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Do the D.C. bomb plot and Schalit deal spell “war with Iran”?

On the same day that a plot to kill a Saudi envoy in Washington was exposed, news of the Schalit deal was also top news. Both stories may have a common issue in the background – Tehran

American F-15 (photo: wikimedia commons)

Yesterday, as I looked at the New York Times homepage, I didn’t know there might have been a connection between two of its main stories. The top story was the Washington bomb plot to assassinate a Saudi envoy, which the administration is connecting the dots all the way to Tehran.

The story just under that was, of course, the biggest news in Israel for a long time – the upcoming release of Gilad Schalit. And lo and behold, there are those who are connecting this to Iran as well. Not his release – but it what it may mean for the future.

Tony Karon of Time magazine wrote yesterday that the escalation with Iran on the bomb plot may force President Barack Obama to take action:

“The poisoning of the atmosphere will, in all likelihood, further dim the already diminished hopes for any diplomatic progress on the nuclear standoff. And if the Administration fails to win support for a significant escalation of sanctions or other forms of punishment for the Tehran regime after presenting evidence of the latest allegations of Iranian malfeasance, the ball will land back in Obama’s court. Having made the case that Iran has crossed a red line, he will be under growing pressure to act — or risk entering a highly polarized election season haunted by a “soft on Iran” charge.”

Two days ago, when I first heard of the Schalit deal, I happened to meet Sefi Rachlevsky, an Haaretz pundit, who basically told me to get my bomb shelter ready. To him, the deal with Hamas meant one thing, and one thing only: an attack on Iran.

I found that claim to be a tad far-fetched. But apparently Rachlevsky is not alone. Alex Fishman, the military analyst of Israel’s Yediot Aharonot published an analysis just under a humongous photo of Schalit titled “It’s all because of Iran.”

“The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, is keen on clearing the table and building a new stage set ahead of something else, something bigger, something more important.

“The Gilad Schalit affair was one of the heaviest cases sitting on the PM’s table, and he had to take it off in order to build a new image and win tolerance and empathy for the government and its decisions – inside Israel and amongst its allies abroad, mainly Western Europe.

“Why does the PM need today of all days a new backdrop, so much that he’s willing to give on his strong principles concerning fighting terror? The answer, of course, is hidden in the riddle he voiced yesterday to the nation. He spoke of a ‘window of opportunities’ that was about to close and connected it to the geo-strategic developments. The average listener would translate that to the Arab spring and the shockwaves around the Arab world, causing uncertainty. But that’s not the real reason.

“When one searches for real concern amongst Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, it always connects somehow to Iran. This is most probably the background for the PM’s decision to be flexible and convince his ministers to agree to the Schalit deal. What exactly is going on with the Iran issue? It’s not clear. But what is clear is that it’s the next hot issue, and it would be better for Israel to deal with it with an image of a flexible, pragmatic country that is ready for concessions. The Europeans will applaud us, and no less important: it will strengthen the national consensus and the PM’s image ahead of the upcoming challenge.”

I don’t know if I’m going to get my bomb shelter ready yet. But I just might keep a closer watch on headlines containing the word “Iran.”

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    1. Greta Berlin

      The ‘alleged plot’ to kill a Saudi diplomat is so full of holes that those of us living in Europe are laughing ourselves silly. Maybe the American public is stupid enough to believe this latest ‘terror threat’ but my hope is that we are no longer so willing to be led down a garden path to war…and we are beginning to get the idea that Israel, Saudi, and the US are in a really stinky bed together.

      Reply to Comment
    2. aristeides

      This “plot” has all the marks of being engineered by warmongers plotting against Iran.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Zvi

      This “hired hit-crew from a Mexican drug cartel” sounds like something straight our of a B-movie! Nonetheless, it is worth considering who benefits here. Clearly Israel would love to divert attention from their own problems, and perhaps the Saudis would too, but what is in it for the Americans? I find it hard to believe that they would willfully embark on yet another foolish military adventure – especially when Iran is ripe for their own Persian Spring.

      On the other hand, the Republican Guard has literally set up an economy within an economy (they have a stake in the major infrastructure projects among other things), and they control vast economic resources. Finding a way to go after this source of power and control might be effective, but I suspect that the average Iranian is more concerned with graft and corruption than they are about geo-political considerations.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Someone dealt with Arbabsiar. He got money, suggestions, commands, contacts. He was willing. He became a terrorist. OK, fine. How is that a justification for war?

      Who spoke to him? And was the person (or persons) who dealt with him (apart from the unlovely FBI) the end of the line of manipulation? In spookery, how can one know? FBI has established quite a history of entrapment (or the like), a desire to rack up prosecutorial “wins”. But their “evidence” is usually “secret” meaning that they say little to the American people besides, “Trust me.”

      Pardon me, but if we want to know who is at the end of the line (but does that even matter, here, this stupid thing was obviously meant to result in an arrest rather than in an explosion), we cannot rely on “secrets.”

      Reply to Comment
    5. Philos

      I find it woefully typical that the Saudi plot is laughed off as a conspiracy (let me guess Bush destroyed the Twin Towers) and that skepticism reigns with regards of the US capability for f**king up Iran.

      I am on the Left but I can recognize war clouds when I see them. Turkey has mobilized its forces along the Syrian border and is using increasingly hostile rhetoric to that regime. At the UN French, British and German diplomat used some pretty strong words and rattled their saber’s at the Iranians. An election year is a great time to launch a war, and there’s nothing more Keynesian than a big war to stimulate the economy, both in the US and Europe.

