Is Israel going to attack Iran?


    (Shafey Danish/


    The last year has seen an unprecedented media blitz against Iran. Starting from the patently cooked up and somewhat ridiculous charges of the Iranian trying to murder the Saudi ambassador to the USA – which by the way no one is talking of now – to the allegations that Iran is secretly developing a nuclear weapon in a IAEA report, there has been a steep rise in cooked up tension.

    We have been here before. We were here in 2007,  2008, in 2009 and again in 2010. Israel has been constantly warning it will attack Iran. The Israeli rhetoric has kept the US from making peace with one of the biggest powers in the Middle-East, possibly the most militarily capable after Israel and probably the most influential too.

    At the beginning of his presidency, President Barack Obama had tried to take a different tack, he had sought to reach out to Iran and simultaneously bring Israel to heel. He probably realized that Iran was in fact not building a nuclear bomb, as the America’s own intelligence estimate had said, and that Iran was in fact a pragmatic country, which has repeatedly indicated it wants peace with the West.

    He also probably realized that Israel’s fear mongering had less to do with the Islamic state actually hitting Israel with a nuclear bomb and more to do with Iran’s growth as a power centre in the Middle East. He may have also realized that Iran is a functioning democracy unlike the rest of the Middle East, and that bringing it under US influence would therefore be much more difficult through threats and sanctions than other middle eastern countries.

    And he may have also realized that unlike bombing Iraq, bombing Iran would not be quite so simple an affair. Iran is militarily much more powerful that Iraq ever was. It can seriously disrupt the supply of oil through the Strait of Hormuz.

    Regardless of whether Obama came to all these realizations or not, the long and the short of it was that he wanted better relations with Iran and he wanted to keep Israel on a tight leash. Alas, he had not properly understood the power of the Jewish lobby. After four years of relentless campaigning, Israel has got America back into its corner, and the fever of war is rising again.

    The intelligence

    It is noteworthy that despite what Israeli intelligence is saying, nothing has changed between the release of IAEA’s report and today, and the IAEA’s report only talked of computer simulations, and some testing that may be tangentially linked to developing a bomb.

    There was no bombs being built, there is no indication that Iran is enriching uranium beyond the point its needed for peaceful activity, and absolutely no move to build components of a nuclear bomb. How then is it possible to believe Israel’s assertions that Iran is only a year from a bomb or that there is a narrow window of opportunity of only months?

    This too is a place where we have been before, except that the media makes it a business to forget uncomfortable truths.

    “US and British officials, as well as some independent experts, say Iran now has enough centrifuges to make a warhead in a year,” said an article in the Guardian in 2008. The same year another report in the Telegraph had said the same thing, Iran was a year from making a nuclear bomb. Another headline in the telegraph had warned that Iran was “12 months from a nuclear weapon” in 2010.

    The boy has been crying wolf for a long time, and we keep jumping every time.

    We are told repeatedly that Israel wants to bomb Iran, and that if US fails to act against Iran with tougher sanctions that is what is going to happen, Israel will bomb Iran with a rash of unintended consequences. So the sanctions keep on getting tougher, the ones in place now will effectively strangle Iran’s economy – giving it rather than Israel an incentive to go to war.   But the question one needs to ask is whether Israel is serious about bombing Iran.

    We do in fact have precedent. Israel bombed Iraq nuclear facilities in ..and the Syrian nascent reactor in 2007. Yet neither of these attacks were preceded by anything like a media campaign. And why should it? Such strikes depend of surprise, announcing it to the world and repeatedly emphasizing how you are thinking of striking the nuclear facilities of a country does not really add to the surprise element. The attacks on Iraq and Syria were so stealthily mounted that both the countries could not say for sure whether they had been the target of an Israeli attack, in the immediate aftermath.

    Israel possibly does not possess the capability to bomb Iran, not without grave risks to itself, as its former defense chief and several experts have conceded. What seems to be the aim of the rhetoric then is perhaps to get the Americans to either attack Iran or at least toughen the sanctions, which would force a war with America in any case. The aim of this entire media campaign is to get  the US to fight Israel’s proxy war.

    Israel does not want another influential player in the Middle-East,  period. That was what the bombing of Iraq was about, and that is what the continuous rhetoric on Iran is all about. Even the apocalyptic statement attributed to Iran that it wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth is an imaginative misreading, and is after all rhetoric, no different from the axis of evil quote from Bush.

    In conclusion, Israel will not bomb Iran, but if the sanctions get any tougher Iran may go to war all the same, and consequences be damned.