support of Russia and China, can be expected to increase the pressure on Tehran.

If the diplomatic effort fails to achieve the desired result, namely to force Tehran to abandon its nuclear weapons program, then the question is whether the United States will resort to the use of force. Prior to the kidnapping of the British sailors and marines, this was unlikely. That has now changed.

President Bush has had his finger on the trigger for months, itching to pull it. American ships are in position close to the coast of Iran. Kidnapping soldiers was enough of an excuse for the Israelis to go to war in Lebanon last summer. Anyone familiar with World War II knows that the British people may seem easygoing, but don’t push them too far.

Las Vegas bookmakers have taken notice. They’re now posting odds that the Bush and Blair Middle East fireworks show will return for a new performance even while the original is still playing to sold out crowds in Baghdad.