Powered by WebAds

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Obama warns Netanyahu not to 'surprise' him by striking Iran

American President Barack Obama has warned Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not to surprise him by striking Iran (Hat Tip: Gateway Pundit).
U.S. President Barack Obama has sent a message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanding that Israel not surprise the U.S. with an Israeli military operation against Iran. The message was conveyed by a senior American official who met in Israel with Netanyahu, ministers and other senior officials. Earlier, Netanyahu's envoy visited Washington and met with National Security Adviser James Jones and with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and discussed the dialogue Obama has initiated with Tehran.

The message from the American envoy to the prime minister reveals U.S. concern that Israel could lose patience and act against Iran. It is important to the Americans that they not be caught off guard and find themselves facing facts on the ground at the last minute.

Obama did not wait for his White House meeting with Netanyahu, scheduled for next Monday, to deliver his message, but rather sent it ahead of time with his envoy.

It may be assumed that Obama is disturbed by the positions Netanyahu expressed before his election vis-a-vis Tehran - for example, Netanyahu's statement that "If elected I pledge that Iran will not attain nuclear arms, and that includes whatever is necessary for this statement to be carried out." After taking office, on Holocaust Memorial Day Netanyahu said: "We will not allow Holocaust-deniers to carry out another holocaust."
Good luck with that Mr. President. Netanyahu is not going to allow us to take a hit so that you can keep bowing down to the Mullahs.

But Aluf Benn (the Haaretz reporter who wrote this story) has it wrong. If Obama were just 'disturbed' by positions Netanyahu took in his election campaign, he wouldn't be sending messengers to Netanyahu, and having leaks planted in the press about them, four days before their first in-person meeting. Obama is immediately concerned about several recent developments:
  1. Wednesday's report that the IAF is practicing dogfights against Soviet-made MiG 29's and is practicing 'heavy formations' with its F-16's.
  2. The report earlier this month that the IAF flew its jets to Gibraltar and back to practice refueling for long distance flights.
  3. The report earlier this month that reservists have been called up for extra duty to practice manning anti-missile batteries.
  4. The obvious implications of Israel's strikes against Iranian weapons supplies in Sudan for Israel's ability to strike at the Iranians with or without American cooperation.
Now, for those of you with a sense of history: The IAF strike against Iraq's Osirak reactor took place on June 7, 1981. It was the eve of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. June 7 is three and a half weeks from now. The Jewish holiday of Shavuot begins at sundown on Thursday May 28 - two weeks from today.

Obama wants to 'engage' with Iran. Netanyahu has very little patience for that, especially since Obama has been talking about 'engagement' since he took office and has not even begun those discussions with Iran. It is unlikely at this point that Obama will start those discussions before Iran's election on June 12.

Netanyahu met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak this week. Mubarak is known to be very concerned about Iran - concerned enough that he could give Israel tacit approval for a strike on Iran. Mubarak was undoubtedly as disturbed as Netanyahu was about the interview in Wednesday's Financial Times with Hezbullah deputy Naim Qassem, in which Qassem admitted that the Iranian-backed movement is supporting Hamas. In response to the Qassem interview, Mubarak deployed 600 Egyptian commandoes in Northern Sinai and Rafah to finally pull the plug on Hamas' smuggling (yes, I know that's a sole-sourced DEBKA link and I don't like to do those, but this makes too much sense in the context not to at least consider it being true).

Netanyahu is still hoping to meet with Jordan's King Abdullah - who is also deeply concerned by Iran (Ahmadinejad wants to 'liberate' the 'Palestinians,' depose Abdullah and then re-combine Israel and Jordan - the two countries that originally made up the 'Palestinian Mandate' until the Treaty of San Remo in 1920) - before his trip to Washington. There is much precedent for meetings with the Jordanian King taking place in secret and only being reported after the fact if at all. Abdullah's father, King Hussein, met many times with Israeli leaders without it being reported or with the meetings only being reported after the fact. Netanyahu could meet with Abdullah today or tomorrow without the media finding out about it.

And on top of that, foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman returns from England this morning after a meeting with British foreign secretary David Milliband that was 'shrouded in secrecy.'

