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Netanyahu in a hurry for war with Iran

Jul 21,2020 - Last updated at Jul 21,2020

Israel is hoping to start a war with Iran before the US elections in November, according to the analysis of Jason Ditz, editor of the news site Antiwar.com.

Quoting a Business Insider article from July 16, Ditz observes that recent attacks against Iranian targets have been blamed on Israel.

The Business Insider report, citing a former Israeli defence official, asserts that it is "common knowledge that at least some of the latest attacks in Iran were done by Israeli intelligence".

One of the attacks was at an Iranian missile production facility on 22 June.

The New York Times also reported earlier this month that Israel was responsible for a devastating July 2 explosion at Iran's Natanz nuclear enrichment facility. A third attack targeted an important shipyard at Bushehr on July 15.

A European Union official told Business Insider that the bloc "feared Israel was planning to provoke Iran into military confrontation while Trump remains in office".

The Israelis apparently fear the circumstances would be much more difficult if Joe Biden wins the US election in November.

Israel has for years, if not decades, been trying to push the US and others into a war with Iran that it dare not launch on its own.

At times, however, Israeli leaders even suggested they would start a war themselves believing that a "reluctant" Washington would be drawn in it once Israel started it.

Israel's attempts to convince successive US administrations, including Trump's, to start a war have been relentless. Some hardliners in the current administration pushed for the idea too: Former national security adviser John Bolton wanted to nuke Iran.

As there were bellicose hawks such as those who fabricated pretexts to go to war against Iraq in 2003, a war that not only destroyed Iraq, destabilised the entire region and created the worst terror organisation the world ever known, there are also cautious voices that warn against a new foolish adventure.

Political leaders have turned to warfare at times in the hope of deflecting from domestic scandals and problems. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is currently on trial for corruption, though even for him this kind of adventure might be too risky as a political strategy.

Yet the danger is there. Iran, which has always been a convenient target, may look more vulnerable than ever from Tel Aviv, with mounting economic problems in Iran caused by US sanctions and the pandemic. Just as with annexation, Israel might not want to "miss the chance" presented by Trump.

Indeed, the US position on Iran has been even more than usually tied to Israel's, right from when the Trump administration withdrew from the multilateral Iran nuclear agreement in 2018.

That was followed by more severe sanctions on Iran as well as on any other countries that would deal with Iran.

Israel has major grievances against Iran. In Israel's view, Iran is directly responsible for creating and arming Hizbollah to the point where the Lebanese militia is a serious military threat, possessing thousands of precision missiles and a fighting capability that humiliated the Israeli army in 2006.

Iran is also blamed for arming Hamas in Gaza, also a formidable force that can cause enormous harm to Israel in any future confrontation. Hamas, though no match for Israel's military capabilities, also owns missiles that may reach many cities in Israel  including Tel Aviv and the airport.

The war in Syria, which was expected to topple President Bashar Assad, destroy the Syrian-Iranian alliance and sever the supply of Hizbollah, ended up bringing both Iran and Hizbollah right on Israel's eastern border.

As is now widely reported and documented, Israel even armed and funded Al Qaeda-linked groups in Syria as part of this effort. Yet all of Israel's rocket attacks on Syrian locations over the past few years and the other attempts to get Iran out of Syria did not succeed.

That could be leading to Israeli desperation to strike while Trump is still there.

Nevertheless, even the Trump administration has not been in favor of an open war, probably cognizant of the terrible consequences it would have.

War is also not necessarily good for US business. The US prefers to keep tensions in the region high, justifying its "security" role, and allowing it to sell weapons to its local clients. War would only disrupt this lucrative arrangement without necessarily providing any advantage.

The US has also learned that despite its might it is far from invincible: Its facilities in the region are all within range of missiles like those used by Iran to retaliate against American bases in Iraq after the US murdered Iranian general Qassem Soleimani last December.

Moreover, despite US military support and superior US weapons, US allies in the region have been unable to end the war in Yemen in their favor. There is no guarantee that a war against Iran would be easily winnable.

It would also expose vital targets in the Gulf region: As well as American bases and ships, oil and gas installations could be destroyed, and shipping lanes closed down, adding to the likely global chaos and crisis.

That only accounts for the immediate material damage, but the far reaching human and political consequences could set the region decades back. I do not need to spell out here how disastrous it would be.

Even if the possibility of such a war is remote, the dangers are so great that we cannot ignore it. All those with influence on Washington and Tel Aviv must make it clear that plunging the world into such a disaster is not an option.

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