New Eastern Outlook
by Steven MacMillan
A recent report by an Israeli TV station revealed that Saudi Arabia would allow Israeli jets to use its airspace to attack Iran, demonstrating the clandestine strategic alliance between Saudi Arabia and Israel. As the Times of Israel reported in an article titled: Saudis ‘would let Israeli jets use their air space to attack Iran’:
“The Saudis have declared their readiness for the Israeli Air Force to overfly Saudi air space en route to attack Iran if an attack is necessary,” the TV report [from Channel 2] said. All that they ask is “some kind of progress” on the Palestinian issue. Being able to use Saudi airspace would allow Israeli planes a shortcut to reach Iran without having to fly around the Persian Gulf, taking up precious time and fuel.”
Even though Riyadh and Tel Aviv have no official diplomatic ties in addition to there being dramatic cultural and religious differences between them, the two nations increasingly have a convergence of interests in the region. Both countries are close allies of the West and share analogous positions on Syria and Iran.
Saudi Arabia and Israel may be given the green light to attack Iran on behalf of NATO powers if NATO feels it could not sell a direct war in Iran to their populations back home. Regime change in Syria is a prerequisite before an overt attack on Iran can take place however, as Damascus is an important Iranian ally in the Middle East. If a military assault on Iran occurs it would be difficult for the arena of conflict to be contained to the Middle East, as it has the potential to rapidly escalate into a wider conflict involving Russia and China.
Western nations have been engaged in attempting to covertly overthrow the present Iranian regime for decades, a country that has been placed under sanctions by an assortment of nations for years. Regime change in Iran has been a dream of Western foreign policy strategists for decades, with Iran pinpointed in astrategic paper written in 2000 by the neoconservative thinktank, the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), alongside countries such as Iraq, Libya and Syria. Retired US four star general and former NATO commander, Wesley Clark, also revealed a plan circulating around the Pentagon in 2001 to attack 7 countries in 5 years, with Iran named as one of the seven.
Saudi Arabia and Israel have a real fear of Iranian power in the Middle East as Tehran is a naturally dominant player due to it possessing abundant natural resources, in addition to having the 3rd largest population in the region and having an ancient and rich history. Only a powerhouse of a nation could endure so many restrictions on their economy and not collapse and be forced into subservience to the West.
If Iran was to be struck, Tehran would most likely retaliate by blocking the Strait of Hormuz, where approximately one fifth of the world’s oil supply travels through. Tehran threatened in 2011 that it would block the Strait if the West imposed more sanctions on the nation, with Iran’s navy chief Admiral Habibollah Sayari remarking that closing the strait would be “easy“. As the former Special Adviser in the Office of the US Secretary of Defense, Matthew Kroenig, expresses in an article for the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) publication Foreign Affairs in 2012 titled: Time to Attack Iran:
“Those wary of a U.S. strike also point out that Iran could retaliate by attempting to close the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow access point to the Persian Gulf through which roughly 20 percent of the world’s oil supply travels. And even if Iran did not threaten the strait, speculators, fearing possible supply disruptions, would bid up the price of oil, possibly triggering a wider economic crisis at an already fragile moment.”
Kroenig continues in the article to call for “surgical” strikes on Iran:
“Yet Iran’s rapid nuclear development will ultimately force the United States to choose between a conventional conflict and a possible nuclear war. Faced with that decision, the United States should conduct a surgical strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, absorb an inevitable round of retaliation, and then seek to quickly de-escalate the crisis.”
A follow up article in Foreign Affairs by Jamie M. Fly and Gary Schmitt titled: The Case for Regime Change in Iran is even more belligerent, as the authors believe Kroenig’s strategy doesn’t go far enough:
“If the United States seriously considers military action, it would be better to plan an operation that not only strikes the nuclear program but aims to destabilize the regime, potentially resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis once and for all.”
The West along with regional allies including Saudi Arabia and Israel justify attacking Iran through exclaiming that their nuclear program is a nefarious initiative aimed at creating weapons of mass destruction, which Tehran would use against its enemies. Iran however objects to this accusation and claims the program is purely aimed at peaceful energy production. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently stated that “we don’t need an atomic bomb”, adding that the world’s nuclear powers are not safer for having atomic weapons.
The Elephant in the Room – Israel’s Nuclear Program
The elephant in the room that is rarely brought into the discussion is that the state whose leaders spend a large percentage of their time salivating at the prospect of attacking Iran, namely Israel, has been a nuclear power for decades who now possesses approximately 80 nuclear weapons according to some estimates. Whether Iran is really set on building the bomb or not, Israel’s nuclear program is directly related to Iran’s nuclear ambitions yet there is virtually no international outcry against the Israeli program. The hypocrisy of the Western nations in regards to Iran’s nuclear program is simply astounding considering their zealous support for Israel. What right has the US got to lecture any country on nuclear weapons anyway, dare we forget that America was the nation who dropped atomic bombs – an act which had very little military or strategic merit – on Japan which was on the verge of surrendering in 1945.
The government in Tehran is continuously working to enhance their defensive capabilities in preparation for an attack in the future, with Iran recently activating its new national missile defense system dubbed the ‘Real Iron Dome’ – a clear reference to Israel’s Iron Dome system. Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabifard, vice speaker of Iran’s parliament stated that the defense system provides “the highest deterrence power in the Middle East”.