Today we see yet another development which points towards conflict:
Iran Raises Anti-US Threat Level: Israel's C-of-S Warns Of Regional War
Thursday afternoon, Dec. 29, Tehran raised the pitch of its threats to the United States when Dep. Chief of the Revolutionary Guards Gen. Hossein Salami declared: "The United States is in no position to tell Tehran what to do in the Strait of Hormuz," adding, "Any threat will be responded [to] by threat… We will not relinquish our strategic moves in Iran's vital interests are undermined by any means."
At around the same time, Israel's chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz spoke of "the rising potential for a multi-arena event," i.e. a comprehensive armed conflict. Facing in several directions as we are "between terrorist organizations and Iran's progress toward a nuclear weapon… we can't afford to stay on the defensive and must come up with offensive measures," he said.
US and NATO task forces in the Persian Gulf have been placed on alert after US intelligence warned that Iran's Revolutionary Guards are preparing Iranian marine commandos to sow mines in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
Middle East sources warn however that the repeated threats to close the Strait of Hormuz coming from Tehran this week and the framework of its naval exercise clearly point to the manner in which Iran intends to hit back for the tough new sanctions which the West plans to approve next month. The new round is expected to shear off 80 percent of the Islamic Republic's revenues.
The European Union's 27 member-states meet in January to approve an embargo on Iranian oil, with effect on 25 percent of Iran's energy exports. Next month, too, President Barack Obama plans to sign into law an amendment authorizing severe penalties for foreign banks trading with Iran's central bank, CBI, including the loss of links with American banks and financial institutions.
Tehran is expected to strike back hard by sowing mines in Hormuz and in the waters opposite the oil fields and terminals of fellow Persian Gulf oil producers, including Saudi Arabia.
Interestingly, we see this happening at the same time:
US Military Chief To Visit Israel To Reassure On Iran
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs, will arrive in Israel next month for talks aimed at reassuring Israel that the US is serious about stopping Iran’s nuclear program.
Dempsey will arrive in mid- January in a trip that comes as the US escalates its rhetoric regarding US military preparations to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.
In an interview with CNN last week, Dempsey said that preparations for a military option “are evolving to a point that they would be executable if necessary.”
Talks with Dempsey are expected to focus on Iran’s nuclear program as well as regional developments such as the challenges Israel faces from a possible Islamic takeover in Egypt and from Hezbollah and Syria in the North.
The Gathering Storm: A Pessimistic Prognosis For 2012
Israel and the U.S. will soon be called upon to decide between a preemptive military strike and coming to terms with Iran as the world’s tenth nuclear power.
In the moment of truth, if left with no other choice, I believe that Israel will choose the military option.
Realizing this, and acknowledging that a nuclear Iran is a clear and present danger to its own national security, the United States may take upon itself to carry most of the burden. From Israel’s point of view, the latter scenario is immeasurably preferable to the former, but in both cases, the cure might be just as bad, or perhaps even worse, than the disease itself, as so many of Israel’s security chiefs, in the army, the Shin Bet and the Mossad, have argued in recent years.
Iran and, no less importantly, the increasingly unpredictable Syria, have hundreds of long range, high yield ballistic missiles capable of delivering many tons of TNT as well as chemical and biological warheads to any point in Israel;
Hezbollah has at least 40,000 short and medium range missiles that could inflict heavy damage on Israel’s north; Hamas in Gaza, though not in that league, could also launch scores of less destructive but no less traumatizing missiles into Israeli cities south of Tel Aviv while creating mayhem on the borders as well; and West Bank Palestinians, as well as some Israeli Arabs, could very well decide to join such an offensive jihad themselves.
Will A U.S. Attack On Iran Become Obama's "October Surprise"?