January 9, 2012
War in the Middle East now appears imminent as the United States, Britain, the European Union, and Israel put the finishing touches on an embargo on Iran – a de facto declaration of war – and warships steam toward the Persian Gulf.
Consider the following recent developments:
U.S.-Israeli War Game in Persian Gulf
On Friday, the U.S. and Israel announced they plan a massive military exercise in the Persian Gulf in an attempt to confront Iran.
The exercise, dubbed “Austere Challenge 12,” will include the participation of thousands of U.S. and Israeli soldiers and will test multiple air defense systems against incoming missiles and rockets.
On January 2, during its last military exercise, Iran tested its Qader missile, a long-range sea-to-shore missile, and the surface-to-surface Nour missile. The Nour is an “advanced radar-evading, target-seeking, guided and controlled missile and can easily find its target and destroy it,” IRNA reported, quoting 2nd Adm. Seyed Mahmoud Musavi.
Iran Announces New War Game
Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, naval commander for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, said on Friday Iran will conduct a second military exercise in the Persian Gulf in February. He said the drill would be “different compared to previous exercises held by the IRGC” but provided no additional details.
Iran also launched a military maneuver near its border with Afghanistan on Saturday. Mohammad Pakpour, commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ ground forces, said the “Martyrs of Unity” exercises are “aimed at boosting security along the Iranian borders,” Fars reported.
On Saturday, the British Royal Navy annoucned it is sending its most advanced warship to the Persian Gulf. The HMS Daring is a Type 45 destroyer that has the world’s most sophisticated naval radar.
Earlier in the week, British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond warned Iran against blocking the strait after Iran said it would take action if the United States sailed an aircraft carrier through the waterway following an Iranian 10-day military exercise designed to demonstrate its ability to close down the strategic oil passage.
French and Russian Warships Off Syria
The Israeli intelligence asset DEBKAfile reports today that the Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsov anchored at Syria’s Tartus port on the Mediterranean on Sunday and arrived with the destroyer Admiral Chabanenko and frigate Yaroslav Mudry.
“To counter this movement, France consigned an air defense destroyer Forbin to the waters off Tartus,” DEBKAfile claims.
Reflecting Israel’s propaganda line on Iran and Syria, DEBKAfile claims that its “military sources report the constant escalation of military tension around Iran and Syria in recent days as not just stemming from the rapid advances Iran is making toward production of a nuclear weapon, but from fears in the West and Israel that Tehran and Damascus are in step over their military plans for the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean sectors.”
Ron Paul: Sanctions First Step Toward War
On Sunday, presidential candidate Ron Paul said the increasingly severe sanctions imposed on Iran in response to its unsubstantiated nuclear weapons program are steps that will eventually lead to war.
“Sanctions were the first step in our wars against Iraq and Libya, and now more sanctions planned against Syria and Iran are leading down the same destructive path,” he warned.
Iran is “planning to be bombed” and would understandably make the necessary arrangements to counter the threat, even though there is “no evidence whatsoever” that they have enriched weapons grade uranium, Paul noted.
He also pointed out that the United States government directly intervened in Iran’s internal affairs when the CIA overthrew the democratically elected leader Mohammad Mosaddeq and installed the Shah in 1953.
Oil Prices Rising Along with Tensions
Oil prices are beginning to climb as the United States and Iran prepare for war. Brent North Sea crude for delivery in February climbed 14 cents to $113.20 a barrel in London on Monday. Continued saber-rattling on both sides have forced oil prices to eight-month highs above the 100 dollars per barrel mark.
In addition to shocking world oil prices, the anticipated attack and Iran after a possible closure of the Strait of Hormuz would dramatically impact the global trade in goods. “If for any reason the strait were closed it would have a huge impact on the economy in the Middle East and would cause a systematic restructuring of flows of goods around the world,” John Manners-Bell, who used to manage European marketing at United Parcel Service Inc., told Bloomberg.
Iranian Missile Base Propaganda
Now that Iran’s Ahmadinejad is visiting Latin America, the discredited rumor that Iran is building intermediate-range missile launch pads at a base on the Paraguaná Peninsula in Venezuela has resurfaced. It was initially floated by the German newspaper Die Welt and subsequently boosted by the Jerusalem Post, a documented neocon propaganda operation. The Post posted the story last May.
The story brings to mind the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962.
According to the Die Welt story, the Iranians paid tens of millions in cash for the base that would be used to fire missiles into the United States after Iran is attacked. It was reported that the Revolutionary Guard-controlled engineering group Khatam al-Anbia is helping build the site.
“From Caracas to Miami is about 1,300 miles, maybe a couple hundred more than from the Peninsula – possibly within the range of Iran’s Ashoura medium-range ballistic missile that can cover a distance of over 1,200 miles,” Robert Johnson wrote for Business Insider last week as the story resurfaced on word of Ahmadinejad’s trip.
Business Insider also reported on a paper produced by latlongpacific that includes coordinates for a possible location and “details on the base and missiles that Iran would likely park there, including the Ghadr-100A with a possible range of 3,000 km or about 1,800 miles,” Johnson writes.
“We have no evidence to support this claim and therefore no reason to believe the assertions made in the article are credible,” the State Department said in response to the story.