June 26, 2010
An Iranian allegation that Saudi Arabia is allowing Israel to use its terroritory in preparation for attacking Iran nuclear sites has stirred a flurry of reports in the Israeli media.
The allegation could not be independently confirmed, and the Saudis deny cooperating with the Israeli military.
The Jerusalem Post website on Sunday said reports that the Israeli military had established a base in Saudi Arabia originated with Iranian and Israeli news outlets. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Ha’aretz were among Israeli media carrying the reports credited to Fars, the semi-official Iranian news agency. The Fars report was also picked up by international outlets such as UPI.
The reports said the Israeli base is about five miles from Tabuk in northwest Saudi Arabia. …
Earlier deal reported
The claim follows a report two weeks ago in the London Times Magazine that Saudi Arabia had given Israel permission to fly through a narrow corridor of airspace in northern Saudi Arabia to shorten the flight time Israeli jets need to reach Iran. …
The report that Israeli forces are being allowed on Saudi territory follows Arab media stories last week that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan canceled military cooperation agreements with Israel after Israel’s assault on a flotilla of Gaza-bound ships. The intervention ended in the death of nine Turkish activists.
The military agreements would have allowed Israeli jets to fly through Turkish airspace to Georgia and on to Iran, the Post said. …
Gen. James N. Mattis, who commands American forces in the Middle East, was said to be troubled by results of the war game. (Photo credit: Matt Dunham / Associated Press via The New York Times)
WASHINGTON — A classified war simulation held this month to assess the repercussions of an Israeli attack on Iran forecasts that the strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead, according to American officials.
The officials said the so-called war game was not designed as a rehearsal for American military action — and they emphasized that the exercise’s results were not the only possible outcome of a real-world conflict.
But the game has raised fears among top American planners that it may be impossible to preclude American involvement in any escalating confrontation with Iran, the officials said. In the debate among policy makers over the consequences of any Israeli attack, that reaction may give stronger voice to those in the White House, Pentagon and intelligence community who have warned that a strike could prove perilous for the United States.
The results of the war game were particularly troubling to Gen. James N. Mattis, who commands all American forces in the Middle East, Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia, according to officials who either participated in the Central Command exercise or who were briefed on the results and spoke on condition of anonymity because of its classified nature. When the exercise had concluded earlier this month, according to the officials, General Mattis told aides that an Israeli first strike would be likely to have dire consequences across the region and for United States forces there.
The two-week war game, called Internal Look, played out a narrative in which the United States found it was pulled into the conflict after Iranian missiles struck a Navy warship in the Persian Gulf, killing about 200 Americans, according to officials with knowledge of the exercise. The United States then retaliated by carrying out its own strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.
The initial Israeli attack was assessed to have set back the Iranian nuclear program by roughly a year, and the subsequent American strikes did not slow the Iranian nuclear program by more than an additional two years. However, other Pentagon planners have said that America’s arsenal of long-range bombers, refueling aircraft and precision missiles could do far more damage to the Iranian nuclear program — if President Obama were to decide on a full-scale retaliation. …
In the end, the war game reinforced to military officials the unpredictable and uncontrollable nature of a strike by Israel, and a counterstrike by Iran, the officials said. …
With the Israelis saying publicly that the window to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb is closing, American officials see an Israeli attack on Iran within the next year as a possibility. They have said privately that they believe that Israel would probably give the United States little or no warning should Israeli officials make the decision to strike Iranian nuclear sites.
Officials said that, under the chain of events in the war game, Iran believed that Israel and the United States were partners in any strike against Iranian nuclear sites and therefore considered American military forces in the Persian Gulf as complicit in the attack. Iranian jets chased Israeli warplanes after the attack, and Iranians launched missiles at an American warship in the Persian Gulf, viewed as an act of war that allowed an American retaliation. …
Many experts have predicted that Iran would try to carefully manage the escalation after an Israeli first strike in order to avoid giving the United States a rationale for attacking with its far superior forces. Thus, it might use proxies to set off car bombs in world capitals or funnel high explosives to insurgents in Afghanistan to attack American and NATO troops. …
Some military specialists in the United States and in Israel who have assessed the potential ramifications of an Israeli attack believe that the last thing Iran would want is a full-scale war on its territory. Thus, they argue that Iran would not directly strike American military targets, whether warships in the Persian Gulf or bases in the region.
Their analysis, however, also includes the broad caveat that it is impossible to know the internal thinking of the senior Iranian leadership [link added], and is informed by the awareness that even the most detailed war games cannot predict how nations and their leaders will react in the heat of conflict.
Yet these specialists continue their work, saying that any insight on how the Iranians will react to an attack will help determine whether the Israelis carry out a strike — and what the American position will be if they do.
Israeli intelligence estimates, backed by academic studies, have cast doubt on the widespread assumption that a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would set off a catastrophic set of events like a regional conflagration, widespread acts of terrorism and sky-high oil prices. …
Related reports on this site
Iran Preps to Fire Up Nuke Plant (Oct. 25, 2010)
Iran Starts Up Nuclear Plant (Aug. 21, 2010)
McCain: ‘Pull Trigger’ on Iran (April 15, 2010)
Israel Dragging US into Iran War? (March 21, 2010)
Iran Ramps Up Nuclear Program (Feb. 22, 2010)
Iran Now a ‘Nuclear State’ (Feb. 11, 2010)
Iran, North Korea Threat Level Rises (Dec. 13, 2009)
Obama Demands Access to Nuke Site (Sept. 26, 2009)
Bush Nixed Israeli Plea to Hit Iran (Jan. 11, 2009)
FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — June 27, 2009
One-year retrospective: One year ago today I provided a compilation of notable reports and opinions regarding U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s announcement that she would refuse to complete the 2010 U.S. Census beyond reporting the number of members in her household.
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