It is the day before the Global March to Jerusalem (GM2J), organized by Iran and its proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and Free Gaza Movement “progressive” allies on the left given the 36th anniversary of Palestinian Land Day. Israel is not taking this lightly. It has planted fresh mine fields and dug trenches dug on its borders. Reservists have been called up to support border and riot police with drones and helicopters poised for possible action. The world media has arrived to capture any provocative acts committed against the Jewish state by marchers on its borders.
Perhaps there may be greater numbers than those thousands of Palestinians who tried crashing Israel’s Lebanese and Syrian borders on May 15 2011, Israel’s Independence day, called al Nakbah , “the catastrophe”, by the Arabs. More than 12 were killed and 282 were injured. A second border clash occurred at the Syrian village of Majd al Shams on June 5th, the anniversary of Israel’s victory in June 1967 known as Al-Naksi,”the disaster”. 1,000 Syrians and Palestinians showed up with dozens injured.
The memories are still fresh in the minds of the Netanyahu government of the violence committed on board the Turkish ferry, the Mavi Marmara that left 9 activists dead and several Israel navy commandos injured during the 2010 Free Gaza Flotilla episode. The 2011 Free Gaza Flotilla was a bust, given many vessels that were detained in EU and Greek ports. Flytilla, the fly in version was a bust, as well.
This time, Israel is prepared for whatever occurs. If provocative acts are committed with rubber bullets, live ammo and tear gas, the assembled world media will be there to record the events and report them. The GM2J organizers and their allies will have a field day in promoting whatever happens as the equivalent of ‘yellow journalism”. There is not much to counter this from the White House or the State Department. Yesterday, when State Department spokesperson Ms. Nuland was asked repeatedly by pro-Palestinian journalist Matthew Lee about whether the US considers Jerusalem the Capital of Israel, she evaded giving any answers suggesting that had to wait until final status discussions. This despite legislation passed in 1995 by Congress recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Watch this State Department You Tube video on yesterday’s press briefing.
We don’t know whether National Security Council, State Department or US embassy legations have engaged in discussions with Israel’s neighbors in communicating possible concerns regarding control of GM2J contingents gathering on Israel’s borders for tomorrow’s protests.
What is of continuing concern is a chorus of stories in the media during the last 10 days warning Israel against making a pre-emptive attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities. That culminating in two stories today that appear to be part of an Administration orchestrated campaign. The New York Times published a Reuters' story, “Could Bombing Iran Push it to Build the Bomb?“ addressing warnings by experts and fellow travelers of the Islamic Republic in Tehran. That report included comment from the respected Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security. Also cited was former IAEA head, Egyptian lawyer and politician, Mohamed ElBaradei, a possible candidate for the Country’s Presidency, should a Constitution be adopted and the Supreme Armed Forces Council permit national elections. Our suspicions were aroused by comments from Trita Parsi, a Swedish Citizen of Iranian origins and head of the National Iranian American Council in Washington. Parsi is known to be someone who represents the views of the Islamic regime in Tehran, has direct access to the West Wing in the Obama White House, and has regularly prowled Capitol Hill. Then there was a representative from the International Crisis Group that is known to hold views predisposed towards negotiations with Iran and proxy Hamas. This chorus was communicating a line that said Israel would be foolhardy to exercise its sovereign right to defend itself against Iran with its annihilationist threats.
If that wasn’t enough, today Foreign Policy, a publication of the Washington Post Group floated a story, “Israel's Secret Staging Ground” by Middle East analyst, Mark Perry. It was about an alleged deal between Azerbaijan and Israel that would give the latter airfield landing rights for a possible attack against Iran. Azerbaijan, which lies to the northwest of Iran on the Caspian Sea, is an oil rich former Soviet era republic, now a Sunni Muslim country. It has good trading and security relations with Israel. Moreover, Azerbaijan leaders have abiding geo-political concern about Azeri brethren in the adjacent Iranian province. The possible Israeli-Azerbaijan connection on any pre-emptive strike has been speculated upon for several weeks. However, yesterday’s Foreign Policy report appeared to be staged to coincide with a series of media reports critical of Israel’s possible pre-emptive attack plans. Note this comment from the Foreign Policy report that has raised US intelligence community and Obama Administration concerns about what is behind this development:
"We're watching what Iran does closely," one of the U.S. sources, an intelligence officer engaged in assessing the ramifications of a prospective Israeli attack confirmed. "But we're now watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we're not happy about it."
