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A slip of Chirac's tongue.

By Bouthaina Shaaban It seems that journalists who met with president Chirac last week could not adhere to the "off the record" rule to which they all agreed. Judging by the nature of the information leaked, one does not blame them; it is not usual or familiar that a president of a western country speaks about "wiping out Tehran", elucidating that the real danger is not the bomb that Iran may possess but the leak of the technology to other countries. He said: "Iran will help other countries to do that [get the bomb]. Why doesn't Saudi Arabia have a bomb? Why doesn't Iran help Egypt to get one also? This is the real danger." What a revelation! It means that real danger does not lie between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia and Egypt, nor does it lie in the threat that Iran presents to the Arabs, as so many western leaders claim openly or discreetly. The danger is implied in Iran's possession of nuclear technology and in the possibility of leaking this technology to other Muslim countries, including Arab countries as well, mainly because such a possibility will undermine the monopoly Israel has over nuclear technology and nuclear bombs in the Middle East. What is equally important is that such a possibility will change the status of rich Arab countries from mere consumers of Western technology to producers of technology, which may put an end to their manipulation by the West. This means that today's Western attitude to Iran is the same attitude that Egypt or Saudi Arabia would've faced had they taken the scientific and technological step Iran has taken, even if their final objective is purely peaceful energy.This analysis can be best supported by recalling the Western attitude to Iraq. The decisive point that marked a change in Western attitude to Saddam [from supporting him against Iran to being hostile to him] was when Iraq launched a missile in the late 1980s and Saddam appeared on television holding a circular piece of metal in his hand and saying: "I do not understand this, but scientists are telling me that this is crucial for developing nuclear energy and perhaps a nuclear bomb." It was precisely then that the Western decision was made not to allow Iraq to cross that technological threshold. Israel was tacitly given the green light to destroy Tamouz Iraqi nuclear reactor and one pretext after another was made in order to destroy Iraq's scientific potential and kill Iraqi scientists and knock Iraq a hundred years back: A mission the neocons have now accomplished. No Western leader or official relates the human or social tragedies which resulted from this criminal action against Iraq and the Iraqis. However, this slip of the tongue is reminiscent of another slip of the tongue by President George Bush when he spoke of a Crusade war against the Muslims in the aftermath of 9/11. It also reminds us of what President Bush indicated to President Putin in the G8 summit in 2006, when he thought that the microphone was off and it turned out to be on. He said something to the effect, "Tell Assad to finish Hezbollah and settle the issue." When this was not done by Syria, Bush allowed Israel to launch a terrible attack on Lebanon to achieve that.What these slips of the tongues reveal is the essence of current Western policies towards Arab and Muslim countries. The legislations which were issued in the West during the last five years against Arabs and Muslims, the occupation of Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan, the continued occupation of Palestine and the cruel war against Lebanon and the continuous threats to Sudan, Iran and Syria are practical steps to implement these new western policies towards Muslim countries. The means for implementation are the sectarian and ethnic conflicts they are creating between Sunnis and Shia, Muslims and Christians, and Arabs and Kurds. What Chirac's slip of the tongue has certainly revealed is that the West now does not differentiate between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and they certainly do not differentiate between one Arab country and another. But they invest in Arab weakness and division to bring the worst fate to our people and countries, steal our wealth and keep us as consumers of their goods and products. A*Dr Bouthaina Shaaban is Minister of Expatriates in Syria, and writer and professor at Damascus University since 1985.Asharq al-AwsatA slip of Chirac's tongue

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Date:Feb 12, 2007
Words:759
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