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RAND Study Warns of Israel, Iran Conflict

 

 

By Lookout Staff

January 5, 2012 -- The Santa Monica-based RAND Corporation released a study Wednesday that warns that Israel and Iran, once "de facto allies," could be headed for military conflict.

The study found that the two nations now view each other as direct rivals for power and influence in the Middle East, with Israeli officials "less worried about Iran using a nuclear weapon against Israel than the greater influence a nuclear Iran would have."

"The Iranian regime views Israel as a regional competitor bent on undermining its revolutionary system," said Dalia Dassa Kaye, co-author of the study and a senior political scientist with RAND.

"Israel, on the other hand, views Iran as its main security challenge, posing serious strategic and ideological challenges to the Jewish state, particularly as Iran continues its pursuit of nuclear capabilities."

The U.S. should work openly with Israel, discourage the use of unilateral action and work to "further isolate, penalize and weaken Iran's capacity to project power and influence throughout the region," the study advises. It also should encourage direct communication between the two countries.

Once de facto allies, the two countries began to see each other as rivals after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 effectively eliminated that country as a common enemy, according to Alireza Nader, co-author of the study and a senior policy analyst with RAND.

The 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, which used Iranian tactics and arms, and the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, which "fed Israeli concerns about Iran's rising influence," deepened the animosity, Nader said.

Despite the growing rivalry, "Iran's ongoing nuclear program is primarily directed toward the United States -- Iran's chief military, political, economic and ideological rival -- more than it is at Israel," the study found.

Iran's views of Israel could change under a future regime that is dominated not by "principlist officers from the Revolutionary Guards," but by supporters of the Green Movement that include those who "believe in a less isolated and more democratic Iran."

"The United States should pay close attention not only to Iran's nuclear program, but also to issues such as human rights abuses, which would signal to the Iranian people that the United States cares about Iran as a nation, and does not merely view it as a problem to be solved," the study concluded.

The study, "Israel and Iran: A Dangerous Rivalry," can be found at www.rand .org Other authors include Parisa Roshan.

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