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Iran and the Geo-Political Moves in the Middle East
If you look at the map, one can see an international chess game being played out between the West and Iran. Both sides are playing their cards and available options and awaits to see what the other side does.
Iran's goal is to have its sphere of influence cross into Iraq and Syria. If they succeed, then Saudi Arabia will be forced to strike of comply with Iran's political pressure, as will other nearby oil producing countries. Iran's nuclear bomb is simply the "big card" Iran is trying to obtain and everyone knows how they will use it. They will use to threaten and pressure others into compliance of sorts. If Iran gets the nuke, Saudi Arabia will want one to counter Iran. Although Iraq will be left to its own devices in 2012, it is hard to imagine that it will be very successful at thwarting Iran's meddling or influence. Already there are anti-US posters in the former US Green Zone promoting Iran's political candidates. It will simply get worse as groups become more heavily armed from Iran. Iraq could easily become an extension of Iran. The Kurds in the north seem to think the US will defend them because of American firms there. Once the US leaves, chaos will begin there and there is little likelihood we would return given the economics of America. Iran and Syria are already friends in an odd couple manner. Syria has allowed Iran to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon, which is pro-Iranian. Syria, should it fall to the Free Syria Army defectors (armed by Turkey), would be a win for the West, depending on the final result (as remains to see in Egypt). If President Assad wins and maintains control, it is a win for Iran as their help to replenish Syria will be needed and will give them more influence in Syria.
Egypt is once again uprising against the successor to Mubarak, this time the military. Once again under the banner of freedom, Islamists to secularists, are angry and demonstrating in Tahrir square to oust the military junta. It looks like one dictator was replaced by another. what happens there is truly a wild card for the Middle East.
For the most part, the West can really do little except influence fringe areas. They can have more presence in the Persian Gulf, directly arm the Free Syrian army as was done, apply the worse economic sanctions that are possible on Iran, prepare for the military option as has been happening for weeks. Deploying the right assets in the right place, being prepared for Iran's reaction and then hit the "go" button. Iran’s goal is to increase the risk so much that Saudi Arabia would accommodate than resist. Changing the map can help achieve this. This sort of forceful intimidation is as old as time. Hitler did exactly the same thing from 1937-39, annexing neighboring countries to expand the German border. The West (France and England) simply talked and tried to reason, it was not until Poland was physically invaded and taken over by Germany did the Allies express grave concern. They hoped it would stop there. Hitler then took France in a shocking invasion.
Think Iran's military. The strongest and largest in the region. It could, at its whim, walk into Iraq suddenly and unannounced after the US leaves. It would be Poland 1939 all over again in 2012-13. Only the West could do something after considerable time. The only counterpoint to such an event is Russia, which could invade from the north, if it sided with the West, which may or may not occur.
Iran is the new belligerent "Germany" of WW2. Unless the regime changes, the future may be read in the cards of the past.