Is there an Israeli war on Iran in 2023?

Published January 1st, 2023 - 04:50 GMT
Iran's southern Bushehr nuclear power plant
Iran's southern Bushehr nuclear power plant. (File/AFP)

ALBAWABA - This year could be crucial because of Russian threats to use its nuclear weapons in case it was attacked by an enemy. This possibility is becoming a sobering reality, not because of the Ukraine war that is set to continue for the foreseeable future, but by Israel with its new and alarmingly hawkish leanings.

With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu back in the driving seat for a 6th-term, this time around leading the most rightwing government in Israel's history, a destructive strike on Iran is a possibility. 

The Jewish state, both its politicians and military, are not making any secret of the fact that they are on a flight mode to bomb Tehran to knock out its nuclear sites, and no doubt also other military bases. 

For the world, this should be a greatly worrying development. NATO, America and the West, must shift their attention from what is becoming a "long-haul war in Ukraine" to the dangerous rapid developments in the Middle East, which have long become a boiling pot whose lid is likely to burst anytime soon and the consequences of which should be too horrendous to consider.

Disturbing views have been uttered by previous Israeli governments. Today's hawkish administration in an almost repetitive rolling style is heralding unspeakable set of devastating deadly scenarios.

First is the fact that Israel has made it abundantly clear that it doesn't want the United States to rejoin the 2015 U.N.-sponsored Joint Comprehensive Protection Agreement, which Washington abandoned in 2018.

Tehran-Washington talks on that score have been stalemated since August, which is music to the ears of the Israeli government. 

Towards the end of 2022, Israeli officials became bold in saying they are hot on the heels of Iran and they will attack it to get rid of what they call its nuclear menace.

First on the scene were the words of the outgoing Israeli Chief of  Staff Aviv Kochavi, who openly said that Israel is prepared to attack Iranian nuclear sites in the very near future, and that the country's military is on standby.

There were no mincing of words. "The level of preparedness in Iran has dramatically improved," he said at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv University.

Kochavi added if the Israeli army is given the green light "it will fulfill the permission" and attack Iran and its nuclear facilities willingly and easily.

He was speaking candidly, despite the dangers of such talk. He asserted that the Israeli military regularly carried out attacks in Syria and maintained that there is an attack in the Middle East region almost on a weekly basis.

We know that Israeli missiles target Syria frequently because of the constant news on that score.

Now, Kochavi is emphasizing the point at length.

Israel has been attacking Damascus and the Syrian cities for years, but most of the time, it would not declare that it is the country behind the attack.

Nonetheless, a bolder, forthright and high profile approach has been detected recently.  The Israelis are not denying their military action. But, as usual, they are not explicit about that either.

The truth of the matter is that everybody knows the Israeli military was behind the bombing of Damascus Airport, rendering the facility inoperable for several weeks last summer. Israel also bombed other military bases and areas in Syria, including Aleppo's Airport in the northwestern part of the country.

More is being said by Israeli officials about their protracted actions. Take the views of Benny Gantz, the now ex-defense minister.

Shortly before he left office in late December, and after the comments made by Kochavi, he told Israeli air force cadets that "in two or three years…you…might be 'taking part in an attack on nuclear sites in Iran'."

He addressed the issue as being imminent with no question about.

Indeed, this is war-mongering because it may open the door for an outright nuclear exchange between the two Middle East nations, despite the fact that Iran has insisted that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

This kind of abrasive talk from Israel is the beginning of a slippery-slope to a nuclear exchange and may force Iran to change its military capabilities, objectives, perception and intentions. 

There is a lack of confidence between Iran and the global powers, namely the United States, Britain, France minus Russia and China on the JCOPA deal and its current stalemate status. 

Western states argue that Tehran has long bypassed its uranium enrichment level and is 60 percent well-advanced to making a nuclear bomb. On the regional level, this means, Israel may use its nuclear weapon to strike Iran even earlier than predicted by Gantz, especially in the light of Kochavi's statement that the Israeli military is prepared for an attack.

Now, a military strike in Israeli perception would be far better than waiting for Tehran to reach its 100 percent enrichment. Then Israel wouldn't dare attack because of the old and trusted MAD concept of "mutually assured destruction". 

Israel is already trigger-happy, if that is the correct phrase that can be used and judging from the clandestine activity it has been carrying out in the Middle East. Another reasons is the attacks on two Iranian scientists in the past year, and the killing of the country's chief nuclear program director Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November 2020. All this suggests also is Israel is carefully waiting and watching for the right moment to strike again. 

But to hit at Iran's nuclear reactors or facilities might be a more complicated operation because of the consequences and aftereffects.

Would Israeli politicians and military really do good on their threats, despite the potential regional and global perils involved. Or is it a fancy scenario Israel is building up, and if strikes are carried out, they will be limited and measured. 

What makes the situation worse however, is the fact that Netanyahu is in the driving seat as head of a rightwing government and is going to be giving, as he said, the Iran nuclear file, his top priority, which means that a strike on Iran is in the books.

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