The Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot published a startling report Monday detailing a message it says was conveyed by the Obama administration – via two European countries – to Iranian officials. The request: if Israel decides to strike Iranian nuclear facilities, the U.S. will not support it and the Islamic Republic should refrain from retaliating on U.S. military installations in the Persian Gulf.
From the report by the well-connected diplomatic correspondent Shimon Schiffer [translated via hard copy by TheBlaze in Israel]:
The message that the U.S. conveyed to Iran via the most sensitive secret channels is unequivocal: if Israel attacks, we won’t stand behind her and we won’t be drawn into war.
In recent days, senior American administration officials turned to their Iranian counterparts via two countries in Europe which act as a back-channel during times of crisis. They made clear to the Iranians that the U.S. does not intend to be sucked into a campaign if Israel decides to strike unilaterally and without advance coordination [with the U.S.], and they said that they expect from Iran that it will not attack strategic American targets in the Persian Gulf. That means, among other things, Army bases, Navy ships and aircraft carriers sailing in the region.
Accompanying the article, the newspaper created a graphic map (pictured above) of various U.S. assets in the region including troops in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia as well as U.S. vessels in the Gulf.
The secret contacts with the Iranians combined with a public statement last week by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey that he won’t be “complicit” in an Israeli attack is being interpreted in Israel as a message from the U.S. that the Jewish state is on its own in stopping Iran from obtaining a doomsday weapon with which to threaten the very existence of Israel. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders have articulated a desire to wipe Israel off the map. Schiffer writes:
Israeli sources point to the unprecedented low-point in relations between the U.S. and Israeli defense establishments. It appears that the Obama administration decided to warn decision-makers in Israel of the destructive results of an attack without coordinating with the U.S. […]
If true, the report begs the question: If he truly wants to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability, why is President Obama investing in secret contacts with Iran about an Israeli strike aimed at destroying – or at least setting back – the nuclear program? Wouldn’t his efforts be better focused on warning Ahmadinejad of the dire consequences of his apparently accelerated efforts at one day possessing a military nuclear capability?
The Wall Street Journal may have an answer in an editorial this weekend. Though President Obama likes to say he has Israel’s “back,” “his Administration tries to sell to the public a make-believe world in which Iran's nuclear intentions are potentially peaceful, sanctions are working and diplomacy hasn't failed after three and half years.”
Also on Monday, The New York Times reported that President Obama is trying to find non-military ways to stall an Israeli attack and restrain Iran’s nuclear march, including naval exercises and new antimissile systems in the Persian Gulf. The Times reports that Obama officials are also considering implementing previously rejected covert activities as well as a new declaration by the president over what would prompt a U.S. military strike.