US CIA chief Petraeus is sent to cool Israeli ire
President Barack Obama is sending CIA Director David Petraeus to Israel in a hurry Monday, Sept. 3, in an attempt to quench the flames of discord between Israel and his administration on the Iran issue. He will fly in from a visit to Ankara Sunday, where too he faces recriminations for US handling of the Syrian crisis.
Israel has a double grievance over Obama’s Iran policy: Not only does his administration spare Iran’s leaders any sense of military threat that might give them pause in their dash for a nuclear weapon, but US officials are actively preventing any Israel striking out in its own defense to dispel the dark shadow of a nuclear Iran.
Behind closed doors in Ankara Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul are preparing to vent their anger against the US administration for tying their hands against establishing safe havens in Syria for rebel operations against the Assad regime. The Turkish Air Force has been on standby for the last two months for this mission, along with the Saudi and UAE air forces. However, none are prepared to go forward without logistical backing from the US Air Force.
They blame Obama’s refusal to engage directly in the Syrian conflict for the escalating terrorist threats confronting Turkey from Assad’s open door to PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) bases in northern Syria and the Iraqi-Syrian-Turkish border triangle. Turkey is also stuck with a swelling influx of Syrian refugees piling an unmanageable burden on its economy.
Israel does not expect anything useful to come out of the Petraeus visit – or even any alleviation of the bad feeling between Binyamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama. High-placed officials in Jerusalem were of the view that the CIA chief fits the US president’s bill at this time. His visit is a non-binding gesture of goodwill for Israel which does not require the White House or the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey to backtrack or apologize for his derogatory remarks about the IDF's capacity for taking Iran on. Another advantage is that any words passing between the CIA chief and Israeli leaders may be classified.
His visit to Jerusalem will therefore not stem the ill will prevailing between Jerusalem and Washington.
All the same, Prime Minister Netanyahu chose his words carefully Sunday to avoid fingering the US directly when he urged the international community to get tougher against Iran, saying that without a "clear red line," Tehran will not halt its nuclear program. He was addressing the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
"I believe that the truth must be said, the international community [not the US] is not drawing a clear red line for Iran, and Iran does not see international determination to stop its nuclear program," Netanyahu said.
"Until Iran sees this clear red line and this determination, it will not stop its advancement of the Iranian nuclear program. Iran must not have a nuclear weapon," he declared.
Earlier Sunday, debkafile reported: Slashed US military input shortens Israel's notice of Iranian missile launch.