Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What's the story?

Behind the renewed fighting in Lebanon lies an old problem about the balance of power across the region.

Israel is the major military power, funded, backed and supported by the US and with access to its own nuclear weapons.

The other major power is Iran, which has become massively more powerful in relative terms, since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

Iran is also busy constructing a large scale cilvilian nuclear program, which it is hard to believe won't also be useful in military terms. The US, the EU and the UN are very concerned about this and there has been a long-running argument about how much of a project Iran should have.

It's not hard to think that a lot of what is going on in Lebanon is a handy diversion for Iran, and a useful way of strengthening their hand in the ongoing nuclear discussions. Every time they poke Israel - and that it responds - it strengthens anti-Israeli feeling across the region and makes life difficult for Iran's major enemy, the US.

And the US, let us not forget, is sitting on the borders of Iran with a large army, having invaded the Iranian's neighbour, Iraq. Confused yet?

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