Impending war in the Middle East
Juan Diego Nusa Peñalver
THROUGHOUT the history of humanity no war has been so foretold as the military conflict looming in the explosive region of the Middle East in relation to Iran and its controversial civil nuclear program, which the West charges has military ends, without any concrete evidence.
Virtually every day the drums of war are sounded in the region, in the form of harsh economic sanctions against Tehran, excessively bellicose anti-Iranian rhetoric, and covert actions on the part of Western and Israeli special services on the ground. These include selective assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists and sabotage attempts on its industrial infrastructure, as well as sustained military exercises on both sides, all of which is creating a dangerous pre-war atmosphere, a war which, if it should occur, would inexorably have apocalyptic consequences for the world, as the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, has repeatedly warned.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the U.S. capital in early March obliged the U.S. President to give a clearer definition of where the United States draws the so-called red line which the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad must not cross. However, its placing is not exactly where Israel wants it, the latter country being in favor of the use of weapons before it is supposedly too late and the Ayatollah’s regime has sufficient enriched uranium to manufacture nuclear weapons, as Zionist leaders would have it believed.
However Obama, concerned about his reelection; hounded by the Republican camp and the powerful Zionist lobby, which are branding him as weak; with a depressed economy and the traumatic imperial adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan still fresh in his memory, is obliged to be more cautious than his uncomfortable Middle Eastern ally and give diplomacy and harsh economic sanctions a certain margin of action.
Experts consider that the decision concerning a 2012 attack has been left in Israeli hands. And that is what Netanyahu came to say in the Oval Office, invoking Israel’s right to security, which Obama acknowledges.
To the surprise of many, the sensation of an imminent attack was reinforced by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, speaking to a Washington Post journalist. He affirmed that Israel could launch a Spring attack on Iran (in April, May or June), thus triggering all the alarms.
The well-informed Israeli Haaretz newspaper further fuelled the Iranian furnace, stating that Bibi, as the Israeli premier is known to those close to him, had asked Washington to approve the sale of military materials needed to bomb Iran.
The leader of the Likud Party, considered a hawk, a veteran of the 1973 Yom Kipur War and a member of the Sayeret Matkal (Israeli special forces) in his time, asked for the acquisition of advanced in-flight refueling systems for sophisticated Israeli warplanes, and powerful GBU-28 anti-bunker bombs to destroy the principal Iranian nuclear program facilities. These would make it possible for Israel to inflict credible damage, particularly on the Fordow atomic plant, partially constructed within a mountain, close to the holy city of Qom, in which Tehran is manufacturing enriched uranium (to 20%), and the Natanz installation south of the capital, constructed at a depth of eight meters below ground and protected by various layers of cement.
Haaretz, basing its information on the words of an unidentified high-ranking U.S. official, notes that Obama instructed Panetta to work directly on the issue with his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak, and that he is inclined to give the go-ahead to the petition as quickly as possible.
It is significant that the George W. Bush administration rejected the same request on the basis that Israel would use the material for bombing Iran while, with Obama in the White House, military cooperation between the two allied countries has reached unprecedented levels, as their respective leaders emphasized.
In this context, the Israeli state armaments corporation recently presented new, improved penetration bombs, such as the MPR-500 Multi-Purpose Rigid Bombs, with greater penetration, less fragmentation and compatible with the Boeing JDAM guidance system, as the Israel Military Industry explained in a communiqué.
This weapon is "ideal for hardened targets in densely populated urban areas or close to friendly troops… and is designed to penetrate more than one meter of reinforced cement and perforate floors or walls of 200-milimeter thickness," it notes.
Israel has also continued testing its Jericho-3 missile, with a capacity for nuclear or conventional warheads.
In spite of its military superiority, the magnitude of an air attack such as the one Israel is planning on Iran would exceed its capacities and obligatorily require U.S. military support, given that the announced operation is nothing like the selective strike by Israeli aircraft on the Iraqi Osiraq nuclear plant in 1981 and the Syrian atomic site of Al-Kibar, in the Dayr az-Zawr region in 2007.
In another twist of the screw, Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, meeting in Washington, recommended the Iranian government to take advantage of the opportunity offered it by the major powers to negotiate its nuclear program because, as the U.S. President has warned, the margin of time for resolving the situation via the diplomatic route is diminishing.
IRAN ALSO PREPARING
Given the presence in the Persian Gulf of formidable air and sea squadrons of the U.S. and its Western allies, which includes a number of yankee aircraft carriers, plus overt Israeli test flights, Iran has warned of a preventive attack on its part if it perceives itself in imminent danger. Deputy Commander Mohammad Hejazi of the Iranian Armed Forces told the national Fars agency that if national interests are endangered, the country "will act without waiting for an enemy action."
This logic includes an Iranian navy blockade of the vital Strait of Hormuz which, with its habitual arrogance, the United States has defined as the "red line" which Tehran must not cross at the risk of exposing itself to a devastating strike.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Energy, 15.5 to 16 millions barrels of oil a day pass through this maritime corridor, approximately 40% of the world’s maritime transportation of crude oil.
The resulting blow to the ailing Western economy during a time of various crises would be serious. Oil prices have already spiraled to more than $120 a barrel, virtually restrictive for any nation.
Moreover, the Islamic Republic’s ground, air and sea forces, on alert, are undertaking frequent maneuvers, while its military commands are announcing a number of advances in the country’s armaments and military technology.
Within this context is the creation of the Central Cyberspace Council, aimed at controlling this material, on the basis of a decree signed in early March by the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Jamenei, according to the Iranian Mehr agency.
In the same context, General Gholam Reza Jalali, director of the Iranian Passive Defense Organization, said that Tehran is to create a cybernetic army to counteract potential threats from the U.S. and other countries, in particular to its nuclear installations.
Jalali announced the installation of a cyber-commando to combat possible pirate attacks on the country’s networks, with the mission of "guarding, identifying and counterattacking in the eventof informatics threats to national infrastructure."
In the last two years, the dangerous Stuxnet and Duqu viruses were introduced into Iranian computers, an action which points to Tel Aviv and Washington, which would mean a first-time escalation to cyberspace war. Iran confirms that it was able to neutralize the two attacks using national software.
Experts also took note of the results of the trilateral summit between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran mid-February in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. In the final press conference with the Afghani and Iranian leaders, President Asif Ali Zardari openly affirmed that his country would not provide any support to U.S. forces if that country were to attack Iran, which is a significant setback for the White House. Washington’s relations with Islamabad and Kabul have been undermined by mistrust.
This was an important goal for Tehran which, in an open conflict with the Israeli regime could count on military backing from the Lebanese Hezbollah organization and the Palestinian movements of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. Given Washington’s strong commitment to Israel’s security over the past 60 years, the key question analysts are posing is: What attitude will the United States adopt if Tel Aviv bombs Iranian installations and Tehran responds with a heavy counterattack? The cards are on the table.
Havana. March 22, 2012