US-Israel tug-of-war on Iran tighter than ever
Mon Sep 3, 2012 5:45PM
The most flagrant sign of discrepancy between Washington and Tel Aviv could be seen in the remarks from General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. He recently told a London press conference he did not want to be “complicit” if Israel chooses to strike Iran."A political tug-of-war between US and Israel about Iran has intensified to the extent that their officials could no longer cover up their disputes with diplomatic words of praise. The most flagrant sign of discrepancy between Washington and Tel Aviv could be seen in the remarks from General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. He recently told a London press conference he did not want to be “complicit” if Israel chooses to strike Iran. That is the clearest-cut military message from the United States that its army is not pondering military strike on Iran. The significance of this issue comes further to the fore when Israeli officials say overtly and covertly that US would have no other option but to go along with Israel in its desired invasion of Iran. In his latest blow to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the US general says an Israeli attack would “delay but probably not destroy Iran's nuclear program.” Israeli Minister of Military Affairs Ehud Barak and pro-attack Israeli officials are of the view that a military strike on a yet non-nuclear Iran would have fewer consequences than on a nuclear-armed Iran. Iran denies any intention to develop a nuclear bomb. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has, in an edict, declared haraam, or religiously proscribed, any attempt in view of building such deadly weapons.
Numerous reports from US intelligence services have hitherto failed to find any evidence of military diversion in Iran’s nuclear programs. However, Israel underscores Iran’s “intention” of acquiring nuclear arms in a bid to establish a united front against the Islamic Republic. The Jewish state has no reasonable motive to justify a military strike on Iran. To that effect, General Dempsey has said that intelligence reports do not shed light on “intentions.”The US government insists on the toughening of economic sanctions on Iran and believes that any Israeli military strike on Iran would split an international alliance which Washington has created in order to ratchet up the pressure on Iran. Certain Israeli media have highlighted the trade of barbs between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Tel Aviv Dan Shapiro. The US House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, who recently met with Netanyahu in Israel, was quoted in US media as warning that Netanyahu and Barak have concluded that military action would be the only option to halt Iran’s nuclear programs. He told US media that he had “no doubt in my mind" that the US election cycle was part of the Israelis' calculations. Israel's third-largest daily newspaper, Maariv, says the significance of Rogers’ remarks is that Netanyahu and Barak have sought to convince the world that Israel would attack Iran before US election in autumn this year. Rogers, who claims to have access to all intelligence and security data about Iran, has said Israelis think they would be able to convince the US to join them for attacking Iran after the US November election.
Another Israeli paper, Yedioth Ahronoth, highlights heated debate between Netanyahu and Rogers and Shapiro. According to this paper, Netanyahu has sharply criticized US President Barack Obama’s half-hearted polices towards Iran, saying: “Instead of pressuring Iran in an effective way, Obama and his people are pressuring us not to attack the nuclear facilities.” The US ambassador strikes back at Netanyahu and says in polite and strong words to the Israeli prime minister that enough is enough. During the meeting, Shapiro also accused Netanyahu of hackneying Obama’s position that all options are on the table.This newspaper predicts a fresh round of slanging-match between Netanyahu and Obama on the sidelines of the upcoming General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. Obama needs to be pictured with a smiling Netanyahu for his election campaign. The duo will definitely meet, but Netanyahu would be in trouble to look for cover after the US election if Obama is to be reelected. Two other significant views should be also taken into account; John Bolton, whom former US President George Bush junior, named ambassador to UN when the US Congress was in recess, says Israel should not lean towards the current US administration and it is entitled to attack Iran. In response, a political aide to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said the latter would not have attacked Iran, if he was still in power. The war of words is reflected in Israeli media as if Iran were sitting with fingers crossed to be attacked. Iran says it takes Israeli threats seriously and is ready to repel any strike. The problem between US and Israel has nothing to do with the timing of a possible attack. It pertains to estimates of the consequences of a war that would totally reshape the Middle East. KA/SS