People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 52

December 30, 2012



Gaza Attack: Dress

Rehearsal for Iran


Yohannan Chemarapally


AFTER months of sabre rattling against Iran, it was finally the hapless Gaza that was targeted by the Israeli defence forces (IDF). The ability of the Hamas fighters to retaliate and fire rockets into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, piercing the much vaunted “Iron Dome” anti missile system put in place with American help, has rattled the Israeli military establishment. They are attributing Hamas’s improved prowess in missile technology to help from Iran. Israeli authorities claim that many of the missiles which reached their capital were Fajr-5 rockets supplied by Iran to Hamas. A few weeks before the latest Israeli military assault on Gaza, the Israeli military and political establishment got another shock when a drone launched from Lebanon successfully penetrated Israeli airspace and flew over the facility which houses the high security Dimona nuclear reactor.




Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah, subsequently claimed that it was his group which successfully launched the reconnaissance drone into Israel. The drone was shot down in the vicinity of the Dimona reactor by an Israeli jet after it had flown hundreds of kilometres into Israeli territory. The Hezbollah leader said that the drone had captured footage of sensitive Israeli security facilities, including the Dimona facility. Hezbollah has acknowledged that the drones they used originated from Iran and claimed the ability to deploy many more drones, including armed ones, at short notice. On their part, the West and Israel are busy trying to effect regime change in Syria, Hezbollah’s strongest backer along with Iran. Hezbollah, it seems, wants to make a point that it can confront Israel on its own now.


It was only Israel and the US that till recently used their drone technology for military purposes in the region. Now their monopoly has been broken. Similarly, the US and Israel had used the malicious “Stuxnet” computer worm to wreak havoc on Iran’s nuclear enrichment activity at the Natanz reactor facility in 2010. Stuxnet was part of an US-Israeli covert programme to wage increasingly sophisticated attacks on Iran’s industrial and scientific infrastructure. Now according to reports in the western media, hackers whose origins are unclear have retaliated by severely damaging computers in Saudi and Qatari oil facilities, disrupting energy production. These two countries are close allies of the US. The US defence secretary, Leon Panetta, has admitted that the attack on the Saudi computer systems was a very sophisticated one though he took care not to blame Teheran directly.


The presence of a few Iranian made rockets and drones in Israel’s immediate neighbourhood have prompted senior Israeli officials and politicians to once again demand “a big bang” military strike against Iran. Israeli officials have conceded that the Hamas militia had developed its own weapons industry, though they claim that they have done so with Iranian help. David Rothkopf, a former national security official under Bill Clinton and having close connections with the Obama administration, recently wrote an article that appeared in the influential website, claiming that Israel and the US were actively considering a joint “surgical strike” against Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities. Reports in the American and Israeli media described the latest military assault on Gaza as “a dress rehearsal” for the next war against Lebanon and a military assault on Iran.




Israel has already blamed Iran and Hezbollah for the terror attacks targeting Israeli civilians and diplomats this year in Sofia, Tbilisi, Bangkok and Delhi and had said that it was contemplating military action against Teheran. Despite the repeated assertions of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that there is “rock solid” evidence implicating Hezbollah and Iran in the terror attacks, the Israeli authorities have so far not been able to provide any proof to the international investigating agencies.


The US Republican Senator, Lindsay Graham, has said that he is confident of getting a resolution passed in the US Congress before the year ends that would give the US president broad authority to take military action if Iran does not compromise on its nuclear programme. Panetta’s predecessor as defence secretary, Robert Gates, has warned that any American or Israeli attack on Iran would have disastrous consequences. Speaking in the first week of October, he said that neither of the countries had the capability of wiping our Iran’s nuclear capability. He warned that an attack “would make a nuclear-armed Iran inevitable.” Gates also emphasised that the US should make it clear to Israeli leaders that “they don’t have a blank cheque to take action that could do grave harm to America’s vital interests.”      


But as the cyber attacks illustrate, secret forms of warfare are already going on between US/Israel and Iran and its allies in the region. The draconian economic sanctions imposed by the West on Iran can also be viewed as another form of warfare. On October 15, the European Union agreed to implement a further set of sanctions aimed at further crippling the Iranian economy. The current sanctions on Iran have been described as the harshest against any country imposed since the creation of the UN. The Iranian media has reported that the country is already facing severe shortages of essential medicines that have to be imported.


Fatemeh Hashemi, the head of Iran’s Charity Institute for Special Diseases, has said that six million Iranians suffering from serious ailments are finding it difficult to get their daily medicines and life saving drugs. He said that the shortage mainly affects patients suffering from diseases like cancer and thalasesemia and those needing dialysis. Runaway inflation coupled with the devaluation of the Iranian currency has mainly affected the poor. The Israeli finance minister, Yuval Stenitz, recently boasted that the sanctions were driving the Iranian economy towards collapse. The outgoing US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, endorsed this view but said that the situation could be rectified if the Iranian government would work with the international community in “a sincere manner.”




The Iranian leadership has been crying from the rooftops that it is not interested in acquiring a nuclear weapon or in the trappings of a nuclear power. In a recent speech, the US defence secretary had admitted that based on US intelligence estimates, Iran has not finalised a decision to produce a nuclear weapon. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, described the economic sanctions on Iran as “barbaric” and akin to a war against his country. “The West is angry and they have used Iran’s nuclear energy programme as a pretext (to impose sanctions). They claim that they will lift sanctions if Iran backs down on its right to nuclear energy. They are lying. Out of spite and revenge, they decide to impose illogical sanctions against Iran,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in a recent speech.


Alongside the sanctions, the West is also trying to prop up small separatist groups in areas dominated by ethnic non-Persian minorities in Iran. Kurds, Azeris and the Arab populations in the oil rich province of Khuzestan are being targeted for subversion. Senior Israeli officials like the former Mossad chief, Meir Dagan have been openly saying that one way of confronting Iran is to stir up ethnic strife and smash the concept of a collective Iranian identity. The Baluchi terrorist group Jundallah till recently used Pakistan as a base to launch terrorist attack in Iran. The American media reported that Israeli agents posed as CIA officers in order to recruit ethnic Baluchis affiliated to the Jundallah in the Iranian provinces of Baluchestan and Sistan.


A recent report filed by the Federation of American Scientists, a bipartisan body, has predicted that in case Washington escalates its confrontation with Iran, the world economy would lose up to 6.4 trillion dollars in the first three months itself. Senior officials in the Obama administration have aired many scenarios they may have in store for Iran. These include a military blockade of the Persian Gulf to bar the exports of Iranian oil. President Barack Obama has never ruled out the military option against Iran. Most oil industry experts are of the view that if open military hostilities break out in the Gulf, the price of oil will shoot up to 200 dollars a barrel.


But with the US elections over, better sense seems to be prevailing in Washington. The American media has reported that the US and Iran “have agreed in principle for the first time” to open direct negotiations. Both sides have not yet openly confirmed the news. Iran has been insisting for many years that it wants direct talks with the US. Teheran has also indicated that it is willing to make compromises if the West recognises the country’s fundamental right to nuclear enrichment. Iran is a signatory of the non-proliferation treaty (NPT). All NPT members have a right to nuclear enrichment for peaceful purposes.