The debate continues about Israel’s intent and readiness to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, and the nations apocalyptic response if that was to occur. The narrative covering this debate has revolved around the following premises:
- Israel will attack Iran after the US November elections, not before.
- There is a difference of opinion between Netanyahu and Obama on if the military route is the best option. Israel is frustrated with the US for failing to establish clear-cut red lines for Iran.
- Even if Israel decides to act independently of the US, it is unlikely the strike will destroy Iran’s nuclear program. If the US and Israeli acted jointly, even then the program will likely be set back by a couple of years.
- Lastly, all of this discussion is meant to confuse Iran.
Military or Political Approach
Deciphering this ongoing daily deliberation reveals that Iran is not going to back down under the pressure of economic sanctions. Therefore, to Israel, it is obvious that there is no alternative other than a military strike. Especially, when there is an alarm that Iran is fast approaching the point of no return in acquiring nuclear capability.
On the other hand, US is not so sure that the military option is the only one available. This belief is not because of any lack of confidence in Iran’s ambitions but out of concern for its own national interest, which will be seriously hurt if there is a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. Besides, US is already fatigued by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As a result, US seem to have adopted an alternative strategy. With the spreading Arab Spring the balance of power in the Middle East is being altered to such an extent that ultimately, in combination with economic sanctions, Iran will be left without allies and depleted exchequer. And, this change in itself will convince the Iranians about the futility of its nuclear ambition.
The parallel here is not much different than the example of Pakistan. The spreading war against extremists and its worsening economic woes have convinced the country its time to change the nation’s security policies and ties with India.
War On Terror And Arab Spring
However, recent events in North Africa, Middle East, including Afghanistan, are now pushing the US towards a change in its thinking and strategy.
The protests that erupted in the aftermath of the anti-Islam video and the killing of the American ambassador in Libya has revealed the real extent of anti-Americanism in the Middle East in particular and the Islamic world in general. On the other hand, the spreading green on blue attacks in Afghanistan presents a stark reflection of the collapse of approach there.
For all intents and purposes, this years 9/11 anniversary marked the beginning of the next phase of the war on terror and Arab Spring, the two interconnected phenomena.
The killing of the American ambassador and the initial ambivalence of the Egyptian and Tunisian authorities to control the protests have given credence to the Israeli claim that moderate Islamists, that came to power as a result of the Arab awakening, have a soft corner for the radical Islamists. Moreover, the extremist will eventually take over the moderates. If this really is the case, then that means Al Qaeda is indeed benefiting by the present flux and chaos in the region and by exploiting the direction of the uprisings.
Short of taking matters into its own hands through a dramatic military escalation; speeding up the confrontation between the Shiite and Sunni extremists, such as being seen in the case of Syria, appears to be the only viable option at this point. This approach helps to check the rise of Al Qaeda and Iran at the same time.