Europe Fears a Summer Attack on Iran

MUNICH — The appeals to Israel by numerous European diplomats attending the Munich security conference last weekend have led to growing concern that Israeli plans to attack Iran are imminent.

The very number of warnings to Israel, and the emphasis with which diplomats have expressed concern, suggests that Israeli plans to attack Iran are real and scheduled to be carried out this June or July, analysts say.

Declarations by U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman about a consensus among Israeli allies that the sanctions recently imposed should make a visible impact on Iranian nuclear policies “before the end of next June” if military strikes are to be avoided are also seen as pointers that the attacks could take place in the summer.

Experts on foreign relations say that the Israeli government’s military plans against Iran might also be seeking to influence the U.S. presidential election in November.

According to Francois Heisbourg, president of the French International Institute for Strategic Studies, Israel would carry out the attacks against Iran long before the U.S. elections.

This way, Heisbourg said, Israel would not have to fear “any immediate political consequences, since none of the U.S. candidates would dare to oppose the attack during the campaign.”

An Israeli attack would seek to destroy Iranian nuclear research and production facilities. The governments in Israel, the United States, and Western Europe accuse Iran of secretly working to build a nuclear weapons arsenal.

However, the actual objective is to force regime change in Tehran, former Israeli leading diplomat Avi Primor admits.

In a comment in the Munich-based daily Die Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Primor said “many people [in government circles in Tel Aviv] urge the attacks be carried out before June.”

In his comment, Primor described the risks of such an attack. “Iran would launch a massive bomb attack on Israel. But also Iranian allies in the Palestinian territories and Lebanon would attack Israel.”

Iran would also block the Strait of Hormuz, “thus stopping the transport of 20 percent of global oil production,” Primor added. Such a move would “plunge the world economy further into chaos.”

Such warnings notwithstanding, Primor wrote that a war against Iran would force the Iranian population to revolt against the regime in Tehran. “The Persian masses would certainly not accept the deprivations of a war and would repeat their revolt of 2009,” Primor claimed.

Primor said it is probably impossible to stop Iranian nuclear research. “The fundamental question is less to convince Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions, but to make sure that a democratic regime takes control of the Iranian nuclear facilities.”

Many analysts agree with Primor that an attack would lead to an all-out war in the Middle East, further increasing instability in Arab countries already facing heavy political turmoil such as Syria, Egypt, Yemen, and the Palestinian Territories. They say a war would also destabilize other governments in the region in Algeria and Morocco.

Independent German political analyst and Arab expert Michael Lueders says a U.S.-Israeli attack against Iran would be “plain stupidity.” He said Iran has military power far superior to that of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. “Iran has been expecting a major military attack for more than 10 years and has prepared correspondingly,” Lueders told IPS.

Other experts point out that Iranian military capabilities include efficient anti-aircraft defense systems capable of inflicting heavy damage to Israeli and U.S. airborne forces. They say Iranian military leadership studied U.S. strategies closely during the occupation of Iraq and might have learned useful lessons.

The Iranian navy is reported to be able to close the Strait of Hormuz, and a blockade there would create economic chaos at a time when the global economy is again plunging into recession.

“The geopolitical disruptions such a war would provoke across the region would far exceed our worst nightmares,” Lueders said.

Such a view is widespread in Europe, even among governments considered unconditional Israeli allies, such as Germany. At the Munich security conference, German defense minister Thomas de Maziere urged Israel to “avoid military adventures.”

The conference’s director, Wolfgang Ischinger, said any Israeli attack against Iran would mark a “bankruptcy of diplomacy.”

Ischinger said that “even Israel knows that a military strike against Iran represents a very bad option. First, it is not sure that the strike would be successful. Second, there is the question of the international legitimacy of such an attack. And third, an Israeli military strike would worsen further the Arab and regional animosity against the Western world.”

In launching a war against Iran, Israel “would create a new source of fire and would put terrorism again at the heart of international politics,” Ischinger added.

(Inter Press Service)