Israel is being used to take on iran
[ Iranian version of Shia Islam seen as threat to West and Arabs allies in the Middle East. President George Bush gives green light to Israel to use military means to finish Iranian power - Hezbollah - from Lebanon. West was set to destroy the 'Shia Crescent' before it makes waves in the oil rich region.]
Israel fights West's cause against radical Islam - Telegraph
Bush wants the pounding of Hizbollah to be felt in Iran - Telegraph
Saudi Arabia gives Israel clear skies to attack Iranian nuclear sites - Times
TELEGRAPH - 17 July 2006
ISRAEL FIGHTS WEST'S CAUSE AGAINST RADICAL ISLAM
By Anton La Guardia, Diplomatic Editor
It is an axiom of Israeli military operation that its armed forces must hurry to achieve victory before international pressure forces them to stop.
Yet after bombarding Lebanon for five days, and causing pain to ordinary civilians unseen since the civil war ended 15 years ago, the international outcry is surprisingly muted. If anything, as the conflict has intensified and the regional stakes have risen, Israel has found a degree of international sympathy, or at least understanding.
Lebanon has become the battleground between pro-western and radical Islamic forces. Few governments, even Arab states, want to see Hizbollah win the contest.
America's strategic position in the Middle East - and by extension that of the West - has grown increasingly precarious.
The United States is on the defensive in Iraq, Afghanistan is becoming more unstable, Iran's nuclear programme has not been stopped and the radical Hamas movement has come to power in the Palestinian territories in democratic elections encouraged by America. The last thing Washington needs is for Syria and Iran to win a proxy victory in Lebanon.
Walid Jumblatt, the Lebanese Druze leader who had been a strong foe of Israel during the civil war but then became a powerful critic of Syria, summed up the situation as follows: "The war is no longer Lebanon's … it is an Iranian war. Iran is telling the United States: You want to fight me in the Gulf and destroy my nuclear programme? I will hit you at home, in Israel."
Tony Blair yesterday spoke of the need to confront "an arc of extremism" stretching from the Gaza Strip to Iraq.
There is certainly more evidence for the existence of such an alliance - encompassing the Palestinian Hamas movement, Hizbollah, Iraqi insurgents, Syria and Iran - than there ever was for George W Bush's original "axis of evil" of Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
One may debate how strongly the extremist elements co-ordinate their actions, but they certainly feed and support each other.
The latest crisis began three weeks ago with the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, during an attack by Hamas on an army base close to the Gaza Strip.
As the Israelis pounded the Gaza Strip, Hizbollah last week opened up a second front in the north with similar tactics: a cross-border raid that killed Israeli soldiers and captured two of them.
It is no secret that Hizbollah was created, financed and armed by Iran's Revolutionary Guards, and that its operations are facilitated by Syria. Indeed, Hizbollah was the only militia that Lebanon's Syrian overlords allowed to operate after the end of the civil war. It won widespread admiration for driving the Israelis out of Lebanon in 2000, but was the largest obstacle to the "Cedar Revolution" that forced Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon last year.
Syria has long been under pressure from the US, which accuses it of sheltering Iraqi insurgents, and from evidence gathered by United Nations investigators of its role in the assassination of the former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri.
This week, as America and Israel denounced Damascus, Iran joined the fray. "We hope the Zionist regime does not make the mistake of attacking Syria, because extending the front would definitely make the Zionist regime face unimaginable losses," said Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi. Iran may be facing the threat of UN sanctions in the coming months because of growing fears that it is trying to make nuclear weapons. But its confidence has been boosted by the failure of America and Britain to bring stability to neighbouring Iraq.
Experts will debate whether Hizbollah's attack on Israel was co-ordinated with Hamas or was carried out opportunistically to catch the wave of sympathy for the plight of Palestinians.
But the effect has been of benefit to the whole "arc of extremism". It has given Hamas a boost, diverted international attention away from Iran's nuclear programme and may have strengthened the position of Syria as envoys plead with it to help restrain Hizbollah. The militant group, an Iranian ally, may gain most of all in the region. It has taken up the great Arab cause of standing up to Israel.
The Israeli ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, on Friday defended the destruction of Lebanon's infrastructure by saying: "If we succeed it will be Lebanon that benefits."
The crucial question is how the war will affect the internal balance of power in Lebanon. Will Hizbollah be seen as the only group brave and organised enough to stand up to Israel? Or will it incur the wrath of the Lebanese for dragging the country into a war it did not want?
The outcome of that debate may determine who wins the war, and decide the course of the Middle East for years to come.
Photograph: A copy of the Koran burns amid the debris in Beirut
Bush wants Iran to feel pounding of Hizbollah
TELEGRAPH - 17 JulY 2006
BUSH WANTS THE POUNDING OF HIZBOLLAH TO BE FELT IN IRAN
The US ruled out the idea of calling for a ceasefire
By Alec Russell in St Petersburg
The Bush administration made clear yesterday that it saw the crisis in the Middle East as an opportunity for the world to deal once and for all with Hizbollah and to rein in its sponsors, Iran and Syria.
As the conflict moved into its fifth day it became increasingly apparent that Washington was willing to give Israel its head in its military campaign in the hope that it would finally extinguish the threat posed by America's old enemy, the Iranian-backed Shia group.
In an attempt to counter the charge that America had been too uncritical of Israel's military action, President George W Bush's aides yesterday stressed their concern for civilian casualties and worries over damage to infrastructure.
But they ruled out the idea of calling for a ceasefire, arguing that it would be a short-term measure that would only be followed by more attacks by Hizbollah.
Rather the time was ripe for a long-term solution, with the keys being the disarmament of the radical Shia group and unspecified consequences for two of America's oldest Middle Eastern foes, Teheran and Damascus. In short, they say, it is time "to drain the regional swamp of extremism".
