Andreas Banoutsos
(RIEAS Analyst)


In an interesting article written in early June 2008 by David Horovitz editor in chief of “The Jerusalem Post” he argues that the only briefest window of opportunity for American military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities is between the presidential elections in November and a new administration taking office in January 2009.The idea of the departing Bush administration taking aim at Iran at that late hour, he asks if it is surely unthinkable. Furthermore as Ioannis Michaletos mentioned in a previous RIEAS article John Bolton the former US undersecretary of state and ambassador to the UN in an interview to Interfax stated that “if Israel decides to use force against Iran, it will not do so before the U.S. presidential election......However, the Israelis will feel more secure at the time when President Bush is still in the White House".

Therefore according to Bolton's calculations an attack would be most probable between early November 2008 and early January 2009.The core principle of intelligence analysis is to think about the unthinkable. In accordance to this principle my assessment is that Israel or America or both will attack Iran before the end of the running year, but in contrast to David Horovitz’s and John Bolton’s forecast I will argue in this article that this attack more likely will occur in October 2008 rather than between early November 2008 and early January 2009.In other words I estimate that it will take place before the US presidential elections.

Paul Rogers of the Oxford research group argued recently in an article published by RIEAS that an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities is a possibility before the next US President is sworn in next January. Furthermore, since such an attack would result in Iranian retaliation against US military forces in the region, the US would be drawn into the war with all its air power. Not only would much damage be done to the Iranian nuclear facilities, but the United States would be at war with Iran in the run-up to the November election, a circumstance that would be more likely to favor the Republican candidate Senator John McCain.

Senator McCain is considered by the Israeli lobby in Washington a staunch supporter of Israel’s security and Israeli lobbyists will do everything under their power to assure that he will be the next US President. Despite Senator’s Obama support to Israel in a speech made to The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee(AIPAC) in June 2008 and his July 2008 journey to the Middle East and Israel, there is a recognition that an independently –minded President Obama will reduce US military commitment in the Middle East a development that is unacceptable for Israel’s security. 

Surely in my opinion an Israeli attack against the Iranian nuclear facilities is not likely to happen before mid-September 2008 primary elections of the ruling Kadima party. An election that will decide the party’s candidate for the next general elections but also and most probably will decide who is going to take the place in the short time of Ehud Olmert the accused of corruption current Israeli PM. Ehud Olmert is very probable that he will be forced to resign from PM shortly after this primary party election and his successor either the Transportation Minister and ex-Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz or  the Minister of  Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni will take his place as PM. Mofaz with his lifetime experience in security and Livni an ex-Mossad officer are considered by the Israeli security establishment far more stronger leaders than the militarily inexperienced and under criminal investigation Ehud Olmert.

Furthermore according to Calev Ben-David of “The Jerusalem Post” we must not exclude the formation of a unity government in Israel which will include in the existing government coalition the conservative Likud party of Benjamin Netanyahu. Calev Ben-David continues saying that if Israel is seriously contemplating any military action against the Iranian nuclear program; there is certainly logic in creating an across-the-board coalition in the run-up to such action, and even more so to deal with its aftermath. If the Likud did join in the government with Kadima and Labor, it would immediately be interpreted by the outside world as preparation for possible military action against Iran.

But this eventual coalition government will be formed only after Kadima’s primary election in mid-September 2008 and the following Olmert’s resignation from PM. Another crucial factor in Israel’s decision to go to war against Iran as soon as possible is the Israeli’s community assessment that the first delivery of the S-300 missile batteries from Russia is excepted as soon as early September 2008. The S-300 batteries can track 100 targets simultaneously and fire on planes 120 km away. Once they are operational, it will far more difficult for Israel or another military force, US for example, to attack Iran’s scattered, hardened nuclear and ballistic missile installations from the air. Military analysts say, as “The Jerusalem Post” reported in July 26th 2008, that the S-300 missile batteries might become a significant hindrance to any Israeli plans to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Furthermore according to award-winning journalist Edwin Black the IAF exercise over Greece in June 2008 was conducted so that Israeli fighter jets could study the S-300 air-defense missile system, which is deployed on the island of Crete. Finally another factor that might lead to a swift decision to attack Iran is the devastating situation of the world’s economy.

War has always had been an antidote against economic depression, even if this argument sounds a little bit cynical. However despite the temporary rise of oil prices, a war against Iran will certainly stimulate the crumbling US and world economy.

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