By Dale McFeatters
Scripps Howard News Service
Iran's more bellicose mullahs must have been feeling pleased with themselves as they put the finishing touches on an arms deal with Russia that would provide 250 Sukhoi-30 fighter-bombers along with 20 aerial refueling tankers that would put all of the Mideast within range.
And that's on top of the antiaircraft systems Russia has already sold Tehran.
But that sense of military superiority was short-lived. The Bush administration disclosed that it had reached a $20 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia and five Persian Gulf states that included smart bombs and advanced air-to-air missiles.
And the United States said that it had also reached a10-year, $30 billion arms deal with Israel and a 10-year, $13 billion deal with Egypt. Tellingly from Iran's standpoint, there wasn't the usual official outrage from the Arab states about U.S.-Israeli arms deals.
U.S. officials made no secret of the fact that the deals were intended to strengthen pro-Western countries against Iran.
The pallid Iranian response indicated that this is not what Tehran had in mind. Foreign ministry spokesman, Mohammad Ali Hosseini said, ``What the Persian Gulf region needs is stability and security."
No argument there, but a nuclear weapons program and 250 attack jets are a funny way to go about it. ``Americans have been trying to disturb it by selling weapons to the region." Oh? And Russia is not?
Hosseini went on, ``Americans have pursued a particular policy in the region: creation of fear and concern among regional countries in order to prepare an opportunity for selling arms." That's a particularly odd observation when you note that Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Israel and Egypt are not buying U.S. weapons to protect themselves from the U.S.
It's just possible that the common sense wing, if there is one, of the Iranian government is beginning to realize that Iran's aggressive arming of itself and the belligerent ranting of its president is backing Iran into a corner it doesn't want to be in.
The article is distributed by Scripps Howard News Service (www.shns.com).