"This is a complex time, a worrying time, a time of great concern about the toll on civilians," said Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state.
"It is also a time when we have an opportunity to lay a foundation … for a permanent cessation of violence."
The unofficial US strategy seems to be to rely on a combination of "muscular diplomacy" and Israeli military might.
The Bush administration bolsters its argument by citing the need finally to realise the outstanding goals of UN Resolution 1559, which calls for the disbanding of regional militias. White House aides say that several key regional leaders have the same aspiration, born of the desire to rein in Iran's regional network.
One of the principal difficulties for the US is that the Israeli forces will, as so often before, be so heavy-handed that they hand a diplomatic victory to their opponents.
Ms Rice said US officials had stressed to Israel the need for restraint and also the risk of undermining the fledgling democratic government in Lebanon. But she refused to be drawn when asked if America had a "tipping point" at which civilian casualties would no longer be acceptable.
Reprising the Bush regional philosophy, she sought to present the crisis as the fruit of years of international failure to rein in "extremists".
"We are at an important juncture right now because extremists have showed their hand. And they've showed that their sponsors are in Teheran and in Damascus. Things are clarified right now."
Administration hawks see this as a key moment in the protracted showdown with Iran. Officials in Washington have been growing frustrated at the failure of diplomatic efforts to quash Iran's nuclear ambitions.
With 130,000 American troops bogged down on Iran's border, and America's motives in the region regarded with huge suspicion following its push for the war in Iraq, Ms Rice has persuaded Mr Bush that the US hawks have to be held in check.
But now, the Bush administration sees a dual opportunity to intensify the pressure on Iran.
Last night it appeared that America was winning support in its bid to use "muscular diplomacy" backed up by Israeli might to punish Hizbollah. France, a traditional powerbroker in Lebanon, also cited the need to realise Resolution 1559.
But securing support to punish Damascus and Teheran will be far harder, as was clear in the G8 summit statement on the crisis last night. There was no explicit reference to Syria or Iran. It cited only the threat posed by "those that support" extremist elements.
The Times - 12 June 2010
Saudi Arabia gives Israel clear skies to attack Iranian nuclear sites
Saudi Arabia has conducted tests to stand down its air defences to enable Israeli jets to make a bombing raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities, The Times can reveal.
In the week that the UN Security Council imposed a new round of sanctions on Tehran, defence sources in the Gulf say that Riyadh has agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran.
To ensure the Israeli bombers pass unmolested, Riyadh has carried out tests to make certain its own jets are not scrambled and missile defence systems not activated. Once the Israelis are through, the kingdom’s air defences will return to full alert.
“The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way,” said a US defence source in the area. “They have already done tests to make sure their own jets aren’t scrambled and no one gets shot down. This has all been done with the agreement of the [US] State Department.”
Sources in Saudi Arabia say it is common knowledge within defence circles in the kingdom that an arrangement is in place if Israel decides to launch the raid. Despite the tension between the two governments, they share a mutual loathing of the regime in Tehran and a common fear of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “We all know this. We will let them [the Israelis] through and see nothing,” said one.
The four main targets for any raid on Iran would be the uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom, the gas storage development at Isfahan and the heavy-water reactor at Arak. Secondary targets include the lightwater reactor at Bushehr, which could produce weapons-grade plutonium when complete.
The targets lie as far as 1,400 miles (2,250km) from Israel; the outer limits of their bombers’ range, even with aerial refuelling. An open corridor across northern Saudi Arabia would significantly shorten the distance. An airstrike would involve multiple waves of bombers, possibly crossing Jordan, northern Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Aircraft attacking Bushehr, on the Gulf coast, could swing beneath Kuwait to strike from the southwest.
Passing over Iraq would require at least tacit agreement to the raid from Washington. So far, the Obama Administration has refused to give its approval as it pursues a diplomatic solution to curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Military analysts say Israel has held back only because of this failure to secure consensus from America and Arab states. Military analysts doubt that an airstrike alone would be sufficient to knock out the key nuclear facilities, which are heavily fortified and deep underground or within mountains. However, if the latest sanctions prove ineffective the pressure from the Israelis on Washington to approve military action will intensify. Iran vowed to continue enriching uranium after the UN Security Council imposed its toughest sanctions yet in an effort to halt the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme, which Tehran claims is intended for civil energy purposes only. President Ahmadinejad has described the UN resolution as “a used
handkerchief, which should be thrown in the dustbin”.
Israeli officials refused to comment yesterday on details for a raid on Iran, which the Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has refused to rule out. Questioned on the option of a Saudi flight path for Israeli bombers, Aharaon Zeevi Farkash, who headed military intelligence until 2006 and has been involved in war games simulating a strike on Iran, said: “I know that Saudi Arabia is even more afraid than Israel of an Iranian nuclear capacity.”
In 2007 Israel was reported to have used Turkish air space to attack a suspected nuclear reactor being built by Iran’s main regional ally, Syria. Although Turkey publicly protested against the “violation” of its air space, it is thought to have turned a blind eye in what many saw as a dry run for a strike on Iran’s far more substantial — and better-defended — nuclear sites.
Israeli intelligence experts say that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are at least as worried as themselves and the West about an Iranian nuclear arsenal.Israel has sent missile-class warships and at least one submarine capable of launching a nuclear warhead through the Suez Canal for deployment in the Red Sea within the past year, as both a warning to Iran and in anticipation of a possible strike. Israeli newspapers reported last year that high-ranking officials, including the former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, have met their Saudi Arabian counterparts to discuss the Iranian issue. It was also reported that Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, met Saudi intelligence officials last year to gain assurances that Riyadh would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets violating Saudi airspace during the bombing run. Both governments have denied the reports.