Will Israeli Dissent Halt the March Towards War?

Excerpted from IPS Special Project Right Web .

The threat of a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities this year appears to have substantially subsided over the past several weeks as a result of several developments, including the biting criticisms of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak voiced recently by former top national security officials.

The possibility of war seems significantly more remote than it did during the winter months, when tensions reached an all-time high. The New York Times even recently ran a front-page feature entitled “Experts Believe Iran Conflict is Less Likely.”

Judging by actual bets placed on the online trading exchange Intrade, experts believe the chances that the United States or Israel will actually launch air strikes against Iran before the end of the year have fallen by more than half since the high reached in mid-February—from just over 60 percent to about 28 percent as of early May.

That’s still a substantial percentage—about twice what it was before the latest round of Israeli saber-rattling began in November.

It’s difficult to find any close observer who believes that war clouds could not suddenly reappear, particularly if the next meeting of the so-called P5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany) with Iran scheduled for May 23 in Baghdad should break down or be delayed.

For its part, the Barack Obama administration has shown little inclination to reduce pressure—and the threat of military action—on Tehran.

Not only has it moved more minesweepers and F-15 fighter jets into the Gulf region, but the air force also announced recently that it has deployed an undisclosed number of advanced F-22 stealth fighter-bombers to the area, specifically to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to the industry publication Aviation Week.

To read in its entirety, visit Right Web.

Jim Lobe is the Washington bureau chief of the Inter Press Service and a contributor to Right Web. He blogs at LobeLog.