Obama Set to Attack Iran’s Nuclear Sites by the Fall of 2012
Straight after the United States was disencumbered of NATO's eight-month Libyan campaign on Oct. 31, President Barack Obama went on line to America's senior allies, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Israel and Saudi Arabia, with notice of his plan to attack Iran no later than September-October 2012 – unless Tehran halted its nuclear weaponization programs.
The news switched on six fast-moving processes:
1. A race against time. Will Iran be able to complete the transfer of all its nuclear installations and ballistic missiles to underground facilities in the remaining months? Or will the West and Israel get in first while the program is still vulnerable?
If it is not attacked by the onset of winter 20012, Western intelligence experts bet on Iran beating the rap; the chances of its programs sustaining serious damage would declines by 60 percent.
2. Having polished off the Qaddafi regime, Obama is perceived by the Sunni Muslim kings and emirs of the Persian Gulf, Middle East and North Africa, as setting his sights on Shiite Iran with dire knock-on consequences for Syria and the Lebanese Hizballah.
By demolishing the Islamic regime's mainstay, the Revolutionary Guards and its terrorist-intelligence branch, the Al Quds Brigades, a US-led attack would have a good chance, they believe, of encompassing the downfall of the regimes in Tehran and Damascus and knocking the stuffing out of Hassan Nasrallah, head of Iran's Lebanese surrogate Hizballah.
However, the same Sunni rulers are also certain that Iran, Syria and Hizballah will not go down without a fight and will stand up to the Western offensive to their last breath. So the year 2012 promises to see Arab Spring domestic struggles transmuted into regional wars.
NATO members dust off contingency plans, hold joint maneuvers with Israel
3. In the opposite camp, DEBKA-Net-Weekly's military and intelligence sources report that Obama's announcement spurred Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Israel into girding their navies, air forces, ballistic units and anti-missile defense systems for the challenges ahead. They have begun joint military exercises to improve cooperation among their military and intelligence systems.
Although air, sea and missile forces will bear the brunt of a projected US-led assault on Iran, the partners are preparing Special Forces for landing small units at nuclear installations and other strategic sites.
Their combined training exercises have five purposes:
– Obama's announcement was not perceived as a general directive to US allies, but a guideline to blow the dust off the contingency plans for a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities which stayed locked in bottom drawers for three years. Those governments must now check to see if the plans are still pertinent, update them if not, and ascertain that their military forces are armed with the right munitions and systems.
Last April and May, when the Libyan war was in full spate, NATO jets ran out of precision bombs and missiles and British and French warships out of ordnance.
– NATO and Israeli army chiefs need another two-to-three months to study the lessons of the Libyan campaign which, in the course of overthrowing the Qaddafi regime, used the embattled country as a testing ground for tactics and equipment in readiness for the Iran offensive.
NATO members gained valuable experience there in air and sea combat as well as in the use of small Special Operations units on the ground.
Arab leaders hope the US is ready for a fresh start in the region
– DEBKA-Net-Weekly's military sources in the Gulf report that NATO and Persian Gulf leaders are treating the prospect of a US strike against Iran with the utmost seriousness in view of the imminent exit of American troops from Iraq next month.
They hope that by turning its back on the Iraq venture, Washington is paving the way for a fresh start in the region.
The word from Washington that after Iraq, America plans to rebuild its Gulf presence, is seen as marking the end of the eight-year Iraq war era, in which Tehran was allowed to grow stronger and expand its regional grip, and the beginning of a new US focus on cutting Iran down to size.
The stakes are high: Obama administration's failure to measure up would cost the US all of its positions in the Middle East.
– Israel stands out from the rest as unsure that Obama's decision on Iran is indeed final and definite. This is why IDF preparations and joint maneuvers with Italy and other NATO members in the last two weeks are accompanied by doom-laden comments by Israeli leaders about the possible need to attack Iran unaided.
(See the next article in this issue.)
– Tehran, Damascus, Hizballah in Beirut and the Islamic Jihad in Gaza have no such doubts. For them, the danger of facing attack in 2012 is very real. Like NATO members and Israel, they have set in train preparations for fighting back.
Our military and intelligence sources report that Hassan Nasrallah, for example, has spent the last ten days inspecting Hizballah units and bases. He is taking commanders from the ranks of lieutenant through general aside and explaining that the Lebanese Shiite militia might find itself fighting singlehanded against NATO and Israeli forces, separately or combined, with no hope of support from Iran or Syria.
The bellicose Hizballah chief does not intend waiting for the enemy to fire the first shot. He proposes starting the war on his own account by loosing 10,000 rockets in a surprise attack on Israel.