KR’s Allam Comments from Iran on New War Fears

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By: Joe Strupp

A day after word emerged that Seymour Hersh in this week?s New Yorker raises troubling fears about U.S. plans for an air attack on Iran?possibly using nuclear weapons?The New York Times and The Washington Post confirmed parts of his account and disputed others. But what about a view from inside Iran?

“All this war talk is confined to leadership circles,? Hannah Allam, Cairo bureau chief for Knight Ridder told E&P today. She has been in Iran since March 30. ?it’s very much business as usual in Tehran. It doesn’t feel like a city under siege or anything like that.

?Yesterday, i interviewed families in a gorgeous park, the traffic is clogged as usual, the hamburger joints and shopping centers are packed and the air pollution is still awful,? she added. ?The families I interviewed were much more worried about domestic issues such as unemployment/traffic/pollution than about a
pre-emptive U.S. strike.

“And despite the posturing by Iranian leaders, I think the prevailing notion here is that the U.S. is way too mired in Iraq to do anything drastic about the folks next door for now.”

In an article distributed by Knight Ridder late on Sunday, Allam, the former Baghdad chief for the news service, writes:

?Iran probably couldn?t mount much of a defense against a U.S. air attack on its nuclear sites, but such action would likely rally moderate Iranians around their ultra-conservative leaders and strengthen Iranian resolve to resist efforts to make it give up its nuclear program, Iranian and Western analysts here believe.

?Iran trumpeted the debut of new missiles during war games it conducted last week in the Persian Gulf as evidence that it has updated its military and that any American attackers would face difficult odds if they were to
attempt to bomb Iranian research centers. But the value of those new weapons appears to lie more in what they might do for Iranian national morale than in the threat they pose to potential attackers?.

?Military analysts here as well as in Washington and Moscow say the weapons Iran unveiled last week are unreliable and ineffective?Still, Iranian officials fear the United States might resort to a military strike to destroy or cripple the nuclear program and they are working hard to convince Western leaders–and their own people–that Iran could strike back.

?’This regime is trying to send a message that it?s strong enough to retaliate against any possible military attack against Iran, that it?s not like its neighbor Iraq, which the Americans could easily invade,? said Davoud Hermidas Bavand, a political analyst in Tehran?.

?Iranian newspapers were filled with news of the new weapons systems last week and the airwaves, with bellicose talk.?

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