Last night, I glanced at a report from a Kuwaiti news paper and thought it looked suspiciously familiar. The Kuwaiti publication Al-Jarida published a report that a senior Israeli minister with alleged close ties to the Obama Administration had tipped off Secretary of State Kerry about a possible IAF attack against selected Iranian nuclear facilities. Israel National News (INN) reported:
US President Barack Obama thwarted an Israeli military attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2014 by threatening to shoot down Israeli jets before they could reach their targets in Iran.
Following Obama’s threat, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was reportedly forced to abort the planned Iran attack.
According to Al-Jarida, the Netanyahu government took the decision to strike Iran some time in 2014 soon after Israel had discovered the United States and Iran had been involved in secret talks over Iran’s nuclear program and were about to sign an agreement in that regard behind Israel’s back.
Al-Jarida quoted “well-placed” sources as saying that Netanyahu, along with Minister of Defense Moshe Yaalon, and then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, had decided to carry out airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear program after consultations with top security commanders.
According to the report, “Netanyahu and his commanders agreed after four nights of deliberations to task the Israeli army’s chief of staff, Benny Gantz, to prepare a qualitative operation against Iran’s nuclear program. In addition, Netanyahu and his ministers decided to do whatever they could do to thwart a possible agreement between Iran and the White House because such an agreement is, allegedly, a threat to Israel’s security.”
The sources added that Gantz and his commanders prepared the requested plan and that Israeli fighter jets trained for several weeks in order to make sure the plans would work successfully. Israeli fighter jets reportedly even carried out experimental flights in Iran’s airspace after they managed to break through radars.
If this sounds like déjà vu all over again, as baseball great Yogi Berra might opine, it should. Back in 2008, Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Carter National Security Advisor, was a foreign policy consultant to then Senator Obama in the midst of his first Presidential campaign. He became a center of controversy when he publicly favored the shoot down of IAF aircraft transiting Middle East airspace in an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, in a September 21, 2009, INN report wrote:
Zbigniew Brzezinski, who enthusiastically campaigned for U.S. President Barack Obama, has called on the president to shoot down Israeli planes if they attack Iran. “They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?” said the former national security advisor to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in an interview with the Daily Beast. Brzezinski, who served in the Carter administration from 1977 to 1981, is currently a professor of American foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Maryland.
“We have to be serious about denying them that right,” he said. “If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a ‘Liberty’ in reverse.’” Israel mistakenly attacked the American Liberty ship during the Six-Day War in 1967.
Brzezinski was a top candidate to become an official advisor to President Obama, but he was downgraded after Republican and pro-Israel Democratic charges during the campaign that Brzezinski’s anti-Israel attitude would damage Obama at the polls.
But like a bad penny, the Brzezinski doctrine popped up in an exchange in 2010 between Admiral Mike Mullins, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and an Air Force ROTC cadet at the University of West Virginia. Gil Ronen of INN in an April 21, 2010 report noted:
The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, evaded a question Tuesday regarding the theoretical possibility that the US would shoot down IAF jets en route to attack Iran.
The Weekly Standard reported that in a town hall meeting on the campus of the University of West Virginia, a US Air Force ROTC cadet asked Mullen to respond to a hypothetical situation: if Israel decided to attack Iran, he said, its jets would need to fly through Iraqi airspace, which is considered a “no-fly” zone by the American military. Would US troops shoot down the Israeli jets, the airman asked, if they entered that zone?
Mullen evaded the question. “We have an exceptionally strong relationship with Israel,” he said. “I’ve spent a lot of time with my counterpart in Israel. So we also have a very clear understanding of where we are. And beyond that, I just wouldn’t get into the speculation of what might happen and who might do what. I don’t think it serves a purpose, frankly,” he said. “I am hopeful that this will be resolved in a way where we never have to answer a question like that.”
The cadet insisted: “Would an airman like me ever be ordered to fire on an Israeli aircraft or personnel?”
Mullen still would not answer directly. “Again, I wouldn’t move out into the future very far from here,” he said. “They’re an extraordinarily close ally, have been for a long time, and will be in the future.”
Mullen, appearing in a forum at Columbia University on Sunday, equated the danger of a nuclear Iran with the danger of an attack on it. “”I worry . . . about striking Iran. I’ve been very public about that because of the unintended consequences. I think Iran having a nuclear weapon would be incredibly destabilizing. I think attacking them would also create the same kind of outcome,” He did not mention the added danger to Israel of a nuclear Iran that has vowed publicly to destroy the Jewish State.
Israel may be prepared to counter an Iranian S-300 threat. We commented in a 2010, Iconoclast Post:
In June 2008, Israel’s air force undertook massive air training exercises involving more than 100 aircraft in the eastern Mediterranean against Greek S-300 Russian air defense systems. That effort demonstrated the canny effectiveness of swarming attacks against the S-300 and later versions that upset the Iranian military and Revolutionary Guards.
That did not go unnoticed by the IRGC Air Force commanders. They had put in orders for an advanced version of the S-300 system to counter a possible Israeli air attack threat. However, Russia was prevailed upon by Israel and the US not to deliver those air defense systems. Just after the January 18, 2015 Golan attack that took out senior Hezbollah and Iranian Al Quds commanders, there was a meeting in Tehran on January 20, 2015 between, Russian Defense Minister Shogui and Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Dehghan. We noted in a January 21, 2015 Iconoclast post:
TAAS reported the US studying the announced Russian –Iranian military agreement, but specifically objecting to possible shipment of the S-300/400 air defense system. Russia might finally ship Iran the advanced S-300 air defense system that both the US and Israeli successfully lobbied former Russian President Medvedev in 2010 to cancel. Immediate payment by Iran of $800 million for the S-300 system may have cemented the deal. This defense cooperation deal is a prelude to a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a Central Asian republic location.
The Russian delivery of the S-300/400 air defense system to Iran maybe a possible counter to the IAF December 8, 2014 attacks at Damascus International airport hangars that destroyed deliveries of missiles headed for Hezbollah in Lebanon and allegedly killed two senior terrorist proxy operatives.
While the threat of the Brzezinski doctrine allegedly may have been invoked by President Obama to foil an alleged IAF attack in 2014 against Iranian nuclear facilities, the Israelis are prepared in that eventuality to spring some surprises that neither the US nor Iran had planned to counter. These reports reinforce the widening divide that has erupted between the Obama Administration and the Israeli Netanyahu government, the latter facing a general Knesset election on March 17th. PM Netanyahu’s arrival in Washington this evening demonstrates his determination to inform the American body polity of the clear and present dangers of Iran’s closure on becoming a nuclear threshold state as witnessed by the leaks of a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding revealed in our February 27, 2015 post.