Patrick Cockburn writes: No sooner was Israel’s bombardment of Gaza over than Israeli and US officials started to ratchet up the prospects of an Israeli air attack on Iran in the next few months.
This is scarcely surprising. The threat has served Tel Aviv and Washington well in the past because it enabled them to persuade the rest of the world to impose swingeing sanctions on Iran as the only alternative to war. Even so, claims that a final confrontation with Iran is only months away are looking a bit dog-eared, given that this must be one of the most frequently postponed wars in history.
Within hours of the ceasefire being announced, anonymous Israeli and American sources were claiming that the air strikes on Gaza were a dry run for an assault on Iran. Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador in Washington, compared what happened in Gaza this month to the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. He said that “in the Cuban missile crisis, the US was not confronting Cuba, but rather the Soviet Union. In Operation Pillar of Defence [Israel’s name for its Gaza operation] Israel was not confronting Gaza, but Iran.”
This flatters the Iranians who, at best, are only a regional power and nowhere near a superpower like the old Soviet Union. And even as a regional power it is in retreat as its main ally in the Arab world, Syria, collapses into civil war. The backers of Hamas in Gaza these days are not Iran and Syria but a powerful array of Sunni states including Egypt, Qatar, Turkey, Tunisia and others. [Continue reading…]