So, is war with Iran imminent? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say “no”. Israeli officials are pressing the US to issue an ultimatum and threatening unilateral action. The time for negotiation is over, they claim. This isn’t novel by any means, but what explains the timing for this new push, I’d say, also explains why they’re unlikely to follow through. My guess is that it has nothing do to with new developments in Iran’s nuclear program or new information about it, but with events in Syria. Direct US engagement there seems increasingly likely as talks of a no-fly zone intensify. Even if the US manages to stay out of it (which I hope it does, by the way), we can’t be sure at this point, and that possibility detracts from their propensity to back Israel (which is minimal to start with) and the credibility of their threats. The thing, however, is that no amount of moaning from Israeli officials is going to change the situation on the ground in Syria, and that issue now seems to take precedence over Iran, mainly because most in the US still believe that sanctions are doing their work on the Iranian economy and time is on their side, at least for now. The tragedy for Israeli hawks, of course, is that their inability to make good on these threats reduces their credibility.
What do you think?
Nick Wheeler and I have a short article in the latest issue of the RUSI Newsbrief, on the Iranian nuclear issue. We argue that although the language of trust-building is now being deployed in negotiations by both sides, neither Iran nor it’s Western counterparts are ready to make concessions, and we try to explain why. I won’t give away the gold, you can read the whole thing here: http://goo.gl/9xae9