Analysis: Israeli military welcomes Mofaz’s “red line” for Tehran
Last week, Deputy Prime minister Shaul Mofaz said Israeli strikes on Iran looked “unavoidable” given its progress in uranium enrichment and ineffectiveness of the alternatives. The rush by his colleagues in government to condemn the Iranian-born minister’s outspoken threat of unilateral action was as politically-motivated as his own outspokenness.
Mofaz has gone public on his bid to take the lead of the Kadima party when prime minister Ehud Olmert is finally forced out by the corruption case him. But the country is in jitters over Iran’s rapid progress towards nuclear armament and genuinely thirsty for a sign of clear action amid the shilly-shallying on major national security threats, including Hizballah, Hamas and the Palestinians, displayed so far by the heads of the Olmert government.
They prefer to place their reliance on “the international community” and sanctions.
debkafile‘s military sources in the Gulf report that Iran, in contrast, is deep in preparations to sustain an attack and hit back. The all Qods commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani, they say, has been appointed to spearhead counter-action against the US and Israel, and Tehran has poured huge military and financial resources into the Brigades’ resources for retaliating against a strike against its nuclear installations.
These sources describe the general as a quiet talker but well capable of managing all al Qods’ various assets across the Middle East for reprisals against their sponsor’s enemies. Gen. Soleimani has been given sole command of this operation. Detached from the regular Revolutionary Guards Corps hierarchy, he defers directly to supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. So secretive are his activities that funding comes in cash from Khamenei’s bureau. Therefore, Gulf sources say, Soleimani’s tactics and targeting will take the enemy completely by surprise.
Israeli military and intelligence sources told debkafile that the high-level domestic animosity to Mofaz’s remarks was more damaging than the remarks themselves. They referred especially two Israeli ministers close to Olmert and defense minister Barak, who asserted he did not represent government policy.
Our military sources maintain that Mofaz at least offered a rejoinder to the extremist Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who until now has had the stage to himself for increasingly atrocious threats against Israel.
Only last week in Rome, he used another UN platform to declare that Israel would soon disappear – “with or without Iran’s help.”
Not a single voice was raised in the world body or international community to condemn him.
In contrast, strong challenges to Tehran have been voiced by both US presidential contenders. And at the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee conference last week, Elizabeth Cheney, until recently a principal deputy assistant secretary of state in the New East Bureau, spoke up clearly.
She is quoted by the Washington Post as saying: “When… red lines aren’t there, when our enemies like Iran and Syria begin to believe that can act with impunity, you see situations like you have got in Lebanon today – where Hizballah now has a veto over that government, where Hizballah will be able, I fear, to significantly continue its efforts to rearm southern Lebanon, continue to threaten Israel and allow Iran a real chokehold on the region.”
In any case, the comment made by Mofaz, a former chief of staff who served as defense minister until 2006, was not that much different from earlier Israeli statements: Infrastructure Minister (Labor) Binyamin Ben Eliezer said earlier this year that if Iran developed nuclear weapons, it would be destroyed – “that would be the end of Iran.”
Last month, the recently-retired Israeli Air force chief, Brig. Gen. Eliezer Shkedy said Israel must take action against Iran, even unilaterally, because its nuclear program is an existential threat to the Jewish state.
Asked by an interviewer whether Israel is capable of hitting those installations given their broad geographic dispersal, Shkedy replied tellingly: “There is no problem which has no operational solution.
debkafile‘s military sources add that the Israeli Air Force has set up an Iran Command to coordinate operations with the ballistic missiles and air and missile defense brigades which deploy the Arrow and Patriot anti-missile missile systems.