President Obama reportedly vowed that he would deploy the U.S. Air Force to shoot down Israeli jets if the Jewish state mounted a preemptive airstrike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
That was the claim published in Al Jarida, a Kuwait-based newspaper (which apparently has, to some degree, a good reputation) based on so-called well-placed anonymous sources.
Israel’s warplanes would have to traverse Iraqi airspace to reach Iran.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, is due in Washington this coming week to address a joint session of Congress on Iran’s nuke threat, an invitation that caused Team Obama a great amount of heartburn. National Security advisor Susan Rice even characterized the upcoming speech as “destructive” to the relationship between the two countries.
Many Republicans and Democrats, however, believe that the administration is letting Iran off easy in the ongoing negotiations to reach an agreement limiting its nuclear ambitions, and bipartisan legislation is pending on Capitol Hill to require Obama to obtain approval from federal lawmakers before lifting any sanctions against the regime.
Although the U.S. and Israel — the only functioning, multicultural democracy in the Middle East — are traditional allies, the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu, who is up for reelection this month, can be described as along the lines of frenemies.
As widely reported, Iran has publicly threatened to wipe Israel off the map. What is often not reported is that the surrounding Arab countries also have grave security concerns about Iran obtaining an A-bomb.
According to the report in Al Jarida, which has as yet no other confirmation, Netanyahu and his top military brain trust decided to bomb Iran’s nuclear installations last year after learning about secret talks between U.S. diplomats and their Iranian counterparts that left Israel out of the loop. A member of Netanyahu’s cabinet supposedly leaked the plan to Secretary of State John Kerry, however. “[Obama] promptly warned he would order that American planes shoot down attacking Israeli planes. Netanyahu backed down, according to Al Jarida. The report may be fantasy, but the fact that Al Jarida dared to report it says a lot about perceptions of the relationship between Netanyahu and Obama,” The Jewish Press explained.
If this report is valid, which is a big if at this point, Israel was serious about taking out the Iranian nuclear facilities in 2014. “The sources added that [IDF Chief of Staff Benny] Gantz and his commanders prepared the requested plan and that Israeli fighter jets trained for several weeks in order to make sure the plans would work successfully. Israeli fighter jets reportedly even carried out experimental flights in Iran’s airspace after they managed to break through radars,” Arutz Sheva/Israel National News claimed in discussing the Kuwaiti report.
‘The idea that President Barack Obama would order the U.S. Air Force to down an Israeli seems like a Grade-B horror movie plot,” The Jewish Press added.
Separately, Saudi Arabia has allegedly green-lit Israeli warplanes to fly over Saudi airspace to bomb Iran’s nuclear installations if it ever comes to that. “The Jewish state and the Saudi kingdom, site of the holiest shrines in Islam, share a strategic concern over Iran’s pursuit of influence in the region and the possibility that it will produce nuclear weapons. Israel’s concern is focused on threats by Iranian leaders that it will be wiped off the map. Saudi Arabia, whose state religion is Sunni Islam, sees Iran as an aggressive Shiite opponent. Both are unwilling to countenance the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran,” the Washington Free Beacon reported.
Do you think it’s in any way plausible that Obama would authorize U.S. forces to open fire on Israeli military planes to prevent Israel from targeting Iran’s nuclear program?
[Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images]