Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Iran: the nightmare scenario

The indispensible has translated part of Nahum Barnea's column from last Friday's Yediot - itself a summary of a study dealing with the possible scenarios that might follow an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, currently doing the rounds on the internet. The original paper - available in Hebrew here - is by Dr Moshe Vered of Bar Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. Some of the more frightening possibilities:

“The war could be long,” Vered warns, “its length could be measured in years.” The cost that the war will exact from Israel raises a question mark as to the decision to go to war.

The relatively light scenario speaks about an Israeli bombing, after which Iran will fire several volleys of surface-to-surface missiles at Israel. Due to the limited number of missiles and their high cost, the war will end within a short time. The missiles may run out, the study states, but the war will only be getting started.

“The means that may be most effective for the Iranians is war by proxies—Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas,” Vered writes. “(There will be) ongoing and massive rocket fire (and in the Syrian case, also various types of Scud missiles), which will cover most of the area of the country, disrupt the course of everyday life and cause casualties and property damage. The effect of such fire will greatly increase if the enemy fires chemical, biological or radiological ordnance… massive Iranian support, by money and weapons, will help the organizations continue the fire over a period of indeterminate length… due to the long range of the rockets held by Hizbullah, Israel will have to occupy most of the territory of Lebanon, and hold the territory for a long time. But then the IDF will enter a guerrilla war, a war the end of which is hard to predict, unless we evacuate the territory, and then the rocket fire will return…”.....

Vered bases his assessment mainly on the regime’s ideology and on the lessons of the Iran-Iraq War, which lasted from 1980 to 1988. He writes: “Half a million dead, a million wounded, two million refugees and displaced persons, economic damage estimated by the Iranian government at about USD 1,000 billion—more than twice the value of all Iranian oil production in 70 years of pumping oil—none of this was sufficient to persuade Iran to stop the war. Only the fear of the regime’s fall led the leadership to accept the cease-fire.

“The ramifications are clear and harsh—like the war against Iraq, the war against Israel will also be perceived by the Iranians as a war intended to right a wrong and bring justice to the world by destroying the State of Israel. Only a threat to the regime will be able to make the Iranian leadership stop. It is difficult to see how Israel could create such a threat.”

Read more here - if you can bear to. But before you get too frightened, keep in mind that the cost of allowing Iran to actually gain the nuclear weapons might be even worse.

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