Israel could spark the next Gulf war

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

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Tel Aviv is calculating the expense of attacking Iranian nuclear facilities, in the event it decides to take on this battle. Israel says America is committed to paying more than $200 million to finance the Iron Dome defense system which protects it from Iranian attacks, among others. Each battery in this defense system costs $50 million and each missile interceptor costs $40,000.

What is more important than reading the bill of purchases is the Israeli army chief of staff's statement confirming that Israeli forces are capable of unilaterally launching an attack on nuclear facilities in Iran.
When asked if the Israeli army has the capability to unilaterally attack Iran, he repeated his answer “absolutely, yes.” His statements are directed to the Iranians, and even to the Americans, after recent negotiations failed. Iran will see through its nuclear program as the chairman of the National Security Committee of the Iranian Shura Council, Alaeddine Boroujerdi, challengingly said. “We will not get tired of these negotiations. We are certain that these negotiations will lead to the Western countries’ acceptance of Iran as a nuclear country.”
Israel threatens the Iranians and warns the Americans, who insist on the option of negotiating, that negotiations have been prolonged, with no results. They also fear that negotiations will go on until the regime in Iran possesses nuclear arms.

Gulf lies in the line of attack

The question is, are we to be afraid of an Iranian-Israeli struggle? Yes, because any attack on the fortified Iranian nuclear facilities may be met with open fire against whatever lies in front of them: American bases in the Gulf, and of course Gulf countries. The Israelis will spark a war longer than what their defense ministry has been planning, and it will also be one of the biggest wars the region has witnessed.

The question is, are we to be afraid of an Iranian-Israeli struggle? Yes, because any attack on the fortified Iranian nuclear facilities may be met with open fire against whatever lies in front of them: American bases in the Gulf, and of course Gulf countries

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Of course, this is one possibility. Another possibility is that the Iranians will only make threats, and that they are actually incapable of responding to Israeli attacks, and thus Iran’s nuclear program will be forgotten. However, we can’t rest assured that the second, less harmful, possibility is what will happen because all the wars we have witnessed have left behind multiplied repercussions and have lasted longer than estimations by those who instigated them.
At the same time, the world cannot wake up one day to find out that Iran has become a nuclear power because we know that Iran will not hesitate to use this power to threaten Gulf countries and the world.

The problem is not in the nuclear arms themselves. For example, Pakistan in 1998 conducted five nuclear tests confirming its possession of nuclear power. However, Pakistan did not represent a threat to anyone and its program aimed to even the regional balance of power with regards to India, which was already a nuclear power. Iran is like North Korea. You cannot predict its actions and whether it plans to attack Saudi Arabia, Israel or Europe. Even if Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei does not press the nuclear button, Iran will use its nuclear arms to blackmail countries in the Gulf region, and it will impose its orders on them, beginning with Bahrain. And even if Iran attacks any country with traditional arms, none of the latter will dare request foreign help because Iran’s nuclear power is itself a deterrent for any foreign intervention.

The Israelis realize that their huge nuclear arsenal is capable of attacking Iran in response to any Iranian nuclear attack. This is supposed to deter someone like President Ahmadinejad or the supreme leader from attacking Israel. But such a pattern of balance in deterrence works for countries led by reasonable leaders. We certainly cannot predict the actions of Tehran’s leadership except by looking at its bad record in financing terrorist acts. Even presidential candidate Mashaei, who is preferred over other politicians by the West and the Gulf, is one of the fanatical believers of the return of Imam Mahdi and he is willing to sacrifice for his return. After all of this, how can a nuclear Iran be trusted?

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on April 18, 2013.


Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

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