Summary: this post examines yet another rumor of a strike at Iran by Israel. A successful raid might be beyond Israel’s capabilities, the consequences devastating for Israel, and perhaps even unnecessary. See links #6 and #17 at the end of this post. For these reasons I doubt Israel will attack Iran. But that is just a guess. This post also reviews the rumors of such an attack over the past few years, with emphasis on reports from Debkafile.
News from Reuters, 6 June 2008 — Mofaz has served as Israel’s Defense Minister and Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister. Excerpt:
On Friday, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Shaul Mofaz as saying an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites looks “unavoidable” given the apparent failure of sanctions to deny Tehran technology with bomb-making potential.
“If Iran continues with its program for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective,” Mofaz said. “Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable,” said the former army chief who has also been defense minister.
It was the most explicit threat yet against Iran from a member of Olmert’s government, which, like the Bush administration, has preferred to hint at force as a last resort should UN Security Council sanctions be deemed a dead end.
Mofaz also said in the interview that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, “would disappear before Israel.” “We believe the international community should be considering further tangible steps such as embargoing refined petroleum headed for Iran, sanctions against Iranian businessmen travelling abroad, tightening the pressure on Iranian financial institutions and other such steps,” he added.
Update: reactions to this from other lsraeli leaders appear at the end of this post.
Debkafile, where war always looms in the foggy but near future
For those who enjoy reading the output from skilled psy-ops experts, the Internet makes it easy to find. For those not careful where they get their information, they will learn that the Internet can make us dumber.
Then there is Debkafile (here is a brief Wikipedia entry). Whatever it is they do, nobody does it better. Let’s flip through their portfolio of warnings. These are in sequence, so their latest at at the end of the list (you cannot properly appreciate it without seeing what has come before).
“Iran’s Looming Missile-cum-Nuclear Threat Sparks Fresh Tensions“, Debkafile (8 August 2004) — Contains many ominous details, including reports of Israel’s submarines “lurking in waters just outside the Persian Gulf”.
The war started on April 6, at least according to this Debkafile article (31 March 2007) — Excerpt:
Intelligence sources in Moscow claim to have information that a US strike against Iranian nuclear installations has been scheduled for April 6 at 0040 hours. The Russian sources say the US operation, code-named “Bite,” will last no more than 12 hours and consist of missile and aerial strikes devastating enough to set Tehran’s nuclear program several years back.
“Syrian and Iranian Generals in Intensive War Consultations“, Debkafile (9 June 2007) — Excerpt:
During most of last week, two high-ranking Iranian delegations spent time in Damascus. One was composed of generals who held talks with Syrian leaders on coordinated preparations for a Middle East war in the coming months.
“Russians employed at Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor suddenly depart in a body“, Debkafile (1 October 2007) — Excerpt:
The Khorramshar News Agency, which is published by the ethnic Arab underground of Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan, reported early Oct. 1 that the entire staff of Russian nuclear engineers and experts employed in building the nuclear reactor at Bushehr had abruptly packed their bags Friday, Sept. 28, and flew back to Russia. The agency’s one-liner offers no source or explanation. DEBKAfile have obtained no corroboration of its report from any other source. If true, DEBKAfile can offer three hypothetical scenarios to account for the Russians’ precipitate departure:
- Another crisis has cropped up in the patchy Russian-Iranian dealings over the Bushehr reactor. This is unlikely because …
- Moscow or Tehran has been tipped off that a US or Israeli attack is imminent on the Bushehr plant and Iran’s other nuclear installations and acted to whip Russian personnel out of harm’s way.
- Moscow has learned that an Iranian pre-emptive attack is imminent against American targets in Iraq and the Persian Gulf and/or Israel.
“Olmert sounds alarm: Iran has crossed red line for developing a nuclear weapon. It’s too late for sanctions“, Debkafile (30 October 2007) — Excerpt:
This is the message prime minister Ehud Olmert is carrying urgently to French President Nicolas Sarkozy Monday and British premier Gordon Brown Tuesday, according to DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources. Last week, Olmert placed the Israeli intelligence warning of an Iranian nuclear breakthrough before Russian president Vladimir Putin, while Israel’s defense minister Ehud Barak presented the updated intelligence on the advances Iran has made towards its goal of a nuclear weapon to American officials in Washington, including President Bush. Olmert will be telling Sarkozy and Brown that the moment for diplomacy or even tough sanctions has passed. Iran can only be stopped now from going all the way to its goal by direct, military action.
