The President of the militarily most powerful (and most indebted) nation in the world, and the Prime Minister of its potent manipulator, have held crucial talks in Washington, which, if considered successful or even satisfactory by Tel Aviv, can ignite its longed-for war with Iran, throw the Middle East in turmoil and plunge the fragile, recession-hit economies of the world into a freefall. The social and political costs of the premeditated aggression will be no less volatile, especially in the Muslim lands and among their expatriate communities. One way or the other, hardly anyone will remain unaffected by the conflagration, if it is allowed to happen by the international community.

Saudi Arabia mistakenly thinks it will be an exception, as it has casually extended a ‘business as usual’ assurance of making good the expected oil shortfall by increasing its production in case of an attack on Iran. It is sad that the kingdom, in the garb of a benefactor to the US-Israel axis, should gravitate towards the mortal enemies of a leading Islamic nation, on some ideological differences. This is also called cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.

Once the shooting starts and the fog of war overtakes, all the meticulous plans, the intrepid soldiers and people of Iran will hit back with a vengeance where it hurts the most. The US and its allies would be wonder struck by Iran’s asymmetrical, if not conventional capabilities. They may initially have their will, but eventually, not their way. They won’t feel safe in the comfort of their own homes even in places far distant from the cauldron they helped create and supported.

In case Israel takes the catastrophic step, it will considerably diminish the chances of its long-term survival as a democratic state in the region. The two-state solution, which it has gloatingly fended off since 1948 will be deader than a dodo. Will the aftermath of a unilateral attack by taking the international law in its own hands, also result in another forced migration of the natives, the Palestinians of the West Bank (biblical Judea and Samaria to the Zionist settlers) to a pliant Iraq, if not to Syria and Jordan? Dare one hope that the regimes helping with the supply of gas and water, sever diplomatic ties with this ‘dagger pointed at the heart of the Middle East’. Who or what in the world can stop its arrogant posturing, its untrammelled rampaging and nuclear blackmail (‘next time we’ll take all of you with us’)? Such a self-righteous mindset does not know when to stop, and appeasement only whets its appetite.

The flood of hatred released from this blatant act of aggression by self-appointed judges against another oil rich Muslim state might be hard to dam in. Hopefully, it might lead to putting an end to a mushrooming of militant groups, or it may most happily drown the Shia-Sunni sectarian divide in the waves of a popular unity in the face of a common enemy. An event devoutly to be wished for would be the collapse of the ‘dictatorship of the Stock Exchanges’, the interest-slavery markets built on the blood of men, and the main source of the aggressors’ financial power and global reach. Once again will the money lenders be driven from their ‘temples’…….

But for the moment, the frontline Islamic countries are being destroyed piecemeal to allow Israel to ‘retain its military superiority’ and remain the cock of the walk, the hegemon of the Middle East. In the early days, they used to call it ‘ein brera’ or ‘no alternative’, a doctrine born with the state, “that Israel was surrounded by implacable enemies and, therefore, had no choice, but to hit hard at their…….A nuclear arsenal was essential to the survival of the state”, but by this logic none else must be permitted to possess it in the vicinity.

So, Israel has been given a free hand by its fond patron in using ‘excessive force’ (a euphemism, if ever there was one) against the Palestinians, to hit at a rival atomic facility here, assassinate Iranian scientists there, track and murder a Hamas leader in Dubai under the gaze of CCTV cameras using the visas of dual nationality citizens in the process, or send its agents provocateurs elsewhere (friendly Egypt, for one) to fan sectarian strife and be caught in the act, and still nothing would happen. No resolutions are moved in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) (and if so, promptly vetoed by the US), no sanctions are imposed either for these acts of terror, for its basement bombs, or the sub-human conditions in which the Palestinians are compelled to live (if it can be called that) in the occupied territories. An increasingly ‘apartheid’ Israel is clearly above the law, both in its domestic excesses and global mischief.

Only Iran has refused to kowtow, indeed has boldly stood up to all the US/Israel Inc. threats and pressure tactics, even as the neighbouring Arab states also line up against it.

The ex-Israeli Prime Minister of Sabra and Shatila fame, Ariel Sharon, on being asked some years ago when action should be taken against Iran replied: “The day after Iraq.” This reflects both the calculated nature and the intensity of the hatred against Iran. Matters have reached a hysterical pitch of daily condemnation ahead of the US presidential elections. As is the norm, the leading candidates (as well as the incumbent) are outdoing each other in grovelling worship before the Jewish lobby on an Iran war, in return for campaign contributions and vital support to ensure their chances of success.

For Pakistan, the situation the day after will be fraught with multiple dangers. Its economy squeezed dry by a combination of all-pervasive corruption, an industry-starving energy crisis, and pathetic governance (act when the waters are swirling over your head), is in dire straits, while sectarian extremists are embroiled in a shocking ethnic cleansing. Pakistan must realise that after Iraq it will be the one in the crosshairs, and plan its strategy accordingly.

First, it must firmly oppose any unilateral military action against Iran by its arch foes at all forums, using its enhanced profile as a temporary UNSC member. Starting now! But if its recent slavish vote on Syria (vetoed both by China and Russia) in which it sided with the Western interventionists is any indication, this seems impossible to expect from our beloved ‘elected-for-five-years’ leaders. Also, it is an undeniable and perhaps inevitable fact that leaders keeping assets abroad are extremely vulnerable to foreign blackmail and arm-twisting, for the fear of goodies being frozen. They can never be nationalists in the true sense.

Second, it must increase its trade with Iran manifold (as well as going full steam ahead with the gas pipeline) by a mutually beneficial barter or local currency agreement, and ignore the USA’s internal sanctions, as opposed to those imposed by the UN. We have already seen the inhuman impact of such sanctions in the case of Iraq, where hundreds of thousands of children died due to malnutrition and lack of medical supplies.

Our history is replete with shameless examples of ‘entrepreneur’ leaders, both political and military, selling their souls and the country’s interests to join unpopular alliances or unjust causes to please foreign masters and to prolong their rule. Pakistan now needs to stand by Iran’s side against any act of outlawry, if only as a moral example. And, lest we forget, we are also fellow Muslims and neighbours till eternity.

Saudi Arabia, too, must move fast to prevent an inferno that will destabilise the region for years. And why does not the Secretary General of the UNO (Oh, for another U Thant) put an end to these incessant military threats against Iran? What of Israel’s own nuclear arsenal? What about the Palestinian state, the illegal settlements in the occupied territories, including the nibbling away at Jerusalem, to which he has turned a blind eye? Does he want the Organisation to go the way of the old League of Nations under his watch, because that is where it is headed right now by its swift and selective action on some resolutions and absolute avoidance in others? It is fast losing its credibility and its relevance by such double standards, discrepancies and contradictions.

The long-threatened war against Iran, in reality a conflict based on a born-again colonialism, realpolitik and hegemony, must be prevented at all costs, or the region that gave birth to three great religions of the world will be condemned to endless strife. All the countries of goodwill and the pacifist groups across the world must speak out against war now, or forever hold their peace - for then there will only be the peace of the graveyard!

The writer is a freelance columnist.