Will US attack Iran?
United States News.Net
Posted: March 29, 2007
Russia has reported increased US military activity in and around
the strategic Gulf for the first time in four years after the
March 2003 invasion of Iraq. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has
declared that its territories are off limits to anyone for staging
military or intelligence operations against Iran.
In a week of ominous developments, the most serious being the
Iranian seizure of 15 British Navy personnel near the Shatt al
Arab waterway that divides Iran and Iraq, a statement by UAE President
Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan that his country would not
allow its territories for operations against Iran assumes high
US U-2 spy planes and F-16 and other fighter jets have been based
in the UAE ever since the 1990 Gulf crisis over Iraq's occupation
of Kuwait. Due to its strategic locations and ports within the
Gulf as well as in the Arabian Sea, the use of UAE land, air and
waters would have been of immense value to any strike force.
Actually, the US has used bases in all the six Arab Gulf states
for operations in Iraq and, to some extent, also to support its
and coalition troops in Afghanistan.
Although, all the six states -- Oman, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi
Arabia and Kuwait -- have expressed unwillingness in the past
for a military engagement with their immediate Shia neighbour
Iran, this is the first time that one of them, the UAE, has flatly
denied its territories to the US for military and intelligence
operations against Iran.
In a major policy statement on the eve of Arab summit in Riyadh,
Shaikh Khalifa disclosed that the UAE had sent a written communication
to Iran to assure that 'we shall never allow the use of our soil
for any military, security or intelligence activities against
'We have reiterated to our Iranian brothers, in a letter delivered
recently by the Foreign Minister (Shaikh Abdullah), that we are
not a party to the conflict between Iran and the US and that we
shall never allow the use of our soil for any military, security
or intelligence activities against them,' he was quoted as saying
in an interview with the London-based Arabic daily Al Hayat, a
report on which was made available through the state-run Emirates
News Agency WAM.
It may be noted that the US and allied navy vessels primarily
take their oil, food and other supplies from ports in the UAE
as also from the five other Arab states in the strategic Gulf.
The UAE itself has a dispute with Iran, stemming from the occupation
of three of its islands by the Shah of Iran on the eve of its
independence from Britain Dec 2, 1971. All other Gulf countries,
tied by the 1981 regional security and economic pact of Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC), have extended UAE support. But Teheran insists
that the islands are part of the Iranian territory.
The UAE has offered to settle the issue bilaterally or through
international mediation, saying any outcome would be binding.
Iran has refused.
Two of these islands are at the narrow Strait of Hormuz, the mouth
of the strategic Gulf waterway, from which nearly half the world
oil supplies pass through for international consumption.
On his part, the UAE president also explained that his country's
method to regain control of its three islands of Greater Tunb,
Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa 'is not subject to any regional or international
political agenda. We shall never strengthen our position with
any foreign stance to solve the issue of the occupied islands'.
But that the US is in a buildup mode is also evident from the
entry of its aircraft carrier, USS John C Stennis (CVN 74), in
the Gulf Tuesday.
In an official statement, Washington announced: 'While in the
Gulf, the flagship of the USS John C Stennis Carrier Strike Group
(JCSSG) and its air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, will conduct
a dual-carrier exercise with the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier
Strike Group (IKE CSG). This marks the first time the Stennis
and Eisenhower strike groups have operated together in a joint
exercise while deployed to the US Fifth Fleet area of responsibility.
'This exercise demonstrates the importance of both strike groups'
ability to plan and conduct dual task force operations as part
of the US long-standing commitment to maintaining maritime security
and stability in this region.
'Two air wings from the aircraft carriers will conduct air warfare
exercises while the surface components will conduct exercises
in three general disciplines: anti-submarine, anti-surface and
The US never discloses the location of its nuclear capable submarines
but some of them have routinely surfaced in the Gulf waters for
a show of force or replenishment over the past 15 years. One,
two, or more of them, should likely be in the vicinity.
Their main nearby base is Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, strengthened
and enlarged during the 1980s by importing stones from the barren
coastal hills in Oman and the UAE.
But will there be a war? Will Iran budge from its insistence on
allegedly building nuclear capability and will it release the
Former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, who was in New Delhi
last week, categorically restated his government's stand that
Iran will never build nuclear weapons although no one could deny
it the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
The heart of the problem lies in the fact that the Iranian programme
is largely based on proliferated nuclear technology from Pakistan,
and the US and other countries are not willing to give Teheran
the allowance that it will not misuse this technology. Iran is
also a signatory to non-proliferation, and bound by this treaty
under international law.
But will there be a war?
Both in 1990-91 and March 2003, this writer was present in Abu
Dhabi. Both times there were clear indications that war was imminent.
There were hush-hush talks of an asylum for the late Iraqi president
Saddam Hussein a month or so before the second US offensive on
Iraq. One day before the operations were actually launched on
a Wednesday-Thursday night, there were tell tale signals that
the negotiations had failed and an attack was imminent.
There was actually a large US contingent at the International
Defence Exhibition (IDEX) 2003. One day before the operations
began, all the top US participants suddenly left for home, including
a Boeing vice president with whom this writer had a scheduled
appointment for a discussion on 'Networking and Technology in
Back to the question of war, President George W. Bush is having
a tough time with the Democratic majority Congress. But as the
Supreme Commander of the US armed forces, he would continue a
gradual build up and place his assets in the region. It's better
if some nearby land bases are available. But the US forces can
comfortably operate from ships, including commercial platforms,
as well as Diego Garcia, at least for distant standoff bombing
from aircraft and naval vessels.
The immediate stated target nonetheless should not be more than
securing the Gulf waterway. And that's exactly where the problem
The Iranian coast spans nearly all the 989-km length of the waterway,
facing all the Arab Gulf states from Oman to Kuwait, and touching
Iraq. At its narrowest point, the Strait of Hormuz, the waterway
is only 56 km wide and, at many points, shallow.
Iran could block the waterway, simply by sinking a few ships or
placing sea mines, as it demonstrated during the Iran-Iraq war.
The resulting energy crisis would cripple the world economy, and
that's a nightmare even for the US. It may be noted that even
after the crisis over the US hostages taken by Iranians during
the 1979 Islamic revolution, the Iranian oil never went out of
the international market and that the US companies continued to
be among its buyers.
So while a limited engagement cannot be ruled out, particularly
as incidents like the seizure of naval personnel provide instant
triggers for skirmishes, an actual outbreak of war between Iran
and the US and its allies seems unlikely.
Article at: unitedstatesnews.net