There’s Talk of a War Here
I don’t think I’m interested in being a war correspondent. That doesn’t sound ideal. Yet, the way the news is going, we here in southern Azerbaijan have been hearing more rumblings that we may be given a front-row seat to a violent theater. I don’t know how Azerbaijan is going to react to this news. Today.Az and other Azerbaijani news services haven’t dropped any hints of being aware of these developments. The Times of London brings us the story:
“The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way,” said a US defence source in the area. “They have already done tests to make sure their own jets aren’t scrambled and no one gets shot down. This has all been done with the agreement of the [US] State Department.”
Sources in Saudi Arabia say it is common knowledge within defence circles in the kingdom that an arrangement is in place if Israel decides to launch the raid. Despite the tension between the two governments, they share a mutual loathing of the regime in Tehran and a common fear of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “We all know this. We will let them [the Israelis] through and see nothing,” said one.
The four main targets for any raid on Iran would be the uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom, the gas storage development at Isfahan and the heavy-water reactor at Arak. Secondary targets include the lightwater reactor at Bushehr, which could produce weapons-grade plutonium when complete.
So that kind of stinks. Note that Qom and Arak are located fairly close to Azerbaijan, in the northwest. And it turns out that Iran is expecting an attack by the US and Israel from here. That is extra exciting. For those of us in Lerik and Lənkəran, and the one in Masallı, we would appreciate extra caution taken to be precise and accurate on the part of the would-be Israeli strike force.
This also presents a few scenarios for us PCVs that could be very problematic (read: force us to leave). First, a little less likely, is that Azerbaijan potentially becomes cooperative in this display by Israel. It’s no secret that Israel and Azerbaijan generally have very good relations. They especially like to trade in weapons. If Azerbaijan becomes somehow complicit in this situation, Iran could very easily turn it’s fire northwards. While Israel may be precise and accurate with their strikes, Iran probably has no qualms attacking allies of Israel and the US. My guess is that this won’t happen. Iran has been working hard to improve relations here recently, and they certainly wouldn’t want a disgruntled neighbor on their northern border.
Second, a bit more likely if these strikes occur, is that a lot of those northern Iranians head to Azerbaijan as refugees. Most of the northwestern chunk of Iran is Azeri, where the CIA World Factbook reports up to 16 million ethnic Azerbaijanis reside. Many folks here from Lənkəran tell of going to Qom and Isfahan, speaking Azeri all the way. This country already has enough IDPs/refugees. We certainly don’t need more. I’d rather not see refugees taking residence in schools throughout southern Azerbaijan. If Azerbaijan starts receiving refugees, Peace Corps probably won’t think too long on moving us out til things settle down.
One piece of information were clinging to comes from InTrade. It looks like odds on the USA and/or Israel attacking have been trading pretty low, with the highest bids just over 20, and even those are for dates further out into 2011. Let’s hope recent news doesn’t drive those numbers up anymore.