Monday, November 23, 2009
Iran's 'War Games' - The Real Story
The Iranians launched their Modafean-e Aseman-e-Velayat (Defenders air defense) 'war games' yesterday,with the express aim of practicing protection of their nuclear sites from attack.This was a response to the joint US-Israel Juniper Cobra 10 anti-ballistic exercise that took place two weeks ago, designed to test how well the joint missile defense systems would work against Iranian missiles launched at Israel, which according to my sources exceeded expectations.
For all the chest pounding the mullahs are doing, this was an act of desperation.
The mullahs have still been unable to get the Russians to ship Iran the elite S-300 missile defense systems the mullahs want to buy, and without them, Iran's nuclear sites are incredibly vulnerable to either US stealth bombers or Israeli jamming.
For that matter, the IDF managed to jam and make useless the Russian supplied advanced missile defense systems which were defending the Syrian nuclear site the Israelis took out in 2007.
There could be several reasons that the Russians have suddenly balked at supplying the Mullahs with their new toys. The Israelis could have made some deal of their own with Putin when Netanyahu was there a few months ago. And I have no doubts that the mysterious 'hijacking' of the Russian ship "Arctic Sea" which the Mossad was tracking and which was reportedly carrying weaponry to Iran may have figured in somewhere.
If it had a cargo of S-300's on board and the Mossad were responsible for the hijacking, ( and remember, it was the Mossad that told the Russians where to find the ship off of the West African Coast) not only did it cost the Kremlin a ton of money, but it likely gave the Israelis a chance to find out everything they need to know about neutralizing the S-300s if it comes to that.
Israeli President Shimon Peres made a trip to the Kremlin right after the "Arctic Sea" incident, and the Russians may have decided that making a clandestine deal with the Israelis made more sense than throwing good money after bad. And speaking of money, if the IDF takes out Iran, oil prices would likely rise, which could only benefit Russia.
For their part the mullahs realize that Iran's air defenses, which mainly consist of antiquated F-5 US fighters and its land based missile defenses are not going to be adequate to protect it's nuclear installations. They'll have to resort to dummy facilities, hiding and dispersing what they can, targeting the Saudi and UAE oilfields, trying to disrupt oil shipments in the Persian Gulf and attempting to use Hamas and Hezbollah as proxies against Israel.
I could be wrong, but I doubt that Hamas and Hezbollah are going to risk their survival on Iran's say-so with Netanyahu leading Israel. In spite of the indecisive endings to those conflicts , both organizations have good memories about what happened the last time they attacked Israel, and Hezbollah in particular might be expected to be sensitive about exposing Lebanon to Israeli retaliation and risking the political fallout.
Iran's land based missiles and attempts to shut the narrow Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf could be dealt with by an American air strike and the US Navy, which is exactly how President Reagan neutralized the Iranian threat back in the 1980's, but it remains to be seen whether the current occupant of the White House has the spine to pull that off.
If the Israelis do strike at Iran ( and I would expect it early in 2010) based on how they've operated previously they will likely utilize small strategic groups of planes in normal airline flight paths and mimicking commercial airline radio signals.Given the relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, they will likely be flying over Saudi Arabian air space, rather than Turkey or Iraq, while the Saudis claim plausible denial. The recent IDF strikes on Gaza-bound Iranian arms convoys in Sudan, which utilized mid-air tanker refueling to enable multiple strikes at a somewhat longer distance were a model for what we can expect.
The Israelis will also likely utilize their five cruise missile equipped Dolphin-class submarines, all of which have the capability of hitting Iranian targets with a high degree of precision.