Israel's deepening relationship with the Baku government was cemented in February by a $1.6 billion arms agreement that provides Azerbaijan with sophisticated drones and missile-defense systems. At the same time, Baku's ties with Tehran have frayed: Iran presented a note to Azerbaijan's ambassador last month claiming that Baku has supported Israeli-trained assassination squads targeting Iranian scientists, an accusation the Azeri government called "a slander." In February, a member of Yeni Azerbadzhan -- the ruling party -- called on the government to change the country's name to "North Azerbaijan," implicitly suggesting that the 16 million Azeris who live in northern Iran ("South Azerbaijan") are in need of liberation.
Former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, a long term critic of the Obama Administration dealings with Islamic Republic over its nuclear program, said floating the Azerbaijani- connection was duplicitous endangering Israel’s security.
In a Fox News report, Bolton accused the Obama Administration of leaking the story to foil Israel’s covert operations on Iran’s border. Bolton noted:
"I think this leak today is part of the administration's campaign against an Israeli attack".
The White House did not respond to Bolton's claims Thursday.
Bolton, a Fox News contributor, noted that a strike launched from Azerbaijan would be much easier for the Israelis than a strike launched from their own country -- jets could stay over their targets longer and worry less about refueling. But he said tipping the Israelis' hand by revealing "very sensitive, very important information" could frustrate such a plan.
If we follow these two news account they may portray an Administration in Washington desperate to scuttle an effective Israeli attack scenario that as Ambassador Bolton said would be potentially more effective than thought possible heretofore.
This may have been perpetrated by both the Islamic Regime's Washington lobbyist Trita Parsi of National Iranian American Council , Obama NSC Advisers and the US Intelligence community who may want to delay any Israeli assault against Iran's vulnerable weaponization facilities. In Jerusalem that opportunity and the window to achieve it is rapidly closing. Moreover, who can trust the comments of ElBaradei, who for years downplayed Iran's weaponization program, only to be upstaged by the November 2011 IAEA reports.
The Reuters piece is nothing more than a furtherance of the Obama West Wing line of to give sanctions a chance to cajole the Islamic Republic into more fruitless jaw boning with Shia Mahdists intent on completing a nearly thirty year effort on the nuclear project. A project that ironically began under the late Shah. The Administration is eager to let the P5+1 talks scheduled for April 13th proceed with Iran. A gambit that the Islamic Republic leaders probably laugh at in private giving them space to push ahead to achieve checkmate against international sanction efforts to stop their weaponization and delivery programs. Notwithstanding today’s revelations about a possible Azerbaijan base to launch an attack against Iranian facilities, Israel believes that a window of opportunity is about to close. The Azerbaijani connection makes the Israel attack more plausible thus clearly upset the plans of their neighbors in Iran
In the meantime, Israel and its allies in the Congress should press the Administration about implementing the existing authorized gasoline moratorium that might cripple the already tottering Iranian economy to foster a groundswell of internal support for regime change. The embargo against Iran oil exports has already had some effect this month as reflected by a drop of such sales in the world markets by an estimated 14 percent. The implementation of the ban by SWIFT against using its international wire transfer system for oil payments has also played a part.
Nevertheless, it is now time to implement the long authorized gasoline moratorium that US Sen. Mark Kirk, recovering from his unfortunate stroke, might lead in a bi-partisan effort given his track record in the House and now the Senate. That effort forced both the Bush and Obama Administrations to implement more effective sanctions. However, in the end, Israel will still have to undertake its own version of a military strike. What passes for the moribund opposition inside the Islamic Republic, the remnants of the Green Movement, supports an annihilationist agenda towards the Jewish State and wants to become the second Islamic nuclear arsenal after Pakistan. There are few prospects for replacing the Mahdists in Tehran with a secular regime as the US and others in the West have never invested time and money in fostering a suitable replacement. That would include the irredentist objectives of Iran's minority groups such as the Kurds, Azeris and Baluchis. Thus, the Reuters article only deepens the myopic view that appeasement of the Mahdists in Tehran will get Obama re-elected. The Foreign Policy article on the possible Azerbaijani role providing Israel with airfields and refueling facilities increases the likelihood of success for the Israeli military option. Further, it might give rise to Azeri irredentism in the adjacent Iranian province destabilizing the Islamic regime. Jerusalem knows this as do many outside the Obama West Wing in Washington and even Riyadh. Thus this untoward leak harbors a game changer strategy by the Israelis, something that upstages the Obama Administration election campaign and may reinforce Israel’s security as a wedge issue.