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Lotsa Middle East chatter

Lotsa Middle East chatter

There seems to be a war brewing in the Middle East, if not on the battlefield at least in the political realm.

The Wall Street Journal and many others report tension between the U.S. and Israel over a potential strike on Iran.  There also is tension over the assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist, with Hillary Clinton taking the unusual step of issuing a categorical denial of U.S. involvement, and a conveniently and questionable article in Foreign Policy magazine claiming Israel under the Bush administration ran a “false flag” operation with anti-regime elements pretending to be Americans.

Needless to say, anything that can be stuffed into an “Israel Lobby” theory has the wacky Juan Cole delighted.

It is hard to know whether Israel actually ran a false flag operation, whether we actually cared about it, or whether as a blogger at Firedoglake notes, it was all just convenient for everyone:

Israelis and Americans have long hidden behind each other when working with Iranians, going back at least to the Iran-Contra ops that Dick Cheney had a fondness for. Hiding behind Israelis lets American officials pretend we’re not doing the taboo things we’re doing. Hiding behind Americans lets Iranian partners working with Israelis pretend they aren’t working with the Zionist enemy. That false flag business works in many different directions, after all.

One of the more curious developments is that Israeli plans to shut down its nuclear reactor at Dimona to protect it in case of war, since the magnitude of Iranian, Syrian, Hezbollah and Hamas rocket arsenals may overwhelm the reactor’s multi-layered defenses.  It is unclear if the process has started, will start before a strike, or if the announcement is more of a psychological play to tell the Iranians that Israel will not be deterred by the Iranian threat to destroy the reactor if attacked.

Things are getting more interesting, but murkier by the day.


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“Wacky” Juan Cole?

That’s pretty mild … almost a compliment.

You’re not going to win a “Froma Harrop Prize for Civil Blogging” pulling punches like that.

This country should provide, (on a discrete basis), the support to do what Israel needs to do. There is no need for obvious US involvement.

The sooner that this issue of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is dealt with the sooner we can get back to more pressing basic issues such as the economy, energy sourcing and our own national security.

The longer the delay the more costly will be the resolution…

Israel is far from the only Middle East country nervous about the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran. It’s within the realm of possibility that neither Israel nor the US have been the agent running covert actions against Iran’s nuclear programs and scientists. The wild card in play is the extent to which ME players like Saudi Arabia and others are supportive or even participatory in actions against Iran.

    valleyforge in reply to Henry Hawkins. | January 14, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    That’s a good point, which begs the questions: Why does the US need to be involved?

      Henry Hawkins in reply to valleyforge. | January 14, 2012 at 9:37 pm

      It isn’t established that the US does need to be involved. But the Straits of Hormuz must remain open. To anyone who cries ‘you only care about the oil!’ my reply is, ‘you are dadgum right it’s about the oil.’ The average person has no clue how vital oil is to the US, nor any notion of how many products derive directly and indirectly from oil. Without a sufficient supply of affordable oil, life as we know it in the US ends.

Subotai Bahadur | January 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm

I find the shut down of Dimona to be … telling. If we get reports that critical materials and equipment are being moved into tunnels in the mountains, it is time to button our codpieces.

The US wants advance notice and veto power over any Israeli strike on Iran. Israel would have to be suicidal to grant this administration either. There is a significant probability that if either were to occur, that the US would either immediately pass the information to Iran and/or place US forces in the position of defending Iranian nuclear sites in the name of showing Iran our good intentions.

If the Israelis were really being tricky, they would have their own strike plan, and devise another plausible one that would put both the Iranians and the US forces in the region out of position to defend against the real plan if they tried. Then leak the second plan to the US and see what happens when the real one goes.

Subotai Bahadur

“When word of a crisis breaks out in Washington, it’s no accident that
the first question that comes to everyone’s lips is:
‘Where’s the nearest carrier?'”
Bill Clinton

CVN-74 Stennis – North Arabian Sea, 05 Jan 2012,_2007Feb28.jpg&filetimestamp=20070517043947

CVN-70 Vinson – arrived Arabian Sea, 09 Jan 2012

This does not sound good.

What is worse is no matter who wins the USPOTUS race there is likely to be some pretty big messes in the world before November.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to Kerrvillian. | January 14, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Fear not. Commander Obama is on the case, with his crack team of Smart Power Rangers. Sure, they’ve been resigning left and right pretty much since the beginning of his administration, but what they’re doing is *platooning*, like they do in the NFL. Keep switching out fresh players with fresh legs, get those tired first teamers back to the bench.

    Smart Power Rangers…. ENERGIZE!

Someone observed this: Israel has had nuclear weapons since the mid-50s. No Arab country started development of nukes until Iran got close to having them. Now all the Arab countries are developing them. The message: no Arab country, deep down, ever felt truly threatened by Israel. But they DO feel threatened by Iran. So there could be many players working either together or independently (or even at cross-purposes) to prevent Iran getting nukes. Including the possibility of provoking Iran into doing a regular war before their nukes are ready, just so there’s more chance to stop nuke development.