The Israeli embassy attacks in India and Georgia have predictably raised the Middle East war cacophony with Tel Aviv and Tehran wasting no time to add a suitable spin.
Israel pointedly said the attack, which left the wife of an embassy official critically wounded in New Delhi, was planned and executed by the Hezbollah, with the backing of Iran. Iran said the attacks were stage-managed by Israel to twist the tale.
The moot question is not what exactly will finally trigger an Israeli attack on Iran, but when.
Straws in the wind indicate that a non-war option does not hold much water in the current situation. Obviously there are two non-war options, but both look disappointingly implausible. They are: 1) Iran should retreat from its nuclear enrichment process and activities the West alleges are intended to make an N-bomb and 2) Israel, the West and Iran's pathological foes in the Arabian Gulf should live with a nuclear Iran. Both of these options are impractical.
Then there is a third way, which is probably only of syllogistic worth -- maintaining the status quo. Even this does not look possible as with each passing day Iran's purported march towards the nuclear weaponization gains pace.
In August 2009, Ex-US envoy to the United Nations, John Bolton, whipped up frenzy by predicting that an Israeli attack on Iran was impending and Tel Aviv had only hours left to deal a crippling blow to the nuclear ambitions of its arch enemy.
His reasoning was based on the timing of the loading of nuclear fuel into the Bushehr reactor in Iran by the Russians. He said it was logical for Israel to launch an attack before the reactor became operational, lest it should cause the release of radioactive material.
Tel Aviv did not meet that deadline. A lot of equations have changed hence, including the fact that Iran has gone several paces ahead with its capability to enrich uranium to purity levels far higher than the energy production requirement.
There was frenzied talk in Israel of an imminent attack in November, with Haaretz reporting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were trying to muster more support for such a move within the cabinet. It was reported that among other prominent political figures, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was converted to the pro-attack camp.
Closer to date, the U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Pannetta said in the beginning of the month that an Israeli strike on Iran was highly likely in April. Pannetta's statement was in effect a stamp of approval for the war theories, though the U.S. confirmed its position that aggression will only be resorted to when all other options fail.
The 'other options are basically the years-old sanctions and the newly agreed EU oil embargo, which comes into effect on July 1. And that date is of momentous importance too; that is, if the attack has not taken place before that.
Iran warned the West in stern language in January when the EU agreed on the oil embargo, saying it would block the Strait of Hormuz if such a move ever took place. The proposed oil embargo, under which EU member countries will stop importing Iranian crude, would cut off an important lifeline for Iranian economy and push the oil exporting country into choking off production for want of buyers.
If any disruption happens regarding the sale of Iranian oil, the Strait of Hormuz will definitely be closed, the deputy head of Iranian parliament's foreign affairs committee, Mohammad Kossari, said. The U.S. did not take kindly to Iranians' promise of counter aggression, and the saber-rattling heightened.
Reuters reported in January that the number of U.S. forces in Kuwait grew in recent weeks to about 15,000. This included two combat brigades withdrawn from Iraq. Critics of the U.S. have always speculated if Iraq withdrawal and cutting down the size of operations in Afghanistan were part of a strategy to prepare for an assault on Iran.
The U.S. military said in January that there were two aircraft carriers in the region and a third was on its way, though Pentagon officials insisted that there was no plan to increase the military presence in the region.
Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports say the U.S. and Israel are actively militarizing the region in anticipation of a war with Iran. Debka File, an independent news Web site specializing on Middle Eastern affairs, says U.S. air, naval and marine forces are trooping around strategic locations in the regions like the Socotra island near Yemen and the Omani island of Masirah, near the Strait of Hormuz.
Besides increasing its own military presence in the region, the U.S. has also historically helped its allies, especially Israel, with the latest weaponry.
Paul Craig Roberts pokes fun at the U.S. over the military largesse it showered on Israel while the country is battling with its own economic demons.
Washington has presented Israel a gift from the hard-pressed American taxpayers of an expensive missile defense system, money spent for Israel when millions of unassisted Americans have lost their homes, Roberts wrote in Global Research.
The US has continued to provide its Gulf allies with advanced military equipment to counter Iran. Saudi Arabia has received billions of dollars of advanced equipment, including AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, M1 Abrams main battle tanks, and F-15S multirole fighters, says a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
In Israel, the mood is decidedly combative as ever, and military leaders are openly vouching for stiffer preparations for an attack on Iran.
Israeli Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz said earlier in the month that military capabilities should be enhanced and the country should be ready for a strike against Iran as there is no doubt that Iran is striving for a bomb. According to Gantz, Tel Aviv may build a bomb within a year.
A couple of days ago, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad said he would unveil some major breakthroughs in the country's nuclear pursuit in the coming days. The Iranian leader's statement would look hollow if he does not follow it up with details of the country's progress, but it definitely suggests that no one in Iran is in a mood to give away the rights to uranium enrichment.
The impasse is getting harder to unlock with each passing day.