World News and Trends: America, Israel and Iran: Where are we headed?

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America, Israel and Iran: Where are we headed?

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As Iran moves inexorably toward constructing nuclear weapons, Israel grows ever more concerned about Iranian intentions. According to London Financial Times columnist Philip Stephens: “No one watches events in Iran more closely than Israel. Tehran has long been the abiding preoccupation, some would say obsession, of political discourse in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem” (“Israel Struggles to Adapt to a Changing Picture of Iran,” July 3, 2009).

The United States finds itself drifting somewhere in the middle—at times confusing Israel with ambiguous announcements from administration leaders. Recent declarations from leading figures in Washington, D.C., have seriously worried Israel’s leaders.

For example: “The US would extend its ‘defence umbrella’ across the Middle East to defend its allies against a nuclear-armed Iran, Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, said yesterday [July 21] … Mrs Clinton, speaking at a meeting of [Asian] foreign ministers … said that acquiring nuclear weapons would not make Iran more secure” (Richard Parry, “Clinton Says US Would Arm Its Allies Against a Nuclear Iran,” The Times, July 22, 2009, emphasis added throughout).

Such declarations tend to cause Israel to believe that America is going soft on the stark possibility of a nuclear Iran.

The Wall Street Journal’s report from Jerusalem stated that “a simmering dispute between the U.S. and Israel over Iran’s nuclear program burst into the open on Monday [July 27], as U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, on a visit to Israel, called for continued diplomatic engagement with Tehran, while Israeli officials repeatedly warned of a possible military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities” (Yochi Dreazen, “U.S., Israel Split on Iran,” July 28, 2009).

Earlier in July, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden “signaled that the Obama administration would not stand in the way if Israel chose to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities … ‘Look, Israel can determine for itself—it’s a sovereign nation—what’s in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else,’ [Biden told ABC’s This Week in an interview broadcast Sunday July 5]. He added that this was the case, ‘whether we agree or not’ with the Israeli view” (“Biden: Israel Can Chart Own Course on Iran,” USA Today, July 7, 2009).

Meanwhile, “the head of Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence service, has assured Benjamin Netanyahu, its prime minister, that Saudi Arabia would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets flying over the kingdom during any future raid on Iran’s nuclear sites” (Uzi Mahnaimi and Sarah Baxter, “Saudis Give Nod to Israeli Raid on Iran,” The Sunday Times, July 5, 2009).

Recent internal events in Iran temporarily complicated the possibility of any Israeli air strikes. For a while it looked as if more reasonable Iranian voices, opposed to the fanaticism of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, might moderate the country’s approach to Israel, America and Britain. But the massive popular reaction to this seriously questionable election result has since been ruthlessly crushed by the Iranian government.

Subsequently the recently chosen, more moderate Iranian vice-president was forced to resign. At the same time, as reported in Scotland on Sunday, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards stated, “If the Zionist regime [Israel] attacks Iran, we will surely strike its nuclear facilities with our missile capabilities” (Parisa Hafezi and Ali Akbar Dareini, “Hardliners Tighten Their Grip on Iran,” July 26, 2009).

Finally, according to the Scotland on Sunday article, “Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, conduit for about 40 per cent of globally traded oil.” If this threat is actually carried out, it’s hard to see how the West would not take immediate military action.

The Middle East is a powder keg that threatens to explode at almost any time. Hostile attitudes and violent events in this troubled region are impacting the entire world. You need to understand where these continual Middle Eastern conflicts—”wars and rumors of war”—are taking us. Request or download our free booklet The Middle East in Bible Prophecy. (Sources: The Times [London], Scotland on Sunday, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal.)

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