Iran and the US “Israeli” Divergence

Islamic resistance in Lebanon
Ironically echoing the implications made by Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah of a military attack on Iran, US war secretary Leon Panetta has warned that such an attack will endanger US forces in the region (at a time where the US is executing an exit strategy from Iraq and Afghanistan in what many perceive as US defeats) and will also endanger the world economy.

This warning was clearly a message to "Israel" just ahead of a meeting between Panetta and his "Israeli" counterpart in Canada. What is most noteworthy in this statement is that it is the latest in a pattern of stances from US military and defense officials (many of whom are former intelligence officials) that imply an increasing rift between American interests on one hand and the "Israeli" approach together with "Israeli" policies on the other. Panetta himself last month has warned "Israel" that it was isolating itself in the region and called on it to repair its ties with countries like Egypt and Turkey.

This was preceded by statements from Panetta's predecessor Robert gates who described "Israeli" premier Benjamin Netanyahu as an ungrateful ally. Then we go back to last year with the famous statements by General David Petraeus back when he commanded US forces in the region (CENTCOM) who implied in a testimony to the US senate that "Israeli" policies were actually harming US interests in the region. It is important to note here that the focal point of US policy in the Middle East is to have a military presence to secure the oil routes.

From here, one can get a sense of just how much such statements from these defense and military officials reveal a true rift between "Israeli" behavior and what US interests dictate. (We must also recall here that officials who have made these statements are people who know what they are talking about and know the region, Petraeus commanded the regional forces and Panetta and Gates in addition to being pentagon chiefs are both former CIA officials).

The issue of attacking Iran is hence another manifestation of this divergence. Many argue that the divergence has come about because of the revolutions and changes that have swept the region. This is absolutely true but it could also be said that they actually are also because of the Bush administrations' wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. While we are witnessing a new middle east now, this new Middle East actually begun to evolve because of these wars.

The toppling of the regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan contributed to the rise of Iran and the resistance bloc it leads in the region (though this not the only reason as Hizbullah's victory in 2006 is also a very important factor as is Iran's support for the Palestinian cause).Now with the revolutions and the US losing more allies in the region US support for "Israel" is becoming even more costly for US interests. The US hence must make adjustments to its regional policy if it wants to preserve its interests in the region.

And actually the US is trying to make these adjustments.(note here how Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has mentioned time and again how US officials have requested bilateral talks with the Iranian's not to mention media reports about this.)Something else which shows that the US is trying to make adjustments is the American request to establish a hotline with Iran to avoid conflict and misunderstanding between American and Iranian navies in Persian gulf waters (which is a recognition of Iran's role in the region).So at a time where the US is trying to make these adjustments we can see just how disastrous a military attack on Iran will be in the eyes of US officials.

Panetta's reference to the adverse affects a military strike on Iran would have on the world economy (which is another reminder of what Sayyed Hassan has been saying) also brings into question how US support for "Israel" may have its economic constraints as well. In the end while the US will continue to support "Israel" in the near future the extent of this support does come into question with the dire economic situation that has given rise to a huge protest movement (after all officials must address people's needs as well if they want to get reelected).

So all in all, while the US will continue to support "Israel" changes and
adjustments in US "Israeli" ties are bound to occur in order to fit with the regional developments and the new Middle East and with the changing economic situation. 

By Ali Rizk

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