Sunday, June 22, 2008

Is An Attack Against Iran Imminent?

The recent US leak of a massive Israeli military exercise sparked a whole lot of controversy, with some surprising revelations.

The first one came from Inspector Clouseau The IAEA's own pro-Islamist clown Mohammed El Baradei. You've probably seen the soundbite of his interview with al-Arabiya TV (as duly reported by al-Reuters) in which he claims that if Iran is attacked, he'll resign.

What you weren't told is that is El Baradei's estimate, Iran is only 6-12 months away from a nuclear weapon ....and he hasn't even seen everything.

(hat tip to MEMRI and Carl In Jerusalem at Israel Matzav)

This is exactly the opposite of what El Baradei has been spouting off for almost five years now, ever since Iranian dissidents - NOT the UN's IAEA watchdog - revealed Iran's illegal clandestine nukes program,. Apparently the IAEA under El Baradi would have difficulty finding its collective behind with both hands.

The same thing is likely true of the people who prepared the last National Intelligence Estimate on Iran.

So what exactly are the Israelis up to? And how likely is a strike on Iran by either Israel or the US?

Let me start off by saying I would be extremely surprised if this recent exercise was actually a 'rehearsal' for an Israeli strike.

The IDF and the Israeli government have been justifiably concerned about Iran for quite some time, and I have absolutely no doubts that they have had a well coordinated plan to deal with Iran for quite some time. But I doubt it involves huge air armadas over least in the opening stages.

The last two long range IDF operations were the 1981 destruction of Saddam Hussein Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq (which saved countless American lives) and the destruction of Yasir Arafat's headquarters in Tunis. In both cases, the Israelis achieved total tactical surprise, demolished their targets, and suffered no losses of aircraft or crews.

Both operations were also accomplished not by huge air fleets by by small tactical groups of IAF jets just as the raid that took out Syria's clandestine nuclear site was.

The reason is that large groups of planes maximize the radar footprint and minimize the element of tactical surprise, which is exactly how the IAF plays the game. The Israelis would be far more likely to use small groups of planes, flying in tight formation to minimize radar signals. They would fly along established air corridors, mimicking the call signals and radio traffic common to commercial airlines.

An airstrike would also likely be proceeded by an Israeli missile strike on the Iranian surface to air missile sites and radar installations shortly before the Israeli planes hit their targets. Some may be delivered by air from a distance outside the range of Iranian fighter craft (most of which are outdated and in bad shape), others from Dolphin submarines. The Iranian nuke installations are guarded by the same supposedly invincible Russian-built Pantsyr missile defense systems the Israeli successfully blinded when they destroyed the Syrian nuclear site earlier this year. It's likely the Russians and the Iranians made a few tweaks to the system based on that, but it's also highly likely that the IDF also has a few new tricks up its sleeve.

Another factor the Israelis have doubtless considered is the fact that Iran's terrorist stooges in Gaza, Lebanon and Syria would doubtless attempt to attack Israel's civilian population, so a sufficient amount of IDF air power would have to be left in country to deal with that threat.

I also found it intersting that choppers were used in the recent long range exercise, giving rise to the posasiblity that the Israelis may actually be planning to use small units of ground troops in an operation as they are rumored to have done in Syria. The Israelis have good friends both in the Turkish military and in the Kurdish Persh Merga, who they've been training and supplying with arms since the Saddam years.Both areas could be clandestine staging areas.

Here's what terrorism expert Steve Emerson had to say about the matter on FOX:

An Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear facilities is definitely possible, although it would involve razor thin planning and likely the use of bunker busters or even tactical nukes because of the way the Iranian installations are situated underground.I agree with Emerson's estimate - it's unlikely the IDF would be able to totally destroy Iran's nuclear facilities because they're so widespread, but even damaging a fairly small percentage, particularly in Bushehr and Natanz would likely set the Iranian efforts back ten to fifteen years. likely is it? And when might it happen?

Unfortunately, it's entirely likely, unless President Bush has the stones to do it first, which I doubt.The Israelis will probably be stuck doing this on their own...there's absolutely no way they can afford to allow Iran and the Mullahs to own nuclear weapons.

The US could pull off a strike far easier than the Israelis could, and destroy a great deal more of Iran's nuclear infrastructure, but doing so would cause President Bush incredible political fallout here at home from the Democrats here in Congress.They'd go berserk. If it happens at all, I would look for it in October (depending on how it might afect McCain's chances) or the period after the election, especially if Barack Hussein Obama is going to be our next president.Doing it in that time frame would give the president a rough month or two but not cause him any problems with impeachment.

As for the Israelis, here I'd give it the same time frame if nothing changes between now and then - October or November. This week the Knesset votes on whether to dissolve itself and go to elections ridding itself of the poisonous abcess of the Olmert government. AFter elections, with a new Knesset, new leadership and a new security cabinet, the Israelis will be a in a much better position to do what they will likely need to do.

No comments: