Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The west has to tackle Tehran - before Israel sends in the bombers

It will take fresh pressure and incentives to douse fears of a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities that would inflame the region

Jonathan Freedland
The Guardian, Wednesday June 25, 2008

"Curious things are going on in the Middle East. On the one hand, Israel seems to be taking some early, tentative steps towards peace with its nearest enemies. It has just agreed a six-month ceasefire with Hamas in Gaza; it is deep into indirect peace talks with Syria, aimed at a comprehensive treaty; and earlier this month came word that Israel is keen to have direct negotiations with Lebanon.

Yet all these welcome murmurings of peace are fighting to be heard above a growing drumbeat for war - against the country Israel fears more than any of its immediate neighbours: Iran.......

What to make of all this warlike talk? The simplest option is to take it at face value, to conclude that Israel is indeed going to act and is preparing the ground, militarily and politically. It wants its planes ready and also its arguments, so that if action is timetabled for "summer-fall 2008" as one Israeli analyst wrote this week, then it has at least made some effort to brace world opinion for the shock.......

There is an alternative way to read the current situation. It would see all the latest, apparently bellicose, moves as goads by the Israelis to spur the rest of the world into action: "Act now," they are saying, "because if you don't, we might just do something crazy."........"

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