Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Iran in the crosshair again?

I am sure you all have followed it.  From Panetta's threats about Iran crossing a "red line", to the saber-rattling of pretty much all the Republicans except Ron Paul, to the Israel's lobby renewed efforts to get the US to not only impose illegal sanctions against Iran, but to actually attack it.

So is this really going to happen?

Last time it appeared that Iran was about to be attacked - in 2007 - I wrote a piece entitled "Iran's asymmetrical response options" in which I took a look at the various forms a US/Israel attack could take and what Iran could do about it.  While this analysis is still basically correct, the circumstances have changed rather dramatically in several key aspects since 2007.

First and foremost, the US has withdrawn the bulk of its forces from Iraq and has consolidated its remaining forces.  This means that not only will the Iranians have far fewer targets to attack inside Iraq, it also means that the most exposed lines of resupply through the Basra region have now been abandoned.  This is huge.

Second, with the withdrawal of the bulk of the US forces from Iraq, there are more troops available for operations against Iran.

Third, the US Air Force does not have to play its role of "airborne protector" of US troops in Iraq, meaning that its assets are now available for other operations.

Fourth, NATO, the eternal slave of the USA, is now heavily involved in Afghanistan and that, in turn, means that NATO assets are also available for any US attack on Iran.  You can count on the likes of Sarkozy to send 10-20 Rafales to attack Iran just to prove that France is a "great" country...

Bottom line: the US is far better positioned to attack Iran in 2012 than it was in 2007.

Unlike many other analysts, I do not believe that Iran has the capability to block the Strait of Hormuz.  Or let me put it this way: yes, Iran can sink a number of ships in and around the Strait of Hormuz, but the USA does have the means to wrestle the control of this strait back from the Iranians by force.

Worse, should the Iranians attempt to block the Strait of Hormuz it would give the USA a perfect pretext to wage war on Iran under the guise of "guaranteeing the freedom of navigation and commerce in international waters" and "not letting the Mullah's take the rest of the planet hostage". Frankly, I hope that the Iranians will be smart enough not to fall into this trap.

Iran would have the option of attacking US forces in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and other countries, but the problem with that is that this could be presented by the Imperial corporate media as a "Shia attack against the Sunni".  My personal opinion is that as long as the USA and Israel attack Iran the majority of the Muslim world will see that as an infidel attack on the Muslim ummah, but any Iranian counter-attack on US basis in majority Sunni countries will inevitably rekindle sectarian tensions, much to the advantage of the USraelian Empire.

As for the "raining missiles down on Israel" option, I did not like it in 2007 and I still don't like it.  I oppose symbolic military operations on principle.  Militarily speaking, hitting back with missiles at Israel will bring no advantage to Iran, so what is the point?

Frankly, I believe that the best option for Iran is to simply ride out the attack and make the USA and Israel pay a painful political price for their attack.  After all, how much damage can the USA and Israel really inflict on Iran?

The Zionists (US and Israeli) can definitely hit a large section of the Iranian civilian and research nuclear program.  And it can be rebuilt.

More painfully, the Zionists might use this strike to kill a number of key Iranian scientists.  Such scientists are far more precious than any installation and I hope that Iran will do a better job protecting them than it did in the past (many have been killed in assassinations).

No doubt, the Zionists are capable of destroying a large part of the Iranian air defense system and several key naval ships (surface and submarines).

Finally, we can count on the Zionists to attempt to kill key members of the Iranian leadership, but considering similar efforts in the past (Nasrallah, Saddam), they are unlikely to succeed in this effort.

Now, if the Iranians strike back it will give the Zionists an excuse for a much more sustained campaign.  But if the Iranians only reply with political measures, it will make it much more difficult for the Zionists to sustain and air strikes campaign similar to what they did in Kosovo or Libya.

Anyway, whatever option Iran chooses a Zionist attack on Iran is inevitable.  Not because anybody in Israel or the USA seriously believes that Iran is building a nuclear weapon, but because both countries have gone far to far in their rhetoric and saber-rattling.  Not to strike at Iran at this point in time is tantamount to surrender.

Don't be deceived and mislead by all the rational arguments against a strike on Iran.  Remember that these are the folks who brought you two of the most embarrassing military defeats in modern history (Lebanon in 2006 and Georgia in 2008), which have lost the war in Iraq, are loosing the war in Afghanistan and which are now elated by their apparent 'victory' against Libya.  They are evil enough to do 9/11 and stupid enough to deploy anti-missile systems in Eastern Europe!

So make no mistake, the attack on Iran will happen, sooner or later.

The Saker