Saturday, January 10, 2009

Palestine: A strategic View from Juan Cole

Informed Comment

This is scary! A widening conflict in the Middle East sits on a knife's edge above these possibilities. Remember that although its not "official" we know that Israel has about 200 nukes. If they were to use them on Iran the radioactive fallout would almost certainly drift across the Iranian border into Iraq and sicken thousands of American troops along with tens of thousands innocent civilians.

Note also that the country and political leaders showing restraint are in Iran, not the present US administration, with the exception of Petraeus. The US State Department does keep issuing apologies and corrections for Rice's statements.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lind: If Israel Bombed Iran
US Army in Iraq Could be Lost

Iran's PressTv is alleging that its building in Gaza took Israeli fire, wounding two of its employees. An Israeli spokesman denied that the building had been targeted.

Iranian preachers had stirred up crowds over Gaza, and such incidents have the potential to provoke more severe tensions.

On the other hand, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has intervened to stop Iranian suicide bombers from leaving the country and heading toward Palestine / Israel. Hard line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had called for such practical action against Israel, but the Supreme Jurisprudent foresaw that this step would risk widening the war and stopped them. Rumors of a rift between Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have proliferated for some time, but this is the first time they have been clearly visible in public on a major policy initiative.

In fact, Iran seems to be restraining Hizbullah in Lebanon, as well. This article speculates that the Iranians do not want to derail the possibility of better relations with the US under Obama.

This restraint, however, depends on Israel not directly attacking Iran. William Lind argues that if Binyamin Netanyahu of the Likud Party gets elected on Feb. 10, he may well bomb Iran. In that case, Lind says, Iran might well have the tools to cut the US military off from its supplies that come up from the Persian Gulf through the Shiite south of Iraq, allowing it to be effectively killed.

It may be in part to forestall an escalation of attacks on US troops in Iraq, as called for by junior Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr again on Friday as 2000 of his followers rallied in Baghdad, that Gen. David Petraeus has underlined that there are important realms for US/Iran cooperation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Petraeus sounds as though he is already in an Obama administration; can you imagine W. saying something so sensible? Gen. Petraeus is wisely holding out an important incentive to the Iranians, many of whom would very much like to improve relations with the US.

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