Analysis: US Thwarting Israeli Strike on Iran
Obama betraying Israel? US making deliberate effort to hinder Iran strike by leaking classified info, intelligence assessments, says Ron Ben-Yishai in special Ynet report
Ron Ben-Yishai - Ynet
The United States is leaking information to the media in order to avert an Israeli strike in Iran: The US Administration recently shifted into high gear in its efforts to avert an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities by the end of the year. The flood of reports in the American media in recent weeks attests not only to the genuine US fear that Israel intends to realize its threats; moreover, it indicates that the Obama Administration has decided to take its gloves off.
Indeed, in recent weeks the Administration shifted from persuasion efforts vis-à-vis decision-makers and Israel’s public opinion to a practical, targeted assassination of potential Israeli operations in Iran. This “surgical strike” is undertaken via reports in the American and British media, but the campaign’s aims are fully operational: To make it more difficult for Israeli decision-makers to order the IDF to carry out a strike, and what’s even graver, to erode the IDF’s capacity to launch such strike with minimal casualties.
The first and most important American objective is to eliminate potential operational options available to the IDF and the State of Israel. I have no intention of detailing or even hinting to the options which the US government aims to eliminate by exposing them in the media. A large part of the reports stem from false information or disinformation, and there is no reason to reveal to the Iranians what’s real and what isn’t. However, it is blatantly clear that reports in the past week alone have caused Israel substantive diplomatic damage, and possibly even military and operational damage.
Another Administration objective is to convince the Israeli public that an Iran strike (including a US attack) will not achieve even the minimum required to justify it; that is, a delay of at least 3-5 years in Iran’s nuclear program. A lengthy postponement would of course justify the suffering on Israel’s home front, while a six-month delay – as argued by a US Congress report – does not justify the risks.
The six-month figure was meant for the Israeli public, so that it would press Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to avoid a strike, whose futility the Americans are trying to prove in every way possible. At the same time, the campaign aims to erode the validity of demands voiced by many members of Congress and Senate – both Democrats and Republicans - who criticize the American president’s inaction.
The Congress report published Wednesday is maligned by several inaccuracies, in terms of both analysis and information. However, this makes no difference. The aim was to make headlines in the Israeli and Washington media, rather than an in-depth analysis, which isn’t possible as Congress researchers in Washington do not have access to all the relevant information, fortunately.
Congress in Iran’s service
The third objective of the recent publications is to scare the Israeli public via an apocalyptic account of possible retaliation by Iran and its “clients.” This effort also aims to press Israeli decision-makers not to act (including the mention in the Congress report of the accurate fact that Israel’s home front is not adequately prepared to sustain a blow.) Some observers would argue that these reports are not damaging, but rather, grant the Israeli threat validity, thereby serving Western representatives in upcoming negotiations with Iran. So what’s wrong with that?
The damage has to do with the revelation of secret information and assessments that would require an expensive, risky intelligence effort for the Iranians to acquire. Indeed, the Iranians already realize that the West and Israel possess plenty of up-to-date information on Iran’s nuclear project, including centrifuge workshops in Tehran homes. The Ayatollah regime can also predict possible attack routes and methods by Israel and the US.
However, any rookie intelligence officer knows that there is a huge difference between unconfirmed estimates and solid facts or IDF aims and capabilities. Any Iranian intelligence analyst who reads the latest US Congress report or the Foreign Policy report will find invaluable information there. The overwhelming majority of the information has already been published, yet instead of forcing the Iranians to piece together all the assessments themselves, the Congress report offers them everything in one place, including detailed analysis.
Fortunately, as noted, Congress researchers and those who leaked the information to them apparently have some trouble in terms of reading comprehension.
Betraying an ally
To sum up, the American publications caused the following damage:
* Iran now has a decent picture of what Israel’s and America’s intelligence communities know about Tehran’s nuclear program and defense establishment, including its aerial defenses.
* The Iranians now know about the indications that would be perceived by Washington and Jerusalem as a “nuclear breakthrough”. Hence, Iran can do a better job of concealment.
* The reports make it more difficult to utilize certain operational options. These options, even if not considered thus far, could have been used by the US in the future, should Iran not thwart them via diplomatic and military means.
Needless to say, this is not how one should be treating an ally, even if this is a relationship between a superpower and a satellite state. The targeted assassination campaign currently undertaken by the US government also sharply contradicts President Obama’s declaration at the AIPAC Conference, whereby he and the US recognize Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself by itself. One cannot utter these words and a moment later exposes Israel’s vulnerabilities and possible strike routes to its enemies.
Indeed, there is a difference between legitimate persuasion efforts and practical steps to thwart Israeli plans and eliminate them.
For a total of seven years, I served as Yedioth Ahronoth’s reporter in Washington, so I know very well that with a few exceptions, the US Administration knows how to prevent leaks to the media if it so wishes. This is the case even when dealing with former officials, and most certainly when dealing with current government officials. What we are seeing here is not a trickle of information, but rather, a powerful current, a true flood that leaves no doubt as to the existence of an orchestrated media campaign with clear aims.
There is another interesting aspect to this story from an American point of view: In 2002, when President George W. Bush sought to embark on war in Iraq, US intelligence agencies provided him with all the “evidence” that Saddam Hussein is developing large quantities of nuclear and chemical weapons. Following the war, when no traces of such weapons were discovered in Iraq, a Congress inquiry found that US intelligence officials were so eager to satisfy their president that they cut corners and relied on unsubstantiated information.
Given American media reports in recent days, one must wonder whether history is repeating itself. Could it be that the US intelligence community is providing President Obama with what he needs for political reasons – that is, information meant to curb an Israeli or American strike on Iran?
More Quotes About "Palestine"
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -