On the brink of War?

Yossi Schwartz, ISL the section of the RCIT in Israel/Occupied Palestine, 10.06.2023

On Sunday once again Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated his threats against Iran during a cabinet meeting held as part of a national war drill.

“The reality in our region is changing rapidly. We are not stagnating. We are adapting our combat doctrine and our possibilities for action in keeping with these changes,” Netanyahu said at the meeting We are committed to acting against the Iranian nuclear program, against missile attacks … and against what we call a multifront campaign

Netanyahu also attacked in his speech the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for capitulation to Iran. Last week, the IAEA closed a case investigating heavily enriched uranium particles that had been discovered in Iran. The agency reported that it had received a satisfactory answer explaining the presence of the particles, which had been enriched to 83.7%.

Under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal, Iran agreed to limit its uranium stockpile and to enrich uranium only to 3.67. In return, Iran received relief from sanctions imposed by the US, the EU, and the UN Security Council. However, since the US unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018, Iran has said that it is enriching uranium up to 60% purity. Iran’s uranium stockpile has also grown tenfold since the termination of the nuclear deal” [1]

In spite of numerous statements suggesting that Israel is on the verge of military action against Iran it is not clear whether Israel will start a war against Iran for various reasons.

First of all, Iran is not a weak country. Iran has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East and is developing indigenous weapon systems such as long-range missiles. It has many tanks, a strong navy and an old air force from the time of the Shah.

Israel has less soldiers and like the Iranian air force the majority of the Zionists’ aircraft are between 30 to 50 years old, and a deal to purchase new planes will reportedly cost $11 billion. First used by the Zionist state in 1969, the Yasur helicopters are the IAF’s primary helicopter used regularly to transport soldiers and equipment. While the aging helicopters have been upgraded with 20 new electronic and missile defense systems, the IAF will still need to replace them by 2025, when they will be more than 50 years old.
“A comparison by international defense site Global Firepower (GFP) found that Israel’s military has slipped below its arch-nemesis, Iran, in the ranking of military powers, coming in at 17 versus 14.

The site allows one to rank two countries in terms of military data, such as active personnel and manpower in the reserves. The site also documents the total strength of aircraft, tanks, naval assets and artillery.

According to GFP, Israel’s military personnel stands at an estimated 615,000 compared to Iran’s 934,000. But Iran’s population at 83,000,000 is nearly 10 times larger than Israel’s 9,100,000.

A comparison between Iran and Israel shows that while Iran had significantly larger naval assets than Israel (398 versus 65), Israel had far greater tank strength (2,760 versus 1,634) and has some 6,541 armored fighting vehicles, compared to Iran’s 2,345. According to the site, the total number of aircraft between the two countries is close, with Israel having 595 versus Iran’s 509.”

Iran has been working to bolster its aging naval fleet and has commissioned its first indigenously developed Fateh-class submarine, outfitted with a guided-missile system capable of launching cruise missiles, as well as anti-ship missiles and torpedoes.” [2]

To win such an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities is extremely hard. It is true that Israel is behind hundreds of airstrikes and other operations against the Iranian nuclear program. These include assassinations of senior Iranian scientists and cyberattacks against nuclear facilities.

However, destroying Iran’s nuclear program is an unrealistic goal for Israel. Iran’s nuclear facilities are scattered across the country, which makes Israel’s ability to perform the complex airstrikes to take them out, more than 1,800 km away from Israeli Air Force bases very poor. The nuclear facilities at Fordow, Isfahan and Natanz are all heavily fortified. Attacking Iran requires overflying several unfriendly countries, and it is unlikely that even Saudi Arabia would grant overflight rights for an Israeli campaign. Iraq, highly likely to be the target of some Israeli attacks, would also oppose granting overflight rights. Israel could of course simply fly over countries without permission, but this would become politically very expensive for Israel.

Secondly it is quite clear that the U.S will not join the Zionist attacks on Iran as the U.S is on the brink of signing a new accord with Iran. U.S President Joe Biden took office in 2021, almost three years after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, and quickly began new negotiations. Those negotiations failed to produce a new agreement, and recent media reports have suggested that the US is now looking to enter talks with Iran on an interim agreement that would limit Iran’s enrichment of uranium but not completely stop it.

The Zionist state former premier and Defense Minister Ehud Barak in his autobiography My Country, My Life spelled out the paradigm that has shaped—and will likely continue to shape Israeli action against Iran. Even during the military interventionism of the George W. Bush presidency, Israel did not have a blank check to do as it pleased. When Bush learned in 2008 of Israeli efforts to purchase heavy munitions from the United States, he confronted Barak and then-premier Ehud Olmert. “I want to tell both of you now, as president,” Bush warned, “We are totally against any action by you to mount an attack on the [Iranian] nuclear plants.”

“I repeat,” Bush further clarified, “in order to avoid any misunderstanding. We expect you not to do it. And we’re not going to do it, either, as long as I am president. I wanted it to be clear.” It deserves mention that according to Barak, Bush issued this warning despite knowing that Israel did not even possess the military capacity to assault Iran at the time.”

Barak’s memoirs show that the same dynamic continued to govern U.S.-Israel relations during Obama’s presidency. According to Barak’s account, Israel was dissuaded from going forward with a supposed strike on Iran’s nuclear installations in summer 2012 “because of the damage it would do to our ties with the United States.” [3]

 Washington’s demands continued to limit Tel Aviv after the finalization of the nuclear deal in 2015. Even then, Barak recalls, the Israelis could not simply act against Iran without a green light from the Obama administration. It is unlikely that Biden will have a different policy.

Thirdly, Iran is not alone, it has allies that will attack Israel from the North and from the South of Israel. Hezbollah has a very powerful arsenal of missiles. Hezbollah has prepared extensively for conflict, honing its skills during fighting in Syria and increasing the size of its rocket and missile stocks. For Israel it is necessary to airstrikes (and potentially Israeli ground incursions. To focus on rapidly reducing the number of advanced missile and rocket launchers. Similar strikes would take place in Gaza. In Syria, the Israelis would have to concentrate on the transportation infrastructure the Iranians use to transfer missiles to their proxies. Israel would also likely strike Iraq, potentially destabilizing that country’s government; the Iranians would undoubtedly also put considerable pressure on the Baghdad government.

If the Israeli attack causes limited damage, it is plausible that Tehran will play the victim card, escalate its program further, and potentially withdraw from the non-proliferation treaty rather than retaliate militarily. If the attack is more successful, then the risk of a wider war is quite likely with numerous partners of Iran participating in the retaliatory attack against Israel, and potentially other countries in the region if they played a role in the Israeli attack.

A war Between Israel and Iran will cost many lives. Some experts estimate that 8 million Iranian and one million Israelis will die in such a war. While Iran can survive such an outcome Israel cannot.  The popular wisdom is that a barking dog does not bite. The question is does the dog also know it? Will Netanyahu’s government risk such a war? It is difficult to know but such a war is only a question of time. In such a war the interest of the international working class is the military defeat of the Zionist crusade-apartheid state.

Down with the Zionist crusade-apartheid state!

For a Palestine red and free from the river to the sea!


[1] https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/article-745470

[2] https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/is-israel-equipped-to-win-a-war-against-iran-606182

[3] https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/09/17/israel-isnt-strong-enough-to-attack-iran/

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