War drums becoming deafening

Linda Heard | Arab News, July 1, 2008
THE Americans and the Israelis are acting in concert vis-à-vis Iran. The unmistakable message they are putting out loud and clear is that an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities is on the cards in the event Tehran doesn’t cave into their demands. Are they bluffing as part of an arm-twisting strategy or are they seriously planning to transform this region into an inferno?

Pundits have been analyzing the probability of a US or Israeli attack on Iran for several years now. Some have even come up with likely dates but most of those have come and gone eroding the analysts’ credibility and dulling fears. There’s been so much chatter on the subject that we may reach the point when a “will they or won’t they?” discussion will turn into nothing more than an academic exercise on the basis it hasn’t happened so, therefore, it probably never will. The danger is Iran and the region could easily be lured into letting down its guard. Certainly, members of the Iranian leadership have indicated they don’t take the threat very seriously even though they are planning for every contingency and threatening to set the Middle East aflame if attacked.

In recent weeks, since the Israelis launched a supposed dry run in the eastern Mediterranean using 100 fighter planes and aerial tankers, the chatter has reached a crescendo. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has vowed, “Iran will not be nuclear”. Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz has termed a strike on Iran “unavoidable”.

Retired Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit warned that if Israel doesn’t destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities within a year, Israel would be vulnerable to nuclear incineration. He says that even if Israel doesn’t receive a green light from the US, it should be prepared to go it alone. Shavit believes there is a window of opportunity before the upcoming US election when the deed should be done in case of a win by Barack Obama, who has advocated jaw-jaw before war-war.

ARCH neoconservative and former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton says he believes Israel is poised to strike in November once the ballot has taken place.

Knesset member and retired Maj. Gen. Dani Yotom, who isn’t known for his hawkish views, says sanctions against Iran aren’t working and so “a military operation is needed”. Even the normally moderate Israeli historian Benny Morris recently said, “If the issue is whether Israel or Iran should perish, then Iran should perish”.

Continued . . .

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