Debkafile, a website with sources close Israel’s intelligence and government has been informed that the joint US-Israeli military drill scheduled for April was called off by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alone.
His decision to postpone what would have been the biggest ever-joint military exercise between the two countries reportedly took Washington by surprise.
Calling off the drill code-named Austere Challenge 12 is moreover thought to signal an ominous new development in relations between the two allies in their face-off with Iran.
Following the drills postponement several of Netanyahu’s senior ministers were uncharacteristically critical of the Obama administration.
Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon called the Obama administration “hesitant” on Jan. 15, while the following day Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on America to “move from words to deeds”.
Neither statement could have been made without Netanyahu’s countenance and both indicate growing Israeli unease over America’s apparent hesitance to strike Iran.
According to Debkafile’s sources, as a result of this Netanyahu believes that joint US-Israeli resolve is now at stake, calling into question the decisiveness of their military alliance.
Several recent developments have further underlined Netanyahu’s concern:
Washington has taken no action over the seizure of the RQ-170, beyond Obama’s meekly asking for its return. To compound U.S. humiliation, Debkafiles sources report a new computer game called “Down the RQ-170″ has appeared in Iran. Players assemble the drone from the components shown on their screens and then launch it for attacks on America.
Washington has been similarly restrained over Iran’s announcement on the start of 20-percent grade uranium enrichment at the underground Fordo facility near Qom.
Washington has likewise been silent over the Iranian Army chief’s threat that the aircraft carrier USS Stennis and other “enemy ships” would be barred from entering the Strait of Hormuz. Since then no U.S ships have attempted to challenge this, leaving Tehran to gain more confidence in its face-off with the U.S.
After approving sanctions at the beginning of January Washington announced that they would only be imposed in six months. According to some observers, IF Iran has a nuclear weapons program another six months will be enough to take it to a critical and irreversible point.
Adding to pressure to deal with Iran’s nuclear program, the Officer Commanding Israel’s Military Planning Directorate has suggested that even if Iran didn’t strike at Israel, its mere possession of nuclear weapons would limit the Zionist State’s options closer to home.
Speaking at a Jerusalem think tank recently, Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel said Hamas and Hezbollah would both gain in confidence from a nuclear armed Iran.
“They will be more aggressive. They will dare to do things that right now they would not dare to do,” he said in a briefing to foreign journalists and diplomats.
All of which means that Netanyahu is increasingly under pressure to act on Iran and if the U.S. won’t then Israel will; unilaterally if necessary.