Information of the Iranian breakthrough prompted the latest spate of hard-hitting US statements. Sunday, Oct. 21, US vice president Cheney said: “Our country, and the entire international community, cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its grandest ambitions.” Friday, the incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen said US forces are capable of operations against Iran’s nuclear facilities or other targets. At his first news conference, he said: “I don’t think we’re stretched in that regard.”
“Iran and Israel Poised for Possible Military Clash over Mughniyeh’s Death“, Debkafile (16 March 2008)
“Exclusive: Limited US attack on Iranian Revolutionary Guards bases in sight“, Debkafile (3 June 2008) — Excerpt:
Our Washington sources report that president George W. Bush is closer than ever before to ordering a limited missile-air bombardment of the IRGC-al Qods Brigade’s installations in Iran. It is planned to target training camps and the munitions factories pumping fighters, missiles and roadside bombs to the Iraqi insurgency, Lebanese Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza.
“Exclusive: Flurry over possible Israeli attack on Iran galvanized by race to succeed Olmert“, Debkafile (6 June 2008) — Excerpt:
It is self-evident to every Israeli that Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear bomb would threaten the Jewish state’s existence and no government can afford to stand by and watch it happen. For Mofaz, who is campaigning to succeed Olmert as Kadima leader and next prime minister, a hawkish position on Iran has the best chance of garnering popular support.
This does not promise an attack on Iran is about to happen. So far, Olmert and Barak have been treading water on the Iran problem; they are even dragging their feet on the lingering Hamas missile offensive which is progressively depopulating southwestern Israel.
US Carriers, always on their way to attack Iran
The is an sizable group of geopolitical alarmists, who behavior much like these sheep that faint at the slightest scare. One story that consistently sets their pulses racing is news of US carrier movements. Since our carriers are almost always in motion, their adrenal glands get frequent exercise. Debkafile often feeds the flames of their fears, with mention of US carrier movements adding a menacing touch. Here are just a few of their “exclusive” alerts and alarms.
“The American Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group joins US build-up opposite Iran“, Debkafile (30 October 2006) — Not a carrier, but makes the same point.
US aircraft carriers USS Eisenhower and USS Enterprise in the Red Sea off the Saudi Arabian coast“, Debkafile (7 November 2006) — Excerpt:
The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower, and its accompanying carrier strike group, passed through the Suez Canal on Monday, Oct. 30, and arrived in the Red Sea on Tuesday, Oct. 31.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the USS Eisenhower is
at sea off the Saudi Arabian coast, together with another aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise. The presence of the two US aircraft carriers, and their accompanying strike groups, in a body of water as small as the Red Sea is an extraordinary development.
… With the arrival of the USS Eisenhower in the region, there are now three US aircraft carriers in the Persion Gulf and surrounding waters, including the USS Iwo Jima. Accompanying the USS Eisenhower are the guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio, the guided-missile destroyers USS Rampage and USS Mason and the nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine USS Newport.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that a fourth US aircraft carrier, the USS Boxer, will arrive on the scene by the beginning of next week, together with its carrier strike group.
“Washington again ups the military stakes against Iran, plans deployment of 600 Patriot anti-missile missiles in Middle East“, Debkafile (19 January 2007)
“Cheney Lines up Middle East Arab Allies for US Iraq Pull-out and Possible Iran Attack“, Debkafile (12 May 2007) — Excerpt:
US Vice President Dick Cheney arrived in Riyadh Sat. May 12, with a full caseload for his talks with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz . He is seeking coordination with the Saudis in good time for the approaching winding-down of US military forces in Iraq. … Friday, aboard the USS John Stennis, one of two US air carrier strike groups deployed in Gulf waters, the vice president pledged the US would “stand with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating this region.”
“A third US carrier, the nuclear-powered USS Enterprise Strike Group is speeding towards the Persian Gulf“, Debkafile (29 June 2007) — Excerpt:
According to DEBKAfile’s military sources, the US naval build-up off the shores of Iran marks rising military tensions in the region, accentuated by last week’s Hamas victory which has endowed Iran with a military foothold on Israel’s southwestern border.
“Two US carrier-strike groups are bound for Persian Gulf region, bringing number back to three“, Debkafile (18 September 2007) — Excerpt:
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that from the third week of July, the only American strike force- carrier in the Persian Gulf-Arabian Sea region was the USS Enterprise. By the end of September, it will be joined by the USS Nimitz and the USS Truman Strike Groups. Our sources note that with their arrival, three American naval, air and marine forces will again confront Iranian shores at a time of crisis in the military and civilian leadership of Iran – signaled by the abrupt change of Revolutionary Guards Corps commanders, rising Israel-Syrian tensions and a troubled situation in Lebanon.
