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The Race for Iran

WHY SAUDI ARABIA DOES NOT SUPPORT A STRIKE ON IRAN

We are pleased to publish this post from our friend and colleague, Jean-François Seznec, whom we consistently find to be a uniquely insightful analyst of the intersection of politics, economics, and energy in the Middle East.  Jean-François is currently Visiting Associate Professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, where his scholarship and teaching concentrate on the influence of political and social variables in the Gulf on financial and energy markets.  He is currently focusing on industrialization in the Gulf and, in particular, the growth of the region’s petrochemical industry.  He has 25 years’ experience in international banking and finance, 10 of which were spent in the Middle East, and is currently Senior Advisor to PFC Energy as well as a founding member and Managing Partner of the Lafayette Group, LLC, a U.S.-based private investment company.  He holds a MIA from Columbia University and a MA and Ph.D. from Yale University.  In this post, Jean-François offers important observations about Saudi perspectives on a prospective U.S. military attack against Iran and the profound damage that a U.S.-Iranian military confrontation could do to America’s international economic position.        

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Seen from Washington, Saudi Arabia seems to speak with a forked tongue on Iran.  On the one hand, the Saudis are telling the United States that under no circumstances should it bomb Iran, or allow Israel to do so.  On the other hand, the Saudis are also letting it be known that they are worried and quite sure that Iran is building nuclear weapons.

It seems that, in fact, the Saudis are more worried about potential U.S. military action against Iran than they are about the Iranians’ ability actually to obtain nuclear weapons.  The Saudis may not express this view clearly enough to change views on Capitol Hill, but the U.S. executive branch is probably quite aware of Saudi worries about the prospect of U.S. military intervention in Iran.

In a nutshell, and to paraphrase Talleyrand, U.S. military action in Iran would be more than a crime—it would be a mistake or, more precisely, a series of mistakes, which would quite rapidly lead to the United States losing its influence in the world.  The economic “blowback” from any U.S. military action against Iran would be enormous, causing great harm to the United States.  More generally, military strength is no longer the true basis of national power in the modern world.  In the aftermath of a U.S. military confrontation with Iran, the new economic powerhouses—China, India, and Saudi Arabia—would have a shared interest in constraining the United States so that it could not act again to cause such damage to their interests.  In acting to realize that shared interest, these states would effectively lock the United States out of both Asia and the Middle East.     

On the economic front, a U.S. attack on Iran would lead to a major increase in oil prices, whether the Straits of Hormuz get blocked or not.  If only Iranian exports were taken off line, prices could still reach $150 per barrel, as 3 million barrels per day would be removed from the market and insurance premiums would reach the levels seen during the “tanker war” of the early 1980s.  If the Straits were blocked for some time, prices could go above $200 per barrel, as 16 million barrels per day in exports from the Gulf as a whole would have to find new ways to get to international markets.  In this scenario, Saudi Arabia could export up to 5 million barrels per day through the Red Sea, which would still leave the markets short of 11 million barrels.  Within 18 months, it might be possible to lay new pipelines to the Gulf of Oman that would bypass the Straits of Hormuz (mainly for oil exports from the United Arab Emirates), and Iraq could repair its strategic North-South pipeline to export oil via the Mediterranean.  However, even with these extraordinary measures, international markets would still be short of about 6 million barrels per day, and the impact on Asian economies that rely very heavily on Gulf crudes would be extreme.

Although, as I will discuss in greater detail below, Saudi Arabia would see a dramatic increase in its oil export revenues in such a scenario, the Saudis are nonetheless opposed to U.S. military action against Iran because, in their view, it could unleash complete havoc in the region.  In response to an attack, Iran would undoubtedly promote violent unrest among Shi’a populations in Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Yemen [if they have not started to do so there already among the Houthis], Lebanon, and even in Saudi Arabia itself.  Qatar’s LNG trains would make a perfect target for Iranian missiles.  The extensive U.S. Navy base in Bahrain also would be an easy target for Iranian missiles, followed by mass upheavals in the country, pitting the royal family against unhappy and disaffected elements in Bahrain’s Shi’a-majority population.  U.S. military action against Iran would certainly strengthen the hands of Sunni extremists, even if it implied a temporary alliance between Iran and Al-Qa’ida-type groups.  Furthermore, an attack would lead to substantial flight of the private capital now developing the region.  The economic boom on the Arab side of the Persian Gulf would come to an end, and mass unemployment, unhappy foreign workers, large-scale bankruptcies would lead to the end of the world as it is known today in the region. 

