Preparing to bomb Iran? 6

What was the Israeli Air Force doing in Romania when one if its helicopters crashed on July 26, killing six of its airmen?

The crash itself is distressing, but the answer to the question is good news: the IAF was rehearsing for an attack on Iranian nuclear sites.

This report comes from DebkaFile:

The Israeli Air Force had been drilling high-risk attacks on precipitous cliff caves similar to the mountain tunnels in which Iran has hidden nuclear facilities. The crash occurred in the last stage of a joint Israeli-US-Romanian exercise for simulating an attack on Iran. Aboard the helicopter were six Israeli airmen and a Romanian flight captain. …

Iran has given up on adequate air and missile defense shields for its nuclear sites and in the last couple of years has been blasting deep tunnels beneath mountain peaks more than 2,000 meters high for housing nuclear facilities. There, they were thought by Tehran to be safe from air or missile attack.

The American and Israeli air forces have since been developing tactics for evading Iranian radar and flying at extremely low-altitudes through narrow mountain passes so as to reach the tunnel entrances for attacks on the nuclear equipment undetected. The drill in Romania took place at roughly the same altitude and in similar terrain that a US or Israeli air attack would expect to encounter in Iran.

For such strikes, special missiles would be used that are capable of flying the length of a tunnel, however twisty, and detonating only when its warhead identifies and contacts its target.

The entire maneuver is extremely hazardous. The pilots must be exceptionally skilled, capable of split-second timing in rising from low-altitudes to points opposite the high tunnel entrances without crashing into the surrounding mountain walls.

The Israeli helicopter is reported to have flown into a cloud patch hanging over its simulated target and crashed into a steep mountainside, while the second helicopter flying in the formation avoided the cloud and continued without incident. Israeli and American Air Force pilots are instructed, when encountering cloud cover of the target, to go around it. At all times, they must have eye contact with their target.

The accident revealed to military observers that the Israeli Air Force is practicing long-distance flights not only by bombers, but also heavy helicopters, such as the “Yasour” CH-53, which would require in-flight refueling. These practice flights have been taking place in cooperation with Greece and Bulgaria as well as Romania, whose distance from Israel of 1,600 kilometers approximates that of Iran. American air bases in Romania and Bulgaria participate in the drills.

Good to know, but the information that the US is participating in the exercise, and the fact that it is being reported – albeit through news of a disaster – makes us wonder if the point of publishing it is to frighten Ahmadinejad and the mullahs rather than actually prepare for a strike. Is it really likely, we wonder, that Obama has decided to take military action against Iran?

Charles Krauthammer seems to think it possible and even probable. The administration, he says, is “hardening its line”. And he sees a growth of determination among Western states and Arab states to stop Iran forcibly from becoming a nuclear power.

He gives these reasons in his column in Investor’s Business Daily:

Passage of weak U.N. sanctions was followed by unilateral sanctions by the United States, Canada, Australia and the European Union. Already … Iran is experiencing a sharp drop in gasoline imports as Lloyd’s of London refuses to insure the ships delivering them.

Second, the Arab states are no longer just whispering their desire for the U.S. to militarily take out Iranian nuclear facilities. The United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to Washington said so openly at a conference three weeks ago.

The UAE ambassador[‘s] … publicly expressed desire for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities speaks for the intense Arab fear approaching panic, of Iran’s nuclear program and the urgent hope that the U.S. will take it out.

It is true that the UAE ambassador, Yousef al-Otaiba, was heard to be pleading or at least arguing for military action by “an outside force”, but his government hastily denied that he meant it. There was no denial, however, that his country regards Iran’s nuclear program as a grave and imminent threat.

There is also a rumour, not mentioned today by Krauthammer, that Saudi Arabia would be willing to look the other way while Israeli planes flew through its airspace on a mission to bomb Iranian nuclear installations.

But what of American participation in such a raid? Krauthammer goes on to say:

Third, and perhaps even more troubling from Tehran’s point of view, are developments in the U.S. Former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden suggested last Sunday that over time, in his view, a military strike is looking increasingly favorable compared with the alternatives. Hayden is no Obama insider, but Time reports (“An Attack on Iran: Back on the Table,” July 15) that high administration officials are once again considering the military option.

Here is part of what Time had to say:

[Secretary of Defense] Gates … told Fox News on June 20. “We do not accept the idea of Iran having nuclear weapons.” In fact, Gates was reflecting a new reality [sic – shouldn’t it be “realism”?] in the military and intelligence communities. Diplomacy and economic pressure remain the preferred means to force Iran to negotiate a nuclear deal, but there isn’t much hope that’s going to happen. “Will [sanctions] deter them from their ambitions with regards to nuclear capability?” CIA Director Leon Panetta told ABC News on June 27. “Probably not.” So the military option is very much back on the table. …

Intelligence sources say that the U.S. Army’s Central Command, which is in charge of organizing military operations in the Middle East, has made some real progress in planning targeted air strikes — aided, in large part, by the vastly improved human-intelligence operations in the region. “There really wasn’t a military option a year ago,” an Israeli military source told me. “But they’ve gotten serious about the planning, and the option is real now.” Israel has been brought into the planning process … because U.S. officials are frightened by the possibility that the right-wing Netanyahu government might go rogue and try to whack the Iranians on its own.

There’s a lefty explanation! If whacking the Iranians is now considered a good thing to do, why would it be bad, or “going rogue”, for the Israelis to do it? Note the insistent mention that Netanyahu’s government is “right-wing”. Right-wings are, of course, on the edge of roguery at all times in the assumptions of the left.

