12 May 2008

Attack on Iran Imminent?

As Chris Floyd wrote last week: "Anyone who thinks the Bush Administration does not intend to attack Iran either has rocks in the head or their head in the sand". Indeed, according to Esquire "Two former high-ranking policy experts from the Bush administration say the U.S. has been gearing up for a war with Iran for years, despite claiming otherwise."

According to Philip Giraldi writing on The American Conservative blog on Friday 09 May 2008:

"There is considerable speculation and buzz in Washington today suggesting that the National Security Council has agreed in principle to proceed with plans to attack an Iranian al-Qods-run camp that is believed to be training Iraqi militants. The camp that will be targeted is one of several located near Tehran. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was the only senior official urging delay in taking any offensive action. The decision to go ahead with plans to attack Iran is the direct result of concerns being expressed over the deteriorating situation in Lebanon, where Iranian ally Hezbollah appears to have gained the upper hand against government forces and might be able to dominate the fractious political situation. "

Justin Raimondo over at antiwar.com interprets it this way:

"Translation: The Israelis are demanding war with Iran, and the national security bureaucracy – thoroughly riddled with and corrupted by the neocons – has capitulated. The Israeli failure to dislodge Hezbollah from its Lebanese fortress and subvert their growing political dominance – a direct result of the 2006 war – has Tel Aviv in a tizzy. The whole point of their "Clean Break" strategy, the linchpin of the American neocons' decade-long drive to embroil us in Iraq, has been compromised and even reversed by Hezbollah's continuing defiance. Tel Aviv wants them taken out – by the U.S., which alone has the firepower to do it.
This has been the
real purpose of the "surge" all along – to prepare the ground for the final assault on Israel's deadliest enemy in the region, which is Iran. This is why Israel's lobby in the U.S. has made ratcheting-up tensions with Tehran their number-one priority, and clearly their relentless campaign is succeeding.
Once again, the prime directive of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East stands revealed for all with eyes to see: it's all about Israel.

He's not the only one:

"Momentum is being built up against Iran in a list of growing, and more frequent, accusations against Tehran. Iran is portrayed as the main threat against Israel. It is also accused of intervening in occupied Iraq and Afghanistan. In this sense, the Israeli-U.S. war plans in the Levant have been tied to Iran, as well as Syria. The investigative journalist Seymour M. Hersh, a Pulitzer Prize winner, reported in 2006 that the Israeli war against Lebanon was part of this Israeli-U.S. military roadmap to ultimately target Iran.The accusations against Tehran and Damascus are part of a calculated effort to justify attacks against Iran and Syria as the only means to achieve peace in the Levant between Israel and the Arabs. They are also upheld as justification to ensure the security and success of occupation forces, for Anglo-American and NATO forces respectively in Iraq and Afghanistan.In this regard, the Gaza Strip, alongside Lebanon, is now being described by Tel Aviv as an “Iranian base” against Israel. Israel is pointing the finger more and more towards Tehran as the source of its problems. "

At the same time the Israeli press inform us that "US warship heads back to Mediterranean amid Lebanon crisis":

"US warship, which was deployed off Lebanon in February amid concern over Beirut's political crisis, crossed Egypt's Suez Canal on Sunday on its way to the Mediterranean, an official with the canal authority told AFP. "The USS Cole has crossed the Suez Canal and is headed to the Mediterranean," the official said, adding he did not know its exact destination. "

Other signs are that both Shell and Repsol have just announced they are pulling out of Phase 13/14 of the giant South Pars gas field project, according to western news agencies "but may yet join later stages of the field's development". This has lead the Iranian agency Press TV to comment that the 2 oil companies "intend not to capitulate to US pressure by backing away from an energy project in Iran."

The pressure is really being increased on Iran to try and make it submit to the will of the US. Firstly, economic war was declared on Iran recently:

"A unit within the US Treasury Department, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which issued a March 20 advisory to the world's financial institutions under the title: “Guidance to Financial Institutions on the Continuing Money Laundering Threat Involving Illicit Iranian Activity.”...By managing to get inserted the names of two state-owned banks in the most recent UN Security Council resolution on Iran, the US can now portray the cream of Iran's financial establishment (Bank Melli and Bank Saderat are Iran’s two largest banks) as directly integrated into alleged regime involvement in a secret nuclear weaponization program and acts of terrorism...In a 1996 publication written for the National Defense University, Harlan Ullman and James Wade introduced a military doctrine for “affecting the adversary’s will to resist through imposing a regime of Shock and Awe to achieve strategic aims and military objectives.”...
Shock and Awe’s authors (apparently with something like Vietnam or the 1993-1994 Somalia fiasco in mind) also envisioned that “[i]n certain circumstances, the costs of having to resort to lethal force may be too politically expensive in terms of local support as well as support in the U.S. and internationally." Consequently, they wrote:
"Economic sanctions are likely to continue to be a preferable political alternative or a necessary political prelude to an offensive military step . . .In a world in which nonlethal sanctions are a political imperative, we will continue to need the ability to shut down all commerce into and out of any country from shipping, air, rail, and roads. We ought to be able to do this in a much more thorough, decisive, and shocking way than we have in the past . . . Weapons that shock and awe, stun and paralyze, but do not kill in significant numbers may be the only ones that are politically acceptable in the future."

