Israeli expert talks of preemptive strike against Iran

February 4, 2016 by Henry Benjamin
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Specialist in security and strategic issues in the Middle East Dr Efraim Inbar has told an AIJAC meeting in Sydney that there are three developments which had changed the strategic map in the region…and says a preemptive strike against Iran may be on the cards.

Professor Efraim Inbar Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

Professor Efraim Inbar Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

He listed them in order of security given their impact on Israel’s national security. The change of U.S. policy vis-à-vis Iran, the disintegration  of the Arab States infrastructure and the changing contours of the Eastern Mediterranean.

He said that Israel had been on the same page as the United States with regard to Iran until the P5+1 meeting “decided to make a deal with Iran that legitimises its vast nuclear infrastructure abandoning plans to dismantle it…once the mutual goal of the United States and Israel”.

He said that the Iranians are “within a very short distance from a nuclear bomb…three to six months”. Inbar added that “Iran is a fanatical genocidal regime and what we see in the region now is a major change on the balance of power.”

According to Inbar any talk of Iranian moderation “is an illusion”.  He spoke of the feud between Iran and Saudi Arabia opining that he did not think there would be a war between them but he predicts subversive operations in the Shi-ite populated eastern part of Saudi Arabia forecasting a similar disintegration similar to what happened in Syria and Iraq.

Inbar said: “It doesn’t matter what the Americans say but nuclear proliferation in the area is of serious concern to the Israelis.” The professor hinted on emerging problems for the area if the Saudis and the Egyptians take the stand that if Iran can have nuclear facilities, why can’t they?

He added that Turkey was already working in nuclear development,

Professor Inbar said there is a problem currently in the relationship between Israel and America adding that the Iran decision did not take into consideration the position of its allies in the region…not just Israel but also, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf States.

Thrown into doubt currently is the expectation that the United States would assist Israel in times of crisis. He added: “A nuclear Middle East is a strategic nightmare…unstabling and threatening “.

Professor Efraim Inbar said that the only way to reverse the current situation would be by a preemptive attack adding that Israel could almost certainly produce all of its military equipment by itself…but that would create economic constraints as “it is cheaper to by off the shelf from the Americans”. He pointed out that America was not a reliable supplier in 2014 when Israel needed supplies “in our struggle with Hamas” which in turn resulted in an improvement in Israel’s drive to be self-reliant.

Inbar believes that the Americans want to get out of the Middle East adding “I can understand why but it does not make strategic sense.” According to Inbar, Israel is the only country in the Middle East that can be a secure base for American planes and ships.

Professor Inbar said that the disintegration of Arab states started before the Arab Spring…in Lebanon Somalia followed by the PA splitting with the development of Gaza. He added Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen to the list. He said that Israel has benefited from the integration as there i less chance of a full-scale wars against the current regimes. However he said the current groups have more access to weapons stating that ISIS is using American weapons captured from the Iraqis.

At this point Professor Inbar declared: “Generally speaking, the ISIS threat is exaggerated. Speaking of those fighting in areas where there is no proper political infrastructure  We have to debilitate the capability of those who would harm us. But you cannot influence their motivation. They are fanatics. They want to destroy the Jewish state.

He said when Israel is criticised for excessive use of force “people don’t understand anything about how people have it fight against these type of operations adding that “those theatres of actions are complicated and very problematic in terms of public opinion both domestically and abroad.”

Speaking about military intelligence Inbar said that once Israel had files on all officers in opposing armies. Now they don’t know who the enemy is. He said: “We hear new names. We have to collect intelligence about the new groups which are swarming around us and it’s a long process. We need to be prepared for sort case scenarios.”

He spoke about the need for Israel to offer support to both Jordan and Egypt.

Turning to the Eastern Mediterranean, Inbar said that Libya is a mess, Egypt is now under the rule of Al Sisi, Gaza is ruled by a radical Islamist group, Lebanon, a proxy of Iran controlled Hezbollah, a Shi’ite radical group, Syria is not Islamist but has been an ally of Iran since 1979. He believes that Turkey is now an Islamist country. He said: “Erdogan has moved his country from being a Western ally. Turkey is helping ISIS. It allows the sale of ISIS oil through its borders and treats the ISIS wounded within its borders.” He added that ISI runs training camps in Turkey.

He pointed out that over 90% of Israel’s foreign trade is shipped by sea, placing a great deal of importance on the Eastern mediterranean adding “the U.S. is no longer there and neither are the relationships between Israel, Egypt, Turkey and America”,

Professor Inbar informed the lunchtime meeting that the U.S. no longer has an aircraft carrier based in the Eastern Mediterranean or the Gulf. He said that the Russian naval presence is building up with a base in Cyprus and negotiations underway to establish on in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria. He said: “The Americans, in their stupidity are pushing the Egyptians towards the Russians.” According to Inbar, the Turkish naval presence is on the increase “and they will have a carrier in the region in 2017”.

There are growing threats to Israel’s gas reserves by Hamas and Hezbollah according to Professor Inbar. “Israel has to defend those assets which will be source of great income and energy” said Inbar. He added that Israel needs a much larger navy and said that four vessels are under construction in Germany.  Commenting on the alliance between Israel, Greece and Cyprus, Efraim Inbar said: “They are weak partners. They look at us to provide security to them.”

Summing up he said that in a year we will see a new U.S. president adding “anyone is better than Obama.” He said that after the U.S. elections “Israel will have to think seriously about a preemptive strike.”

As far as the disintegrating Arab order is concerned, Inbar said: “Israel is a spectator. We can’t do anything. We cannot influence the outcome of Arab history. The region is a huge mess. It may take decades to sort things out.”

He said that the small groups are less dangerous than States which can harness greater military power and hardware…including producing nuclear weapons.

Concluding Professor Efraim Inbar said: “Israel is a strong state, It has a strong society. With the right leadership it will  prevail.”

Professor Efraim Inbar is the Director of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies in Israel which held the Beer Sheva Dialogue last year…and annual strategic dialogue between Australian and Israeli experts co-hosted by ASPI, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.


2 Responses to “Israeli expert talks of preemptive strike against Iran”
  1. Chengez K says:

    What a contradictory article……When Arab states were intact Israel was at war. Now the Arab states have crumbled Israel is again at war.When Turkey was friendly country Israel was at war now Turkey is an Islamic country Israel is still at war.Israel never realizes may be there is something which it may not be doing right.How come that whole world is always wrong…..And now that America has finally realized that Israel is primarily a strategic liability …Israel has started calling Americans .stupid !!!

    • Rami Reed says:

      Your analysis is to say the least, stupid. Of course the face of the Middle East is changing and with that the threats against Israel as well. America will rue the day when Russia will be able to use the Eastern Mediteranian as its own lake. Israel is not the only country to see the dangers. That’s why Greece and Cyprus are becoming very cosy with Israel. Even Saudi Arabia is starting to see Israel as a potential ally in a possible conflict with Iran.

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