Monday, February 13, 2012

Israeli embassy attacks in Delhi and Tbilisi could set off a conflagration

The immediate damage could have been worse, but the consequences for the Middle East could still be disastrous

Ian Black
, Middle East editor, Monday 13 February 2012

"It could have been worse: one bomb slightly injured the wife of an Israeli diplomat and three other people in Delhi. Another device targeting an embassy car was made safe in Tbilisi, Georgia, before it exploded. But the consequences could still prove to be disastrous: in the tinder box that is the Middle East sparks such as these can set off a huge conflagration. Much depends, as always, on how governments choose to respond....

Against a background of extraordinary turbulence across the Middle East, the Israeli-Iranian confrontation is by far the most dangerous element – amid near-constant speculation about a pre-emptive strike Israel might launch to stop the Islamic Republic acquiring a nuclear capability. An Israeli attack could draw in the US and cause Iran to block the narrow strait of Hormuz, retaliate against Arab Gulf targets and disrupt global oil supplies. Anything that could trigger such a chain of events clearly has to be taken very seriously.

Underlining these fears, Exclusive Analysis, an intelligence company, forecast on Monday increasing probability of an Israeli strike on two or three key Iranian nuclear facilities, from 50% in about April rising to 60% by September......"

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