Is Obama trying to convince Netanyahu not to do anything irrevocable about Iran before their meeting in Washington next week? Is Netanyahu trying to present Obama with a fait accomplis of 'moderate' Arab support for a strike against Iran, which would have the added bonus of deflecting American pressure on Israel to make concessions to the 'Palestinians'?

The answers to those questions lie behind Obama's warning to Netanyahu. Netanyahu has done much more than talk to bring about Obama's warning not to act against Iran without letting the Americans in on it. Obama is losing - and maybe has lost - control over the situation. And he's not very happy about it.


Israel Radio is reporting that a 'senior government official' told their diplomatic correspondent (they don't specify which diplomatic correspondent) that the Israeli government has sent a message to the Obama administration that the Israeli government will not surprise them regarding Iran and will coordinate actions with the American government. The message notes that the two sides' positions will be clarified during Netanyahu's meeting with Obama on Monday.


Israel Radio also cites a report in the Egyptian newspaper al-Hayat that Egyptian army officers have been transferred from Central Sinai to Rafah to attempt to put a stop to smuggling by Hamas. While they don't specify the number 600, that sounds an awful like the DEBKA report on the new anti-smuggling measures that I cited above (and keep in mind that the report on Israel Radio was a sound-byte and not an extensive report).

Hmmm again.

And did I mention that Israel Radio also reported this morning that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has been placed in charge of 'strategic affairs' and will be liasing with the Americans over Iran as a result. How does that fit in with his mostly secret meeting with British Foreign Secretary David Milliband cited above.

Questions, questions, questions. Maybe we'll have some answers next week.


Arutz Sheva reports that this story - which has been covered extensively now in Israel - has received almost no coverage abroad.
The office of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday night quickly calmed the fears of U.S. President Barack Obama that Israel is planning to attack Iran without coordinating with the United States. The reassurance, reported on Voice of Israel government radio, was attributed to unnamed aides in the Prime Minister’s office.

Israeli media early Thursday ran screaming headlines about the American fears although virtually none of the foreign media mentioned the issue.

Phillip Weiss, a long-time foe of the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, wrote on his Mondoweiss blog Thursday, “The Israeli press seems to be on the edge of its seat in the buildup to the meeting, and is expecting the worst. Each day Israeli newspapers are full of prognosticators and politicians reading Obama White House tea leaves, making dire predictions and giving urgent advice for the Prime Minister.”
Weiss' post (actually his co-blogger Adam Horowitz's post) - from the relative safety of Pennsylvania - is here.


At 8:21 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

There is nothing Obama can do to keep Israel from defending itself and you can be sure he will be "surprised." Israel is not going to be even giving the US President advance notice to preserve military secrecy. At this point, Israel will do whatever it has to do to eliminate the threat Iran poses to Israel's existence. Israel will deal with any damage to its relations with America once the Iranian nuclear capability has been eliminated. And Benjamin Netanyahu will tell the President on Monday that either you take care of it or we will. Which doesn't leave Obama with much choice as far his plans for outreach to the mullahs are concerned.

At 2:54 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Any Israeli info shared with the Obamans should be considered insecure in the extreme.

At 3:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think the best date for an attack to the iranian nuclear installations is the 12th of june.

i live in a democratic country and as such, i like to wait and see what's the decision of the people of iran .
if they choose the same road as amadinejad, so be it.
the same day of the iranian election, the IAF should be prepared to lunch the attack.
and once the results are there...

At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Other points to consider:

1. Iran has yet to take delivery of the latest Russian AA missile batteries for which there is no known effective counter. We would need to strike before those AA missile batteries are delivered and activated.

2. The Iranian elections. I think this is Israel's way of warning the Ayotollah they must not elect Ahmadinijad or someone like him, to win.

I discussed all this with my GF today and said to her "The day after we hit Iran I'm on the next plane out of here."

She said, "There won't be a 'next day'. Iran will retaliate immediately. I was here when Saddam's Scud missiles were hitting us day and night. You don't know how powerful those missiles are. And my mother is going to be in town the day we have the anti-missile drill. Shit."

Yeah. Shit. And that's the other thing. Maybe it's no coincidence we are having a nationwide missile attack drill on the 2nd of June. Maybe it won't be a drill...


Post a Comment

<< Home