Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Cold War" with Iran heats up across Mideast - 6th Dec 2011

Worries of Israel striking Iran might or might not be overblown but across the region the largely hidden "cold war" between Tehran and its enemies is escalating fast, bringing with it wider risk of conflict.

Speculation Israel might attack Iran's nuclear program has been rife in the Israeli media and oil markets in recent weeks, with concerns that Tehran might retaliate with devastating attacks on Gulf oil shipments.

But that debate, experts say, misses large parts of the bigger picture. An increasingly isolated Iran alarms not just Israel and the West but its Gulf neighbors, especially longtime foe Saudi Arabia, and they are already fighting back - and the confrontation goes well beyond simply tightening sanctions.

From proxy wars in Iraq and Syria to computer worm attacks and unexplained explosions in Iran - to allegations of an assassination plot in Washington - a confrontation once kept behind the scenes is breaking into increasingly open view.

The storming of Britain's Tehran embassy last week - and the tit-for-tat shutdown of Iran's embassy in London - were just the latest signs that already limited dialogue is beginning to break down. That, analysts say, is inherently dangerous. Read More