Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Iran, Nukes, Black Gold & the Apocalypse

Many people around the world have been waiting for the arrival of this day: August 22nd. Their reasons are varied, but they center around Iran, nuclear power, a UN Security Council resolution, Israel's fate and the apocalypse.

As the day is now upon us, we find that Iran has not obliterated Israel (as some had forecasted). The apocalypse is not underway. And the Iranian government has done what it said it would: provided a response to the UNSC about the future of its nuclear programs.

Iran's semi-official news agency reported today that Tehran has "rejected suspension of its nuclear activities" as demanded by the United Nations Security Council but has proposed a "new formula for resolving the issue through talks."

The details of the new formula were not immediately apparent.

That's basically all we know about the official response at this point although there is rampant speculation about what it actually contains. Meanwhile the US bully ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, was quick to push for sanctions against Iran. That's where the black gold comes in. Oil. It's doutful that sanctions would adversely affect Iran's economy much at all since its oil wealth is massive and UNSC members Russia and China would most likely veto such a resolution. Oil. Constantly complicating issues. Yet, not one country seems to care much about ending oil dependence. Why should they? It's a huge money-maker and the oil giants interests are deeply entrenched in government affairs. (See: War, Iraq)

Now, about that apocalypse angle: Patrick Goodenough over at CNS News explains the terror generated by the coming of August 22nd in the minds of those who believed Israel would be sent to kingdom come today:

(CNSNews.com) - August 22 could usher in an apocalyptic period in the Middle East thanks to some belligerent action on the part of the Iranian regime. Or maybe not.
Some commentators have downplayed the importance of August 22, arguing that the decision was simply one of convenience, akin to saying "we'll respond by the end of the month." August 22 marks the end of the Persian solar month of Mordad.

But others are less sanguine, noting that the date is significant in Islam, for several reasons.

It coincides with the Islamic calendar date Rajab 28, the day Jerusalem fell to the Islamic warrior Saladin, in October 1187. Many Muslims regard Saladin's victory as a high point in Islamic history, and just weeks ago, Syrian fans of Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah were likening him to the 12th century Kurdish hero.

On the night of August 21-22, Muslims believe Mohammed underwent his "night journey," a trip on a magical steed from Mecca via the "farthest mosque" -- later said to be al-Aqsa in Jerusalem -- and on to heaven and back.

The two-stage journey is known in Islam as the "isla and miraj," and tradition holds that a divine white light appeared over Jerusalem at the time.

"The night of August 21 is a very, very important night in Shi'a Islam," according to Farid Ghadry, a Sunni Muslim and president of the exiled Reform Party of Syria, based in the U.S.

Ghadry claimed that Ahmadinejad would deliver his answer to the international community in the form of a "light in the sky" over the al-Aqsa mosque on the night of Aug. 21-22.

He urged the world to take the date seriously, adding that "nothing happens without a reason in Iran."

There's more about the wild speculation but the bottom line is this: some people take this kind of stuff way too seriously. Believers writing for Front Page magazine and the Wall Street Journal (in an article written by a professor emeritus at Princeton, no less) encouraged the frenzy, as fearmongers must when they have no solid proof about an actual threat and are simply pimping for the Bush administration's 'axil of evil' propaganda machine.

It gets kind of old after a while, doesn't it? I remember living through various days when one group or another proclaimed the end of the world was at hand. Never happened. We're all still here leaving Bush to actually engage in the dreaded concept known as diplomacy once again. Oh, how his head must hurt over all of this "hard work".

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