In light of these considerations, one can speculate that the Saudis would take strong retaliatory measures against the United States for striking Iran—measures that could have a serious impact on America’s economic and strategic position.  The Saudis are very upset at the United States going back to the invasion of Iraq, its support for Israeli policy in the occupied territories, and its inability to push Israel into a just peace settlement with the Palestinians along the lines of King Abdullah’s peace plan.  An attack on Iran would be the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back”, ensuring that the seemingly strong U.S.-Saudi alliance could dissolve very quickly.  

A potentially effective—and non-confrontational—form of retaliation by the Saudis would be for the Kingdom to reject any plea by the United States to increase its oil production to make up for an Iranian shortfall.  Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that can ramp up its oil production by 4 million barrels per day on short notice.  Even if the Straits of Hormuz stayed open following an attack on Iran, without a ramp up in Saudi production, the United States would have to contend with higher oil prices for some time.  Of course, the Far East, mainly China and Japan, would suffer most immediately from oil priced at $150 per barrel.  But the United States—the world’s largest importer of oil at over 12 million barrels per day—would see the cost of its oil imports increase by $350 billion per year, which would almost certainly throw the American economy into a deep recession.  For their part, the Saudis would see a transfer of wealth to them to the tune of an extra $180 billion per year.  With their great potential for internal economic growth, China and India could “pick up the pieces” and become the main international economic partners and interlocutors to the Gulf countries, marginalizing the United States and dramatically reducing American influence in this critical region. 

The Saudis could also retaliate through international financial markets.  Currently, the Kingdom holds close to $500 billion in short term U.S. government paper.  The Saudis do not invest in stocks or long-term corporate bonds in the United States, or anywhere else in the world.  Should they want to show disapproval of U.S. actions, they could decide to sell some or all of their holdings in U.S. assets.  It is unlikely that the Saudis would do so in a sudden and precipitous fashion, as that would hurt the value of their holdings.  However, they could start by limiting their purchases of U.S. government paper and then slowly decrease their outstanding portfolio in the United States—just like China is beginning to do.  Furthermore, the Saudis could begin reducing their dependence on the dollar by starting to price their oil in a basket of currencies.  This would also have a significant impact on the American economy, as the United States could no longer pay for its oil imports (or its foreign liabilities more generally) just by printing money. 

Altogether, the Arab countries of the Gulf are quite aware of the potential for disaster in the aftermath of a U.S. military confrontation with Iran.  Any U.S. attack against Iran would be followed be the mass desertion of U.S. allies trying to dissociate themselves from the deed.  The United States would lose its strategic influence in the region, leaving a vacuum to be filled by other great powers, whether economic or military.  Under these circumstances, China and India could very well step into the traditional U.S. role as the chief external arbiter of security and political issues in the Gulf. 

Saudi Arabia may not clearly articulate what its policy is vis-à-vis Iran.  Indeed, their simultaneous complaints about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program and warnings that the United States should not attack Iran are somewhat baffling.  However, Saudi Arabia’s real policy toward Iran may be a policy that can only work if it is not stated clearly.  Given Saudi views of the current Iranian political order, the Saudi leadership may be counting on the Islamic Republic’s economic failures and corruption to weaken Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s regime to the point of complete ineffectiveness.  The Saudis see an Iranian elite that is siphoning billions of dollars to Dubai every year.  They see Iran’s inability to complete any of its energy investments, whether refineries, gas fields, oil fields, or ambitious petrochemical plants.  They see the enormous waste in subsidies to the population.  They see that access to the Western technology essential for the large-scale development of Iran’s energy resources is being sacrificed by the Islamic Republic on the altar of locally-grown nuclear technology.  In other words, the Saudis may have concluded that the Iranians are their own worst enemies and will not be able to create a credible nuclear deterrent without at the same time making themselves irrelevant on the world stage—in effect, a Middle Eastern North Korea. 

