In the last article, I discussed the impacts Covid-19 may potentially have on all our lives in 2022. In this article, I want to look at one of the main potential geopolitical flashpoints of 2022: Israel and Iran.
The Israel–Iran issue has been largely out of our news feeds during the past twelve months, yet the drumbeat of war between Israel and Iran has not calmed in 2021; it is just that the rest of us have been very much distracted by Covid-19.
With each passing month, Israel’s growing need to defend itself against what it perceives to be an existential threat to its existence in Iran’s burgeoning nuclear program becomes more and more prescient and urgent to the Jewish State.
In 2021, big changes occurred at the highest levels of leadership within Israel. They got a new Prime Minister, Naftali Bennet, and the Israeli Defense Forces got a new Airforce Chief of Staff, General Bar. This now means that the Heads of each of Israel’s three main military branches are on public record as sharing a belief in the need for a pre-emptive strike on Iran and its nuclear program. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett believes likewise:
“Words won’t stop centrifuges. Iran has reached a watershed moment, but so have we. We will never let Iran have a nuclear bomb. If we use our resourcefulness, we can prevail. And that is what we intend to do.” (1)
Yet increasingly, the options available to Israel are being narrowed. The United States of America is not the friend to the Jewish State that it was just a few years ago. If the election of Joe Biden has proved anything, it is just how much damage a change of administration can do and how it can alter the entire course of a nation’s trajectory in practically every way. This is especially so of its diplomacy, which becomes obvious when this is viewed through the prism of US–Israeli relations.
In recent weeks, Israeli diplomats and spymasters have been feverishly trying to extract from the Biden Administration at the very least a concession, or even the most meager acknowledgment, that military action against Iran should as a minimum be left on the table, as insurance should the current diplomatic course fail.
No such guarantee has been given. There isn’t even a tacit understanding between Israel and the United States over this matter. If Israel is going to attack Iran, they would appear to be very much on their own. It would seem that they will not be getting any help from Joe Biden. A proactive Israeli–US military policy against Iran seems to be dead in the water.
Israeli Defense Minister Gantz responded to this by explaining the reason for Israel’s increasing urgency:
“Iran is building its military power in the west of the country to attack countries and forces in the Middle East in general and Israel in particular. We are prepared for any such attempt and will do whatever it takes to protect our citizens and assets.” (2)
Israel wants the Biden administration to continue the same policies the previous administration pursued, that of the US tightening economic sanctions while Israel, parallel to this, would continue to pursue its clandestine activities aimed at diminishing Iran’s nuclear program and its ability to ever strike out against Israel or other actors in the Middle Eastern region. That is simply not happening, signaled never so loudly as when the US made the decision to re-join and attempt to renew the deeply flawed JPCOA, the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action. A failed, undermined and entirely duplicitous process that has been widely ridiculed as a realistic method to bring Iran’s nuclear program to heel.
Israel has let the United States know clearly that they do not feel, nor will they be ever bound by, the agreements found through any JPCOA deal, now or future. Top Israeli spymaster David Barnea, head of Mossad, when referencing this issue, said publicly recently as a direct rebuff to the JPCOA that,
“Iran will not have nuclear weapons, not in the coming years, not ever. That is my promise, that is Mossad’s promise.” (3)
Iran knows full well that it is on Israeli notice for some kind of future action or intervention. To counter this, Iran published a list of targets it would attack in Israel should any kind of military intervention against them occur. They published this list on the front page of the Tehran Times. Iran is openly telling Israel where they will strike back should they try to launch some kind of an attack. The article in the Tehran Times was entitled “Just One Wrong Move!” and showed next to the main title a map of Israel with targets marked for destruction highlighted in red the length and breadth of the Jewish country. (4)
The article concluded with a quote from Iran’s former supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, who warned that Iran will “destroy Tel Aviv and Haifa” should Israel strike Iran.
Yet Iran, despite this, is not looking for détente. They are intent upon putting their nuclear program on fast forward. In an Iranian state budget released very recently, Iran seems to have budgeted for a further two years or more of international sanctions, thereby attempting to absorb the economic cost and consequences of further weaponizing their nuclear program. Additionally, extra fast centrifuges are currently being pressed into service for the rapid accumulation of weapons-grade material up to the 60% threshold necessary for rapidly acquiring nuclear warheads.
Fereydun Abbasi-Davani, Chairman of Iran’s Atomic Agency, has even admitted that the late Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the father of the Iranian nuclear program who has subsequently been assassinated, “…had created a nuclear weapons system for offensive purposes.” (5) Such an admission alone should automatically bring an immediate end to any future JPCOA discussions.
Yet the ridiculousness of continuing to play along with the JPCOA farce only gets worse when one considers the words of a source close to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards who said, “Enemy sabotage, assassinations should be stopped by Iran cross(ing) several scientific lines as soon as possible, to show our capability to defend our people.” (6) It is clear that in saying “scientific lines,” this source is referring to the nuclear threshold.
But the charade continues, and the United States and Biden Administration play along as if completely blind to the strikingly obvious realities that:
- Iran is developing a nuclear weapons program for offensive, not defensive purposes.
- Iran is an existential threat to Israel and other US allies in the Middle East.
- A nuclear-armed Iran represents a serious threat and a direct challenge to US power in the Middle Eastern region.
That the Biden Administration is still engaging with JPCOA at all, let alone continuing to give it any credibility, is derisory. Worse, it is reprehensible and a stain on the good reputation of the United States of America. The Biden administration is willingly and quite knowingly putting the United States into a position where they are helping the Iranian regime acquire nuclear threshold status simply by turning a blind eye. It is what it is; a betrayal of Israel.
At present, the opinion of most analysts is that Israel simply cannot act alone against the full spectrum of threats posed by Iran without active support from the United States. The threats are just too wide and big for Israel to act alone. (7)
This is a view echoed by former Israeli chief of General Staff Eyal Zamir, who states that Israel would be hard-pressed, “…to launch such an operation without coordinating with the Americans.” (8)
At present, the United States will not support such action. They won’t even countenance it. Which inevitably means that the Jewish State, when it feels it has been backed too far into a corner, will have to act alone. How many times in their past have they been here before? Too many.
It is a deep issue of shame to the United States and the West more widely that it looks like they will make the tiny Jewish State carry the full burden and weight of this matter all on their own. And the consequences thereof.
Yet the reality is that Israel is never alone. They have a Protector who never sleeps nor slumbers.
“Behold, he that keeps Israel shall not slumber nor sleep…” (Psalm 121:4).
The LORD promised in his word that once Israel is drawn again and regathered back into the land after being scattered to the four winds of heaven for the final time in history, they will never, ever be displaced again. Not by Iran. Not by Antichrist. Not by anyone.
It is unclear at this point how this issue will develop and play out over the next twelve months, but most opinion is that by this time next year, Iran will have achieved nuclear breakout status. Will Israel accept this, or will they act, even if they are forced to go it alone?
Whatever may happen, Israel is now once again back in its ancestral, God-given homeland. And they will stay there forever. Iran won’t change that one jot.