Middle East expert Walid Phares tells Newsmax that the Obama administration is not convinced that the Iranians pose a serious danger — even as a top Iranian official declared that his country is prepared to launch a pre-emptive strike.
Phares, while noting that he believes the Iranian quest for nuclear weapons is “not stoppable,” also says a resolution passed in the U.S. Senate last week is a “message to the administration” that it is time to confront the Islamic republic before it obtains such weapons.
Coincidentally, Phares’ remarks in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV on Tuesday came on the same day that an Iranian official vowed that his country would take pre-emptive action against its enemies if it felt its national interests were endangered.
"Our strategy now is that, if we feel our enemies want to endanger Iran's national interests, and want to decide to do that, we will act without waiting for their actions," said Mohammad Hejazi, the deputy head of the Islamic republic's armed forces.
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Phares is the author of "The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad"
and "The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East."
He is a regular Newsmax contributor and advises members of Congress on the Middle East.
In the exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Phares says economic sanctions on the Iranians won’t persuade them to stop their nuclear weapons development efforts.
“The Iranian regime is convinced that they are going to go forward with their program,” he says.
“That program includes the nuclear weapon, but also the delivery system. They’re working very hard on missiles, both intercontinental when they can, and regional, and certainly they can put Israel, most of the Arab countries, Europe, Moscow, India, and our fleet in the Gulf and in the eastern Mediterranean in their range.
“But they are also going to try to negotiate gain time. In the meantime, the buildup of their weapons system is on. It’s not stoppable.”
Asked whether Israel will disregard urging from the United States not to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iran, Phares responds: “Certainly the Israelis have their own clock that is different from the American clock, the European one, or the Arab one. It has to do with the width of Israel. It has to do with Israel unaccepting the idea that they could absorb one strike.
“So if the Iranian regime is very close to putting a weapon on a missile, then no questions asked, [the Israelis] are going to try to take action. They will try to coordinate with us or inform us at the end of the day.”
Phares adds: “What you see in Iran is preparation for confrontation, and if you don’t confront them it’s like the National Socialists in the ’30s. If you don’t stop them, they’re going to continue. After Czechoslovakia, it was Poland, then France. And after Iraq it’s Syria, and then Lebanon and eastern Arabia.
“It seems to me the Obama administration is not convinced that the Iranians are really a threat. It is convinced that they are a nuisance, and a deal eventually after those sanctions would work. That’s the view of this administration.
“But what we have now in the Middle East is way more dangerous than what we had before, even after the killing of bin Laden and after the Arab spring. What we have now is an Iran that is much closer to the bomb. And you have the rest of the Middle East falling slowly under the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The United States needs to contain Iran and the jihadists and partner with real democratic forces in the Middle East that are ready to work with America, Phares says.
A bipartisan group of senators passed a resolution last week declaring that it is unacceptable for Iran to obtain a nuclear capability.
“This is a necessary move,” Phares observes.
“These moves are basically coming a little bit late in the process, but they are always important. This is a message to the administration — a message to all the presidential campaigns — that we need to keep in mind that, while we are going into our political processes here the Iranians are moving forward, and there will be a day when if we don’t check them they will come and say here’s our weapon and you’ve got to deal with us as a nuclear force. That is what the Congress does not want to see happening.”
As for Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, where 20 percent of the world’s oil passes, Phares tells Newsmax: “The Iranians don’t need to shut down the Strait of Hormuz. They need to threaten, and that’s what is happening.
“That’s why the prices are going up. Americans have to be very careful about the next stage because what we see now in terms of prices may go well higher than what we are accustomed to.”
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