From this perspective, pushing Iran militarily would only make the current political order there stronger.  Sanctions are not likely to work and could make the government more popular.  So, Saudi policy may be to do nothing and let the Islamic Republic crumble upon itself.  Of course, the Saudis may be willing to take steps to exacerbate Iranian economic weakness here and there.  But the Kingdom is not about to support anything like full-scale sanctions, where Saudi fingerprints would be readily visible. 

In conclusion, from a Saudi—and Gulf Arab—standpoint, a U.S. attack on Iran would fulfill Talleyrand’s ditty; it would be a real mistake.  From an American point of view, military action against Iran by the United States—or even by Israel—would irreparably damage American interests and presence in the Gulf.  It would also weaken dramatically the U.S. economy and America’s international financial standing—a critical element in American power since the end of World War II.

–Jean-François Seznec

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19 Responses to “WHY SAUDI ARABIA DOES NOT SUPPORT A STRIKE ON IRAN”

  1. Dan cooper says:

    stevieb

    “The real problem is the Israel lobby and ZOG. It’s not a conspiracy theory. It’s a threat to the entire plane.”

    You are absolutely right.

    Israel lobby is the root of all evil.

    They are the reason why USA cannot have rapprochement with Iran.

    They are the reason why USA has lost nearly 5ooo soldiers in Iraq.

    They are the reason why Israel can occupy Palestine by force.

    They are the reason why Israel can murder Palestinians with impunity.

    They are the reason why Israel can get away with murder.

    They are the reason why Israel can violate international law.

    They are the reason why Israel can violate UN resolutions without accountability.

    They are the reason why there is so much hatred against the USA.

    They are the reason why there will be no peace in Middle East.

    They are the reason why there will be a war against Iran.

    It is about time that we have a proper debate about the role of “Israel lobby” towards Iran in this forum.

    I would like to askBBen Katcher to help us in this regard.

  2. Eric A. Brill says:

    Just when I think Michael Slackman is the hand’s-down living-in-a-parallel-universe Iran-hater at the NYT, along comes Ethan Bronner to announce that the competition is far from over:

    “[The US and Israel] still find it useful to note that Israel is preparing for a strike and that its government includes some real hawks. This is a point American officials made to China recently to persuade it to join the sanctions regime.”

    I’ll bet the Chinese were shocked, shocked to learn that Israel has hawks. Undoubtedly that had quite an effect on their view of sanctions. I’ll bet they’re reaching for their pens. (“Now where did we put that sanctions resolution the Americans sent us? Sure hope we didn’t throw it away.”)

    “The Israelis have made recent high-level visits to China and Russia in an effort to bring officials there aboard.”

    Oh, how did those talks go?

    ____________

    Ethan Bronner, NYT, March 4:

    “Hoping Sanctions Work But Readying Gas Masks”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/05/world/middleeast/05mideast.html

  3. Calm says:

    I think that all the threats is simply an attempt to bankrupt the Iranian economy until such time as the oil/gas piplines are built and contracts signed with Europe for U.S. oil giants to supply energy.

    With all the threats, nobody will invest in Iran and thus Iran is unable to provide funding for the Nubucco pipeline.

    It is a Win-Win for Israel because after they call off the dogs of war, they will be seen as “Peace Makers”.

