Ex-Mos­sad spy: Air strikes on Iran are a ‘dumb idea’

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY ABRA­HAM RABI­NOVICH

JERUSALEM | A for­mer Is­raeli spy mas­ter cred­ited with de­lay­ing Iran´s nu­clear pro­gram for years through sab­o­tage and as­sas­si­na­tion says that an air at­tack on Iran’s nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties would be “a dumb idea.”

Meir Da­gan, who re­tired in Jan­uary af­ter eight years as head of the Mos­sad in­tel­li­gence agency, told a sym­po­sium on re­gional strat­egy at He­brew Univer­sity that the so­lu­tion to Iran’s nu­clear threat rests with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

“An airstrike on the nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties is a dumb idea,” he said over the May 7-8 week­end. “Who­ever at­tacks Iran must un­der­stand that he may start a re­gional war in which mis­siles would be fired from Iran and from Hezbol­lah in Lebanon. War is one of those things which we know how it starts but not how it ends.”

Iran has the ca­pa­bil­ity of fir­ing two or three mis­siles a day at Is­rael for months, he said.

Hezbol­lah, which Is­rael and the United States list as a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion, has hun­dreds of mis­siles ca­pa­ble of hit­ting Tel Aviv as well as tens of thou­sands of shorter-range rock­ets that could strike north­ern Is­rael. He warned that Syria and the Ha­mas ter­ror­ist group in Gaza might join in any war with their own mis­siles and rock­ets.

“It is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber, that war is only one op­tion among many al­ter­na­tives,” Mr. Da­gan said in his first pub­lic ap­pear­ance since re­tir­ing.

In­stead of airstrikes, he urged con­tin­u­a­tion of the dis­rup­tive tac­tics that have been em­ployed sur­rep­ti­tiously in re­cent years.

“What is be­ing done to Iran as re­ported in the me­dia is work­ing,” he said.

He added that Iran is riven by “end­less power strug­gles” among var­i­ous group­ings.

Dur­ing Mr. Da­gan’s reign at the Mos­sad, a com­puter worm known as Stuxnet in­fected com­put­ers at Ira­nian nu­clear sites, se­ri­ously dam­ag­ing the ura­nium en­rich­ment process.

In ad­di­tion, sev­eral Ira­nian nu­clear sci­en­tists were as­sas­si­nated, and faulty equip­ment for the nu­clear pro­gram was sold to Iran through front com­pa­nies abroad.

As for the “Arab Spring,” the for­mer spy chief said he re­gards it not as “a tsunami of change” but merely a change in lead­er­ship.

The same elite will con­tinue to rule in Egypt, he said, pre­dict­ing lit­tle chance of the shad­owy Mus­lim Brother­hood ob­tain­ing power.

In a sur­pris­ing aside, he said it was not an In­ter­net revo­lu­tion that brought the masses into the streets be­cause most poor Arabs do not have com­put­ers.

What brought Egyp­tians out, he said, was for­mer Pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak´s wife, Su­san. Her per­sis­tent pro­mo­tion of her son, Ga­mal, as suc­ces­sor to her hus­band aroused wide­spread out­rage.

Mr. Da­gan pre­dicted no ma­jor change in Egypt´s re­la­tions with Is­rael, de­spite tougher rhetoric now heard from Cairo. Any wors­en­ing in re­la­tions would harm Cairo´s eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests, and the Egyp­tian elite is well aware of that, he said.

As for Syria, he said the over­throw of Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad would be good for Is­rael be­cause of Mr. As­sad’s links with Hezbol­lah and Iran.

How­ever, he added, Mr. As­sad and his Alaw­ite regime might yet sur­vive.

“It’s ei­ther win­ning or dy­ing, and they un­der­stand that,” he said.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Con­flict: With the Dome of the Rock Mosque in the back­ground, Is­raeli sol­diers on May 9 empty their ri­fles af­ter a cer­e­mony for Is­rael’s an­nual Me­mo­rial Day at a mil­i­tar y ceme­ter y on the Mount of Olives, over­look­ing the Old City of Jerusalem.

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