Saturday, May 10, 2008

US National Security Council plans strike on Iran

Philip Giraldi of American Conservative posted yesterday:

"There is considerable speculation and buzz in Washington today suggesting that the National Security Council has agreed in principle to proceed with plans to attack an Iranian al-Qods-run camp that is believed to be training Iraqi militants. The camp that will be targeted is one of several located near Tehran. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was the only senior official urging delay in taking any offensive action. The decision to go ahead with plans to attack Iran is the direct result of concerns being expressed over the deteriorating situation in Lebanon, where Iranian ally Hezbollah appears to have gained the upper hand against government forces and might be able to dominate the fractious political situation. The White House contacted the Iranian government directly yesterday through a channel provided by the leadership of the Kurdish region in Iraq, which has traditionally had close ties to Tehran. The US demanded that Iran admit that it has been interfering in Iraq and also commit itself to taking steps to end the support of various militant groups. There was also a warning about interfering in Lebanon. The Iranian government reportedly responded quickly, restating its position that it would not discuss the matter until the US ceases its own meddling employing Iranian dissident groups. The perceived Iranian intransigence coupled with the Lebanese situation convinced the White House that some sort of unambiguous signal has to be sent to the Iranian leadership, presumably in the form of cruise missiles. It is to be presumed that the attack will be as “pinpoint” and limited as possible, intended to target only al-Qods and avoid civilian casualties. The decision to proceed with plans for an attack is not final. The President will still have to give the order to launch after all preparations are made."


Nader Uskowi said...

Hezbollah’s withdrawal from Beirut streets today could very well be connected to Iran’s perception of an imminent US attack on IRGC-Quds Force camps near Tehran. Hezbollah’s mover eased the tensions in Beirut to some extend, probably postponing the US attack.

Any attack on IRGC-Quds Force camps, even in pinpoint fashion, can easily escalate into a much larger conflict: IRGC could retaliate against US targets in Iraq or in Persian Gulf, creating a situation for broader US attacks.

It is to be seen if Hezbollah’s move would indeed ease the tensions.

Mark Pyruz said...

That's a possibility, Nader. Another is the staged withdrawal of Hezbollah, after its successful advance, was planned in advance with the Lebanese Army. Evidence of this is the systematic order of the operation, by Hezbollah.

If a US-Iranian exchange of signals did take place, I wouldn't expect the Iranians backing down so quickly. I also don't think such a process could be set into motion so quickly. The decision making process within Tehran and the process of implementation for Lebanon would, I believe, take longer than what actually took place for the streets of Beirut. Consider past episodes of international political brinkmanship for comparison, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and even the US ultimatum to Saddam Hussein. These episodes only dealt with two players, and took longer to play out. In the US-Iran-Hezbollah game, there are three players, and additional ones such as Amal. This would only increase the time required for decision making and action.

If the disengagement and staged withdrawal was foreseen by Hezbollah, it does work to their advantage, as well as Iran's, in momentarily easing tensions which were abruptly running very high. It does appear that the goals of the operation were modest, that it was well coordinated and executed in a characteristically disciplined manner.

Nader Uskowi said...

Mark’s observations, as always firmly grounded in history with a deep understanding of politics in that region, make much sense. There might not have been any relations between the events in Tehran and Beirut.

Tehran blamed the start of Beirut’s uprising to provocative moves by Siniora and Jumblatt, labeling it “adventurism.” Nasrallah echoed the line in his press conference after the hostilities began. When Hezbollah took over the city, however, Tehran seemed unease at the seizure of Beirut by its closest ally.

Could Hezbollah’s withdrawal have been prompted by pressures from Tehran? I am not sure at all, nor do we have concrete information supporting it; it was merely a speculation on my part after the report on NSC plans of attack on Iran and direct warnings by Washington to Tehran of an impending attack on an IRGC camp was published. I am sure in the coming days more information will be made public to gauge with some degree of certainty the relationship between the two events, if any.