    Calm

  4. kooshy says:

    The real problem that US are currently facing is not Iran, or says China and UN. Often observers of US political atmosphere realize the real problem t with an American global view is the perception of its policy apparatus and its intellectuals, that is been generated from an extended period of living in a House of Mirrors of their own self-made Amusing Park,

    The reason that the Saudis are against any further antagonizing of Iran by the west, simply lies in their fear of a backlash not by Iran but rather by their own Arab street who are ruled by illegitimate governments.
    Current Saudi Arabia’s regime and its Arab allied governments of Egypt and Jordan are holding power on a thin thread that is been hanged to US and not to their own population. Therefore the Saudi government and their Arab allies are legitimately worried that if further anatomization of Iran doesn’t produce a clear victory by the west with regard to Iran’s standing with the Arab and Muslim street. Due to multi, reasons of economic, military, and political if the outcome of further pressure by the west does not produce a clear victory for them, it eventually will result to a reduction of US presence in the region, in that case they legitimately fear their own governance days will be numbered.

  5. stevieb says:

    The real problem is the Israel lobby and ZOG. It’s not a conspiracy theory. It’s a threat to the entire planet.

  6. Eric A. Brill says:

    By the way, how’s this for a “crisis” headline, from the March 4 NYT?

    “Hoping Sanctions Work But Readying Gas Masks”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/05/world/middleeast/05mideast.html

  7. Eric A. Brill says:

    Alan,

    “Eric – I’m pleased to report Walid Khalidi remains as lucid and eloquent as ever, aged 85. Here he is giving the keynote address at a UN meeting on Palestine a couple of months ago:”

    Thanks. My apology for mixing him up with the young whippersnapper, Rashid. The (imagined) reports of his death were greatly exaggerated.

  8. Ra'ad says:

    The Black Swans in West Asia are the intentions of Israel.
    Are Israel’s arsenal just to secure it from its eviscerated neighbours? Its ca 400 tactical nuclear weapons, their intercontinental Jericho ballistic missiles with range of 11500 km and its airforce which is twice the size of UK’s and its ca 3 million army to protect its borders? – from Lebanon and Syria? No, what is brewing in West Asia is an invading Israeli army that will punch through the 15 km gap across the Gulf of Aqaba and will storm to Saudi and Kuwaiti oil fields and there is nothing, NOTHING anyone can do about it. The only people who could have been able to put up resistance are the Iraqis (now neutralised), Iranians and the Pakistanis (who have been already neutralised by Israel’s submarine-borne second strike capabilities). Maybe – just maybe – the Saudi’s are cottoning on to the fact that this imbalance of forces in the middle east is just inviting a much greater risk of calamity that a theoretical Iranian nuclear weapons programme.

  9. Alan says:

    Eric – I’m pleased to report Walid Khalidi remains as lucid and eloquent as ever, aged 85. Here he is giving the keynote address at a UN meeting on Palestine a couple of months ago:

    http://www.palestine-studies.org/

  10. Arnold Evans says:

    Saudi Arabia is a US colony. As much as the Indian indirectly-ruled princely states were British colonies, Saudi Arabia was founded as a subject of the British Empire and that indirect rule was passed directly to the United States.

    Saudi Arabia is no more or less independent that Egypt under King Farouk before Nasser assumed power.

    So Saudi Arabia will not become independent if the United States strikes Iran. The United States will still pay a heavy price. Mostly that China and India will no longer trust the US as stewards of the Persian Gulf. The reason the Saudis oppose a US strike isn’t because the Saudi indirect-rule princes have some way to retaliate, but because if US rule is challenged, that will materialize as threats to the Saudi throne, and the luxurious trips to Aspen and Paris that come with that throne as long as Abdullah and his family continue to provide reliable servants for the US.

  11. Fiorangela Leone says:

    re Liz and Dan Cooper: what they said.

