Israel is poised to strike Iran

The scale of probability of an Israeli military strike on the nuclear sites of Iran varies from 0% to 100% in any given day. However, all indications point towards a higher probability, approaching 100%, as the General Elections in Israel approach on 17 March 2015. The General Elections in their own right are not the only cause and catalyst for a higher probability in a strike.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s perception of the dithering of world leaders in bringing Iran to sign and implement an agreement is an important indicator of an imminent Israeli strike on the nuclear sites of Iran. There is no apparent agreement in sight while Iran continues in an inexpiable path towards acquiring uranium enrichment facilities. Any country can justify civilian nuclear power plants and medical research facilities. No country who currently doesn’t possess uranium enrichment facilities can justify these for peaceful purposes. In Israel’s and in others views Iran is pursuing a military nuclear program. This combined with their inter-continental missile program and belligerent statements is a cause for concern for world peace.

The bickering between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and the United States is growing as the General Elections approach. Netanyahu wishes to address the US Congress and gain media coverage of his address which he claims will be on the Iranian nuclear issue. The American President and his Democratic Party have disclosed recalcitrance to meet Netanyahu and be in the audience of his speech. This is forcing Netanyahu into a corner. Netanyahu may perceive that his only option is a military strike of the nuclear sites of Iran. President Obama has previously stated that Israel has the right to defend itself. So Netanyahu may address Congress to inform them of the forthcoming strike. He may offer the ultimatum, “either you the Americans do it, or we the Israeli’s will do it.” He may even be there to explain it after it has taken place.

The opinion polls in Israel as the elections approach are also a catalyst. If Netanyahu perceives the election of a government without defense experience or without the will power to strike the nuclear sites of Iran, then he will do it before leaving office. There is 0% probability that he will leave office leaving Israel with such a grave existential threat if he considers that a new government will not tackle it. That means if Netanyahu is appearing on the slide to lose the elections then there is an almost 100% probability of an Israeli military strike on the nuclear sites of Iran. This may then achieve two goals, rid Iran of nuclear weapons and get Netanyahu reelected.

The results and the consequences of domestic politics in Israel and the United States and the relations between them are not the same. The results can be seen, the consequences can only be guessed. A strike on the nuclear sites of Iran may result in a devastating missile response from Iran on Israel. So the General Elections in Israel will not take place on 17 March and there may be heavy casualties. On the other hand Iran needs to stop or be stopped one way or another in their process of building uranium enrichment facilities. If they acquire military nuclear capability the consequences will be even more devastating. Debating such issues is a strong deterrent as Iran will be aware of their fate.

Timing is everything: When for Iran to agree peacefully to stop acquiring uranium enrichment facilities, When for Israel to enact a military strike if need be, When for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to address the US Congress, and when to hold General Elections to decide who will lead Israel in times of good and bad. The dates to watch are 3 March on Capitol Hill, 17 March in Israel and in between as Israel Air Force air-to-air refueling tankers and F-15 aircraft take to the skies for practice or for strike.

About the Author
Dr Glen Segell is Fellow at the Ezri Center for Iran & Persian Gulf Studies, University of Haifa.