This eye-opening and sobering article appeared in Front Page Magazine over the weekend. I'm going to be posting my own thoughts on the matter in a short while. It may be later than we think.The Missiles of 27 Rajab
This year, we are told, the Muslim commemorations associated with their calendar date 27 Rajab will occur on August 22. On this a most celebratory date in the Islamic calendar, best-selling author and Islamic scholar Robert Spencer reminds that the Prophet Muhammed made his ascension into heaven from the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, an event known as the Miraj. “[T]he Night Journey has become firmly embedded in the Islamic consciousness,” Spencer notes, “such that Muslims today celebrate it as one of the central events of Muhammad’s life.” And now, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has selected that as an auspicious date to create a light over the skies of Jerusalem such as the world has never seen since the Miraj.
If as the president of the Reform Party in Syria, Farid Ghadry claims, “Ahmadinejad is planning an illumination of the night sky over Jerusalem to rival the one that greeted the Prophet of Islam on his journey,” then it is difficult to imagine anything other than a full-scale Iranian nuclear attack. As Spencer continues, “a nuclear attack on Jerusalem or even an all-out conventional assault against Israel by Iran would be consistent with Ahmadinejad’s oft-repeated denials of Israel’s right to exist and recent predictions that its demise was at hand.” These observations are the latest from a growing list of ominous portents from Iranian and Syrian leaders too horrific to ignore.
Assuming the worst case – a default mental mode for military planners – what ought we to expect to happen the next several weeks? A possible scenario can be constructed based on events of recent weeks and months, although the groundwork for this action has taken years to develop. Let us try to outline what Ahmadinejad and his surrogates in Syria and inside Hezbollah might have on their minds.
To begin we review what we know for certain: 1) Iran has been focused on acquisition of nuclear weapons, working for years with the AQ Khan group and North Korea; 2) Iran has for all intents and purposes declared war on Israel and America (though the U.S. has not understood Iran’s commitment), outlining its war policy as one of utter extermination; 3) Iran has worked unceasingly with North Korean scientists and engineers to improve missile technology, resulting in several models of varying ranges and payloads, and with highly improved mobility over SCUDs; 4) Iran has used surrogate movements and states to support clandestinely attacks on Israel and America (the latter inside Iraq); 5) Iran has positioned large numbers of technologically advanced weapons and the troops from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to assist inside Lebanon and Syria.
We have confirmed that Iran was a sponsor and participant in North Korea’s early July 2006 missile tests, and have shown rather convincingly that the real testing was the ability to deploy rapidly missile units, each capable of firing several weapons independently. The capstone of the test was that multiple missiles fired on schedule, each simulating many, and that the tests were frighteningly successful. Equally important was that the public misunderstood the real purpose of the tests and vastly underestimated the value derived from them.
If we were investigating this as a possible murder case we’d look for motive, weapon, and opportunity. Motive is easy. Ahmadinejad want to wipe Israel and America off the map. How do we know? Because he told us, repeatedly, in great detail, and with utmost sincerity. Weapons? We are looking at a slate of which we’re told intelligence analysts were unaware. While this is doubtful, it may be factual that analysts were cautious about numbers of missiles and rockets deployed and the willingness of the Hezbollah enemy to employ them. Those doubts ought to be resolved as hundreds of rockets rain down on Israel and increasingly capable weapons are discovered. Opportunity? Made to order, on order. It was an Ahmadinejad-created opportunity, a directed Hezbollah attack on Israel designed to bring in America and allies. It’s all happening, per Iranian plan, and its right there for us to see.
In a July 27 NY Sun op-ed, premier radio talk show host John Bachelor addresses the opportunity issue. The behavior of Syria, Bachelor notes “is meant to provoke Israel and pull America directly into the fighting.” Syria, as Bachelor points out, issued an unacceptable ultimatum to the U.S. “Knowing that America cannot agree….Syria and its sponsor, Iran, are preparing for the next stage of the escalation.” That next stage he affirms is a “shooting war.” To what point? This is where the weapons come into the picture.[...]
Reinforcing the threat, Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah leader, warned that “deeper” attacks would be forthcoming. The Israelis, Bachelor says, have accounted for more than 36 such missiles inside Lebanon. They’ve already killed some, but how may more wait across the Syrian border? Dozens? Hundreds? Using the tactics just rehearsed in North Korea suppose Syria, backed to the hilt by Iran, having provoked an Israeli or American strike which provides them sufficient excuse, then floods across the border. Many specially trained battalions with scores of Zelzals and smaller payload missiles dispersed among them will lead. It is probably that many of the weapons and units are already pre-positioned.
These Zelzal missiles if properly dispersed and simultaneously launched – if, in other words, the tactical model developed by the Soviets, taught to the Iranians, and just practiced in front of the world in North Korea is followed – we could expect that existing Israeli missile defense systems would be overwhelmed. Radars would pick scores, perhaps hundreds of missiles launched from a very short distance away all converging on Israeli cities. It would be impossible for upgraded Patriot or any other deployed system to get them all. The leakers would certainly penetrate. Are they going to carry conventional explosives, a serious enough threat by itself, or will these be the ones that carry the dirty warheads, the small fission devices, or the VX nerve gas? Is this the “day or rejoicing” that Ahmadinejad threatens? Does anyone really want to wait until mid August when this attack is launched to learn?
In this scenario inaction is not appropriate. Nor is the reprehensible laundry list of appeasement initiatives drafted by State Department Arabists acceptable. The options for a diplomatic solution have already expired. State has played its hand, and sterner leadership must take charge. Both Syria and Iran must be faced squarely and confronted with the consequences of their actions before they can attack. Iran is clearly attempting to use an attack on Israel to build momentum for an overthrow of that country combined with a defeat of America in Iraq. Rather than wait defensively America must strike Iran, taking out leadership, nuclear, and missile targets. Simultaneously every Iranian revolutionary group must be supported and turned loose to foment revolution inside Iran.
Syria has to be taken out immediately. Leadership targets - regime, Hezbollah, and Iranian - must be attacked and friendly forces put into the border area for missile suppression. U.S. units watching Syria’s back door can strike and raid, thereby collapsing Syrian resistance. Israeli forces need to continue to press Hezbollah terrorists inside Lebanon to keep them off balance. It is critically important that America and Israel supported by whatever allies have the courage to assist, take the fight immediately to the perpetrators. By waiting for a first-strike we are put in a position of playing a retaliation game after we have already endured unacceptable losses in population and perception. Once America and Israel are seen as weak enough to defeat, then the international jackals will all join in for the kill. This is what our enemies hope to accomplish.
How realistic is this plan politically? Probably not very, and that is what is going to be a major setback, possibly one from which it will be extraordinarily difficult to recover. Complicating American reaction to these events is the paralyzing idea prevalent among many Americans that by solving Iraq our troubles in the region are over. This naïve perception is clouding America’s grasp of the scope, breadth, and reality of the threat. We face a crisis of major proportions. Hesitation may be fatal.