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Ghassan Charbel, editor-in-chief of the Saudi-owned newspaper AL HAYAT, said Iran's latest show of force in the Gulf as manifested in its military maneuvers, talk about the production of a new generation of weapons and threats to close the strategic oil route, the Strait of Hormuz, reflected tension in Tehran as its crisis with the West over its controversial nuclear program worsens. "Iran is behaving as if it constantly needs a high degree of tension, probably because this tension protects it from [internal] polarization and divisions that are likely to come to the surface if the possibilities of a clash with the outside world receded," Charbel said in a front-page editorial on Jan. 9. "The climate of tension justifies dependence on the [arms] arsenal and continued efforts to develop it. It justifies the saying that the nation is in a state of war and must speak with one voice. This means silencing the opposition and preventing any demand for an inventory of the prices that have to be paid as a result of risk policies," he said.

Charbel said that the absence of tension with the outside world will give ordinary Iranians a chance to ask questions such as "why hasn't the [Iranian] revolution after three decades been able to play an influential and effective role in the region since all regional states concede Iran's right to such a role which cannot be based on the policies of penetration and infiltration?"

Referring to the wave of Arab Spring popular uprisings currently sweeping the Arab world, Charbel said: "An observer feels that Iran has emerged as a loser one year after the 'Arab Spring', not only because it was forced to clash with this spring when it reached Syria, but also because it had benefited from the presence of rigid, accused and unpopular regimes, especially in Egypt."
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Title Annotation:ARAB OPINIONS
Publication:The Weekly Middle East Reporter (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Jan 13, 2012
Previous Article:New leaders after the "Arab Spring".
Next Article:Syria-Arabs.

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