Robert Bridge — Strategic Culture May 15, 2018
Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal, compounded hours later with an attack on Iranian forces in Syria demonstrates the determination on the part of these two players to spark regime change – or much worse – in Tehran.
On May 9, the world witnessed a double economic-military whammy against Iran courtesy of the US-Israel tag team: Just hours after Trump announced the US would be withdrawing from the landmark Iranian nuclear deal together with yet-to-be-announced “crippling” sanctions, Israel, claiming Iranian forces in Syria had initiated a missile strike on the Golan Heights, launched a full-scale attack on purported Iranian positions on Syrian territory.
Israel, however, provided no proof of an attack to support its claim. Nor did the Western media expend much energy pursuing that rather crucial information.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, blamed Iran’s Al Quds forces for launching rockets at several Israeli bases, though he refused to say how Iranian involvement came to be determined.
Tehran roundly rejected the accusations that it had targeted Israeli positions, describing them as “freely invented and baseless” designed to give Israel a green light to intensify cross-border incursions in Syria.
Indeed, the only evidence that an attack on Israeli positions had occurred came in the form of a video where the sound of an air raid siren can be heard wailing amid an outcrop of unidentified structures. No missiles or projectiles from either side of the border can be seen in the video. That’s not to say the attack didn’t occur, of course, but then there remains the question as to why Iran would even contemplate such a thing.
Experts questioned the veracity of Israel’s claims, saying Iran would not be willing to risk a war with its US-backed, nuclear-armed rival.
“It would be just egregiously silly to launch a missile targeting the region of Golan Heights [which is heavily guarded by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF)] as it would certainly prompt military response,” Leonid Ivashov, president of the Academy for Geopolitical Problems and a retired colonel-general of the Russian military intelligence (GRU), told RT. Iran has “absolutely no reasons” to launch a missile strike against Israel, he added.
Nevertheless, the apparent lack of credible evidence – much like the recent ‘chemical attack’ against civilians in the town of Douma, which was quickly blamed on Syrian government forces without so much as the courtesy of an investigation – did not prevent Israel from initiating a ferocious attack on sovereign Syrian territory. According to a statement by the Russian military, the Israeli military vectored 28 fighter jets, which fired some 60 air-to-surface rockets at Iranian military targets near Damascus and along the southern border of the country. At the same time, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) fired about a dozen surface-to-surface projectiles.
Syria’s SANA news agency said that Syrian air defenses successfully repelled the Israeli attack, although some missiles did reach their targets.
Such claims from both sides, however, are almost impossible to prove amidst the fog of an increasingly chaotic war. One thing that remains beyond doubt, however, is that the US and Israel have only just begun what promises to be a massive multi-pronged attack against Iran.
The games have just begun
In hindsight, the Iranian nuclear deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with signatories from the US, UK, France, China, Russia and German, does exactly what Washington and Tel Aviv simply cannot tolerate: it removed the conditions necessary for continuing to accuse Iran of being hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons and threatening the civilized world. In other words, the agreement – which many thought Iran would reject – was too successful at curbing Iran’s purported nuclear ambitions, as well as its bad boy image in the Western world.
But it was never really about the nuclear deal per se, of course, which was working fine and dandy. The endgame for the US and Israel when it comes to Iran has always been nothing less than total domination, followed by total destruction. In other words, regime change, Libya-style.
In order for the US and Israel to bring about the conditions for this apocalyptic wet dream, it is vital to first strip Iran of all means of protecting itself. No wonder, then, that Trump is furious about the Obama-era nuclear deal because it failed to take into account Tehran’s research and development of long-range ballistic missiles. These could give any potential adversary real problems in the event that push comes to shove.
And now that Trump has brought on board fiercely anti-Iran radicals, like National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, it appears we are stuck in the fast lane for some sort of imminent showdown with the Islamic Republic.
In January, before Bolton’s star rose once again in Washington, he argued in the New York Times that in order to eliminate Iran’s nuclear ambitions the United States “could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary.”
“Such action,” Bolton continued with unbridled enthusiasm, “should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.”
That creepy comment requires very little reading between the lines.
Indeed, Trump wants sanctions that will eventually wear down even the hard-liners in Tehran to the point they will agree to surrender their ballistic missiles program, and despite the fact that it is not predicated on thermonuclear munitions as confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
With such hawks now ensconced in the Trump White House, it is highly doubtful that even the moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani – who is now bearing the brunt of blame from Iran’s hardliners for trusting the US to uphold their end of the nuclear agreement – will agree to any new deal that requires Tehran to slash its defenses.
After all, the entire world, and certainly not least of all Iran, learned the invaluable lesson from the Korean Peninsula that unless a nation possesses the military means to defend itself from aggressive nuclear powers, it can expect some sort of imperial machinations. And even more predictably if that country happens to be blessed with some of the largest oil reserves on the planet.