After Israeli's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave his famous "red line" speech to the UN General Assembly, all indications were that Israel was prepared to execute a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear development sites. Netanyahu made clear that Israel would act on its own if necessary. US military leaders have warned Israel that a strike on Iran would severely affect the US military's ability to mount their own operations.
Last month the UK told the US that it cannot rely on the UK's military bases in the Ascension Island, Cyprus, andto mount a pre-emptive attack. The UK believes that such an attack would be illegal.
Netanyahu, during a visit to Paris, met with France's President Francois Hollande, who also rejected the idea of an attack on Iran. Although France cannot accept the threat of a nuclear Iraq, Hollande feels that additional talks may persuade Iran to drop its nuclear enrichment program in return for sanctions relief.
With a US naval base in Bahrain (Home of the 7th Fleet), and the Air Force with major bases in Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, the US has concerns that it could not fully use these bases in case of an Israeli attack.
The US bases in the Arab states guarantee resupply into areas like Afghanistan and protect the free flow of global trade and unrestricted passage of shipping through the Suez Canal.
The contention is that an attack on Iran would destabilize the region. While US-friendly Arab states may support a massive war against Iran, it is clear that they would not get that. A limited strike is not worth the effort as it would not destroy Iran's nuclear facilites. It would just slow the development by a few years.
Given the potential destabilization of the region, negotiations are still the best option. Negotiators must somehow convince Iran that discontinuing its pursuit of a nuclear weapon is in its best interest. The stick has been used and seems to be working. Perhaps, with crippling sanctions having taken their toll, a carrot could now be used.
War should always be the last resort after every diplomatic channel has been exhausted. The P5+1 is expected to reconvene and hopefully it can find a resolution to the problem.
The Arab Spring has destabilized the region, and one can easily see how Israel would be nervous with Mohamed Morsi in charge in Egypt, the increasing violence in Lebanon, the civil war raging in Syria and Iran's support of Hamas.
Morsi has made overtures toward Iran, which have been disconcerting to US naval commanders. Some 200 US ships transit the Suez Canal annually.
The Middle East is a ticking time bomb. An attack by Israel on Iran would tip the balance and affect the whole globe. Netanyahu should know this and hopefully his bark is louder than his bite.
Resolving this crisis peacefully is in everyone's interest, and that includes Iran, Israel and the United States. Both the Strait of Hormuz and the Suez Canal are critical to global trade. All members of the UN Security Council must get on board to resolve this issue. A conflict would have dire consequences.
Source: The Guardian