Monday, September 01, 2008

The only constant in the Iran equation

Sept.1, 2008

The only constant in the Iranian equation

THE US seems to have developed a loss of appetite for military action against Iran, but Israel would not let go, and Tehran is exploiting the situation to step up its rhetoric and thump its nose at those who criticise its nuclear activities. The result is a blurred scenario, with the only constant being that the region would witness a devastating conflict if the US or Israel or a combination of the two were to stage military strike of any size and nature at Iran.
There is no dearth of theories and suggestions, including one that says Israeli warplanes planned to bomb Iranian targets during the recent Russian-Georgian conflict. However, the totally unanticipated aggressive Russian response to the Georgian military intervention in South Ossetia took everyone by surprise and aborted the Israeli plan, according this theory.
Earlier, it was reported that Israel has been rehearsing for air strikes at Iran using US-controlled Iraqi territory and air space.
Another report says that a Dutch ultra-secret secret service operation underway in Iran in recent years has been halted and an agent recalled in view of “impending US plans to attack Iran” within weeks.
The operation involved infiltrating and sabotaging Iran's military industry, according to the report.
The Dutch decision came ahead of an expected US/Israel decision within weeks to attack Iran's nuclear plants with unmanned aircraft, used to avoid risking the lives of air crews and warplanes, says the report.
The "disclosure" explains why Iran has been issuing a fresh spate of warnings, the latest of which came from the country's deputy Chief of General Staff Masus Jazairi , who said that any attack on Iran would mean the beginning of a new "world war."
The Iranian tough talk is highly provocative but is deemed to come from a realisation that the US administration finds itself in a difficult situation to exercise any military option against Iran, given its raging conflict with Russia. Even before the crisis erupted in Georgia, US officials have been saying that the US military is unable to wage yet a third war following the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
That seems to be a fairly accurate judgment, particularly given that the US could not expect any regional support (except of course that of Israel) for military action against Iran, which has the ways and means to retaliate and make it very painful for US interests in the region.
Israel's Ma'ariv newspaper reported on Friday that preparations for Israeli military action against Iran are under way in the event that diplomatic efforts fail.
Indeed, these are only scratches on the surface of the US-Israel-Iran equation, which is a roller-coaster course. But the region remains painfully aware that Israel, which believes in the use of military might before diplomacy, is waiting for the most opportune moment to hit at Iran with little regard for the regional consequences of such action.