BOB Baer, the former Middle East CIA operative whose first book about his life inspired the oil-and-espionage thriller Syriana, is working on a new book on Iran, but says he was told by senior intelligence officials that he had better get it published in the next couple of months because things could be about to change.
"Baer, in an interview with The Weekend Australian, says his contacts in the administration suggest a strategic airstrike on Iran is a real possibility in the months ahead.
"What I'm getting is a sense that their sentiment is they are going to hit the Iranians and not just because of Israel, but due to the fact that Iran is the predominant power in the Gulf and it is hostile and its power is creeping into the Gulf at every level," Baer says.
He says his contacts have told him of his book: "You better hurry up because the thesis is going to change. I told them submission is in January but they said, 'You're probably going to be too late'."......
He agrees with many in the intelligence community in Washington that a strike on Iran could be a disaster and counterproductive to US interests, but he says that the rising level of impatience in the Bush administration over Iran's belligerence on its nuclear program and its destabilising role in Iraq could mean that something snaps.
"In the CIA, they are calling what the Iranians are doing to us in Iraq as the slow cook -- where we get cooked there for the next 10 years and then we give up completely and leave."
But Baer says an emboldened Iran in the event of mass US withdrawal from Iraq "scares the shit out of Saudis, the Bahrainis and all the Arab gulf states". "They are saying: 'What are you going to do now that you've created a mess in Iraq and what are you going to do about Iran?'."
Intelligence sources say military contingency planning on Iran under the Bush administration has been under way since 2003 but the latest speculation has been a surgical strike on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard......"