      Finally, don’t scoff at NATO or the US. Check the historical record. Either as an alliance or as individual states some country from NATO has gone to war every 3 years or so since the end of the Cold War. Bosnia, Sierre Leone, Chad, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and so on. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the West isn’t aggressive. First they’ll try to talk you to surrender. If that fails then they’ll shoot you.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Obama says: Iran ‘Will Pay a Price’ for Assassination Plot. Spoken like a true candidate for re-election with weak poll numbers.

      We have an ugly history of lying ourselves into wars.
      WMD/Yellowcake. The bogus attack in the Gulf of Tonkin and Vietnam. The alleged bombing of the USS Maine, prior to the Spanish American War. Saddam’s thugs tossing babies out of incubators, prior to Desert Storm. And yes, the notion that Qaddafi was about to massacre Libyan civilians.

      There is nothing new here. People need to wake up. This is phony.

      Reply to Comment
    7. M Hatherstone

      Note also that the UK broadcast regulator Ofcom has ruled Iranian news channel PressTV be taken off the air:


      Cameras could obviously get on the ground in Tehran. Perhaps there is something coming up that they only want the public to see the sanitised version of.

      Reply to Comment
    8. ToivoS

      This whole terror plot against the SA ambassador is so unbelievable that it is difficult to believe that anyone could have created this crazy scenario. That is a paradox. If is too crazy to be made up then does that mean it is, in fact, true.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Does anybody have any good resources on Hesbollah? Any good books/articles/documentaries about the movement?

      Really – please reply.

      Reply to Comment
    10. AT

      Obama isn’t Bush. And in fact has learned many lessons from the failures of the latter. He is a much different, and I would say much more effective emperor than Bush. He is not going to push for conventional war against Iran. He will use this an an excuse to further tighten the noose around the Iranian regime. I wouldn’t necessarily rule out drone attacks on Iranian leaders – but no, not conventional war. Too expensive, too futile. The US and NATO are using other tactics in ME and they are proving surprisingly effective (well, if your goal is ensuring oil flow to empire).

      Reply to Comment
    11. King

      Sorry Greta, American’s aren’t as stupid as you think. Not to mention, be careful who you make disparaging remarks about. As most Americans are descendants of Europeans. lmao.

      Israel is long overdue in dealing with Iran. If it weren’t for the world meddling in their affairs, they would’ve taken care of those crazies long ago.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Philos

      @ AT, drone attacks on Iranian leaders? You can’t be serious. That’s an act of war, against international law and against US law. The US and NATO don’t need to invade Iran; they just need to bomb it. They have the capability to do it and they have the money. There is always money for war. Don’t forget Obama escalated the war in Afghanistan and dramatically increased attacks on al-Qaeda and Taliban all over the world. Don’t let his fuzzy rhetoric fool you. He’s the President of the USA and that makes him a gangsta 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    13. Richard Witty

      I think the plot was close to what was reported, if not identical yet.

      And, it just is what it is. Unless proven, it does not indicate a policy by Iran of attacking Saudi and US targets. It might be an Oliver North type of misguided willing self-assigned “patriotism” on the part of the orchestrators.

      Its possible, like every other time for the last 6 years that “Israel will bomb Iran” has been invoked, that that is not in the cards.

      I get that there is the fear that Netanyahu wants to bomb Iran (for the fun of it? or for some actually plausible strategic purpose?) and that without the US support, that would be impossible, and this looks like it might enable US support.

      Ultimately, those that hold political views have to make the better argument, and also hope that honest facts support that argument.

      I attended a presentation by a Jewish peace activist 5 years ago, arguing that “Iran has been misrepresented and only misrepresented.”

      They certainly have been misrepresented, but they also have been accurately represented in their revolution’s history of purges (summary political executions of socialists) and suppression of dissent, funding and arming of terror groups conducting terror even if they themselves didn’t pull the trigger.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Sharon-Marie Gulliver

      Is Nobody remembering …..?? China has Warned America Not to Attack Iran…All sense would have you stand relaxed and listen …Be Resonsible reporting any Political Shit…It is no game War !! Ok, 🙂 Playstations only in your own Home not engorging the collective with more fear tactics. 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    15. dani.a

      In my opinion Israel can’t attack Iran.Bibi had and have and will have Israeli population in his side he doesn’t need Shalit release to win the Israelis for war after Israelis were brainwashed for years about Iran “existential threat”.What is strange is that Barak Ehud is a Bibi’s ally for this idiocy,Barak who said short time ago that Iran is “not an existential threat for Israel”.In fact even a cat knows that Iran is not a threat how Saddam was not,how Gaddafi was not.All these made the actual policy of US and Israel and the poor “free world”which is drawn after impossible to understand.No one could explain why a war with Iran while entire world is in awe economic situation.Bibi with his father wish this war but he can’t do it now because Dagan explained some times that this is an idiocy of great proportions.Indeed Bibi has the Israelis now in his side but if the war will break and Israelis will see and feel the consequences they will accuse Bibi that he provoked the war and will see him responsible.Such thing happened to Olmert but Olmert was not be warned by a high officer and Dagan is not only one.I imagine that China ,Russia and others which become more and more important will not give a hand even for supplementary sanctions against Iran which intent to cause a regime changing.

      Reply to Comment