One other factor has brought the military option to a low boil: Iran’s Sunni neighbors really want the U.S. to do it. When United Arab Emirates Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba said on July 6 that he favored a military strike against Iran despite the economic and military consequences to his country, he was reflecting an increasingly adamant attitude in the region. Senior American officials who travel to the Gulf frequently say the Saudis, in particular, raise the issue with surprising ardor. Everyone from the Turks to the Egyptians to the Jordanians are threatening to go nuclear if Iran does. That is seen as a real problem in the most volatile region in the world: What happens, for example, if Saudi Arabia gets a bomb, and the deathless monarchy there is overthrown by Islamist radicals?

Message to Time: The “deathless monarchy” IS radically Islamist. The Saudis are, however, Sunni radicals who fear the hegemony of Iranian Shia radicals. So their ardor is not really surprising at all.

For the moment, the White House remains as skeptical as ever about a military strike.

Ah, we thought so!

Most senior military leaders also believe … a targeted attack on Iran would be “disastrous on a number of levels.” It would unify the Iranian people against the latest in a long series of foreign interventions. It would also unify much of the world — including countries like Russia and China that we’ve worked hard to cultivate — against a recowboyfied US. [There’s a coinage for you!- JB].  There would certainly [?] be an Iranian reaction — in Iraq, in Afghanistan, by Lebanese Hizballah against Israel and by the Hizballah network against the U.S. and Saudi homelands. A catastrophic regional war is not impossible.

Of course, it is also possible that this low-key saber-rattling is simply a message the U.S. is trying to send the Iranians: it’s time to deal. … But it is also possible that the saber-rattling is not a bluff, that the U.S. really won’t tolerate a nuclear Iran and is prepared to do something awful to stop it.

So our question remains: is it likely that Obama will even consider the bombing of Iran?

We hope with ardor that Iran’s nuclear capability is knocked out soon by military force. It would be best of course if the US and Israel acted together. But if the US under Obama’s weak leadership holds back, may Israel strike alone – soon, and to devastating effect.

Will America defend Iran against Israel? 3

The Blog (of the Weekly Standard) brings us this piece of dumbfounding news:

In a little noticed interview with the Daily Beast (presumably little noticed because serious people don’t read the Daily Beast), Zbigniew Brzezinski suggests that Barack Obama do more than just refuse to support an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear sites — the American president must give the order to shoot down Israeli aircraft as they cross Iraqi airspace:

DB: How aggressive can Obama be in insisting to the Israelis that a military strike might be in America’s worst interest?

Brzezinski: We are not exactly impotent little babies. They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?

DB: What if they fly over anyway?

Brzezinski: Well, we have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse.

The reference here is to the USS Liberty which was fired on by Israel during the Six Days’ War in June 1967. It was a friendly fire error. (See Michael Oren’s article on the incident here.) Brzezinski is implying that Israel attacked the ship deliberately, and that the US should avenge it. To him, Israel is America’s enemy and not Iran.

Contrary to Brezinski’s half-hearted disclaimer that no one wishes for such an outcome, there are plenty on the left who would delight in a pitched battle between the United States and Israel. Democrats in Congress routinely support resolutions affirming Israel’s right to take whatever steps it deems necessary to assure its own national defense. And Obama has at least paid lip service to the concept. But hostility to Israel among the rank and file is very real on the left — and among “realists.”

So conjure the image — the Obama administration sending U.S. aircraft up to protect Iran’s airspace and it’s nuclear installations from an attack by a democracy that is one of America’s closest allies. Unfortunately, this may not be so hard to imagine in Israel, where the number of people who believe Obama is pro-Israel is at just 4 percent — and falling. And given Obama’s (literally) submissive posture to the Saudis, his indulgence of the Iranians, and his simultaneously hard-line approach to Israel, it seems even some of Obama’s supporters can savor the possibility of a “reverse Liberty.”

Zbignew Brzezinski , who was National Security Adviser (1977-1981) to that 0ther anti-Semite Jimmy Carter, is now influential again as adviser to Obama.

Posted under Arab States, Commentary, Defense, Diplomacy, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Israel, jihad, middle east, News, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Sunday, September 20, 2009

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Israel hits back 5

 From Debkafile:

Israeli bombers hit Hamas’ film center in southern Gaza Saturday night, Dec. 27, after massive air raids destroyed Hamas compounds across the enclave leaving 205 killed, 330 injured and thousands of shock victims. The operation followed a week in which Hamas fired 200 missiles at Israeli civilian targets.

The Israeli Air Force planes struck Hamas security headquarters in Gaza City and compounds, police stations and ports. Several Hamas commanders were killed in the bombardment of a Hamas military passing-out ceremony. Among them was Hamas police chief Tawfiq Jabber.

The Israeli military spokesman said the Gaza operation is "just beginning" and would be expanded and intensified as necessary.

Hamas and other Palestinian factions ordered its "fighters to avenge Israeli attacks." An Israeli was killed in Netivot in its first reprisal.

Egypt has condemned Israel for its military attack, but held Hamas responsible for refusing to heed warnings and failing to protect the Palestinian people. It has mobilized its rescue and medical services in Sinai, including hospitals for aid to casualties for the Israeli air bombardment of Gaza. Egyptian ambulances stood by at the Rafah crossing to transport wounded Hamas operatives.

The Israeli air attack launching some 40 missiles began 11.30 a.m. local time Saturday, eight days after Hamas terminated the informal Gaza ceasefire by showering missiles and mortar rounds on 250,000 Israeli civilians day after day.

Last week, the Israeli cabinet gave the Israeli military the green light for reprisals as Palestinian missile attacks escalated, 13 mortar rounds fired Friday, when Israel allowed 90 trucks of food and medicines to cross into the Gaza Strip.

Since Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip in 2005, the Palestinians have fired 5,000 missiles.

Posted under Uncategorized by Jillian Becker on Saturday, December 27, 2008

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