Here's a chilling bit of news that's getting a few inches of press around the globe. According to their state-run television, Iran launched a series of large-scale military maneuvers today. Iran's President Ahmadinejad had indicated that this coming Tuesday is when Iran would
respond to UN demands for accountability about its nuclear plans. He was quite clear that the response might not be diplomatic. Never let it be said he didn't give advance warning, thinly veiled or otherwise. But he did jump the gun.
The "exercises" will be played out in 14 of Iran's 30 provinces and may last up to five weeks. The initial maneuver will include assault and transport helicopters, parachutists, electronic war units and special forces. This show of military strength will feature simulated air strikes and Iranian-manufactured armaments such as a new anti-aircraft system and armor-piercing bullets.
There are 12 infantry regiments involved in what has been labeled "The Blow of Zolfaghar." Several publications indicate that Zolfaghar is the name of the double-edged sword (!) belonging to Imam Ali, who is one of the most revered figures among Shiite Muslims.
There's wide-spread speculation that Iran is arming and training Hezbollah militants, which Iran denies. In its own "mission accomplished" moment, Iran has declared Hezbollah the victor over Israel in the Middle East conflict.
Iran has also expressed its concern about the U.S. military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Israel's threats to destroy its nuclear facilities. "Concern" is a gentle way of saying "torqued, nervous and on red alert," I'm guessing. You know, when the War Fairy taps you with its tiny wand, and whispers, "You're next," I can see where that might make you jumpy. Lest there be any doubt, I'm no Iran fan. But watching U.S. foreign policy play itself out lately is enough to give anyone the yips.
Just so you know? Iranian war games (one of my favorite oxymorons) are not a new thing. They've been doing this for 20 years, give or take. Just not with so much in-your-face venom.
There's isn't much commentary out there about this yet. Apparently folks are reluctant to speak out against a bellicose nation whose war-mongering leader may be a bit deranged. Oh, wait. That's us.