    Prof. Seznec’s analysis introduces rationales not heard in the USofA, which is curious: one would think the American media would be eager to inform Americans how the USofA would be negatively impacted by war on Iran. To refine that last phrase: the people of the USofA ARE BEING and HAVE BEEN negatively impacted by Israel-lobby-induced US sanctions and belligerent policy toward Iran. Keith Weissman, former AIPAC functionary who helped write the first legislation against Iran in 1995, recently stated (see video, http://www.edmaysproductions.net/webvideo/irannuke.wmv ) that those sanctions were put in place at the behest of AIPAC/Israel, that they harmed American interests more than any other impact. Robin Wright said much the same thing in a panel discussion at Wilson Center last Fall: www dot wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=events.event_summary&event_id=508598

    If all that Seznec says about the profound negative impact on the USofA that would follow from a US attack on Iran is true, it still does not matter for US policy makers: US legislators are in thrall to Israeli zionists, as Dan Cooper argued, and Israel really does not care in the least whether the US is destroyed in the process of zionism working through what Ian Lustick called a “death cult” that permeates Israeli society at every level.

    It doesn’t matter if the US would be destroyed by an American strike on Iran: Israel would survive, or at least experience yet another sensation of release of the psychotic pressure that is a major dynamic in Israel today (see Avigail Abarbenal’s essays, “Israel’s Growing Insanity” and “Israel’s Trauma Psychology”) www dot avigailabarbanel.me.uk/gaza-2009-01-04.html

    American politicians don’t realize that they are sleeping with the enemy; Israel is an enemy to the US and our leaders not only are unaware of it, they are beholden to their enemy masters. Mitt Romney parrotted all the zionist lobby-scripted pro-Israel and anti-Iran talking points in a discussion of his recent book, “No Apology,” www dot booktv.org/Program/11374/After+Words+Mitt+Romney+No+Apology+interviewed+by+Juan+Williams.aspx , which is probably Romney’s prequel to a 2012 presidential bid. If there’s anything left of US in 2012.

    Maybe Knesset can find a seat for Romney; even if all that Seznec predicts comes to pass, Israel will still be standing in 2012, and that’s all that matters for zionists.

  12. Dan cooper says:

    Liz is right, If Iran is attacked, everyone will lose.

    The mastermind and the main perpetrators behind the attack on Iran will be Israel and Israel Lobby in America.

    The Israel Lobby mounted an unrelenting mass media propaganda campaign demonizing Iran, fabricating and disseminating falsified accounts of its nuclear programs, infiltrating and occupying key positions in the US Treasury Department, aggressively bludgeoning other governments, industries, banks and investors to boycott Iran.

    Zionist Treasury Department officials hope to strangle and weaken Iran’s economy in order to soften it up for a military strike.

    No other single or combined force in North America, or, for that matter, any place in the world (except Israel) has played as big a role in promoting an offensive war against Iran as the Zionist politicians and officials in the US government.

    They were aided and abetted by Jewish lobbies, Zionist propaganda centers, multi-billionaires and hundreds of Jewish community organizations.

  13. Eric A. Brill says:

    A note to Alan and Jon Harrison re “Khalidi” (from an earlier thread). Alan wrote:

    “Jon (& Eric) – Walid Khalidi is most certainly a “heavyweight”. It was his work in the 1950s and 1960s to meticulously document the truth of what happened in Palestine after 1947 that created the historical record that others have built upon. He founded the Institute for Palestine Studies, where he (and others) have built up the most extensive archives of the Palestinian people.”

    I hadn’t followed the thread between Jon and Alan closely enough, and so had mistakenly interpreted Jon’s question (which referred to writers “alive today”) to be referring to Rashid Khalidi (better know to readers these days), not Walid Khalidi. I thought Walid had died a while back, but Wikipedia shows him as still alive after all (though I think he hasn’t published anything in quite a while). In any case, let me clarify my earlier comment to Jon: Walid Khalidi is reputed to be a “heavy-weight,” as Alan says, though I’m going mostly on what I’ve heard and read about his stuff, having read very little of it. Just be careful to distinguish Walid Khalidi from Rashid Khalidi, who, in my view at least, is not what you would probably think of as a heavy-weight writer.

  14. Eric A. Brill says:

    “However, Saudi Arabia’s real policy toward Iran may be a policy that can only work if it is not stated clearly… Saudi policy may be to do nothing…”

    Hooda thunk it? Manufacturing and then exploiting a bright-line crisis might not be the best way to manage one’s relationship with another country, even with one’s near neighbor.

