Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Iran sabre rattles

According to the BBC, Iran has test fired nine missiles, including a new missile with the capability of hitting Tel Aviv. Is Iran trying to provoke or trying to deter? This wont deter, it will scare - and scared Israel is more likely to strike. Ahmadinejad may want war, because he isn't very bright. However, I doubt that many in Iran are happy about this move.

I fully expect the so-called "peace movement" to hold instantaneous protests at Iranian embassies, burning Iranian flags and calling for Iran to stop threatening its neighbours. Look forward to seeing some protest in Roseneath in Wellington for example.

Wont happen though will it?

The so-called "peace" movement never ever protests against militarism by anti-Western states, like Iran, North Korea or Russia. Yes remember those protests? The so-called "peace" movement is uninterested in peace, only surrender and disarmament.

It will be exceedingly dangerous if there is an attack on Iran in self defence - but given the choice between that and a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv, it is no choice at all. Since 1979 Iran has been consistently the most pernicious influence in the Middle East, providing financial, military and spiritual succour to terrorists there and elsewhere (the IRA included at one time). It is a thoroughly vile and despotic regime. The preference has to be that Iran backs off, Ahmadinejad is displaced, it opens up its facilities for inspection and it backs off from its Islamist imperialism.

3 comments:

Mo said...

I have a rather positive outlook on this issue scott- and bear with me for it will be a long post as we go through a bit of history:

Since the US invasion of Iraq, the Iranians were developing the very type of leverage over their interests in the region. They funded, staffed, trained and supplied their own terrorist militias in Iraq.It was necessary for the US to establish its own leverage, without which negotiations would have yielded nothing but a surrender of American forces in Iraq.

Most importantly, the americans made peace with the Sunnis and built them up into a half-credible army, demonstrating to Iran that they were willing to resume a policy of blocking Shiite expansion with a strong Sunni military force on their border. This is their nightmare - a resumption of the Iraq-Iran bloodbath of the 1980s.

The US then began to target and engage Iran's "special groups" operating in Iraq, capturing their operatives and untangling the networks they had put in place.

after having unified the Sunnis under their banner, the US then focused on the Shia, who had by this time devolved into inter-Shia rivalry and open warfare. The Badr Brigades and their political wing had by this time been largely incorporated into the Iraqi Army and government agencies, but ISCI was facing a direct challenge from Sadr's Mehdi army, which had been organized and supplied by Iran.

The Iranians wanted Sadr to have a bigger piece of the political pie in order to have more direct control over Iraqi government affairs. ISCI, which dominated the government and army, refused.

As the interests of the Iraqi Shia and the Iranians diverged, the US exploited the situation to launch a joint war on the Mehdi Army, Tehran's primary conduit for manipulating events in Iraq.

With the Mehdi army being drawn and quartered, and gaining nothing from Shia fighting Shia, Tehran ordered Sadr to Iran and declared a ceasefire to salvage whatever of his organization and political capital remained.

For the next year - 2007 the US engaged the Iranians. This was a main contributing factor for the reduction of violence.-- The Iranians held back their militias and allowed the government to exert more control over the country, with our support-- while the US and the Sunnis focused their attentions on al Qaeda, which we all know were butchering the Shia by the thousands.

and now negotiations with the Iranians are at an advanced stage. No one is going to get everything they want, but both avoid their worst case scenarios: an Iranian puppet state that can flex its muscle across the Gulf and threaten Israel, and the Iranians avoid another Saddam on their border.

As the negotiations progress, it sometimes becomes necessary for one side to remind the other that it can still achieve the other's worst case scenario, but this is just a tactic designed to further negotiations, not to detract from them.

I am willing to bet that Iran will reach an agreement with the US on ALL issues - Iraq, nuclear, etc. - before Bush leaves office. It may not be a Camp David style accord, but it will happen. After both sides have put in this amount of work, it would be foolish for the Iranians to roll the die with a new President who needs to prove himself.

Phil Sage (sagenz) said...

interesting post and comment. I am curious to know why the "rational actor" that is Iran is doing so much to ensure that Israel will attack it.

What benefit is there to Iran in negotiating a compromise during this presidency. There is a 50% chance of a weak president they will be able to push around and push out of the region. how long would an obama presidency hold troops in iraq as the body count mounted.

I share your optimistic assessment but think it has less to do with Iranian strategy and more to do with banging a drum loudly to disguise their failure to beat the Americans in Iraq.

I see Iraqi leaders as having little sympathy for the religious fundamentalist aims of Iran along with a feeling that historically Iraq has been the senior partner leading to a rational assessment on behalf of more secular Iraqi that taking American assistance and a booming oil price at face value is preferable to submitting their future to a religious nutter.

Mo said...

Phil

The one certainty we have is that Israel has no intention to attack Iran in the near future. They did not announce when they struck Libya, or Iraq, or Syria just last September.

If there is one thing the Israelis are good it, it's operational surprise, and you don't get that by announcing it on CNN.

If they do strike, it will be interesting to see what unconventional twist they can pull off. There was an article in Haaretz that was withdrawn within hours of the Saudis telling Israel they would not mind seeing the Iranian facilities bombed.

If Israeli aircraft are given permission to operate out of Saudi, that would greatly increase the Air Command's options.

Let's say Iran has 10 facilities that need to get bombed (the number is probably more, but let's just say it is 10). That's a hell of a strike package to execute.

3 bombing aircraft per site = 30 aircraft.

2 supporting air superiority aircraft per site = 20 aircraft.

1 jamming aircraft per strike package = 10 aircraft.

We're already at 60 aircraft, and this does not include refueling aircraft, search and recovery helicopters and special forces teams on standby (possibly out of Kurdistan), etc.

This would basically consume the Israeli Airforce's frontline aviation squadrons.

It's a logistical nightmare. Furthermore, to what extent would Israel with to eliminate known Iranian IRBM's, to limit the damage of a counterattack? That would require more aircraft.

But this is all conventional thinking. For all we know the Israelis will send in 100 special forces guys to abduct or "neutralize" 50% of the Iranian nuclear scientists and technicians. That would do more to set their program back than bombing hardware.

For now, at least, Israel is making noise because it wants someone else to take care of this problem. I have no doubt they have operational options on the table, but they're not going to broadcast them to BBC.