WESTERN and Israeli media are full of purported leaks giving details of the joint efforts by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defence Minister Ehud Barak to enlist reluctant military chiefs to their plan to attack Iran. All this is hogwash. Israel has no intention to move against Iran unilaterally. The leaks published in the US media are a distraction from Israeli efforts to drag Washington into a new Middle East war.
Former Israeli colonel and secret service agent Victor Ostrovsky details in his book By Way of Deception how Israel's Mossad spy agency uses sayanim (Jewish helpers in host countries) to sow false stories in the US media to influence official and public opinion. Last week Richard Silverstein, an anti-war blogger based in Seattle, published a supposedly secret internal briefing document depicting Israeli military plans to strike Iran. He claims that the whistle-blower confided that he wouldn't "normally leak this sort of document" but "these are not normal times. I'm afraid Bibi and Barak are dead serious." According to Silverstein, the document was released because "neither the IDF source nor virtually any senior military or intelligence officer wants this war".
Analysing the "leaked" information, it appears to be a 10-year-old page copied from George Bush's "shock and awe" war plan for Iraq; a "clean" technological cyber-attack paralysing communication centres and power grids followed by a barrage of missiles and airstrikes to destroy targets on the ground.
The co-ordinated Israeli leaks were more likely intended to pre-empt the re-election of Barack Obama rather than be a genuine effort against Iran, especially since the Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney has supported unilateral Israeli military action against Tehran. It was unlikely, though, to be a sheer coincidence that the document appeared at the time when major Israeli newspapers carried articles discussing similar plans.
On August 10, Yedioth Ahronoth published two articles by distinguished writers Nahum Barnea and Simon Shiffer, who concluded that an Israeli strike on Iran would likely take place before the US presidential election in November. Later in the same week, the daily Maariv cited insider information on an Israeli government deadline of September 25, the eve of Yom Kippur and the opening of the UN General Assembly, "for Obama to state clearly that the US will take military action".
Israel is demanding that Obama's speech to the General Assembly should be unequivocal over fixing a timetable to attack Iran. The paper suggests that in the absence of a US commitment to war, "Israel will press on with its plans to strike at the Iranian nuclear programme".
Netanyahu was educated, worked and lived in the US, and he understands very well the vulnerability of a first-term president seeking re-election. He knows that in a tight election year, it is an optimum opportunity for the pro-Israel lobby to maximise US concessions before a second term when the president is relatively less susceptible to the lobby's powerful influence.
Closer to polling day, and if Obama's re-election becomes a near-certainty, a credible scenario would be for Israel to strike Iran in advance of his new term at the White House. An Iranian response to such an attack will leave Obama with little option but to outdo his opponents by standing alongside Israeli supporters in the US Congress, dragging America into yet another Israeli proxy war.
*Mr Kanj writes frequently on Arab issues and is the author of Children of Catastrophe, Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. His articles can be read at www.jamalkanj.com, He can be contacted at his e-mail address is [email protected]. This article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.