A Black Hole in the Islamic Space

Like a black hole that swallows everything around it, Iran aspires to swallow the countries surrounding it and reestablish the Persian Empire “from India even unto Ethiopia”. How will the world in general, and Israel in particular, respond?Iran is like a black hole. What is the right response?

A black hole, in the physical sense, is a tiny star with a tremendous mass: the diameter of a black hole whose mass is 3 times as high as the mass of the sun is less than 10 kilometers. This celestial body contains only neutrons – the sub-atomic particles which, along together with protons, make build up the nuclei of the atoms of all chemical elements. Owing to the tremendous density of the neutrons in it, a gravity field is created around the black hole which is so powerful, that no element, including light, can break loose escape from it. Consequently, the black hole itself does not emit light – hence its name. Moreover, any element approaching the black hole beyond a certain distance, which the theory of general relativity defines as the “event horizon”, is swallowed by it and crushed into neutrons.

The black hole is the allegory for Iran: although territorially it is by no means tiny, it aspires to draw into itself everything within the “event horizon” surrounding it in the Islamic world – in the Middle East and Central Asia.

The Persian Empire

It is a well-known fact that even under the reign of the Shah Iran aspired for the status of a regional superpower, and made no attempt to conceal its aspirations. However, since the Khomeini revolution of 1979, additional tiers have been built – Iran has become the flag bearer of Shia Islam worldwide, and has positioned itself as the sworn enemy of the USA and the West. It started hammering stakes at any site of Shiite presence: in the early 1980s, while IDF elements were deployed in Lebanon, it began developing Hezbollah as a militia which, after the pullout of the IDF, evolved into the dominating force in that country. At the same time, Iran embraced the Assad regime in Syria, with one contributing factor being the affiliation of the Assad family with the Alawi sect, which is closely associated with Shia Islam. The Iranian regime also annexed Iraq into its camp. Following the pull-out of the US troops from Iraq, a pro-Iranian government, supported by the Shiite majority (about 35%), was established in Iraq.

Apparently, that is not enough for the regime in Tehran, and it covets the natural treasures of the Arabian Peninsula as well. In any case, Iran has recently embarked on a “smile offensive” toward the Gulf region, by dispatching Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Zarif, in early December 2013, on a visit of Kuwait, Oman and Qatar. Zarif expressed his desire to visit Saudi Arabia as well, very soon. The visit was intended to appease Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates, which feel betrayed pursuant to the nuclear agreement signed in Geneva. They are concerned about the tightening of relations between the USA and the West and Iran at their expense. They also fear that, as a result, the Shiite minorities within their own populations will gather strength. Bahrain, in particular, is apprehensive about the new situation, in view of the Shia terrorist activity within its boundaries which, according to foreign sources, is supported by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

In this context, Dr. Mordechai Kedar, in an article published in the newspaper Makor Rishon weekly  (December 20, 2013), addressed a meeting held a few years ago in Tehran between a Kuwaiti parliamentary delegation and Rouhani, who at that time was the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Iranian Majlis (parliament). Rouhani made it clear to the Kuwaiti delegation, rather bluntly, that in his country’s opinion, the entire western coast of the Persian Gulf – from Kuwait in the north to Oman in the south, was Iranian sovereign territory that Iran will dominate when the time comes.

Apparently, Iran intends to dominate even Afghanistan, her eastern neighbor. In a meeting in Tehran between Hamid Karzai, the President of Afghanistan, and Iranian President Rouhani, both agreed to sign a friendship agreement to enhance “regional security” opposite the Americans’ efforts to persuade the President of Afghanistan to sign a security pact with Washington.

However, the numerous natural treasures of Afghanistan, which are yet to be exploited, are also highly important. According to geological surveys, Afghanistan has oil and gas reserves as well as deposits of various metals and minerals. Iran clearly covets lusts for these resources.

Back in 2006, Karzai rejected any attempt by Iran to intervene in Afghanistan. Today, however, in view of the fact that the US armed forces will finally pull out of this country in about a year’s time, and his sense that the USA is about to forsake him, he has no choice but to yield to the dictates of Tehran. For this reason, Karzai will have to reject the attempts by Washington to reach an agreement that would allow American military bases to continue to operate in his country.

