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» 08/02/2012
ISRAEL - IRAN
Iran attack and the US elections
by Joshua Lapide
A former Mossad chief says Iranian should be afraid of the next 12 weeks, i.e. until the next US Presidential election. Panetta tries to convince Netanyahu that sanctions are working. The latter however says that Israel will act on its own. As Romney plays the more reliable ally, Obama is faced with dilemmas. An attack has pros and cons.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - Reports of an attack against Iran's nuclear facilities have become more insistent in the past few days. The cut-off time would be November, when the United States holds its elections.

For years, Israel has accused the international community of doing nothing to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear capability. Iran insists that it has the right to develop a peaceful nuclear programme, but has failed to submit to the stringent checks of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Today, in a statement quoted in the New York Times, former Mossad chief and national security adviser Ephraim Halevy said that if he were Iranian he "would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks," i.e. the period leading up to the US presidential election in November.

It is no coincidence that US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney were in Jerusalem in recent days.

Both reassured Israel that the United States shared its concerns over Iran's nuclear programme. However, Panetta was more open to a diplomatic solution without excluding military action.

Coinciding with the Defence secretary's visit to Israel, US President Barack Obama ordered new sanctions on Iran's oil exports and financial transactions.

This has not satisfied Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (pictured) who reminded Panetta that "a few months ago that when all else fails, America will act." For the Israeli leader, nothing has "yet convinced the Iranians to stop their program".

For the prime minister, Israel could destroy Iran's nuclear facilities on its own.  "With our very existence, we do not put our faith in the hands of others, even our best of friends," he said.

In fact, Netanyahu's bluster is but political blackmail. Intelligence sources do not believe Israel has the capability to do much damage to Iranian nuclear facilities, which are buried 100 metres below ground, far from the reach of any existing bunker busting bomb.

The blackmail lies in pitting Obama (and Panetta) against Mitt Romney. The Republic hopeful skewered the Obama administration for not being supportive enough of Israel, insisting that "any and all measures" must be used to stop Tehran.

This amounts to an appeal to the staunchly pro-Israel Jewish and evangelical voters in America to cast their ballot for Romney if Obama does not act.

Survey data show that US Jews and Evangelical Christians constitute some 20 million votes. Obama won 78 per cent of the Jewish vote in the 2008 election but a nationwide Gallup poll in June showed him down to 64 per cent.

Viewed as a liberal, Obama is backed by young pacifist voters, who are now starting to see him as just another Bush for delaying troop withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan or failing to shut down Guantanamo.

From Obama's perspective, the best time to attack would be after the election. In Israel, the debate over a possible attack against Iran has been openly debated for months.

Top military and intelligence officials have expressed their opposition to an attack because it would threaten Israel's survival since Iran already has missiles that can reach Israel.

Civilian leaders appear more willing to attack, as they present themselves as saviours of the nation, perhaps to hide the fact that they are unable to bring political solutions to the country's serious economic and social problems.


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See also
09/23/2009 IRAN – ISRAEL – UNITED STATES
Ahmadinejad urges US to see Iran as a potential friend, not a threat
03/04/2015 ISRAEL - UNITED STATES - IRAN
For Obama, Netanyahu "didn't offer any viable alternatives" to solving the Iranian nuclear problem
06/02/2009 ISRAEL – UNITED STATES
As Obama travels to the Middle East Israel gets ready for war with Iran
by Joshua Lapide
04/16/2009 IRAN – UNITED STATES
US open to dialogue but still wants Tehran to stop nuclear programme
06/22/2010 UNITED STATES – IRAN
US military pressure increasing in the Persian Gulf
by Maurizio d'Orlando

Editor's choices
ISLAM - MIDDLE EAST
Al Azhar and Vatican against terrorism. The ambiguity of the international community
by Bernardo CervelleraThe influential Sunni university denounces " heinous" violence of the Islamic state and demands the world defeat this group “through every possible means". Vatican: terrorism is a threat to all humanity. France claims to fight terrorism, but then sells weapons, aircraft, helicopter gunships to Saudi Arabia, which supports Islamic fundamentalism. Kuwait tolerates Salafis who support the Nusra Front and the Islamic state. Turkey against the Kurds; the United States against Iran, Russia and China.
TUNISIA - ISLAM
Tunis, stop terrorism by closing fundamentalist mosquesPresident Essebsi believes unified and global strategy needed to counter terrorism. The attack in Sousse almost simultaneous with those in France, Kuwait, Somalia. Islamic State claims responsibility.
VATICAN – ITALY
Pope in Turin tells young people to be chaste in love, go against the flow and not retire at 20In his last meeting on the first day of his visit to Turin, Francis met young people in Vittorio Square. In a Question and Answer exchange, he talked about love, friendship and loss of trust towards life. "I understand you. How many hypocrites speak of peace and sell weapons. How can one trust? By following Christ, whose act of extreme love, i.e. the Cross, saved humanity." The pontiff also looked at the horrors of the 20th century as evidence of the loss of trust towards world powers. He urged young people “not to retire at 20,” but “live, don’t just exist.”

Dossier

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