Plots Are Tied to Shadow War of Israel and Iran

A magnetic bomb detonated on a diplomatic car in New Delhi. The police uncovered a cache of explosives at a golf course in Kenyan city of Mombasa. Five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver were killed in an attack outside airport in Black Sea coastal city of Burgas. These were just a few of what some Israeli and American intelligence officials say were nearly a dozen plots that form backbone of a continuing offensive by Iran and Hezbollah against Israel and its allies abroad. But the links seem tenuous at times, the tactics variable, targets scattered across the globe, from Caucasus to Southeast Asia to the Mediterranean. “This is not a spy thriller that necessarily has a plot readers can follow from page to page,” said Matthew Levitt, director of the program on counterterrorism and intelligence at Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Iran and Hezbollah both thrive on reasonable deniability”. Analysts say the shadow war pitting Israel against Iran and Hezbollah has more in common with the cloak-and-dagger maneuverings of C.I.A. and the K.G.B. during the cold war than the publicity-hungry terrorism campaign of Al Qaeda. It represents a return to the idea that the most effective attack is often an ambiguous one. “They want just enough ambiguity that you can’t nail down that they did it, the seed of doubt that makes it difficult for Israel or the United States to respond,” said Andrew Exum, a senior fellow with the Center for a New American Security in Washington. The undercover conflict signaled “a return to the black arts of the cold war”. After the blast in Bulgaria, both Iran and Hezbollah denied involvement almost as quickly as Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel pointed the finger at them. American and Bulgarian officials backed the assessment off the record, but would not say so openly. There has been little hard evidence presented to show how or by whom the plots were coordinated. Israeli intelligence has evidence of many telephone calls between Lebanon and Burgas in the 2 months before the bombing, according to a senior government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information is classified, with the volume intensifying in the 3 days leading up to it. But they are no more prepared to expose the details of their counterintelligence work publicly than the attackers are to claim responsibility. “We know the sources in Lebanon,” though not the identity of those on the other end in Bulgaria, the official said. “They shouldn’t know that we know the numbers in Lebanon.” Weeks after the attack, the Bulgarian investigation has largely stalled. Officials there have yet to identify the attacker, also killed in the blast, or his suspected accomplices. They are hesitant to declare Hezbollah responsible without ironclad proof, given that European Union has never designated the group a terrorist organization. European allies expect more concrete evidence than the volume of calls before taking steps against Hezbollah. They maintain “some skepticism it was Hezbollah as an organization itself, and not, Iran using individuals with some Hezbollah affiliation”, said a senior security official in Germany (…..)



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4 Responses to Plots Are Tied to Shadow War of Israel and Iran

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: South America is already involved in this secret war. In 1994 two major car bombing attacks occurred in Buenos Aires against Jewish targets. Iran was blamed for those attacks. This ongoing shadow war between Israel-US and Iran is gaining momentum and being fought in a global scale. The question is: When does South America become theater of this war, again? Brazil and Argentina have the largest Jewish population in Latin America.

  2. The George W Bush administration spent much of 2002 planning for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, confident that a rapid termination would change the face of the middle east. During this preparatory period, some analysts expressed doubts about this assessment. The Oxford Research Group, for example – in its paper Iraq: Consequences of a War (October 2002) – concluded that a war would create many civilian casualties, the likelihood of an insurgency, and a rise in anti-American sentiment that would fuel the development of al-Qaida and related groups (the paper did err in saying it was possible that the regime, if it faced oblivion, might use a small cache of chemical and biological weapons). In the event, the United States-led assault launched in March 2003 soon faced great problems.

    Even as US forces were heading for Baghdad and before the collapse of Saddam’s rule on 9 April, a column in this series raised the prospect of a “thirty-year war”: “The Iraq war may be over within three months or it may take longer; in either case, it has the potential to signal the development of a much more sustained conflict. Whether this occurs depends on a key variable: the endurance and success of the Bush administration’s conception of international security, the essential requirement for a New American Century. If this conception does succeed, a thirty-year war is in prospect. If, by contrast, a saner approach to international security develops, the beginning of a peaceful order could be shaped. What happens in Iraq in the next few months may determine which route is taken” (see “A thirty-year war”, 4 April 2003).

