"I say only they will not come by sea"
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Everybody speaks about a future war; menacing declarations are made and decisive rallies are held to show the unbeatable determination with which the future war would be won. Yet, a short look at the headlines discloses a different reality.
Today, February 13, 2012, Israeli media reported on several attacks. The most serious was in Delhi, India, where the wife of an Israeli diplomat was moderately wounded when a car bomb exploded outside Israel’s embassy. In parallel, a Georgian television channel reported that an explosive device attached to the car of the Israeli ambassador to Georgia, Yitzhak Gerber, was neutralized after one of the Georgian workers at the embassy in Tbilisi had alerted the police of a strange object attached to the car. Another incident was reported in Amsterdam, but as in Georgia, the event ended with no damages. As of now, it is unclear who is responsible for the attacks. However, the attacks came one day after the fourth anniversary of the assassination of Hezbollah's deputy leader, Imad Mughniyah, which the Islamist organization blames on Israel. The organization is a close ally of Tehran.
Of course, Israel cannot be considered an innocent victim. A Sunday Times report revealed Monday that Mossad agents were behind last week’s assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist. The report reveals step-by-step the procedure behind the killing of Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan as he was on his way to the Natanz uranium enrichment plant. According to the Sunday Times, Roshan, 32, was monitored from a makeshift control room in a safe house nearby as he was preparing to leave for work. The report states that as Roshan’s bodyguard was driving him to the Natanz uranium enrichment site, where he served as director, a masked person on a motorbike weaved through traffic, planting a bomb shaped to deliver its full force at the passenger on the car.
“We were not involved in any way with regards to the assassination that took place there,” said US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, although he hinted that he had “some idea” of who was. Mr. Panetta made a false statement; the USA substantially supports Israeli military efforts with money and equipment, knowing that crimes would be perpetrated with them. After all, the US government is well aware of the Goldstone Report, which defined Israel as a terror-inflicting organization. I am confident the report was read with interest by the Secretary of State and a few other Americans (if not, it is available here). Thus, the US shares partial responsibility for Israeli crimes, even if it is not the direct criminal and assassin. The British Foreign Office said Britain had “no involvement whatsoever” in the attack. While writing these lines, I am waiting for a similar statement by Benjamin Netanyahu.
Reactions in Tehran were fast. After the public burial and political rallies that followed it, the Iranian government began on Sunday, February 12, formal steps against the Mossad. According to IRNA (Iran’s news agency), Iran’s foreign ministry handed Javanshir Akhundov, the Azeri Ambassador to Iran, a note calling on the government of Azerbaijan to stop the Mossad’s anti-Iran operations in its country. “Following the movements of the terrorists involved in the assassination of Iranian scientists in the Republic of Azerbaijan, and the facilities provided to them to go to Tel Aviv in collaboration with Mossad spy networks, Azeri Ambassador to Iran Javanshir Akhundov was summoned to the Foreign Ministry,” IRNA quoted the Foreign Ministry as saying in a statement. This is a bit odd considering that Azerbaijan is also a Muslim country.
Yet, there is little doubt regarding the allegations since, on the same day, the London Times reported that the Mossad is using Azerbaijan as a base to spy on the Islamic Republic, citing testimony from an anonymous Mossad agent. Nearby Georgia, has been mentioned more than once as a friendly base for Israeli forces. This assassination is just the last in a long line of violent events in Iran which has been traced back to Israel.
Early February, Washington
Seldom are the movements of the Mossad Director reported in the media. In those rare cases, it is done invariably by quoting an unimportant source. In this case, The Daily Beast reported today that Tamir Pardo, the current Mossad Director, visited Washington in the first week of February 2012. The visit was held in parallel to a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing. At the senate meeting, panel chairperson Dianne Feinstein said that she had met Pardo earlier that week in Washington. CIA Director David Petraeus also admitted to having had a meeting with Pardo and cited what he called “Israel’s growing concern over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”
According to these US officials, Pardo asked top American officials questions such as: “What is our position on Iran? Are we ready to bomb? Would we [do so later]? What does it mean if [Israel] does it anyway?” As always, I don’t understand whom the word “we” refers to. Mr. Pardo, please feel free to email me with a proper answer.
The report added that “Israel has ceased sharing a significant amount of intelligence concerning its military preparations with the US.” Tamir—like almost all media—keeps talking of a future war, while in fact, he behaves like Che Guevara, conducting a clandestine guerrilla war against Iran. Considering this, his visit in Washington had an obvious disinformation value that was clearly perceived by the Senate committee.
“I say only they will not come by sea”
For a long while, I claim there would be no direct war between Israel and Iran, at least not in the conventional scenarios often depicted in the media. Israel is too small and too far away from Iran for that, even if Georgia and Azerbaijan helped its air force. Iran has had enough time to protect its strategic installations properly, thus conventional air attacks would be of little use. In Astonishing Israeli Attack on Iran I described what probably would be the only feasible war between the two: a missile war. Meanwhile, we are seeing both sides conducting a guerrilla war on relatively irrelevant targets, apparently with the hope of causing moral and public relations damage.
In this situation it is amusing to remember the words of British Admiral Jervis in 1801, during the standoff between the continental land forces of the French army and the maritime forces of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. “I do not say, my Lords that the French will not come. I say only they will not come by sea.” In the times when air travel couldn’t be used to efficiently transfer military forces, the admiral reinforced his position by creating a contradiction. After all, how could the French reach the British island if not by sea? We are waiting for a repetition of past wars, while forgetting that the technological reality has changed. Che Guevara owns missiles and doesn’t care if Britain—Israel or Iran—is an island.
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