Dr. Kedar explained in his article why Tehran wishes to prevent Afghanistan from allowing foreign troops to remain on her soil. Firstly, Iran wishes to demonstrate that it is the “landlord” in central Asia and in the Islamic world. In Iran’s view, driving the USA out of the region will be perpetuated as a victory of Shia Islam over the infidels, including Sunni Islam led by Saudi Arabia. The other reason, according to Dr. Kedar is that US bases in Afghanistan will be used by American intelligence for monitoring communication in Iran and operating agents inside Iran, especially opposite the Iranian nuclear program.

Thus far, terrorism has served as a primary instrument employed by the regime in Tehran for the purpose of promoting its objectives, either directly through the activists of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards or through members of Hezbollah, or by providing support, in the form of financing and arms shipments, to Palestinian terrorist organizations. The terrorist activities of Iran and Hezbollah spread throughout the world: to Asia and the countries of the Middle East in particular, but also to Europe, Africa and America (particularly Latin America). Admittedly, these terrorist activities focused primarily on such Israeli objectives as embassies or tourist groups (for example, the terrorist attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, in which 6 Israelis were murdered), but were also aimed at other targets, such as the attempt uncovered in 2011 to assassinate the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the USA. At the same time, it may be assumed that pursuant to the Geneva agreement, Iran will moderate, for the time being, its own terrorist activities and those of its proxies.

But the future crown jewel of the Iranian regime is the establishment of a pretentious technological infrastructure, with the emphasis placed on the nuclear program and the space program. The world has not been convinced yet that these programs are intended “for peaceful purposes”, as Tehran proclaimed. The Geneva agreement may slow down Iran’s nuclear weapon program, but it is reasonable to assume that once Iran’s economy has recovered, it will revert to its evil ways and speed up its military nuclear program.

Presumably, as a result of the feebleness of the West, as reflected in the Geneva agreement, Iran’s appetite for dominating its neighbors will increase. While initially it will adhere to the “diplomacy of smiles”, as its self confidence increases, it will prefer to use threats, especially if it came to possess nuclear weapons, and probably even intensify its terrorist activities. Another country located close to Iran’s “event horizon” is Pakistan, whose population also includes a sizable Shiite minority. Unlike Iran, however, Pakistan already possesses a nuclear weapon arsenal. Additionally, even some African countries could become the objectives of the spreading of Shia Islam.

If the world fails to stop Iran, then in a few years’ time it will expand further and further, and we might, heaven forbid, once again witness a Persian Empire extending “from India even into Ethiopia” (Esther 1, 1), as in the days of king Ahasuerus (Xerxes).

How Will the World Respond?

Presumably, Washington will stand aside, making no attempt to stop the potential expansion of Iran in the future. This will be the outcome of President Obama’s “active passivity” policy, which advocates courses of action that avoid the use of force for the resolution of conflicts, even if the effectiveness of such courses of action is doubtful. This has been pointed out recently by Robert Gates, former US Secretary of Defense in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, in his new and fascinating book “Duty” – which does not compliment Obama. Still in the context of the conduct of the Obama administration, Dr. Kedar wrote in his article that Chuck Hagel, the current US Secretary of Defense, prefers to accept an agreement where Afghanistan has fallen into Iran’s hands, provided no more US servicemen return home in coffins.

Why has Obama courted Iran recently? It seems that even more than his willingness to lift the sanctions that had weighed heavily on Iran’s economy he wanted to open the Iranian market to the American industry, thereby helping the growth of the US economy. The same applies to the European countries: when they signed the Geneva agreement, they envisioned themselves standing, together with the USA, in line to enter the Iranian market.

On the other hand, the strengthening of Iran and its potential expansion through the Asian territories could challenge Russia and China, which have thus far provided Iran with political support and helped it economically. They would definitely be damaged if the scenario outlined above materialized. How will they respond?

Finally, the realization of this scenario will undoubtedly constitute an existential threat as far as the State of Israel is concerned, and then Israel would be compelled to respond using the full extent of its strength.

Lt. Col. (Res.) Dr. Rafael Ofek is an expert in the physics and technology of nuclear power. He had served in the Israeli intelligence community as a senior researcher and analyst.