During his visit to Gulf Arab states, President Bush urged their leaders to join him in confronting Iran, “before it’s too late.” He described Iran as “the world's leading state sponsor of terror.”
A leading state sponsor of terror with a strong military and proven nuclear capability is a threat to all countries in the region, Bush told the Arab leaders. Iran must be stopped now. That was the message.
Iran accused President Bush of fanning “Iranophobia.” Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki said fanning Iranophobia was “the objective of Bush's visit to the region.”
The Strait of Hormuz incident could have provided the pretext for the start of an armed conflict. The threatening radio message that brought US and Iranian ships to the brink of a shootout in the Persian Gulf may have been a prank by the notorious “Filipino Monkey.” The US Navy, however, did not consider the behavior of IRGC boats as a hoax.
The commander of US naval forces in the region told President Bush that the confrontation with Iranian boats was “deadly seriously.”
The Europeans and the Israelis issued their own warnings on Iran. French foreign ministry spokesperson Pascale Andreani said “that pursuit of a military, nuclear program by Iran is absolutely unacceptable.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy started his own tour of the Persian Gulf and signed an agreement with UAE to station French troops and to build a military base there, across the water from Iran. This is the first time that the French troops would have a permanent base in the Persian Gulf.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany's stance toward Iran remains unchanged. Merkel called on Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert issued his strongest warning yet that he is prepared to use military force against Iran.
“All options are on the table,” said Olmert. “As far as Israel is concerned, the Iranians are continuing efforts to produce non-conventional weapons and, therefore, we must use all the means at our disposal to stop them.”
It seems that we are back to pre-NIE days, at least for this week.