    I wonder if that might work for us too with Iran. Just stop acting as if we’re in a “crisis” that needs to be resolved sometime soon by either war or a “grand bargain.” Instead, just keep clearly in mind what we’re aiming at (such as: keeping Iran from getting a nuclear bomb), stay realistic about how we might achieve it (for example: keep the IAEA inspectors’ noses under the Iranian tent; supply the Tehran Research Reactor with 20% fuel so the Iranians don’t develop the nasty habit of refining it themselves), and patiently try to achieve it more and more effectively in the longer run (for example: get more and more IAEA noses under more and more Iranian tents; reliably supply enough low-grade fuel for peaceful nuclear reactors that the Iranians spend less money building more centrifuges and training their scientists how to make them work better).

    Not manufacturing crises worked pretty well for us in the Cold War, as I recall. Nerve-racking and time-consuming, to be sure. Not a single “grand bargain” from beginning to end — just a little test-ban treaty here, a SALT treaty there; harsh words about “evil empires” today, vodka-and-caviar toasts tomorrow. Great patience required, but wars avoided. Might we have been better off drawing a line in the sand with the Soviet Union? Maybe so — it worked in Cuba in 1962, after all. Maybe we should have rolled the dice more often. We sure had plenty of opportunities to declare an existential crisis, after all, and no shortage of screeching voices insisting that we do so.

    What if, in response to those screeching voices, all we’d had during the Cold War were what we seem to have today: those who insisted that there was an alternative to war, that a “grand bargain” could be struck with the Soviet Union to avoid war? The answer is: we’d have accepted the screechers’ unexamined premise that a crisis point had been reached, that some either-or choice in fact needed to be made. If so, then the apparent choices would have been pretty much what we’re often told they are today with Iran: “grand bargain” or drop the bombs. Who knows, maybe we’d have worked out a comprehensive “grand bargain” with, say, Brezhnev — possibly even Kruschev, if we could’ve just got him to stop banging his shoe on the table long enough. Probably a 10% chance, at most, that we’d have had a thermo-nuclear war that would have ended life on Earth as we know it. Maybe that would have been a risk worth taking, rather than endure 45 years of anxiety with nothing to show for it at the end except peace.

    Who knows, if we keep rattling our saber at Iran, maybe there’s little or no risk that Iran will stop letting IAEA inspectors into the country while we’re noodling over a “grand bargain” that might avert war. And if we don’t supply 20% fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, maybe they’ll just shut it down rather than refine the uranium themselves — they probably can get by without those medical isotopes. And if we don’t supply them with low-grade fuel for peaceful nuclear reactors, or let them produce it themselves under our watchful eyes, maybe they’ll just shut down their nuclear program entirely and rely on their vast oil reserves, as we’ve been telling them lately they should do — even though our own nuke salesmen told them 35 years ago that that was a short-sighted policy and no Iranian politician in his right mind would propose it today.

    And, after all, if, as Flynt Leverett reported during his debate with Michael Ledeen, many mid-level Iranian officials are reluctant to argue strenuously for negotiations with the US unless we can give them some assurance that the US is willing to negotiate on a whole raft of issues, who are we to ask those mid-level Iranian officials to take a possibly career-ending risk by pressing harder for some short-term deal on a narrow but important subject? What if, for example, we were to strike some simultaneous-exchange deal on the TRR but, God forbid, it didn’t lead to a US acknowledgement of Iran’s trillion-dollar reparation claim against Iraq, or a deal to restrain the MEK, or to stop interfering with internal Iranian affairs? Might that mid-level Iranian official get re-assigned to some district post in, say, Yazd, and have to pull his kids out of school mid-way through the year? That certainly wouldn’t be fair to him.