“US Gulf armada built up again amid preparations for third round of Security Council sanctions against Iran“, Debkafile (4 December 2007) — Excerpt:
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that a third aircraft carrier, the USS Harry S. Truman , arrived in the Central Command area over the weekend to join the USS Enterprise and USS Nimitz . All three head mighty strike groups of assorted warships, aircraft, marine forces, amphibious craft and nuclear submarines. Our sources interpret the new build-up as signifying US preparedness for a possible military confrontation with Iran.
“First frank talk of potential war on Iran from top US soldier“, Debkafile (8 April 2008) — Excerpt:
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources reported Friday that the USS Harry S. Truman Strike Group has just taken up position in Persian Gulf waters. It consists of 12 warships led by the giant LSD-41 class USS Whidby Island landing craft, submarines and eight assault squadrons. The legend on their banner is: Give ‘em Hell.
Another nuclear aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, will soon set out for the region from the South China Sea, along with two more US naval strike forces: the USS Kitty Hawk and the USS Nimitz attended by strike groups.
Update: “Mofaz taken to task over Iran remark“, Jerusalem Post (7 June 2008) — Excerpt:
Israeli defense and diplomatic officials, as well as the head of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, took Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz to task over the weekend for saying that Israel will attack Iran if it continues to develop nuclear weapons.
… Defense officials said Mofaz’s comments were harmful for Israel. “We need
to stop Iran, but not to appear that we are leading the world efforts to stop the Iranian nuclear efforts,” one official said.
Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i released a statement Sunday saying that “the cynical use of Israel’s strategic matters for party politics is beyond the pale and very serious.” Vilna’i said it would be wise to remain silent and “leave matters of security to those taking care of them.”
Pensioners Affairs Minister Rafi Eitan, also chided Mofaz. “In every subject related to war, it’s preferable for ministers not to speak unless it has been decided on ahead of time in a careful and organized way,” he told Israel Radio.
… One government source, meanwhile, said that Mofaz’s comments must be seen within the context of the political jockeying inside Kadima to replace Olmert. According to this source, Mofaz is staking out a hawkish position on a number of issues because he feels this will resonate well with Kadima voters in his competition with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. In this same vein, the official said, Mofaz only last week came out against a withdrawal from the Golan Heights as part of a peace deal with Syria.
The source said Mofaz’s comments on Iran were bound to cause confusion, since they came after Olmert made clear in Washington that he thought the diplomatic efforts against Iran still needed to be allowed to run their course.
Meanwhile, Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, criticized Mofaz for his comments in an interview to be published Tuesday in the German magazine Der Spiegel.
“With unilateral military actions, countries are undermining international agreements, and we are at a historic turning point,” ELBaradei said, referring both to Mofaz’s statements and to Israel’s strike on an alleged Syrian nuclear reactor in September.
Please share your comments by posting below. Brief! Stay on topic! Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).
The best of my posts about a war with Iran
- 4GW at work in a community near you (19 October 2007) — Propaganda warming us up for war with Iran.
- War with Iran (9 November 2007) — Why Iran is not necessarily our enemy.
- Is Iran dangerous, or a paper tiger? (13 November 2007)
- The new NIE, another small step in the Decline of the State (10 December 2007)
- Will Israel commit suicide? More rumors of a strike at Iran (22 December 2007)
- Cable Cut Fever grips the conspiracy-hungry fringes of the web (& February 2008)
- Resolution of the Great Submarine Cable Crisis – and some lessons learned (8 February 2008)
- Will we bomb Iran, now that Admiral Fallon is gone? (17 March 2008)
- More post-Fallon overheating: “6 signs the US may be headed for war in Iran” (18 March 2008)
- A militant America, ready for war with Iran (6 May 2008)
- Another step towards war with Iran? (7 May 2008) — About Andrew Cockburn’s article in Counterpunch.
- “War With Iran Might Be Closer Than You Think” (13 May 2008) — About Philip Giraldi’s 9 May story in The American Conservative (see below).
- A new story about a possible war with Iran (21 May 2008) — About the 20 May Jerusalem Post story, originally reported by Army Radio (see below).
- “As things look, Israel may well attack Iran soon” (3 June 2008) — About the Fischer story in the 30 May Daily Star.
Here is the full archive of my posts about a possible strike at Iran by Israel or the US.
Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)
- “As things look, Israel may well attack Iran soon”
- Israel plans for war with Iran and Syria
- The Radical Mormon
- Bolton continues his warmongering ways from the sidelines
Originally published at Fabius Maximus and reproduced here with the author’s permission.