The two main stumbling blocks to a military strike on Iran, Russia and China, have already signalled their surrender to US designs. Russia has joined the UN sanctions, and China is slowing its co-operation with Iran.

As Raimondo opined at the end of April 2008: "The indications of an imminent attack – the latest incident, the steady stream of accusations coming from the U.S. regarding Iranian influence in Iraq, the nuclear charade, etc. – have suddenly taken a more ominous turn with the recent statement of America's top military officer that the U.S. is weighing military action against Iran."

Of course, Giraldi and Raimondo aren't the only ones: former Democratic US congressperson Dan Hamburg also recently weighed in on the same subject in the Santa Monica Mirror.

Andrew Cockburn from counterpunch.org reported on 02 May 2008, that six weeks prior to May 2nd, president Bush signed a secret finding authorizing a covert offensive against the Iranian regime that, according to those familiar with its contents, unprecedented in its scope:

"Bush’s secret directive covers actions across a huge geographic area – from Lebanon to Afghanistan – but is also far more sweeping in the type of actions permitted under its guidelines – up to and including the assassination of targeted officials. This widened scope clears the way, for example, for full support for the military arm of Mujahedin-e Khalq, the cultish Iranian opposition group, despite its enduring position on the State Department's list of terrorist groups.
Similarly, covert funds can now flow without restriction to Jundullah, or "army of god," the militant Sunni group in Iranian Baluchistan – just across the Afghan border -- whose leader was featured not long ago on Dan Rather Reports cutting his brother in law's throat. Other elements that will benefit from U.S. largesse and advice
include Iranian Kurdish nationalists, as well the Ahwazi arabs of south west Iran. Further afield, operations against Iran's Hezbollah allies in Lebanon will be stepped up, along with efforts to destabilize the Syrian regime."

We saw this a few days ago when Hizbullah foiled a US-planned coup, almost a repeat performance of Gaza, when Hamas foiled an Al-Fatah coup organised and financed by the US' very own Palestinian, Dahlan and his side-kick Abu Samhadana. The US is receiving bloody nose after bloody nose in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, US carrier groups are on station, and according to the Navy Times, the San Diego-based Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Pendleton "left San Diego Naval Base on Sunday (o4 May 2008) for a scheduled six-month deployment to the Western Pacific." The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit took part in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, 2004 tsunami relief efforts in Indonesia and additional tours in Iraq. The Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group comprises "the dock landing ship Pearl Harbor, amphibious transport dock Dubuque, cruiser Cape St. George and destroyers Halsey and Benfold. Deploying as part of the strike group are detachments with Assault Craft Unit 1 and 5, Beam Master Unit 1, Fleet Surgical Team 1, Tactical Air Control Squadron 11, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21 and Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 45."

But not only that, for the first time ever, the entire class of the Navy's newest modern guided-missile submarine, the Ohio-class are at sea: "Along with the capability to carry and support up to 66 Special Operations Forces personnel and deploy with up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, the SSGNs also bring to bear a host of advanced sensors and weapons systems that make it a truly unique platform."

Also entering the equation is the Israeli agression on Syria and its continued violations of Lebanese airspace.

Also worth bearing in mind are these news items:

Haartez: "Israel's largest-ever emergency drill...to test the authorities' preparedness for threats such as a missile attack on central Israel."

A few days after Cheney's Middle East tour, it was revealed that the Saudi Shura Council -- the elite group that implements the decisions of the autocratic inner circle -- is preparing "national plans to deal with any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards that may affect the kingdom following experts' warnings of possible attacks on Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactors".

U.S. accuses Iran, Syria of giving green light to Hezbollah


UPDATE 13 MAY 2008:

Interestingly, the report linked above that "Hezbollah Foiled US Coup Bid In Lebanon" has been reported by Nasdaq of all places...

However, not all commentarists are in agreement. Joshua Landis' blog has this to say:

"Rex Brynen of McGill University makes a powerful argument that Hizbullah has blundered (Copied below). He is correct that the Shiite move on Sunni West Beirut has exacerbated sectarian anxieties and fears - not only Sunni fears, but Christian fears as well. Lebanon's other sects now realize how little stands between them and Hizbullah's militia.
Second, Sunnis such as Salim al-Hoss and Najib Mikati who would be expected to lead Lebanon in a compromise and who have showed themselves in the past to be willing to work with Syria even at the most trying of times, have taken an anti-Hizbullah line. This demonstrates how difficult it is for Sunnis to reach out to Hizbullah and Syria at this moment. This is not a good sign for a future compromise.
The rhetoric on all sides as grown worse than I have seen it since the civil war. Siniora has said that Hizbullah has done things that the Israelis never did when they occupied Beirut. The PPS or SSNP issued a statement that they would hold Hariri personally responsible for the killing of their people in Tripoli. Nasrallah called the Lebanese government illegal, and on it goes.
Most distressing is Rex's conclusion about the March 14 Movement's determination to ignore the implications of Hizbullah's occupation of West Beirut. In this he may well be correct. It is, after all, how March 14 responded to the Hizbullah's tent city. In essence, Siniora's government will dare Hizbullah to carry out the coup the Shiite party clearly does not want to carry out. The game of chicken will continue. Hizbullah's use of force will neither lance the boil of paralysis that has overtaken Lebanon's government, nor will it serve as a wake up call to Lebanon's bickering factions that they must compromise. That is what Rex is predicting. Here is his analysis
: "

Check it out...

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