Summary: more rumors of an attack by Israel at Iran. Just rumors, but another in a long string of rumors. Clearly Israel sends signals of some kind to Iran. Does Iran fear an attack, or hope for one? Would a strike at Iran strength Israel’s geopolitical position, or destroy it? We can only guess at the answers. See the links at the end for my guesses about these things. (1) Israel will not attack. (2) If it did, the results would be catastrophic for Israel.
“Israeli Ministers Mull Plans for Military Strike against Iran”, Der Spiegel (16 June 2008)
Excerpt from Part I
While the Europeans continue to pin their hopes on diplomacy and are convinced that a negotiated solution that would allow Tehran to save face is still possible, the Israelis already view the UN sanctions regime as a failure. Russia and China, they say, sabotaged the boycott from the very beginning, and even the Europeans have only half-heartedly supported sanctions. More rumors about a strike by Israel at Iran.
Dani Yatom, a member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, was invited to attend a NATO conference in Brussels last year. While reviewing the agenda, Yatom, a retired major general, was surprised to see that the meeting was titled “The Iranian Challenge” and not “The Iranian Threat.”
When a speaker with a French accent mentioned that a US military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities would be the most dangerous scenario of all, Yatom said, politely but firmly: “Sir, you are wrong. The worst scenario would be if Iran acquired an atom bomb.”
Yatom, 63, has spent most of his life in the military. He was a military adviser to former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and, in the mid-1990s, was named head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency. Nevertheless, Yatom, a member of the Labor Party, is not some reckless hawk. Unlike most Knesset members, he flatly rejects, for example, a major Israeli offensive against the Islamist Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
But Yatom’s willingness to strike a compromise ends when he is asked what he considers to be the best response to the Iranian nuclear program. “We no longer believe in the effectiveness of sanctions,” says Yatom. “A military operation is needed if the world wants to stop Iran.”
When Israeli Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, a former defense minister, expressed similar sentiments 10 days ago, they were viewed, especially in Europe, as the isolated opinions of a card-carrying hardliner seeking to score points with the electorate in a bid to succeed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. In truth, however, there is now a consensus within the Israeli government that an air strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities has become unavoidable. “Most members of the Israeli cabinet no longer believe that sanctions will convince President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to change course,” says Minister of Immigrant Absorption Yaakov Edri.
The one question over which Israel’s various political groups disagree is the timing of an attack. The doves argue that diplomatic efforts by the United Nations should be allowed to continue until Iran is on the verge of completing the bomb. That way, Israel could at least argue convincingly that all non-military options had been exhausted.
The hawks, on the other hand, believe time is running out. They stress that there is now a “favorable window of opportunity” that will close with the US presidential election in November, and that Israel can only depend on American support for as long as current US President George W. Bush is still in charge in Washington. They are convinced that the country cannot truly depend on any of the candidates to succeed Bush in office.
Excerpt from Part II
Politicians in Berlin have noted with concern signs of the next war brewing in the Middle East. Former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, who travels regularly to Jerusalem and Washington for political talks, warns that Israel could see the Bush presidency as its last chance to gain American support for a military strike. “Politically speaking, the window for action is now, in the last months of George W. Bush’s term in office,” Fischer wrote recently. “The Middle East is headed for another major confrontation.”
Others share this sense of unease. Karl-Theodor Freiherr zu Guttenberg, a foreign policy expert and member of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), says that he has “the unsettling feeling that the contemplation of a military option against Iran is gaining a new dynamic in Israel.” He wants to see Berlin use its close relations with Jerusalem to deter it from launching a military strike.
… Nevertheless, in Israel it is no longer a matter of whether there will be a military strike, but when. It is clear that the attack would be exclusively an aerial strike. Jerusalem recently received approval from Washington for a purchase of F-22 stealth bombers. The centrifuges used to enrich uranium at the Natanz nuclear facility are apparently the main target. According to Israeli information, the centrifuges are kept above ground and are thus easier to destroy. The reactor in Bushehr is seen as another possible target.
And the Iranian air defenses? “We know that Iran’s air defenses are not among the world’s best,” says former Mossad chief Yatom. “They can be overcome.” Nevertheless, many Israelis still hope that the Americans will do the job for them. “It could still be the case,” says Yatom, “that George W. Bush wants to guarantee himself a place in the history books with this last act.”
Please share your comments by posting below (brief and relevant, please), or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).
My posts about a strike at Iran by Israel
Esp. note #2!
- Is Iran dangerous, or a paper tiger? (13 November 2007)
- Will Israel commit suicide? More rumors of a strike at Iran (22 December 2007)
- Does reading Debkafile make us smarter, or dumber? (15 June 2008)
- A new story about a possible war with Iran (21 May 2008) — About the 20 May Jerusalem Post story, originally reported by Army Radio.
- “As things look, Israel may well attack Iran soon” (3 June 2008) — About the Fischer story in the 30 May Daily Star.
- “Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable” (8 June 2008) — War-talk by a former Defense Minster of Israel.
- More rumors of a strike at Iran by Israel (1 July 2008)
- Leaks about a possible strike at Iran (are there any hotter issues today?) (7 July 2008)
Here is the full archive of my posts about a possible strike at Iran by Israel or the US.