By Damian Lataan
With the failure of the Western powers to foment a popular uprising after the 12 June elections in Iran that they hoped would lead to regime change, the West has now had to return to the â€˜Iran has nuclear weaponsâ€™ meme in order to pave the way for an attack against Iran in the hope that regime change can be affected that way.
In an interview on Sunday, Vice-President Joe Biden, when asked, â€œâ€¦if the Israelis decide Iran is an existential threat, they have to take out the nuclear program, militarily the United States will not stand in the way?â€ responded saying: â€œLook, we cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do when they make a determination, if they make a determination that theyâ€™re existentially threatened and their survival is threatened by another country.â€
Biden was then asked: â€œYou sa y we canâ€™t dictate, but we can, if we choose to, deny over-flight rights here in Iraq. We can stand in the way of a military strikeâ€, to which he responded, â€œIâ€™m not going to speculateâ€¦ on those issues, other than to say Israel has a right to determine whatâ€™s in its interests, and we have a right and we will determine whatâ€™s in our interests.â€
Yesterday (5 July) â€˜Timesonlineâ€™ reported that the Saudis had made it clear to Meir Dagan, Israelâ€™s Mossad chief, that they would not object to Israeli overflights if they were on their way to targets in Iran. While a flight to Iran from Israel via Saudi Arabia would be much longer that a direct flight to Iran overflying Jordan and Iraq, a flight via Saudi Arabia would not require permission from any other country; not even the US to fly over Iraq. And if the Israelis can get permission from the Saudis to have support aircraft in the air in Saudi airspace to refuel the Israeli strike aircraft over, say, the Persian Gulf, then an Israeli strike against Iran is feasible.
Itâ€™s interesting that the report about the Saudiâ€™s giving clearance for overflights to attack Iran were quickly denied by Netanyahuâ€™s office. Clearly, the Israelis are anxious to bury this information though, one suspects, that it is now too late and the Iran ians will now have their spies in Saudi Arabia scanning the skies and radio bands for high flying aircraft heading west to east across Saudi Arabia toward the Persian Gulf.
It may well be that Israel could be keen to take advantage of the unrest that has recently unsettled Iran but now seems to have died down. A strike now, they may feel, might just reignite the embers of insurrection that still glow especially if there was also a strike against Iranâ€™s security forces and itâ€™s military.
Even if Israel did strike against Iran via Saudi skies, Israel would still need to rely on the US for support. The fuel required for the mission would need to be supplied by the US as would most of the munitions. US forces would also need to be on standby ready to prevent any Iranian retaliatory strikes against Israel and the US. Israel would also need to have its troops on standby at home in preparedness for retaliatory attacks from both Hezbollah and Hamas.
For Israel, a Hamas and Hezbollah strike against them would be what they want. It would provide the casus belli for Israel to invade both the Gaza Strip and south Lebanon â€“ perhaps all of Lebanon â€“ knowing that the Iranians would not be in a position to help them. And with Iran out of the equation, Syria would not dare move against Israel.
With the failure of the post-election Iranian revolution, Israel will now resort to its old rhetoric of â€˜Iran has a nuclear weapons programâ€™ to try again to get public opinion onside for when they launch their attack against Iran to effect regime change. With the US now clearly not standing in the way and the Saudis prepared to let the US off the hook with regard to being seen by the world as facilitating an Israeli attack by allowing the Israelis to overfly Iraq despite all the talk of pursuing a â€œdiplomatic solutionâ€, everything seems in place for the Israelis to feel free to attack Iran when ever they feel they are ready.
The prospect of a final confrontation between Israel and Iran is now off the back burner and back on to the front burner. The problem is, If and when it happens, it wonâ€™t be a simple make or break fight for Israel or Iran; the repercussions will reverberate around the world for years to come.