August 13, 2012. Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized his country’s media after widespread stories ran this weekend claiming he was on the verge of ordering an attack on Iran. National positions announced over the past few days by Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia appear to support the suspicion. While the US reaffirmed Iran has no nuclear weapons program, the Saudis warned they would shoot down any Israeli attack flights traveling to or from Iran.
US Navy destroyer collided with an oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz yesterday. Image courtesy of DailyFreeman.com.
According to dozens of news reports throughout Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to order a unilateral military strike against Iran this fall if the global community doesn’t act first. As described in yesterday’s New York Times, the Israeli press was more unanimous and sure of itself than with all previous war announcements.
The various reports also branched out to the preparations being made throughout Israel for what the government expects in the realm of counter-attacks from Iran and its allies. Most measures appear aimed at neutralizing Hezbollah and Hamas. The press reports all suggest Israel is rapidly preparing for war.
While attempting to reject the news accounts of imminent war, Netanyahu released the transcript of a statement made to his cabinet. It may have had the opposite result. “There has been a significant improvement in our home-front defense capabilities. One cannot say that there are no problems in this field because there always are,” Netanyahu remarked, “But all of the threats that are currently being directed against the Israeli home front pale against a particular threat, different in scope, different in substance, and therefore I reiterate that Iran cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons.”
At the same time, Netanyahu’s Deputy Foreign Minister officially called on the US and UN to announce that peaceful negotiations with Iran have failed. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon called on the UN Security Council members to, “declare today that the talks have failed.” Ayalon went on to suggest that the UN then declare that all options, including war, are on the table to stop Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. When pressed for a timeframe, he replied, “weeks, and not more than that.”
Either sensing the impending war, or privy to classified information compliments of its US ally, Saudi Arabia surprised many this week when it announced it would shoot down any Israeli aircraft invading Saudi airspace going to or from a bombing mission in Iran. While their rhetoric wasn’t as threatening toward the US, the Saudis confirmed they will not allow their airspace to be used by the Americans in an attack on Iran either.
As detailed in an account from the Israel National News, many in Israel believe the Saudis were put up to making the announcement by the Obama administration in an effort to warn Israel against any unilateral war against Iran. President Obama knows that even an unprovoked and unjustified war started by Israel would still suck the US into another Middle East war. One reason some in Israel believe it was a veiled US announcement is because, ‘the Saudis transferred the message to Israel via senior officials in the administration of U.S. President Barack H. Obama’.
The above account went on to describe confirmations by Israeli Defense Forces that they have four possible air-routs for attacking Iran, and one of them does overfly Saudi Arabia for a short time. When asked about the Saudi threat to shoot down Israeli planes invading their air space, the IDF appeared to be less than concerned. According to the description, Saudis aren’t known for having a strong air force. Instead, the Saudi regime has purchased vast amounts of powerful and high-tech US weapons in an attempt to scare off any possible attacks on the kingdom. How well they use those weapons, the Israelis suggest, is another story.
Perhaps the most flagrant warning to Israel to halt its impending attack on Iran came from the US this week. According to a report by Reuters and published by the Huffington Post, US officials still do not believe Iran is anywhere near acquiring a nuclear weapons program. Even more evident of the American position on the issue, the US confirmed it has no evidence that Iran has any intention of pursuing a weapons program, now or in the future.
According to the account, many of the above national announcements by the Saudis, Israelis and Americans, were the result of published news reports in Israel that President Obama had just received a National Intelligence Estimate saying that Iran’s nuclear weapons program had ‘made significant and surprising progress’.
The White House immediately stepped forward refuting the Israeli press accounts saying that the official US position on Iran’s nuclear weapons program had not changed – the US believes Iran doesn’t have one. According to a White House National Security Council spokesman, “We believe that there is time and space to continue to pursue a diplomatic path, backed by growing international pressure on the Iranian government. We continue to assess that Iran is not on the verge of achieving a nuclear weapon."
While Iran continues to insist that its nuclear program is for electricity production only, international positioning suggests Israel is only weeks away from launching a war against the Persian state, with or without its US ally. The most immediate question is, will the US join the war immediately to defend Israel from counter attacks or will the Obama administration and Congress take a wait and see approach to both measure any possible reprisals, but also keep the US out of the war if possible.