Israel targets Sudan — and Tehran or Washington?

Three Israeli airstrikes against Sudan

Israel has conducted three military strikes against targets in Sudan since January in an effort to prevent what were believed to be Iranian weapons shipments from reaching Hamas in the Gaza Strip, ABC News has learned.

Earlier this week, was the first to report that Israel had conducted an airstrike in January against a convoy carrying weapons north into Egypt to be smuggled into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

But actually, since January, Israel has conducted a total of three military strikes against smugglers transporting what were believed to be Iranian weapons shipments destined for Gaza, a U.S. official told ABC News. [continued…]

Israel carried out 3 attacks on Sudan arms smugglers

Ehud Olmert hinted on Thursday at Israel’s suspected role in the reported air-strike.

“We operate everywhere where we can hit terror infrastructure – in close places, in places further away, everywhere where we can hit terror infrastructure, we hit them and we hit them in a way that increases deterrence,” said Olmert, speaking at a conference in Herzliya.

“It was true in the north in a series of incidents and it was true in the south, in a series of incidents,” he added. “There is no point in going into detail, and everybody can use their imagination. Those who need to know, know. And those who need to know, know that there is no place where Israel cannot operate. There is no such place.” [continued…]

Military clash with Iran

Iran is in fact forcing a direct military confrontation upon Israel. We are not only talking about President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s exaggerated verbal passion or the Iranian nuclear project.

Thus far, Iran conducted a war of attrition against Israel via its emissaries: Hizbullah, Hamas, and other Palestinian groups. At this time, the war is reaching new peaks; it will be impossible to continue ignoring them while only engaging with the emissaries.

Based on foreign reports, the Air Force bombed about two months ago, in Sudan, a shipment of medium-range rockets with a range of 70 kilometers (roughly 40 miles,) apparently the Fajar 3 model.

This is not a small missile. In fact, it is a missile that the Iranians are manufacturing especially for the Gaza Strip, so that it can be dismantled to several pieces and smuggled in through the Gaza tunnels. This is also the way they produced the special Grad rockets for Gaza: Disassembled models, made in Iran, and designated for smuggling. [continued…]

Editor’s Comment — I’m in no position to judge the credibility of the claims being made about an arms smuggling route through Sudan or the type of rockets said to be destined for Gaza. However, these air strikes do seem to signal a strategic escalation in hostilities between Israel and Iran.

Israeli commentator, Alex Fishman says:

    The “tight grip theory,” namely, clasping the State of Israel from both the north and south, turns Iran into a concrete enemy, rather than a theoretical one.

This is a significant shift in Israeli rhetoric. Instead of hyperventilating about the threat that Iran will pose if it acquires the ability to construct nuclear weapons, the Iranian threat is now being shunted into the present with the effect that intelligence assessments about Iran’s nuclear status become irrelevant.

Iran is being cast as posing a clear and present danger to Israel. In other words, for those who hold this position, nothing more needs to happen for Israel to justify an attack on Iran.

The question, as always, is this: where is Israel more intent on exerting pressure? In Tehran or Washington?

Is this about threatening Iran, or is it about undermining US-Iranian diplomacy?

An open hand and a fist

We should not underestimate the courage and self-confidence it took for Obama to make several gestures toward Iran since taking office. He reflects real strength, political realism and much humility in being able to reverse many aspects of the belligerent Bush approach.

Yet the flaw in the Obama approach is a lingering streak of arrogance that is reflected in both the tone and the substance of his messages.

This is most obvious in his insistence — after telling the Iranians that they are a great culture with proud traditions, which presumably they already knew — on lecturing Iran about the responsibilities that come with the right to assume its place in the “community of nations,” and then linking Iran’s behavior with “terror of arms” and a “capacity to destroy.”

It is difficult to see how Washington feels the positive gestures of reaching out can be reconciled with an irrepressible need to lecture others about the rules of righteous nationhood. [continued…]

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