Preparations Towards a Showdown with Iran
By Sarah Ann Haves
Officials in the IDF (Israel’s Defense Forces) have repeatedly used the media to warn Israel’s Treasury and Ministry of Finance that mandatory defense budget cuts are compromising Israel’s military capabilities. Practices and drills of every kind have been scaled down, or cancelled altogether, because of a lack of funds, which is projected to get worse in 2015.
That is why it was such a surprise that Israel and the U.S. decided to hold a joint missile-defense drill, recently, which involved the coordination of 1,000 American soldiers, along with IDF troops, on Israeli soil. The drill comes on the heels of two high-level visits by U.S. officials this month. U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice met with Israeli officials in early May, followed by U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s visit. Regional security issues were discussed with an emphasis on containing Iran.
Rice, who toured an Israeli Air Force Base, said that security cooperation between the two allies had reached “unprecedented levels” in recent years. Hagel stressed the “all-time high” American support for Israel’s security.
To confirm these declarations, America just approved more financial allocations for Israel’s anti-missile defense system. Some U.S. military leaders are encouraging Israel to upgrade this system so that it has a wider range and can include protection for Egypt and Jordan…. two Arab nations that Israel shares a peace treaty with. America and Israel are considering an advanced regional defense shield that would help protect allied countries that are vulnerable to Iran’s military capabilities.
Not only have Iran’s nuclear ambitions caused great concern to Israel and the West, but also Iran’s long-range ballistic missile development. U.S. President Barack Obama’s Administration is closely watching this development that threatens Israel and Arab Gulf states in the region. This is in addition to Iran’s future ability to produce nuclear weapons, if the P5+1 nations fail to secure a permanent agreement in time.
America is expected to increase the threat of military force against Iran if nuclear talks fail, or if Iran undermines the terms of the agreement that is currently in place.
|…Israel and America
for the possibility…
Reuters has reported that Israel is holding secret talks with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait hoping to strengthen regional cooperation, with efforts to form a military alliance that could contain Iranian aggression. And, as the P5+1 nations try to reach a permanent agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear program, U.S. officials are at work boosting America’s military presence in the Gulf region. Hagel visited the Gulf Cooperation Council in mid-May, as well as Saudi Arabia, calling for stronger military collaboration so that these Arab nations feel more protected by a renewed U.S. presence in the region, and less threatened by Iran’s aspirations towards regional hegemony.
This renewed American diplomatic and military effort to strengthen its Middle East alliances is also meant to show Iran that there will be no regional security compromises in exchange for a permanent nuclear agreement.
Furthermore, it can be concluded from these recent high-level meetings, that Israel and America are preparing for the possibility that Iran could take hostile pre-emptive military action against Middle East countries if a permanent nuclear agreement is not reached.
For their part, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are considering how they can defend themselves with or without American help. In a military parade earlier this month, Saudi Arabia displayed its intermediate-range missiles for the first time. And, Gulf States have been talking about acquiring their own nuclear capability to offset any threat from Iran.
Arab States are afraid that a future nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 countries might be too lenient and would still allow Iran to reach nuclear breakout within a short period of time. There is also mistrust of U.S. intentions due to secret back channel negotiations that America carried out with Iran before the current international negotiations began. In addition, U.S. failed foreign policy in the region, leading to its weakened stance in the Middle East, resulted in Arab States questioning America’s effectiveness. These states are also not sure that Obama would be willing take the kind of risks necessary to contain Iran, and therefore question his loyalty in protecting their interests.
Recently, the P5+1 negotiations broke down with Iran, and there is fear that there will be no real progress by their self-imposed July 20, 2014 deadline. This would mean extending the negotiations for another six months, giving Iran more time to achieve nuclear capability through its clandestine military operations.
Meanwhile, hardliners in Iran distrust European and U.S. leaders involved in the negotiations, concluding that they are mostly interested in a weakened and vulnerable Iranian state. Iranian leaders think that the West is aiming for regime change in Tehran, while also planning for greater Western dominance in the region.
|…nothing is stopping
Tehran [from improving]
missile and defense
The next round of talks between Iran and the six world powers are planned for June 16-20 in Vienna, Austria. Germany, France, Britain, Russia, China and the U.S. want to see Iran scale back its enrichment program, while also accepting tougher UN and IAEA inspections inside the country. Iran has still refused to allow the IAEA to carry out tests at its Parchin facility, and is being accused of trying to clean up any evidence of its nascent military nuclear build-up there.
If Iran soon complies with the demands of inspectors, then some economic sanctions may be eased and others lifted. However, as negotiations continue towards a nuclear agreement with Iran, nothing is stopping Tehran leaders from continuing to improve Iran’s missile and defense technologies, which are also a major threat to the region.
Iran’s current objective is to get rid of crippling economic sanctions while not giving up its ability to reach nuclear breakout capacity within a few short months. Israel will not stand for this, and Israeli leaders continue to declare “no deal is better than a bad deal.” For example, the inability of Iran to achieve nuclear breakout within 6 to 12 months is still a bad deal according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Obama continues to assure Netanyahu that he will not allow a bad deal to happen. But, Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry thinks that the time extension from a few short months to, perhaps, a year, is progress. Yet, Obama and Kerry both know that a nuclear capable Iran will cause the proliferation of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Future nuclear threshold states in the region would threaten not only American interests but the whole global order.
In the meantime, as the U.S. and Israel completed its recent military exercises, which included a simulated medical evacuation, American soldiers were surprised by the excellent cooperation on the “battlefield,” and the success of the drill. In the event of a major Middle East war involving Israeli and U.S. soldiers, Israel would provide 98% of the medical care for American troops and airmen. It would be the first time in U.S. history that America would be relying on another nation to provide that level of care.
The U.S. now knows that Israel can take care of its wounded troops if a major conflict breaks out in the region. But, can Israel be so assured that America will make the kind of deal with Iran that will stop its military nuclear ambitions so that a future war with the Persian State will not be necessary?
“The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10
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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues in Israel and the nations.