The Obama Administration wants to show resolve in advance of next Wednesday’s P5+1 meeting with Iranian nuclear envoys in Baghdad. All while expressing the Administration’s views that tough sanctions and the downward trend in oil prices have put a crimp in Iran’s economy and nuclear club aspirations. Meanwhile, Dan Shapiro, US Ambassador to Israel, told an Israeli audience that the US had plans for a military option should Iran become obdurate and escalate enrichment of uranium. An act that according to a Reuters report may have put the new unity government led by PM Netanyahu in Jerusalem in virtual lockdown. Perhaps this may be a prelude to possible unilateral action, should the P5+1 negotiations fail to stop Iran. As the New York Times opined, the Obama Administration is evincing ‘optimism’ that something positive might emerge from the Baghdad talks. The Netanyahu government has demurred publicly during a formal visit to Prague prior to the start of both the G8 and Chicago NATO Summits.
Meanwhile, the setting in Chicago for the NATO Summit with more than 60 invited countries looks like a battle zone with police helicopters and US Air Force F-16’s providing an aerial umbrella of security protection. Chicago Police have arrested three alleged terrorists who threatened to attack President Obama’s campaign headquarters and former Obama White House Chief of Staff, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s offices with explosives.
There is one country missing from this international gathering, Israel. This despite the fact that Israel is a member of the seven nation NATO Mediterranean Dialogue that includes a number of Muslim countries, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia. All swept up in the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the wake of the Arab Spring. Egypt’s Presidential elections begin on the same day, May 23rd, as the P5+1 discussion with Iran in Baghdad. That election pits anti-Israel former Arab League head and Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa against Salafist and Muslim Brotherhood candidates seeking to tear up the Camp David Accords with the Jewish nation.
Former Danish Prime Minister and now NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced this week, that Turkey’s objections to the presence of Israel at the Chicago NATO Summit over the 2010 Mavi Marmara free Gaza Flotilla attack was not the reason Israel wasn’t invited. According to Rasmussen the doughty Jewish nation wasn’t a member of either of NATO military missions like KFOR in Kosovo or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan. This despite Israel’s vast experience in conducting special operations, developing effective missile shields and having a significant military presence in the Middle East. Rasmussen’s appointment as NATO director in 2009 had been objected to by the Ankara government of Islamist PM Tayyip Recep Erdogan. Rasmussen, a former EU President, had objected to Turkey, a long term NATO member, being admitted to the EU.
Rasmussen’s rationale for excluding, Israel, a member of the NATO Mediterranean Dialogue, from the Chicago NATO summit looks lame given the nuclear missile threats of annihilationist Iran. Rasmussen is leading the charge on development of a European missile defense shield that Russia views as a threat. Israel has considerable development expertise and operational experience with the joint ly developed US-Israel Arrow Missile shield and the Iron Dome system being deployed against the missiles and rockets held by Iranian proxies Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.
An Israeli delegation, that included PM Netanyahu and several cabinet members of the new unity government met with Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus, PM Petr Nečas and cabinet. They discussed Iran’s nuclear program and a central European missile defense shield. Netanyahu said that “Israel has no better friend in Europe than the Czechs”. According to a Times of Israel report:
Necas told Netanyahu his country “shares Israel’s fears on Iran,” and struck out at attempts by pro-Palestinian groups to boycott the Jewish state.
“We strictly refuse delegitimization and any boycott of the state of Israel. We unequivocally support Israel’s right to defend against terrorist attacks,” Necas said.
When the Obama Administration had earlier cancelled the European missile shield against the Iranian missile threat, the Czechs and the Poles objected. Perhaps, the Israeli-Czech sessions sent a message to the attendees at the Chicago NATO Summit that missile defense against Iran’s nuclear delivery systems needs to be addressed.
Prime Minister Netanyahu sent a message from Prague in advance both the G-8 and NATO Chicago security conference about the futility of the upcoming Baghdad talks. As reported in the Times of Israel, Netanyahu said:
It looks as though they see these talks as another opportunity to deceive and delay just like North Korea did for years. Iran is very good in playing this chess game. They know that sometimes you have to sacrifice a pawn to save the king. The goal of these negotiations should be very clear: Freeze all enrichment inside Iran. Remove all enriched material outside of Iran. And dismantle Qom.
He concluded by saying that Iran’s nuclear program is, “the paramount issue of our time.”
by Jerry Gordon