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IA-Forum Interview: Paul Rogers

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International Affairs Forum: Do you consider there to be a realistic chance of an Israeli strike on Iran in the next few months, as much speculation would have it?

Professor Paul Rogers: Realistic but by no means certain. Israel regards its own regional nuclear monopoly as essential to its long-term security and there is concern that a new U.S. administration may not be sufficiently robust with Iran. The impending deployment of new Iranian air defenses this autumn is also a factor.


IA-Forum: And what effect would you expect such an attack to have on the U.S. election campaign and on the rather embattled Israeli Prime Minister?

Prof. Rogers: If there was an Israeli attack, then Iranian retaliation would almost certainly bring the U.S. into the conflict. An election during such a war would probably benefit McCain. It might strengthen the Israeli government, but possibly only in the short term.


IA-Forum: You’ve spoken recently about the danger of viewing recent gains in Iraq as an indicator of overall success, given that the focus of the ‘war on terror’ seems to be shifting to Afghanistan/Pakistan. Do you expect a corresponding shift in attention by Western states, especially given the U.S. election?

Prof. Rogers: Given the recent deaths of 9 U.S. soldiers and Barack Obama's statement about re-inforcing U.S. troops in Afghanistan, this may already be happening.


IA-Forum: How do you anticipate events in Afghanistan developing over the next six months? Can we expect a radical change, or more of the same as far as security and politics is concerned?

Prof. Rogers: Most likely more of the same, but with greater pressure from the U.S. on Pakistan, and the even possibility of more direct U.S. intervention in western Pakistan.


IA-Forum: Do you believe there are any implications of the dispute between Iraq and the U.S. over a status-of-forces agreement? How far is the U.S. willing to dig in its heels?

Prof. Rogers: Probably a short-term compromise - a full agreement by the end of July (as originally planned) is now unlikely. Given the strategic importance of Iraq, a very long-term presence is regarded as essential for the US, and current Iraqi talk about requiring a withdrawal is worrying to the administration.

In the final analysis, though, Iraqi government survival depends on the U.S. military presence, and this is a powerful negotiating tool, at least in private if not in public.


IA-Forum: If Iran was to acquire nuclear weapons, do you think this would make a substantial difference to Middle Eastern politics?

Prof. Rogers: Yes, not least in encouraging countries such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia to consider developing their own nuclear capabilities.


Paul Rogers is OpenDemocracy's international security editor, a consultant to the Oxford Research Group, and professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University.

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