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Interesting scenario being concocted between Tel Aviv and Washington! Apparently, we are meant to believe that the Obama administration is going all out to restrain Israel’s hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from pre-emptively striking Iran’s nuclear sites.

If we’re gullible enough to swallow the message put out by the US and Israeli media, we might imagine that Netanyahu is furious over President Barack Obama’s reticence to trigger conflict and is preparing for his country to go it alone — without alerting the White House in advance. What a joke that is!

In reality, there isn’t a hair’s breadth of difference between US and Israeli foreign policy on this issue. Neither government can afford to fall out with the other; their relationship is incestuous. The US is Israel’s only friend in the region and one of the few it has worldwide. And Obama needs to keep the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) and the other pro-Israel US lobbying organisations happy if he wants to get re-elected.

Moreover, the aims of both are the same. The official version is that neither Israel nor America can allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons capability. But that isn’t what they fear the most.

In the first place, there’s no proof that Tehran seeks a nuclear bomb. Secondly, US National Intelligence estimates tell us that Iran binned its nuclear weapons ambitions in 2003.

Thirdly even if Iran had a bomb, it would be used only as a deterrent. The clerics would have to be deranged to nuke Tel Aviv in the knowledge that repercussions would be swift and merciless. Furthermore, a nuclear strike on Israel would also kill Arab Israelis and Palestinians, while the fall-out would likely affect Iran’s friends in Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.

The heart of all this anti-Iran brouhaha is regime change. But that is not a casus belli under international law and violates the United Nations Charter. What’s happening now is deja vu. It’s exactly the same strategy used by the US and its allies to invade Iraq.

That’s not to say that Iran isn’t dangerous from Israel’s perspective when it gives financial and military support to Israel’s enemies — Hezbollah, Hamas and the Bashar Al Assad regime in Syria. Iran is also encouraging Shiite communities in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to rise up and is dangling its wealth to lure Egypt into its sphere of influence when Egyptian-American relations are fragile. Should Cairo fall to Iran, Israel’s situation would, indeed, be precarious.

The Camp David Peace Treaty would be annulled, Egypt would be free to expand its army, Israel’s blockade on Gaza would no longer be effective and the Palestinians would be greatly emboldened to launch a Third Intifada, which according to the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is currently being considered.

Returning to the duplicitous propaganda of Washington and Tel Aviv, this is nothing but a good policeman, bad policeman play with a dual purpose. You can just imagine the American public’s uproar if Obama initiated a new major war that would endanger US bases throughout the region, send petrol prices through the roof and further dent the economy when a rising number of Americans are surviving on food stamps.

Even if Obama were that foolhardy — perhaps in the belief that becoming a war president would revive his popularity — he can forget about going the UN route because Iran’s trading partners Russia and China would use their vetoes. Hence the contrived public spat between Obama and Netanyahu.

Yesterday, Netanyahu was scheduled to meet with Obama in Washington. It is thought the Israeli leader will ask his US counterpart for the green light to attack Iran. In any event, even if Obama gives him the wink, I doubt that conversation will be made public.

In reality, the conflict is already raging beginning with the Stuxnet and Duqu viruses that have infected Iranian computers, the assassination of four Iranian nuclear scientists, the explosion at an Iranian Revolutionary Guards military base — and US and EU anti-Iranian sanctions targeting Iran’s oil industry and banking.

For its part, Iran has terminated oil exports to the UK and France, has carried out a series of military and naval exercises in the Gulf region, has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz to shipping and may be behind the recent attempted assassinations of Israeli diplomats in India, Georgia and Thailand.

The temperature has risen so high that the Deputy Chief of Iran’s Armed Forces General Mohammad Hejazi warned, “Our strategy now is that if we feel our enemies want to endanger Iran’s national interests… we will act without waiting for their actions.” An Iranian first strike would play right into US/Israeli hands.

One thing is sure: if Israel does strike Iran, the US will act in tandem; at the very least it will supply Israel with every logistical requirement. More likely, the two allies will go for gold, together taking out as many Iranian nuclear facilities as they can.

Obama can then tell his compatriots and the world that he did his best to stop Netanyahu in his tracks but when push came to shove he had to ensure the survival of the Jewish State.

Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She can be contacted at lheard@gulfnews.com Some of the comments may be considered for publication.