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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
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
11/06/2012 IRAN - ISRAEL
As IAEA says Iran not co-operating, Netanyahu talks again about bombing

Editor's choices
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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