EPICENTER UPDATE: Pouring fuel on the fires of anxiety in the Middle East, Iran on Monday launched
three days of war games. The exercises could be to prepare for a possible Israeli first strike (or, a less likely American first strike) against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Or it could be further preparations for an Iranian first strike against Israel and U.S. interests. Also ratcheting up tensions is a report that an Israeli cabinet minister is openly discussing the possibility of kidnapping Iranian President Ahmadinejad. Iran has set new presidential elections for June 12, 2009. Ahmadinejad says he plans to run for reelection, and the Ayatollah Khamenei has endorsed his apocalyptic protege, ending all speculation that Iran’s Supreme Leader disagrees with the president’s eschatology. The fact is the two men agree entirely over the imminent return of the Mahdi and the need to create global chaos and carnage to hasten the Hidden Imam’s arrival. Meanwhile, there’s this headline from the AP — “Russia: Launch of Iran reactor near ‘irreversible’ stage.” Ahmadinejad and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met for private discussions at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on August 28th, further underscoring how closely Russia and Iran are coordinating foreign policy these days.