March 17, 2009
Amid lingering talks of war on Iran, Israel’s prime minister-designate raises the alarm about a major military conflict in the coming months.
The soon-to-be prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes that "a national emergency" such as Israel’s involvement in a major war would help him in his frantic attempts to form a new ruling coalition.
Following the inconclusive February 20 elections, Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, the hawkish leader of Likud, was tasked with piecing together a new Israeli government.
Netanyahu, who is known as "Mr. Iran" in Israeli circles, has so far failed to gain the trust and support of opposition parties of Kadima and Labor.
According to a report carried by Debka, which is believed to have close links to the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, Bibi is planning to settle for a provisional administration before calling for another early election in six months.
"His main consideration is that Israel expects to be embroiled in a major military confrontation in the next few months with Iran, Hamas or Hezbollah — or all three at once," read the Debka report.
"A national emergency" would then compel Israeli rivals to join Bibi’s government, unnamed political sources were quoted as saying.
The military conflict prediction by the Israeli prime minister-designate comes as earlier on February 16, an annual defense work plan presented to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi for the year 2009 described Iran as "the No.1 threat the IDF is now preparing for."
The report tasked the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) with reinforcing its strategic aerial capabilities, while zooming in on the development of "remote-piloted vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles", as well as "infrastructural investments in intelligence and communications devices."
Israel, believed to be the only possessor of a nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, describes Iran’s nuclear activities as a threat to its existence.
Israeli officials claim that considering the pace at which Iran is moving ahead with its nuclear program it would become a nuclear power by the end of 2009 and argue that a military attack is a legitimate option for taking out the country’s nuclear infrastructure.
As a response to long-standing Israeli war rhetoric, Iran has moved to upgrade its defenses and has reportedly opted to clinch a deal with Russia to acquire a sophisticated air defense system — the S-300.
Earlier on Tuesday, however, a report revealed that Moscow might take a step and shelve the delivery of the controversial air defense system to Iran as Russia is currently seeking to turn a "new page" in its ties with the US.
"Such a possibility is not excluded. The question [of S-300 delivery] must be decided at a political level, especially as the contract was worked out on a purely commercial basis," Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed source as saying.
The freeze in the delivery of the Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile is expected to help ensure the success of an Israeli airstrike on Iranian nuclear sites.
Western military experts have estimated that the controversial system would rule out the possibility of any such strike on Iranian facilities.
"If Tehran obtained the S-300, it would be a game-changer in military thinking for tackling Iran," says long-time Pentagon advisor Dan Goure.