    On the other hand, a small-ball deal like that – negotiated and struck without any understanding whatsoever that it might lead to more – might just ease tensions enough to avoid both (1) war; and (2) the mistaken perception that we have to strike some “grand bargain” with Iran in order to accomplish anything of real value. Maybe that TRR baby-step could be tied to some other concession by Iran, such as more intrusive IAEA inspections, or an express commitment to the US position on the disclosure-timing issue (though, frankly, the recent wholesale disclosure of nuclear facilities by Iran suggests to me it’s already caving on that issue without explicitly saying so). Maybe then we could tone down our support of the MEK a bit, as Flynt mentions Nixon having done with the CIA in Tibet, and that, in turn, might lead to some further baby-step agreements. The next thing you know, it might occur to someone that maybe we don’t have a “crisis” after all. That would diminish our would-be “grand bargainers,” of course, but – far more important – it also would diminish the screechers for war.

  15. Iranian says:

    Another point that Liz does not mention is that the Iranian economy has had strong positive growth over the last few years and their is no sign of the country’s economy collapsing.

    Indeed, if there is one country in the PERSIAN GULF region that has a corrupt regime it is Saudi Arabia, where one family has monopolized the whole country and advocates Salafi and Taliban Islam.

  16. Sekineh Bagoom says:

    Roger Thomas wrote: “A strike by Israel would provide enough cover for the US with the Gulf countries”

    I love it when people refer to this as a real possibility. It is not a possibility. Not now, not ever. Israel does not have the resources to strike Iran. If you remember, in her strike against Lebanon (small country), Israel had to ask for extra ammo which was provided by U.S. through Scottish bases and U.S. got a lot of heat for the use of bases.
    For Israel to strike Iran (read: big country), it will have to fly over Iraq and be refueled in the air (see ZBig argument on this).
    Sorry, in this case Big Satan = Little Satan.
    Not going to happen unless U.S. says so.

  17. kooshy says:

    All the Iranian bloggers who post on this site, interestingly should note, that how the introduction part of this recent post, which presumably is been written by the principles of the site, is again using an unidentified name the “GULF.” Presumably, they are referencing a body of water dividing the Iranian plateau and the Arabian subcontinent. We also should note that how ironic is, that the author of the article who is introduced on this post is correctly referencing this body of water with its correct internationally recognized name of Persian Gulf.

    Since our concern regarding this issue, is been posted a few times on this site, therefore it is about time that we the Iranians on this site see an explanation of their position or intentions with regard to the Persian Gulf name.

  18. Liz says:

    The article underestimates Iran’s strength. If Iran is attacked, there is no doubt that everyone will lose. Iran is far more powerful than any other country in the region and its presence can be felt from the northern tip of the Persian Gulf to the straight of Hormoz. Its military is much stronger and technologically advanced than it was a decade ago, while the US is much weaker due to Iraq and Afghanistan (countries where Iran has enormous influence). It has watched how the US carries out warfare and has adopted tactics to effectively deal with potential American aggression. Remember Lebanon 2006? Another war will make that look like a picnic.

  19. Roger Thomas says:

    The central issue for the statelets of the Persian Gulf is the absence of a real security alternative to the USA. That constrains the action they can take. A strike by Israel would provide enough cover for the US with the Gulf countries.

    Would there be some anger? Yes. And some action. For a while. Enough to vent and placate the “street”.

    As to economic effects, the Gulf is already suffering from multiple economic shocks absent one or two bright spots. In Kuwait a large swathe of investment companies are bankrupt, large segments of the merchant elite are cash strapped – even the venerable AlKharafi Group, and the health of the banks is less robust than it appears. Bahrain’s wholesale banking sector is in severe distress from cowboy firms like Gulf Finance House, TIBC, and Awal to more conservative names like Investcorp and Arcapita. In the UAE the full extent of the wreckage from Dubai has yet to appear – there is a lot of profound pain yet to be felt.

    The Gulf is resilient. It did not run away when the Ayatollah was knocking on Saddam’s door. The Arab street did not erupt when the US invaded Afghanistan or Iraq. Lebanon in 2006. Operation Cast Lead. This camel’s back can take many straws.