    A number of subsequent columns have returned to the theme (see “The thirty-year war, revisited” [4 August 2008], and “The thirty-year war: past, present, future” [20 January 2012]). Now, a decade after the Iraq war was being planned – and in light of subsequent experience, including the Arab awakening and its ongoing effects – does the idea of thirty years of conflict still resonate? By 2008, after five years of insurgency in Iraq, the war had lost so much support in the United States that the incoming Barack Obama administration could argue persuasively for a withdrawal. This was combined with a hope that a sizeable military presence could be maintained, but the refusal of Iraq’s regime led by Nouri al-Maliki to accept US troop immunity from Iraqi laws meant that almost all American forces have now left. The legacy of US involvement is bleak. Iraq remains deeply unstable, with profound internal divisions and near daily armed attacks. Washington has suffered a grave strategic reversal, in that its ambition to curtail Iran through occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan has failed. Iran today has far more influence than it had in 2002-03, and may gain yet more if most coalition troops leave Afghanistan on schedule by the end of 2014. The pullout from Afghanistan is so far proceeding to that timescale. If it ends as planned, an outcome partly dependent on Obama being re-elected in November 2012, then perhaps it will be claimed that George W Bush’s conception of international security and the planned “new American century” have receded into history, and indeed that the thirty-year war in the event will have lasted barely half as long. There are still many factors in play, however; and the conflict in Syria, in the context of the Arab awakening, suggests that it would be premature to discard the longer-term prognosis (…..)

  3. President Obama could bomb Iran in late October to try and ensure that it does not develop nuclear weapons. A devastating strike would create an upsurge of patriotism in America and fully neutralize Mitt Romney’s contention that Obama is a foreign-policy wimp. It could allow Obama to sweep to victory in November. Will he do it? One reason he might is that Mitt Romney is singlehandedly pushing the entire debate about Israel and Iran to the right. The parameters have changed markedly. As TNI editor Robert Merry and others have noted, Romney’s efforts to ingratiate himself with Jewish donors and voters have prompted him to suspend any notion of an independent American foreign policy in the Middle East. Traditionally, the green or red light for military action has come from America, at least when it comes to actions that directly impinge upon American interests. Ronald Reagan, for instance, successfully demanded that Israel halt its attacks on Lebanon in 1983. Romney, by contrast, has effectively promised to give Israel a veto power over military action, indicating that he will do whatever Benjamin Netanyahu wants. As Romney observed in December, he would never, ever criticize Israel. Instead, he would get on the phone with Prime Minister Netanyahu and ask, “What would you like me to do?” So it’s fair to say that Romney would outsource his foreign policy to Netanyahu when it comes to Israel and its enemies. What’s more, anyone who thinks that Romney is bluffing should think again. It’s no accident that his senior adviser on the Middle East is Dan Senor, a hard-line neoconservative. As the New York Times notes today, Romney relies upon him for advice and frequently cites his book Start-Up Nation. Senor wasn’t dissembling when he said in Israel that Romney was prepared to endorse an attack on Iran—he simply got a little ahead of the program (…..)

  4. (…..) A review of two recent books on Obama’s foreign policy in the New York Review of Books points out that Obama personally sanctions the main drone attacks and takes a close, and apparently eager, interest in them. That could be a sign of concern at propriety. But it could also be a sign of political expediency. The public demands action on Syria. Obama, wisely, knows that direct intervention is too fraught with problems, so he announces instead that he is giving the green light for the CIA to help the Syrian Free Army win the civil war. It wasn’t supposed to have been like this. Obama came in with a promise to close Guantanamo Bay and end the torture and other nefarious practices which the CIA had pursued in Bush’s “War on Terror”. Instead, we seem to be going back to the bad old days of clandestine interference. And the worst of it is that it is, as Obama has now learnt, extremely popular. The killing of Osama bin Laden was an act of assassination once declared illegal under US law as a gross violation of international law. But it also did wonders for Obama’s rating whilst he prepared for a re-election campaign. Better drones and cyber attacks than outright invasion, say his supporters. No, they are not. America, as Britain, should have learnt that by now from the damage done by the misdeeds of the War on Terror. Little does the image of the US so much harm as the sense that it talks one language and practises another. Using drones not only flies in the face of America’s own principles but causes deep and abiding resentment and anger – among the communities attacked and the relations of the civilians killed. Resorting to cyber-assaults serves to induce an escalation of response which can only undermine peaceful development of the internet. Doing it in conjunction with the Israelis serves to lock Washington into a relationship of intelligence from which it will be impossible to break free.

    It is an illusion of democracies, and of America in particular, that you can interfere abroad without consequences simply because you can do it in secret and without uniformed bodies. In the long run, the actions always come back to haunt you.


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