Arab League Seeks Peace With Israel

Leaders from Egypt and Jordan are in Israel today to present a peace plan on behalf of the Arab League.

Iran Two-Three Years From Bomb

According to the former head of Israel's Military Intelligence Research Division, Iran is "very close" to being able to enrich Uranium at an industrial level which would give them enough bomb material in 2-3 years.

Gaza Economy Collapsing

With Hamas now in control of Gaza, Israel has cut off the main commercial border crossing limiting what crosses the border to food and medicine.

Carter Condemns Bush's and Olmert's Pledges Of Aid To Abbas Government

Following the Hamas take over of Gaza, U.S. president George W Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have pledged to lift aid embargos and to provide other assistance to the Fatah government of Mahmoud Abbas which is being reconstituted in the West Bank. Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter has publicly denounced Bush's taking sides in the conflict saying that Hamas was properly elected to share power in the government.

Israel Strikes Gaza

It didn't take long after Hamas took over Gaza before Israel attacked. They conducted air strikes against suspected rocket launch sites in northern Gaza after a rocket landed in Israel.

Israel To Attack Gaza

Following the take-over of Gaza my Hamas militants, the Israeli government is preparing to send as much as 20,000 troops into Gaza to fight Hamas.

Israel and Syria Preparing To Fight?

Both countries appear to be quietly building up troops on both sides of the cease-fire line established in 1967 in the Golan Heights. Syria, for it's part, has moved in rocket units similar to those employed by Hezbollah while Israel has put together a group of ministers, possibly a "war cabinet", to deal with Syrian relations.

Attack On Iran Could Come In Spring

As has previously been discussed on, the Bush Administration has put the U.S. military on a collision course with Iran. What is new is estimates of how soon the attack could come. Quoting the Gaurdian:

The present military build-up in the Gulf would allow the US to mount an attack by the spring.

The Administration claims the build up of naval and air forces, including the deployment of a second carrier group, is meant to contain Iran and force its hand diplomatically.

I have suggested here, in the recent past, that the build up is more about shielding other interests in the gulf from repercussions of an Israeli strike on Tehran's nuclear facilities.

The Guardian does, however, make a compelling case for war plans citing the administration's unhealthy affinity for the neo-conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, which is responsible for such memorable administration blunders as the "Axis of Evil" phrase and the current troop surge. They are desperate to see air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities and have been working from both within and without the administration since 1992 to see regime change in Iran.

What Is Bush Planning For Iran?

If we look at the Bush Administration's Middle East activity as part of one big puzzle, rather than discreet incidents, we start to see a plan that almost makes sense. Consider these tidbits gathered over the past couple of months:

  • The United Nations Security Council, in December, passes a resolution requiring Iran cease its nuclear activities within 60 days. The deadline is due to pass in February
  • President Bush replaces his top commanders in the region, placing an Admiral in change of the U.S. Central Command.
  • The Pentagon orders a second carrier group into the Gulf region, a commitment of a massive number of additional forces.
  • President Bush orders a "surge" of troops in Iraq, particularly around Baghdad, against what seems to be all political common sense.
  • Israel begins to make more noises about strikes on Iranian nuclear targets, perhaps using tactical nukes themselves.

If all of these details are part of one comprehensive scenario, I have some thoughts as to what it is.

Israel Planning To Attack Iran?

During Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to Israel, the focus of the domestic press was away from the Palestinian issue and was instead focused on Iran. When asked if the U.S. Would support an attack on Iran by Israel, she said:

I still think there is room for diplomacy, but even talk of such action shows how serious it would be for Iran to continue its actions unabated

Clearly a diplomatic non-answer to a tough question. Typically, however, such non-answers can be considered an answer in the affirmative.

In December, the U.N. Security Council approved resolution 1737 which gives Iran two-months to suspend its nuclear activities. Those two months will be up in February. There is little chance that Iran will be found to be in compliance.

There is a rising concern that Israel and perhaps the U.S. will use the expired deadline as a precursor to escalate tensions with Iran and perhaps as a justification for attack.

U.S. Middle East Diplomacy Continues To Unravel

Fuelled Partially by the ineptitude of the Bush Administration and partially by a Democratic takeover of congress, which some might argue is the result of the former, the political fabric of the middle east is starting to seriously fray and come apart at the seams.

Iran was once held in check partially by the Taliban to the east and Saddam Hussein to the west. The United States has eliminated both opponents for them. If you think that that is an exaggeration, consider this quote from Mohsen Rezai, an adviser to Ayatollah Khamanei of Iran:

"The kind of service that the Americans, with all their hatred, have done us — no superpower has ever done anything similar. America destroyed all our enemies in the region. It destroyed the Taliban. It destroyed Saddam Hussein… The Americans got so stuck in the soil of Iraq and Afghanistan that if they manage to drag themselves back to Washington in one piece, they should thank God. America presents us with an opportunity rather than a threat — not because it intended to, but because it miscalculated. They made many mistakes".

Israel Shells Residential Neighborhood in Gaza

More than 18 members of one extended family are killed in the attack in the northern town of Beit Hanoun. In response, Hamas has declared and end to their truce with Israel and both Hamas and the Palestinian authority have declared three days of mourning.

The Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Secretary have expressed their regret at the incident and have ordered a halt to the latest Israeli incursion into Gaza while the attack is being investigated.

Leaders from Russia and Europe have condemned the attack.

Ostensibly, the purpose for Israel's latest incursion is to deal with rocket attacks coming from Gaza.

While I can sympathize with Israel in their desire to see the shelling stop, it is becoming harder and harder to sympathize with the motives of a military who uses weapons to shell civilian targets from a distance.

It should also be noted that when protests flare-up in response to such incidents, the protesters condemn the U.S. right along with the Israelis. You may think that this is just fundamentalist influences, but keep in mind that America annually gives Israel billions in aid. Money that they turn around and give to American defense contractors to buy the weapons they use in these attacks. In essence, the United States gives Israel the munitions it uses to conduct these attacks.

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