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Hawks And Doves Over Iran

The six Gulf Cooperation Council countries, all Sunni, do not publicly endorse such an attack. But they all share the same fear about a nuclear Iran. Saudi Arabia's outgoing ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki al-Faisal (pictured), has said publicly the kingdom would be firmly opposed to military operations against Iran.
Mohammed al-Naqbi, chairman of the Gulf Negotiations Center said "What we're not interested in is another war in the region. Iraq is your problem, not the problem of the Arabs. You destroyed a country that had institutions. You handed that country to Iran. Now you are crying to Europe and the Arabs to help you out of this mess."
by Arnaud De Borchgrave
UPI Editor at Large
Washington (UPI) Jan 24, 2007
"Cataclysmic ... Apocalyptic," said Gianfranco Fini, Italy's former deputy prime minister and foreign minister, and leader of the National Alliance. He had just been asked for the likely reaction of America's NATO allies in the event of Israeli and/or U.S. air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities.

Stubbing out his second cigarette over breakfast at the Italian Embassy residence, he said the consequences of such an attack on Iran would be "unimaginable and without precedent." Fini reminded his breakfast guests that European nations trade extensively with Iran.

Some allies would presumably recall their ambassador from Washington and some might even break diplomatic relations.

At the opposite end of the spectrum of reactions was a major Gulf state official. Speaking privately, not for quotation, he said, "if I had to choose between living with a nuclear Shiite Iran across the Gulf from us, and the bombing of Iran's nuclear installations, with all the dire consequences of such an attack, I would still opt for bombing."

The six Gulf Cooperation Council countries, all Sunni, do not publicly endorse such an attack. But they all share the same fear about a nuclear Iran. Saudi Arabia's outgoing ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki al-Faisal, has said publicly the kingdom would be firmly opposed to military operations against Iran.

"What we're not interested in is another war in the region," said Mohammed al-Naqbi, chairman of the Gulf Negotiations Center. "Iraq is your problem not the problem of the Arabs. You destroyed a country that had institutions. You handed that country to Iran. Now you are crying to Europe and the Arabs to help you out of this mess."

"Neocon" elder statesman Richard Perle, speaking at the annual Herzliya Conference in Israel last Sunday, said president Bush will order an attack on Iran if it becomes clear to him that Iran is set to acquire nuclear weapons capabilities. U.S. presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, at the same conference, summed up the sentiment of four presidential aspirants by saying, "Iran must be stopped, Iran can be stopped, and Iran will be stopped."

On his most recent trip to Israel, Tom Lantos, D-Calif., was asked time and again by his interlocutors, "What are you waiting for to attack Iran's nuclear installations?" In Israel, the perception, clear across the political spectrum, is that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is plotting a "second Holocaust" against Israel by way of a nuclear weapon lobbed by missile into an Israeli city.

Reinforcing these hair-raising suspicions was Iran's veto of 38 nuclear inspectors from a longer list submitted by the United Nations, presumably retaliation for minor slap-on-wrist trade sanctions imposed by the Security Council last months.

Overlooked in this picture is the fact Ahmadinejad has no control over Iran's nuclear program and cannot order around his own military. His only authority is over his cabinet. Armed forces, Revolutionary Guards, intelligence, Parliament, and media are the purview of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and 14 senior Grand Ayatollahs.

Wayne White, former deputy director of the State Department's Office of Analysis for the Middle East (under the Bureau of Intelligence and Research) said the Bush administration has drawn up plans for a broad attack against Iran. "I've seen some of the planning," said White, "and you're not talking about a surgical strike." Most Middle Eastern experts in the United States, Europe and the Arab world predict an attack on Iran would destabilize the Muslim world for years.

Ignored by the hawks is the rising chorus against Ahmadinejad's anti-U.S. and anti-Israel foreign policy from within the upper echelons of the mullahocracy. His state visits to America's self-avowed enemies in Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua were denounced as "wasteful" and "irresponsible."

As was the "unrealistic" budget he submitted to parliament. Attempts to impeach him gathered 38 signatures, short of the 72 required. Ethnic and religious fissures abound in the body politic. Iran's senior dissident cleric, Hossein Ali Montazeri, blasted Ahmadinejad's "radical and provocative slogans" against the West on the nuclear issue.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff has disclosed Vice President Dick Cheney rejected an Iranian offer in 2003 to help the United States stabilize Iraq. According to Lawrence Wilkerson, who was close to Powell for 16 years, Tehran also offered to end its military support for Hezbollah and Hamas. Those were the heady days when Iran could not believe its luck. The United States had "taken out" its two mortal enemies -- Sunni Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein's Sunni tyranny in Iraq -- and Iran was still in a covertly conciliatory mood via-a-vis the American giant next door.

This flickered out when the U.S. military in 2004 took on Shiite militias that were under the indirect control of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Today, if an air campaign were launched by Israel and/or the United States against Iran, an all-out guerrilla jihad ordered by Tehran could easily lead to a precipitous and humiliating withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

As long as Israel to the west and Pakistan to the east are full-fledged nuclear weapons powers, with missile delivery systems, Iran will not abandon its own quest that has been underway for the past two decades.

Those who argue the pros and cons of U.S. air strikes posit Bush's six-year legacy: Iraq as the biggest blunder in U.S. history, which relegates him in some surveys to one of the three worst presidents in U.S. history. Hence the temptation for a lame duck president to double down by reducing Iran's nuclear facilities to rubble. The cons in this argument can see the NATO effort in Afghanistan imploding; Pakistan's Musharraf siding with his Muslim fundamentalists against a close alliance with the United States and helping restore a "moderate" Taliban regime in Kabul; Iraq and Iran signing a mutual-assistance military alliance.

How different would the picture be if Israel were to attempt a military solution against Iran? Israel has always thought air strikes appear to be out of the question because of limited air-to-air refueling tanker capacity. Operation Babylon II -- Babylon I was launched in 1981 when Israeli aircraft pulverized the Osirak light-water reactor under construction near Baghdad -- would most probably come by air, but not in aircraft. Israel has some 300 medium-range ballistic missiles (Jericho 2 has a range of between 1,500 and 3,500 km) that are accurate within 50 feet. Some Jerichos have low-yield, bunker-busting nuclear weapons designed to penetrate the thickest concrete that protects some of Iran's underground targets.

Israel believes it cannot wait much longer. For the past four years, Mossad and Israeli military intelligence have estimated the critical point of no return in Iran's nuclear timetable was somewhere between 2005 and 2007. But the powers that be in the Jewish state would, of course, much prefer to have the United States do the job. For the first time since the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. Navy will have two aircraft carrier battle groups and cruise missile capabilities on escort ships close to Iran. Also part of the lethal mix are B-52 and B-2B bombers based in Diego Garcia in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

U.S. air strikes against Iranian supply routes into Iraq would be the first step on a new escalator.

Source: United Press International

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